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Could low code development offer UK retailers a new approach?

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European retailers are pulling ahead of their UK counterparts when it comes to offering digital experiences. That’s the assessment of Willem van Enter, vice president, EMEA at application development platform provider OutSystems. 

“If I looked at the UK particularly, they’re lagging behind right now,” van Enter tells, speaking at OutSystems’ NextStep 2019 event in Amsterdam. “If I look at the main UK retailers, they’re still struggling with old systems, with hand coding, to get that experience.”

OutSystems’ approach is centred on low-code development, which essentially enables teams to create applications through graphical user interfaces rather than traditional coding. Key advantages of this approach are that it enables those without formal programming skills to be more involved in development, and that it can save time and money.

While some companies test this approach on smaller projects, it can be scalable, as a new initiative from Portuguese retailer and food distribution company Jerónimo Martins shows. The company owns the supermarket chain Pingo Doce and it has used the low-code approach in a Lisbon concept store that van Enter compared to the much-heralded Amazon Go store. 

“That’s a complete digital experience,” says van Enter of the campus-located store, which is now open to the public. “You go in with your phone, you register as yourself, the system knows it’s you, whatever you take out off the shelves and put in your basket that becomes yours, you don’t have to pay for it there, you walk out the door, it gets charged, which people like.”

Looking at the retail market as a whole, van Enter says the main point of competition within retail will increasingly be within customer experience. This in turn, he says, will put an onus on retailers to develop new kinds of digital experiences quickly.

“There’s a huge market opportunity for retailers to build something that makes me buy,” he says. “People like to buy, I like to buy things. If you give me a great interface, I’ll buy and there’s a very good opportunity there for retailers to just make people buy something and love it. As it’s a high-volume game, if you can sell just a little bit more in a high volume, there’s a huge opportunity.”

Image: Shutterstock

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