Open source for better freedom and flexibility

How open source is transforming retail

Benoit Jacquement
open source
© Shutterstock / Oleksii Natykach

Studies have shown that companies are turning to open source software more and more. By embracing an open source code, companies can be more agile and implement improved services and tools in response to the individual needs of their customers. See how open source code is changing retail and adapting in the fast-changing world of e-commerce.

Innovate or die”—this has become the mantra for successful global businesses in every sector.

Retail is no exception, with e-commerce growth continuing at a rapid pace and forecast to post annual revenues of $6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022 brands are aware of the need to invest in digital transformation initiatives. Retailers face fierce competition and a daunting challenge to keep up with ravenous customer demand.

Open-source technology is one particular innovation that can provide a compelling advantage to retail businesses, with an increasing number of brands waking up to its potential. Over half of websites globally run on open source software and the same can be said of more than 80% of smartphones, which rely upon the Android operating system. But what exactly are the main benefits of open-source solutions for e-commerce businesses?

SEE ALSO: How will AI impact the e-commerce industry?

Customer success

By embracing an open source code, companies can be more agile and implement improved services and tools in response to the individual needs of their customers.

Cosmetics brand Lush, for example, has pioneered open source in its sector by adopting the open-sourced platform Drupal in 2016. Using thecontent management software for building digital experiences, the company has built the largest e-commerce site since its inception. The cosmetics retailer also migrated to cloud platform Acquia as part of its wider strategy adopting open source software across the organisation as a whole.

Myer, Australia’s oldest and largest department store, was faced with the challenge of managing product information from suppliers that were often incorrect or inconsistent. It was an issue that was detrimental to the shopping experience for customers. The company needed to find a solution that offered customisation, but didn’t force them to start from scratch. As a result, Myer selected a Product Information Management (PIM) solution, which is run on an open-source platform model with API offerings.

Myer is now helping suppliers upload data directly to the PIM, which has ensured more compelling, consistent and accurate product information. The retailer’s suppliers can easily see what information needs to be added or improved before a product can go live on its website.

Consumers today—particularly those on platforms like Instagram—won’t spend time searching for information or data about a product. If they can’t find the details they want quickly, or if the information is incorrect, it’s a failure for all involved. That’s why product information today must be accurate, consistent, and easy to find. An open-source solution can deliver this perfectly and attract customers that keep coming back.

Global talent

The global digital skills gap has been widely reported in recent years and that’s why the scale of the open source community is so attractive to companies today.

The foundation of open source is its collective community, boasting ambitious individuals and innovative companies striving towards the same goal: making technologies more efficient and secure.

This community can not only deliver more ideas, but is quicker to react when issues arise due to the sheer number of developers at work. It also benefits from companies sharing their solutions to a common problem faced, accelerating innovation for all players in the industry. In fact, the biggest open source communities are often comprised of companies competing against each other in the same industry. For instance, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation serves as a vendor-neutral platform for key players such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google to exchange ideas, and work on shared projects including Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Envoy.

With open source, it’s also often a much more cost-efficient way to explore different options and get new solutions off the ground, with tools specially designed with the end-user in mind.

SEE ALSO: Enterprise open source software is growing within innovative companies

Freedom & flexibility

Companies today need to know that they are entitled to transparency and collaboration from their software solutions. Vendor lock-in models, with expensive exit fees, are of another time and likely to hamper a forward-looking business aiming to future-proof its services.

In contrast, best-of-breed enterprise solutions produced by the vibrant open source community ensure that companies can take control of the code they run their business on, to maintain freedom and flexibility as they innovate and grow. It’s for this very reason—along with cost savings—that Amazon backed the DENT open-source project.

In the fast-changing world of e-commerce, companies taking advantage of open-source software can future-proof their sales channels, by securing lower costs and being in a position to get products to market more quickly. It can also help retailers differentiate their product offerings.

There is immense value to be found in open source technology for retailers. By utilising public source code, brands can ensure their services are more powerful and more flexible than ever before.

open source

Benoit Jacquement

Prior to founding Akeneo, Benoit was the CTO for Smile, the largest open source system integrator in Europe. He is an expert in complex web applications, having spent the last 5 years managing a team of 450+ open source developers and launching some of the largest European websites.

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