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Success for retailers in the next few years is going to be defined by “Retail Agility”, the ability to take advantage of the emergence of a plethora of new markets, channels, products and customer segments which shows no signs of abating. The rapid expansion of sales and marketing channels—more social commerce, gaming commerce, and mobile to name just a few—will continue. At the same time, customers will prefer to patronize retailers who provide an integrated but distinct experience across channels.

Those businesses emerging as high performers will recognize and be able to leverage the power of multiple channels while providing a seamless experience regardless of channel or touchpoint. Newer channels provide a number of challenges to retailers, such as new or immature business models, and a high rate of technology refresh. Rapid change requires retailers to balance channel implementation, capability implementation and technology refresh to achieve profit-sustaining returns.

Successful retailers will be characterized by agility in technology deployment and business processes, because new investments in this fast-moving landscape require fast time-to-value. Organizations with business processes and IT architectures that do not promote rapid uptake and successful integration of new technologies need to upgrade their capabilities.

The IT application portfolio needs to support multiple brands, geographies and channels, and allow common leverage while having flexibility to support differing processes. Retail data elements that enable a seamless experience need to be identified and leveraged across channels.

Emerging techniques such as continuous design, continuous delivery, and Guerrilla SOA, can help businesses achieve retail agility and thrive.

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