As a retailer, have you ever caught yourself thinking ‘I wish there was a solution for that’? If you have, you’re not alone. Fortunately, technology is ubiquitous, and few industries are better at embracing and benefiting from it than retail.

However, there are instances where there still aren’t tools for specific tasks or unique business challenges. Until recently, only big businesses with money, resources and expertise could custom-build an application or solution. Today, however, there is a revolution in the form of low-code, no-code, which has the potential to provide retail businesses with ultimate control and infinite possibilities when it comes to their tech.

Traditionally, when business owners think about app development, they’d probably envision coders typing random words, characters, and symbols onto a wall of monitors. But for a long time, that wasn’t far from the truth. It involved highly skilled, highly paid coders building expensive and complex solutions that helped big box global retailers strengthen their hold over the market. But what is low-code, no-code? Why is it disrupting the status quo? How can it help retailers’ future-proof their business?

What is low-code, no-code?

Low-code, no-code platforms allow users with little-to-no coding experience to rapidly build custom apps with minimal coding. Through it, retailers aren’t reliant on coders and web developers and can instead automate, manage and customise applications or solutions through a process as simple as drag-and-drop. Gartner forecasts that by 2024, 80% of products and services will be built by those without a tech background through, for example, low-code, no-code.

By using low-code software, retailers can design, build and implement powerful applications that boost their ability to innovate and adapt – crucial attributes that will better equip them for whatever the future holds. Retail business owners have many skills and wear many hats, but most lack the technical abilities required to develop apps and solutions themselves. Until recently, they had little choice but to tailor their operations around rigid, off-the-shelf solutions or pay a premium.

However, just as no two retailers are the same, neither are their technology needs and wants. Today, the best technology is customisable, and the ultimate way to customise it is by allowing business owners to build tailor-made solutions themselves. For retailers looking to not only embrace digital transformation but optimise, personalise and enhance their approach, low-code platforms are at the forefront of application development technologies.

Building agility and future-proofing

Over the last two years, retailers received an unavoidable warning about the need to fast-track their digital transformation strategies. Today, there is a growing need for software that is not only simple and agile, but that conforms to a business’ unique requirements, rather than forcing a business to change. The most effective technology allows users to shape it as their needs change.

The result is more agile businesses, tailoring technology to their needs rather than their needs to their technology. Retailers that rely on cumbersome, archaic legacy systems will be replaced by those that regularly refine and evolve as their situation, customers or industry demands it. Whether due to the pandemic or short-, medium- and long-term consumer and industry trends, agility is essential.

Low-code can be especially beneficial for the tens of thousands of omnichannel Australian retailers that are now active online and on the high street. Running online and in-store as two separate strategies can create silos and isn’t conducive to the way contemporary shoppers operate. However, a unified approach that integrates both in one seamless strategy is optimal and caters to today’s savvy, cross-channel consumers.

Low-code platforms like Zoho Creator allow retailers to design and implement solutions that unify their online and bricks-and-mortar businesses quickly, easily and cost-effectively. It’s not only your business that benefits. Today, shoppers demand convenient, memorable customer experiences that adapt to their needs. For example, if you’re struggling to keep customers across the status of their click-and-collect orders, you can use low-code, no-code to create a custom track-and-trace solution.

The future of work is digital, and retailers are transforming fast. Through low-code retailers can make agility, productivity and scalability key cornerstones of their digital transformation. For retailers, this revolution is unleashing a new generation of ‘citizen coders’ and handing agility, customisability and power back to businesses.

Vijay Sundaram is chief strategy officer at Zoho.