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  • Writer's pictureElisabeth Nebster

Application Platform As A Service (aPaaS) in Retail 2021-2022

Why Retail Calls Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) its Magic Wand in Post-Pandemic Conditions

Many are wondering how the tough pandemic conditions have affected business and retail in particular. I will answer with the words of Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft - "We've seen two years of digital transformation in two months."

Obviously, it was a needed kick in the pants that made all retailers think and innovate harder. Companies found their salvation in agile development strategies, cloud migration, and new customer-oriented services with a short time2market.

Particularly, the last one would be arduous to launch without Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) usage. So, we're here to discover how aPaaS helped the retail industry in difficult times and why companies still have high hopes for it.

What is aPaaS and What Place It Takes in the Cloud Ecosystem

Agree that some new consumption models abbreviation with the ending "aaS" appears almost every few years. We didn't have time to get used to old good SaaS when IaaS, BaaS, PaaS were here. It seems that the digital world will continue this list until the letters in the alphabet run out. So, before moving on to essentials, let me explain the properties of core "aaSs" and how they relate to each other.

All of these products are provided to end-users on a subscription basis. So companies kind of rent software. It allows to:

  • reduce custom development costs

  • avoid buying special equipment

  • save data on remote servers

  • do not care about maintenance and updates

Core Features of 5 Widespread Consumption Models

Software as a Service (SaaS): it enables users to perform one or more operational functions. For example, Google Docs is a web environment where you can create documents and save them on the vendor's servers.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): it's a "rent" of entirely cloud-based infrastructure for the operation and creation of digital products. Among the examples are Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc.

Platform as a Service (PaaS):​​ it is a comprehensive platform providing app development and efficient management infrastructure. PaaS emerged as a result of a shift in IaaS focus usage towards software development. Examples of such products are Apache Stratos and Red Hat OpenShift.

Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS): yes, it is also an environment for developing applications. But aPaaS has become a consequence of SaaS development. It means that aPaaS is a solution whose entire functionality is focused only on software development services. aPaaS is a low-code platform. It minimizes coding time by ready-made templates, meanwhile not suggesting visual elements. Among shining examples of such services are Mendix, code platform, and OutSystems.

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS): when applications are already created, they need to be integrated for seamless operation. It’s an iPaaS job. According to the Gartner Glossary, “it’s a suite of cloud services enabling development, execution and governance of integration flows connecting any combination of on premises and cloud-based processes, services, applications and data within individual or across multiple organizations.”

aPaaSs are evolving and are gradually adding iPaaS functionality to their piggy bank. It allows users to remain confident that aPaaS-based software will seamlessly interact with existing products. For example, the enterprise application integration platform's hallmark is the ability to build a robust solution in a tight schedule, providing the right integrations with other software.

Anything as a Service (XaaS): these products can retain customers by turning a one-time client into a regular one. Companies create a cloud-based set of products and services to sell on a subscription basis.

Retailers design solutions for supply chain optimization, assortment, or back-office management and share them with their competitors. This approach allows enterprises to increase their audience and expand new revenue streams.

Why the Retail Industry Prefers Application Platforms as a Service (aPaaS)

Why does retail choose Cloud?

Since aPaaS is a cloud model, you need to understand why retailers are choosing the Cloud.

First of all, these companies are customer-oriented. Their resources are often insufficient to meet demand and ensure uninterrupted operation. Moreover, additional investment in digital infrastructure is also a burden. Enterprises have found a solution to these issues in full or partial migration to cloud services.

Following Statista, as of 2020, 82% of responded companies followed a hybrid cloud strategy. It means they used both public and private clouds. This approach makes it possible to ensure data security along with apps usability.

How aPaaS helps retailers to deal with the pandemic crisis

During the COVID-19 raging, retailers faced several challenges simultaneously, like the need to:

  • develop the e-commerce direction in the shortest time

  • establish contactless delivery

  • provide remote work for back-office employees

  • transform the supply chain processes, adjusting them to new regulations in different countries

The paradigm shift has forced companies to create software "on their knees." Rapid Application Development tools, like aPaaS AKA low code platforms, have helped businesses achieve quantitative and qualitative metrics in a tight schedule. Open-source Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) often allows retailers to create medium-complex applications that are easy to maintain.

Often, enterprises purchase aPaaS subscription and just build the apps they want. But there are exceptions. Last year, Amazon launched its Application Platform as a Service (aPaaS) Honeycode. This way, the company resolved the rapid in-house development issue and turned this solution into a new revenue stream. Amazon currently sells the product to competitors for $19.99 per month.

What Benefits Both Big and Small Retail Market Players Receive From aPaaS

Large Market players can:

  1. settle simple business processes without buying custom software

  2. optimize in-house engineers work by transferring an elementary development to other specialists

  3. test hypotheses and rationality of the future development project in a short time

  4. reduce time2market by cutting the development cycle

  5. comply with sustainability principles, creating software with the lowest resource spending

  6. create own aPaaS for further sale to competitors

Small Market players can:

  1. create products that regulate all business processes in the company

  2. save resources on solution maintenance

  3. ensure competitiveness and stable business growth

  4. move by leaps and bounds in the digital transformation direction

Application Platform As A Service (aPaaS) Benefits for Large and Small Retail Market Players

The Bottom Line

Gartner has defined aPaaS or low code application platform as one of the technologies already mastered by companies. But this does not mean that Application Platforms as a Service (aPaaS) will be a thing of the past next year. They are always needed when businesses require fast and high-quality software development. So far, companies are still coping with the post-coronavirus crisis, which means they are using aPaaSs for recovery.

The next important step for all industries and retail, in particular, will be sustainable goals achievement. Everything will depend on it: partnerships, reputation, audience, and profit. aPaaS are rapid application development tools. It means they save human, financial, time, and natural resources. The sustainability concept welcomes this approach. That's why enterprises will increasingly choose aPaaSs for their operation.

Moreover, no one said that vendors would stop introducing new features into their low code platforms. Based on their popularity, we should expect practical innovations soon.


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