XY Retail built software to keep up with constant change in commerce

CTO Puneet Arora talks about the wave of change in the technology that powers retail.

shirts on a grid

Inside XY Retail's platform. (Photo via XY Retail/Vimeo)

Allowing associates to check out customers anywhere. Shipping from a store. Gaining inventory visibility around the globe.

These are all requirements for retailers looking to serve customers with a great experience that crosses online and in-store channels, and new additions are emerging frequently.

But at legacy retailers, the software that powers these functions wasn’t built to change at such a breakneck pace. They may be using decade-old point-of-sale systems, and working with agencies that plot technology roadmaps in years.

By combining experience building infrastructure technology for banking and markets with cloud and API capabilities, XY Retail CTO Puneet Arora devised a new approach.

Arora compares the current wave of change in enterprise software with the arrival of the assembly line for cars.

“It completely changed the way cars were manufactured,” Arora said of the assembly line on the floor of the NRF Big Show. “I think software is going through the same cycle, where it's actually cheaper and faster to build something new today than it was even five years ago. The key is assembling a team to understand the domain and build that.”

For Arora and team, the result is a global POS and unified commerce solution. Currently used by fashion brands in 35 countries such as Italian menswear brand ISAIA, XY Retail provides a single platform that allows retailers to manage a range of retail operations, from point-of-sale activities to inventory to product catalogs to digital marketing.

It allows associates to serve customers with experiences like checkout from anywhere in a store, made-to-measure and complete and exchange. The associates can also see daily commissions, while CEOs can see trends in sales and consumer behavior from around the globe.

It’s the type of complete platform that may seem difficult to build and change, especially for a retailer that operates hundreds of stores globally. But XY Retail can add and shift quickly, while still operating at scale.

“In construction, you can be in the business of constructing a bathroom, or constructing a city. Software is the same way,” Arora said. “Building an app is like constructing a bathroom. But when you're designing a whole system, like Amazon, that's like constructing a city. So what we've done is, across any feature, 95% of it is common. So that’s all built out already. Then our unit cost is just manufacturing the feature on the top.”

Going forward, the features that are added may be new, but the pipes and wiring of the city on which they are built will remain intact.

“You have to design something so that you can keep adding constantly,” Arora said. “When retail is so fluid and so dynamic, we all want to keep innovating.”

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