How to make Full-scale DevOps work for your Retail Enterprise

There is no downward trend in this field. Not in the next few months and probably not in the next decade. Any retail enterprise waiting to see which way the market will swing before committing to DevOps will struggle or crumble under the growing digital wave.

With more than twenty percent of all retail experiences happening online right now, what Amazon foretold of nearly twenty years ago is happening right now.

However, rushing into a full-scale commitment to DevOps can be more catastrophic than not doing it at all, if not done properly. In order to create a system that will deliver the best quality service to your customers while also keeping your development costs down, there are a few things to consider:

1. Build around your customers

There is always a divide between what developers think looks good and what customers find efficient. In order to build a system that will help you accomplish more with less and also cater to future demand, you have to build a system that your customers want, need and admire.

The mantra of putting customers first is just as important to DevOps as it is to anything else. Every retail website is created slightly differently, as are their apps. Customers are different and what they want from you is not a copy of what your competitors are doing.

Dedicate time to study how your ecommerce clients act and what they look for that you don’t have. Things to consider include how long they spend on your website, the ease of purchasing, how they act during sales and off-peak times. Every bit of data or pattern that emerges should be carefully considered.

2. Choose the right tools

When it comes to the actual building of your code, there are so many tools to consider for the various aspects of it. There will probably be new ones being created as you start the process. So, the first thing to do is figure out which ones are best for your company and stick with them.

The diagram above shows the most popular tools being used for different stages of creation. You might find that these are ideal for what you need, or you may prefer an entirely different approach.

Whatever you choose, ensure that the different tools can work with each other as you progress from development to deployment.

3. Keep your teams synchronized

There are instances when different teams should not know what the other is doing, like when building a nuclear device that could one day destroy the world. But for a project that will benefit the whole company, it is important for the different teams to be in a perpetual collaborative state. In other words, your ‘Devs’ should always know what your ‘Ops’ are doing.

If one group is using software or tools the other can’t, you are going to have a big problem on your hands. This synchronization should be present right from the early stages. Besides, one team might have knowledge the other team can benefit from, even though it’s not their primary role.

Every member of your organization, even those not involved with DevOps, should buy-in to the overarching goal, and not feel responsible only for their little portion. That is the type of synergy that builds products that last.

4. Test, assess and strategize

When is the best time to test any new ideas or improvements? Immediately. As your development teams create, operations and QA should evaluate. You don’t want to go too far into the design process before you realise the codes are faulty or unusable. That would be a very expensive and discouraging endeavor.

The need for speed makes DevOps teams desperate to release a product that will increase their customers, but if it fails in a few months under mounting usership, it would be very costly to correct. When J. Crew’s website crashed on Black Friday last year, it cost them $775,000 in sales and possibly a lost more in reputation-value. Worse still, was that the technical glitches took five days to rectify.

Debenhams, Lowe’s and The Perfume Shop are other websites to suffer the same fate on Black Friday. If it can happen to one, it can happen to all. Yet, how did they not see it coming?

Ensure your progress is actually progress, by testing rigorously and continuously, until you have a final product that will not disappoint shoppers when it matters most.

5. Don’t make customers wait too long

In trying to create a solution that would wow the pants off clients, DevOps teams take longer than necessary to fill a void that is missing. Taking too long to create necessary products can cause customers to lose interest in your site and once they do, it would be difficult to get them back.

Consider shorter development cycles. Don’t wait a year to release a complete website or app overhaul, while customers suffer through sluggish or outdated software. If possible, let your team work on short-term projects of 3 months or less, so updates come regularly and your workers don’t lose touch with what they are trying to accomplish.

Alpha and beta releases leading up to the big reveal should be considered. If customers don’t like what you have in the works, you can amend it and move on, instead of dedicating all your time and effort to something that will eventually disappoint.

Conclusion

A full-scale commitment to DevOps for your retail enterprise is a necessary evil. It costs time and money, but it eventually pays off by creating a platform for users that is lean, effective and won’t buckle under pressure.

Ensure you take the time to plan every step of the process, keep teams engaged and motivated, while also using the right tools. Remember that this also isn’t a one-off operation. Once your system is in place, you should prepare for whatever may lie ahead.

The retail industry is constantly evolving, so should your approach to DevOps.