How to Reduce Tech Debt with Omnichannel Implementations

on Mar 28, 2024

Tell me if this sounds familiar: it’s the holiday season, and your retail brand is seeing record online orders.

But behind the scenes, your tech team struggles to keep up. You need more custom integrations with every new delivery provider you add, straining IT resources. And each adds a new layer of complexity to your already fragile tech stack.

The writing is on the wall: you need a better way to manage your growing omnichannel operations.

This challenge is a common symptom of tech debt — the hidden costs businesses take on when technology decisions are made hastily.

Left unaddressed, tech debt accumulates, weighing down operations. For retailers like you, implementing an effective omnichannel strategy is key to eliminating tech debt.

This article will explore how omnichannel strategies help streamline                       retail operations

You'll discover:

  • How Lowes Foods successfully reduced its tech debt by partnering with Delivery Solutions
  • Strategic approaches to reducing tech debt with omnichannel implementations
  • Criteria for choosing the right software partner for omnichannel implementations

By the end, you'll understand how to leverage omnichannel technology to reduce tech debt and optimize fulfillment in your retail brand.

But first, let’s try to understand tech debt in retail.

Understanding tech debt

Technical debt — or “tech debt” — in retail refers to the accumulated technical inefficiencies, outdated systems, or suboptimal processes that hinder operational efficiency and require future investment.

It occurs when short-term technological solutions become long-term liabilities, hampering growth and innovation.

Lowes Foods experienced these tech debt challenges firsthand. 

Lowes Foods needed to rapidly onboard new delivery partners as demand grew for its online grocery services.

However, each integration was bespoke, requiring custom development work. This patchwork system strained IT resources and became increasingly unwieldy.

The solution? Omnichannel technology.

Leading retailers turn to omnichannel platforms to eliminate tech debt and transform fulfillment operations. These systems provide unified capabilities for  order management, delivery orchestration, inventory visibility, and more.

With a single integration point, omnichannel platforms minimize tech debt accumulation.

Providers like Delivery Solutions also handle the heavy lifting of onboarding partners and optimizing workflows. This gives retailers like Lowes Foods the agility and efficiency needed to meet digital demands.

The journey of Lowes Foods with Delivery Solutions

Facing rising digital demand, Lowes Foods made the strategic decision to partner with Delivery Solutions. 

This tech solution offered Lowes Foods a simplified way to manage and connect delivery partners. 

Chad Petersen, SVP of e-commerce for Lowes Foods, explained: 

"Delivery Solutions brought a unique set of capabilities and handled all the heavy lifting of the actual integration.”

With Delivery Solutions', onboarding new delivery service providers (DSPs) became streamlined. The platform provided a centralized hub to easily switch providers based on orchestration rules.

The platform also removed major friction points in working with multiple partners. 

"If we make a decision to switch providers in a certain region, Delivery Solutions' toolset makes it easy. We lightly reconfigure the dashboard and we’re switched over.” — Chad Petersen, SVP of e-commerce for Lowes Foods

This agility allowed Lowes Foods to optimize its delivery network and scale order fulfillment efficiently. Custom development bottlenecks no longer restricted business growth.

Lowes Foods gained unified visibility and control by consolidating its provider ecosystem under one platform. This helped eliminate the tech debt accumulated from disjointed systems and manual provider management.

5 strategic approaches to reducing tech debt with omnichannel implementations

With Lowes Foods' experience in mind, let's explore five key strategies retailers can leverage to minimize tech debt with omnichannel implementations. Though every business is unique, these strategies will pave the way for more agile, optimized omnichannel operations.

1. Integrate advanced analytics for data-driven decisions

Retailers need to leverage data and analytics to make smart, informed decisions. Integrating advanced analytics into your omnichannel technology stack gives you the insights you need to optimize every aspect of operations and reduce tech debt. 

Look for omnichannel platforms that offer robust analytics dashboards and reporting tools out of the box. 

With unified data aggregation from all channels and partners, you gain full visibility into performance. You can use metrics like order volume, fulfillment costs, delivery times, and customer satisfaction to guide impactful business decisions.

For example, analytics may reveal that a certain pickup point is underutilized or that a delivery partner is experiencing excessive shipping delays. You can then take corrective actions like adjusting marketing campaigns or switching logistics providers in that region. 

Advanced analytics also enable more nuanced omnichannel orchestration using machine learning algorithms. 

As algorithms process volumes of performance data over time, they can better predict optimal workflows. This ensures delivery routes, inventory allocation, and staffing levels match real-time demands.

