There is a trend of low-code developers building software solutions for businesses that can be scaled without the need for expensive development. Vantiq is one of those providers, but the Walnut Creek, California-based company is now taking low code a step further for retailers.
The company’s Smart Retail Development Framework, introduced Thursday, will be on display at the IBM booth at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show on Jan. 18-20 in New York City. The framework takes many of Vantiq’s existing software modules and enables retailers to mix and match the blocks they need to meet their unique needs in a single, scalable solution.
“The concept is that we want to prepackage parts of applications and even fully developed parts of retail use cases [to create products and enable in-house digital transformation for brands],” David Spinzen, vice president of marketing for Vantiq, told Modern Shipper.
Spinzen said a brand has traditionally been forced to buy all of a solution and spend development time and money to implement it. In some cases, the technology is incapable of handling all the tasks the brand needs. The Smart Retail Development Framework is first a low-code solution, meaning expensive development time is not needed, and two, a building solution that allows brands to choose the modules that are most relevant to their operations and deploy them.
“You can’t predict what the digital customer landscape is going to look like in a couple of years, so you have to build in [flexibility],” Spinzen said, noting that the framework is built using “composable retail applications.”
Currently, these applications or building blocks are primarily Vantiq products, but the goal is to enable retailers utilizing the framework to choose from solutions for a wide variety of companies.
“Our ecosystem partners, the initial ones that have joined this initiative, they are really looking forward to this,” said Hardik Dave, head of strategic alliances and partner marketing for Vantiq, adding that IBM is on board with the program and others are expressing interest in working with Vantiq on building components that work on the framework. These include Infosys, Chooch AI and Store Intelligence.
The framework is designed to enable Vantiq partners to rapidly build and deploy next-generation, customizable applications at scale such as real-time customer loyalty programs, smart inventory management, dynamic pricing, connected digital and physical shopping carts, grab-and-go shopping, virtual queuing, and AI-enabled safety and security. It works with IBM’s Edge Application Manager.
“The Vantiq Smart Retail Framework provides a solid starting block of preexisting components that are flexible and customizable for different environments and can be tailored for each store, region or deployment,” said Rob High, CTO of IBM Edge Computing. “We’re excited to work with Vantiq in bringing to market these edge-ready smart retail applications that help enable technology and real-time intelligence to be deployed at edge computing centers in or near the stores, thus powering the next generation of in-store shopping experiences.”
Spinzen likened the framework to Lego blocks, in which each new block can change the overall look.
“Retail customers can pick and choose what they want,” he said, noting that the framework is able to take in streaming data from various sources, including IoT and mobile devices, to continually update the individual components so analytics can be processed to generate business responses in real time.
“It’s visualization but it’s also action,” Spinzen said.
Because the Smart Retail Development Framework is a decentralized system, it allows retailers to quickly update data without the need for data to flow into a central location. That can allow a lot of flexibility in usage, Spinzen said, pointing to an example of using gamification to engage customers as they walk around a store.
The big advantage to this approach is the ability to build new components over time without the need to start from scratch from a development and deployment standpoint.
The Smart Retail Development Framework will be available in late Q1 or early Q2, although early customers will be focused on specific use cases before widespread commercial availability later this year.