AWS for Industries

The Retail Race: A Roadmap for Implementing a Smart Store Strategy

Retailers have always been in a race to deliver an exceptional customer experience, and in the digital age, that race has only become more intense—particularly in physical stores. With consumers shopping again at brick-and-mortar stores, some key trends have emerged:

This raises customer expectations of convenient, omnichannel digital experiences in physical stores. Delivering an exceptional customer experience has become more critical than ever. However, doing so poses many challenges for retailers today:

  • Legacy technology infrastructure: Many retailers still rely on legacy technology infrastructure, which can be expensive to maintain and can make it difficult to quickly implement new solutions.
  • Data fragmentation: Retailers often have fragmented data sources, which can make it difficult to gain a comprehensive view of customer behavior, inventory levels, and other key metrics.
  • Lack of real-time insights: Traditional retail analytics solutions often rely on batch processing, which can lead to delays in getting actionable insights.
  • Inability to personalize customer experiences: Without a comprehensive view of customer data, it can be difficult for retailers to provide personalized recommendations and offers.

Ultimately, by embracing new technologies, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) Smart Store Solutions, retailers can stay competitive, enhance customer experience, and drive revenue growth. The key is to remain agile and adaptable, constantly seeking new ways to improve the customer experience and optimize their operations.

In my recent blog Embrace Retail’s Future: Bringing Smart Store Solutions to Life, I shared a few approaches for how retailers can assess and prioritize implementation of Smart Store Solutions. However, doing so is a journey and requires a strategic roadmap focused on the right investments and steps.

If you’re looking to embark on the journey of implementing AWS Smart Store Solutions in your physical retail environment, this blog post offers a roadmap to guide you. It’s important to note that every retailer’s digital maturity level and priorities may vary. Therefore, you can customize this roadmap to align with your specific needs and focus on your highest priorities.

Accelerating Towards Smart Store Success: A Strategic Roadmap

Figure 1 Key steps along the strategic Smart Store roadmap

Figure 1: Key steps along the strategic Smart Store roadmap

To help retailers succeed in the retail race, a strategic Smart Store roadmap is crucial. This roadmap outlines key steps retailers can take to leverage AWS Smart Store Solutions and transform their physical retail stores into modern, customer-centric environments. By following this roadmap, retailers can embrace innovative technologies, gain valuable insights, and create seamless experiences that keep them ahead of the competition.

Step 1: Modernize Commerce Architecture
The first crucial step for retailers is to transition to a MACH or composable architecture. This modern architecture approach, which stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless, enables retailers to rapidly assemble and disassemble different components of their technology stack. By embracing this architecture, retailers can swiftly implement new solutions and respond to evolving customer demands. It promotes agility and adaptability, empowering retailers to stay ahead in the race.

To underscore the significance of MACH in driving growth and innovation, a June 2020 Gartner report highlights its impact: “By 2023, organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.” Gartner emphasizes the strategic advantage businesses can gain by embracing a composable architecture, intensifying the importance of this step in the strategic roadmap to smart stores.

Step 2: Establish and Streamline Data & Analytics Foundation
To fully harness the potential of AWS Smart Store Solutions, retailers must establish robust data, analytics, and insights platforms. This entails capturing data from various sources and leveraging analytics to extract valuable insights. These insights can be utilized to optimize the customer experience, streamline operations, and drive sales.

By making data-driven decisions and taking real-time actions, retailers can gain a competitive edge, as highlighted by these retailer examples:

  • Tapestry – Tapestry, the parent company of Coach, Kate Spade, and other luxury brands, unified inventory and sales data and deployed an ML-based inventory optimization solution.
  • Under Armour – By consolidating and harnessing its enterprise data, this renowned athletic brand has enabled rapid design and deployment of new experiences for its vast customer base of over 180 million.

Step 3: Monitor and Optimize with AI/ML and IoT Based Solutions
The implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) and/or Internet of Things (IoT)-based solutions unlocks a realm of advanced capabilities for retailers. Leveraging AI/ML, such as Amazon SageMaker, AWS Panorama, and Amazon Personalize, retailers can offer personalized recommendations, optimize pricing, and automate processes. Retailers can also optimize staff scheduling, productivity, or communications by utilizing Workforce Management solutions.

AWS IoT solutions, such as AWS IoT Kinesis, Amazon Location Service, AWS IoT Core, and AWS IoT TwinMaker, enable near real-time inventory tracking, store condition monitoring, and customer behavior analysis. With these cutting-edge technologies and the power of AWS, retailers gain valuable insights and achieve heightened operational efficiency, enabling them to deliver unparalleled customer experiences

Step 4: Reduce Friction with Checkout Solutions
Retailers need to implement omnichannel and checkout solutions that ensure a seamless experience across all customer touchpoints, be it online, mobile, in-store, or social media. By offering consistent and convenient interactions, retailers can meet customer expectations and preferences. Additionally, optimizing the checkout process is essential for enhancing the overall customer journey, reducing friction, and driving conversions.

US pet store chain Petco fulfills customer needs quickly and conveniently by providing a curbside pickup service that it deployed in just six weeks alongside AWS Retail Competency Partner JBS Solutions Inc. (JBS). UK Grocer Sainsbury’s uses AWS technologies to reduce friction in checkout through its SmartShop application (Mobile Scan & Go) and Just Walk Out technologies.

Figure 2 The Benefits of Implementing a Smart Store Strategy

Figure 2: The Benefits of Implementing a Smart Store Strategy

Stay Ahead in the Race

In conclusion, adopting a strategic roadmap to smart stores empowers retailers to thrive in the dynamic landscape of modern retail. By following the outlined steps, retailers can unlock a multitude of benefits that revolutionize their operations and customer experiences. A comprehensive view of customer behavior, achieved by capturing data from all channels and sources, enables retailers to provide personalized recommendations and offers, fostering stronger customer relationships.

With near real-time insights provided by AWS Smart Store Solutions, retailers can swiftly respond to inventory levels, customer behavior, and other key metrics, enabling proactive decision-making and optimized operations. The result is an improved customer experience, where personalized recommendations, streamlined checkout processes, and convenient fulfillment options create a frictionless journey that cultivates loyalty and repeat business.

The strategic roadmap empowers retailers to reduce costs and improve profitability by automating processes, optimizing operations, and minimizing inventory levels. By embracing these benefits, retailers can position themselves at the forefront of innovation, delivering exceptional experiences, and securing their success in the competitive retail landscape.

Find out how AWS and AWS Retail Competency Partners can support your retail transformation with Smart Store solutions. Learn more at

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