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code blocks for user data
  • Low-code platforms are sometimes compared to no-code development. The difference lies in the audience — low-code is aimed at developers or professionals with some technical knowledge. When working in low-code environments, developers can generally work faster. 
  • Low-code platforms can be used to develop applications that improve customer service by empowering staff to address issues and reduce support calls.
  • These applications can create apps that connect customers and data with multiple consumer touchpoints and systems.

by Nicola Kinsella

As retailers enter the second half of a highly challenging year of inflation, tightening monetary policies, and resource shortages, many are looking for ways to be more competitive and differentiate their sales and services. Innovation is crucial, but can be out of reach without the proper resources and IT experts on hand to make it possible.

Turning to Low-Code Technologies

Because of this, many retailers are turning to low-code programming tools to adapt legacy systems, innovate faster, and pivot quickly to meet a rapidly changing customer landscape.  Software developers are in high demand and short supply, and low-code technologies enable companies to create applications without dedicated developer resources. Business professionals with minimal programming experience can create many different software applications that use graphical user interfaces instead of traditional computer programming. 

Traditional coding is replaced by dragging and dropping UI components. Most consumers are familiar with low-code applications like Squarespace or WordPress to build personal or business websites, and this approach empowers citizen programmers to innovate without extensive programming knowledge or resources. In-house dedicated developers can then be free from mundane and time-consuming work to focus on mission-critical applications. 

Low-Code vs No-Code

Low-code platforms are sometimes compared to no-code development. The difference lies in the audience — low-code is aimed at developers or professionals with some technical knowledge. When working in low-code environments, developers can generally work faster. 

No-code platforms are designed for business users with little to no development background. While no-code platforms might be easier to use, they can also be riskier. In these settings, anyone is allowed to make changes to a program. However, in a low-code environment, changes can only be made by certain employees with access permission. 

While the adoption of low-code programming platforms is in the early stages, it is expected to take off at a rapid clip. Gartner predicts that 65 percent of all app development functions will be performed on low-code platforms by 2024. By this time, Gartner predicts that 66 percent of large organizations will use low-code software.

This level of accelerated adoption is due to the technology’s ability to shorten the time it takes to create software and deliver applications where they are needed the most. By generating applications faster, retailers can respond faster to changing demands and environments. With speed and agility, brands can use low-code applications in several ways: 

1. Offer Fast and Convenient Pickup from Anywhere

Retail organizations can use low-code applications to enable customers to buy online and designate an in-store pickup or delivery. The program can be designed to show what is in stock at all local stores and provide touchless delivery like curbside pickup services. Applications can also be created to reduce lead times for in-store pickups. 

2. Improve Customer Service 

Low-code platforms can be used to develop applications that improve customer service by empowering staff to address issues and reduce support calls. This might include applications that allow customers to pick up online orders in stores or through third-party partners. They can also enable customers to edit or cancel orders more easily or provide last-minute updates to delivery instructions. 

3. Optimize Fulfillment

Retailers can develop applications to improve profits through better fulfillment, enabling orders to be shipped from stores with the oldest stock and lowest sell-through, or they can ship to stores that are closest to the customer. 

4. Increase Inventory Visibility

Low-code applications can track inventory across all systems and locations in near real-time to prevent product overselling and underselling. They can also keep inventory data in sync across multiple systems such as ERP, POS, or EMS, and partners to increase sales while preventing products from selling out. 

5. Provide a Seamless Customer Experience 

These applications can create apps that connect customers and data with multiple consumer touchpoints and systems. Customer orders, for example, can be managed from several applications, or it can help enable self-service from numerous channels to let shoppers see detailed order statuses, edit orders, and manage returns. 

All of these advancements and more are made possible by professionals with strong technical backgrounds. Low-code programming makes it possible to adapt legacy systems to meet new demands without adding additional burdens to programmers who might otherwise be developing and supporting code that keeps the lights on. 

Nicola Kinsella is the SVP of global marketing at Fluent Commerce.

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