Consumers have high expectations for retailers. Thanks to the customer analytics at our fingertips, a retailer’s digital presence—web and mobile—must be masterfully woven into the in-store experience. Not only that, but multiple purchasing options must cater to the utmost convenience.
Challenges Facing Food Retailers
For the food retail industry, in particular, the need to scale up resources to support the growing demand to deliver an excellent e-commerce customer experience without decreasing productivity elsewhere poses multiple challenges:
1. Disruption of traditional buying channels
With mobile or web order, pick-up or delivery—not to mention the in-store experience—food retail requires a more advanced system for commerce, similar to strategic efforts made by the retail industry as a whole. The foundational software must be ready to support any buyer modality, often across multiple brands.
2. Supply-chain planning and intelligence
The industry lacks an off-the-shelf tool to orchestrate the events between suppliers, distributors, marketing teams running digital ads, store operators and franchise owners, and everyone else who may be a part of the supply chain. Creating the right integration point for each entity is crucial but usually depends on the product and capabilities.
3. Secure, real-time communication between vendors, partners, and customers.
Deploying an API increases efficiency between all parties involved in an e-commerce transaction. Software support, internal streamlining, supply chain management, and strategic partnerships are optimized through a single channel of communication, which must be carefully controlled to ensure security.
No plug-and-play software exists to solve these complex core problems. Yet food retailers of all sizes are tasked with urgently tackling them. In fact, some have already begun.
The most notable clients we’ve served in this industry are a Fortune 50 retail giant and a franchisees’ cooperative for one of America’s top quick-service chains. While they both faced the same challenges outlined above, their solution had to be tailored to the specific challenges within their respective organizations.
The Fortune 50 Client, while backed with hundreds of engineers, needed a team with fresh eyes to problem-solve and divide and conquer myriad technical priorities.
We owned the development of product search and product display, the two most visible pieces of real estate in the e-commerce experience. Our largest priorities were adding item substitution workflows, adding ‘ship’ as a new modality, and working with a new search service partner.
While the other, a franchisees’ cooperative, needed a solution to advance communication at every point in their supply chain but couldn’t afford to take their engineers away from other projects.
We focused our efforts on enhancing the promotions supply chain process by building an API in TypeScript that connects the client’s systems with Sysco’s ordering system. This will allow more proactive planning for upcoming promotions and reduced waste, both of which could save franchisees millions of dollars.
Our approach enables us to directly address the nuances within food retail alongside teams of any size or technology. With both clients, we adhered to our Launch Scout “formula” which allows us to serve any organization uniquely:
Disruption of traditional buying channels
Our clients operate at varying levels of scale and apply agile scaling frameworks in different ways to best match their product needs and development team culture. For example, the Fortune 50 client worked for many years under the SAFe framework but then transitioned to a lighter-weight OKR-based agile framework that they believed would better suit their product direction. The franchisees’ cooperative, being a smaller and more nimble organization, is able to work effectively in a Scaled Scrum environment.
Launch Scout works within our client’s organizations by identifying the principles that should be universally applied within agile development teams. This ensures we’re focused on creating value and building high-quality software regardless of the structure and ceremony we’re working within. If we find that the development organization is struggling to deliver value and maintain quality, we’re able to offer suggestions for improvement by understanding how the agile structure could be optimized to support agile principles and improve delivery, quality, and team culture.
Build a technology-agnostic solution.
That unique system that perfectly fits your buying channels and supply chain? It only exists if we can leverage the technology best suited to the task and deploy it on the cloud of your choice—without locking you into any one vendor.
Ensure codebase management at scale.
At the start of any new project, we gather as a team of designers, developers, DevOps, QA, product stakeholders, and project leaders to make sure every role has input and buy-in to construct a plan that will appeal to the client’s customer—and actually work. In other words, we collaborate early and often.
Creating a cross-functional team that can deliver quality is only the first step for success. The next critical step is to manage dependencies across multiple development teams and internal service teams. We know that we need to build and maintain relationships with enterprise architecture, database management, and internal utility teams in order to succeed at fitting in with our client’s organization.
As implementation progresses, this intense collaboration continues. We are rapidly evolving the codebase, release by release, often putting new features in front of our client every day. Meanwhile, our rigorous automated testing ensures the application remains rock solid.
Accelerate the speed, capacity and technical depth of software development.
A supplementary team of devs provides an obvious boost. Yet the secret sauce is the way we structure our teams to fit neatly into your organization’s structure.
For the franchisees’ cooperative, that meant taking on a scrum coach role. For our Fortune 50 client, it meant providing a formal QA role and leveraging our apprenticeship program, in which a junior engineer works alongside a senior one with an opportunity to hire. Our team formation and management are, like our project management, agile.
Launch Scout places a strong value on the cultural health of our development teams, and we work just as hard to help our clients build a strong engineering culture that empowers developers to drive value for the organization and to take responsibility for the total cost of ownership of application development. We do this while making sure we have fun along the way, and we’ll insist that the teams we are working with do as well!
Build everything with security in mind.
Effective security means understanding the risks and making sure we’ve eliminated them. This is critical at every point, but especially when it comes to building out APIs and making sure only the right data subsets are accessible. To ensure this, we worked directly with the SMB’s security teams and sent our teams through our larger client’s formal training to align on procedures.