The result is maximized efficiency, faster delivery, and reduced costs across the fulfillment network. Data illuminates how to tailor omnichannel strategies for superior performance and minimal waste.

With analytics integrated across channels, you also:

  • Gain a comprehensive view of customer journeys
  • Identify pain points through detailed tracking of interactions, browsing patterns, and conversions
  • Pinpoint areas for experience enhancements, such as improved navigation or more express delivery options

The insights unlocked by omnichannel analytics platforms are invaluable in remaining agile, optimizing rapidly, and outperforming competitors. 

Leveraging data to align operations with strategic goals minimizes tech debt, as every implementation and integration is backed by intelligence.

A computer screen showing advanced analytics

2. Embrace scalable cloud-based solutions

As omnichannel strategies evolve, retailers need infrastructure that adapts seamlessly to changing business needs. 

Cloud-based solutions provide the flexibility and scalability required in fast-paced retail environments. You can scale operations efficiently with the right cloud partner while reducing tech debt.

Look for omnichannel platforms built as cloud-native SaaS solutions. With automatic updates and new capabilities added regularly, these solutions remain future-proofed. 

When your seasonal catalog expands or order volumes spike during promotions, cloud infrastructure scales to match demands effortlessly. 

Cloud platforms also simplify adding new channels and providers. 

Whether launching BOPIS pickup or integrating a new logistics partner, cloud services onboard new integrations swiftly without burdening internal resources. This prevents the tech debt from accumulating when complex custom development is required for each new capability.

Additionally, cloud technology makes it easier to keep pace with innovation. 

Emerging capabilities like AI-powered visibility tools or AR shopping experiences can be tested and deployed with minimal disruption. With the flexibility of cloud infrastructure, retailers can pilot and adopt new technologies faster.

Cloud platforms also provide the reliability and security required by enterprise retailers. With advanced redundancy, failover, and disaster recovery capabilities, cloud solutions offer robust uptime and data protection.

A boutique

3. Unify API and integration frameworks

Managing dozens of disjointed APIs and integrations between systems creates complexity, leading to tech debt. The solution is to simplify and unify under a single integration framework.

This consolidation lets you easily sync data across channels, avoid redundancy, and minimize potential conflicts. With a unified framework, new channels can be added without extensive development and testing of custom integrations.

Omnichannel platforms provide this streamlined approach, offering a single API integration point.

Lowes Foods leveraged Delivery Solutions' platform to unify its delivery providers under one hub.

By implementing Delivery Solutions’ unified framework, Lowes Foods reduced tech debt and gained flexibility. The platform became the connective tissue between systems, giving Lowes Foods the agility to optimize its provider ecosystem.

A computer screen showing computer code

4. Implement customer experience enhancements

Omnichannel implementations should always aim to improve the customer experience. 

Focusing on CX improvements during integration projects strengthens engagement, loyalty, and brand perception.

Look for platforms with built-in features that enrich omnichannel customer journeys. 

Capabilities like order tracking portals, SMS updates, and dynamic ETAs allow shoppers to follow deliveries in real time. 

Post-purchase upsell recommendations and loyalty programs also boost engagement during the fulfillment process.

With unified data and analytics, identify friction points across your pickup, delivery, and return processes. Then, leverage omnichannel technology to implement tailored improvements. 

For example, deploy AI chatbots to handle common customer service inquiries or offer fast-pass pickup lanes for loyalty members. 

Omnichannel platforms also enable valuable post-transaction CX capabilities, such as allowing you to: 

  • Gather feedback across channels through surveys and reviews
  • Gain actionable insights into satisfaction levels and areas for improvement
  • Identify at-risk customers based on past issues so you can proactively resolve problems before they amplify

Enhanced visibility from omnichannel orchestration also informs more personalized CX. 

Access comprehensive customer profiles integrating data from your CRM, past transactions, browsing history, and more. Then, leverage this intelligence to customize interactions, provide relevant recommendations, and exceed expectations.

The more seamless and engaging the post-purchase experience is, the stronger the customer affinity grows.

Omnichannel technology allows you to deliver differentiated CX that boosts retention and lifetime value. With orchestration connecting data across touchpoints, you can anticipate customer needs and address them proactively.

A delivery man delivers a package

5. Audit and update omnichannel infrastructure regularly

Omnichannel infrastructure must evolve as capabilities expand and consumer expectations rise. Systems degrade over time without vigilance, creating tech debt that hinders operational agility.

Retailers should implement regular technical audits and infrastructure reviews to identify areas for improvement. 

Look for redundancy across systems, gaps in visibility, lack of flexibility in workflows, and other symptoms of creeping obsolescence.

These assessments will reveal upgrade needs and opportunities to consolidate systems under unified platforms. 

With routine checkups, retailers can stay on the cutting edge, ensuring their omnichannel stack enables growth rather than causing drag.

Equally important is researching and implementing the latest technological advancements. Omnichannel is a dynamic space, with innovations emerging rapidly. Retailers risk falling behind if systems remain stagnant.

By continually integrating new capabilities — whether AI-powered visibility tools or expanded delivery options — retailers create future-ready infrastructure able to flex with shifting consumer demands.

5 criteria for choosing the right software partner for omnichannel implementations

Implementing a successful omnichannel strategy requires the right technology partner.

A woman carrying shopping bags

When evaluating providers, retailers should consider these key criteria:

1. Specialized expertise in omnichannel orchestration

Look for partners with extensive experience deploying unified omnichannel solutions across diverse enterprises. This demonstrates their ability to deliver results despite unique infrastructures and complex requirements. 

Ask for case studies and client examples to evaluate their track record. 

Deep expertise in connecting systems, orchestrating workflows, and optimizing channels is also essential. This will ensure they can effectively overcome any technology debt or integration challenges. 

Target partners that specialize in omnichannel management versus isolated channel solutions.

2. Highly configurable solutions

The ideal partner's solution should be highly customizable to your specific business goals, not a rigid, one-size-fits-all platform. They should be willing to tailor their approach based on your unique needs and seamlessly integrate with your existing infrastructure and processes. 

Look for flexible solutions with custom onboarding, configurable rules engines, role-based access controls, and robust APIs. These capabilities enable personalized optimization aligned to your omnichannel strategy versus generic software. 

3. Provider-agnostic philosophy

An ideal partner should allow you to choose delivery providers, pickup points, and other omnichannel partners tailored to your operations, geographic footprint, and financial objectives. 

They should take an agnostic view rather than locking you into proprietary networks or partnerships. This ensures you retain the flexibility to integrate best-in-class point solutions as your strategy evolves. 

Ask potential partners about their approach to integrating third parties before committing. The ability to curate your provider ecosystem based on your needs is key.

4. Commitment to continuous innovation

Look for partners who regularly improve their platforms and integrate innovations and technologies. This demonstrates dedication to your evolving omnichannel needs versus resting on status-quo solutions.

Ask potential vendors about their product roadmap. 

Are they investing in AI, visibility tools, and expanded delivery options? 

Do they add new features frequently? 

Continued platform innovation enables you to stay on the cutting edge, preventing technical debt caused by outdated systems.

5. Consultative implementation

The right partner will take the time upfront to thoroughly understand your unique challenges, infrastructure, and omnichannel strategy. They should provide expert guidance on solution design and implementation planning focused on maximizing your ROI.

Beware partners who take a one-size-fits-all or cookie-cutter approach. Look for true consultative services, including assessment, advisory, change management support, and training tailored to your needs. 

This thoughtful approach ensures maximum business value and minimum disruption.

Ready to take your omnichannel operations to the next level? 

Like Lowes Foods, retailers today face rising digital demands and increased complexity in managing omnichannel operations. This strain often leads to technical debt accumulation, hindering innovation and agility over time.

Delivery Man + Woman

However, retailers can break free of this burden by taking a strategic approach focused on flexibility, scalability, and continuous optimization.

Ready to optimize your omni-channel operations? Assess your tech stack and identify improvement areas. Partnering with specialists like Delivery Solutions also provides a fast track to overcoming debt while unlocking new capabilities.

With the right strategic foundations, retailers can build technology as an asset, not a liability. Eliminate complexity and unlock potential with simplified, scalable omni-channel systems. The possibilities are endless when you erase tech debt.

About the author

Russ Bair

Russ Bair is the Chief Product Officer at Delivery Solutions, the leading provider of last-mile delivery and fulfillment software. He helps ensure retailers achieve their goals and they are able to provide meaningful experiences for their customers.  Prior to his tenure at Delivery Solutions, Russ was President of projekt202—an experience-driven consulting firm founded to apply deep ethnographic research to the development of mobile, web, and workplace software.    He received his Bachelors in Computer Science from Texas A&M and has more than 25 years of extensive experience in the software development and consulting fields. While holding leadership roles within organizations or various sizes, Russ has designed, developed, and led the creation of complex custom software implementations for small, medium, and Fortune 500 companies across the United States.   Russ is fulfilled by helping those around him reach their potential through servant leadership and collaborating to create progress and economic value. He currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife Jana and two children.


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