Book Review- Transforming Retail with ‘The Good Jobs Strategy’

Authored by Cathy Chandhok, Chief Marketing Officer

Careers in retail have a reputation for being “bad jobs” with the average retail cashier in America making about $10 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average retail sales worker makes $12 an hour, and one in three retail jobs is part-time. Workers’ schedules are often erratic, with few or no benefits.

Zeynep Ton, a professor of Operations at MIT Sloan School of Management, spent over a decade researching supply chain management in the retail industry and found that retail workers were not just poorly paid, but poorly trained. Morale was low, and turnover was high with customer service largely nonexistent. Executives at these companies told her that this “vicious cycle “–operating with employees who were paid as little as possible as labor was such a big part of their overhead– was the only way they could guarantee low prices.

The problems that resulted were an unavoidable by-product of a low-price business model.

“There is, in fact, a good jobs strategy,“ says Ton, “even in low-cost retail, that combines high investment in employees with a set of operational decisions that deliver value to employers, customers and investors.”

In her book, The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, Ton gives examples of how four retailers deploy the Good Job Strategy and use operations to deliver good jobs to employees, strong returns to investors, low prices and good service to customers all at the same time.

Operating in a Virtuous Cycle

When retailers begin to view labor as a driver of sales and profits and not as a cost to be minimized, they create a virtuous cycle. Investment in employees is the perfect answer to the retail conundrum; it improves operational execution, increasing sales and profits, ensuring a larger labor budget, which could mean more investments for in store employees.

Model retailers complement their investment in employees with the following operational practices:

  • Offer less. Model Retailers offer less, which reduces costs significantly and can increase customer satisfaction. With fewer products, employees can be familiar with everything the store sells and make knowledgeable recommendations to customers. Trader Joe’s, one of the Model Retailers Ton studied, is famous for this. Sales per square foot at these stores suggest that customers don’t mind the limited options.
  • Standardize and empower. Most retailers only allow employees to execute plans made from the top. Model retailers combine standardization with empowerment. Allowing employees to make small decisions, such as product returns, how many items to order for their store, makes companies more responsive to local needs and preferences. This empowerment increases satisfaction of the customer as well as that of an employee.
  • Cross Train employees. Instead of varying the number of employees to match traffic as other retailers do, Model retailers vary what employees do. Cross Training, Ton found, ensures that employees are always busy and that customers always receive good service. At QuikTrip, a convenience store chain and one of the model retailers Ton studied, part-time employees receive 40 hours of training and full-time employees receive two weeks. They learn everything from checking out customers and ordering merchandise to cleaning bathrooms and sweeping the parking lots. A model retailer that Ton studied in her book, cross trains employees on all skills in each department, this helps provide flexibility to deal with changes in customer traffic through the day.
  • Operate with slack. Many retailers try to get by with fewer employees, while retailers that operate in a virtuous cycle often err on the side of overstaffing. This approach improves customer service and reduces costs as it enables employees to contribute to continuous improvement of their store.

The secret to staying great: Seizing Strategic Opportunities

  • Adapting to change, such as shift is customer preferences and new technology. UPS, for example, transformed package delivery by innovating and adapting to new technologies and business environments, and to changing needs of its customers. UPS delivers 7 million packages and documents daily and revenue in 2018 was $72 billion.
  • Keep a loyal customer base, by building and nurturing relationships with customers. “I love the fact that when we go to Costco,” says Ton, “the person checking my receipt draws a smiley face on it and hands it to my kids.”

Retailers that operate in a Virtuous Cycle not only invest heavily in store employees but also have the lowest prices in their industries, solid financial performance, and better customer service than their competitors.  In the end, this model combination of operations and investment in employees allows companies to earn more than competitors, create jobs that give dignity and respect to employees and still provide low prices and better customer service to customers. Companies that use this this strategy, mentioned in the book are Costco and Zappos among many others.

The above excerpt is a summation of the book ‘The Good Jobs Strategy’ by Zeynep Ton. To know more about how Infogain combines digital transformation with retail value chain accelerators and automation to enhance the NextGen retailing reach out to us at info@infogain.com

Jesta I.S. Helps National Footwear Retailer Accelerate Revenues with Vision Suite Software

Client Background

The client is a customer of Jesta I.S, an Infogain partner. They are recognized as one of North America’s largest designers, producers and retailers of footwear and accessories. They have an e-commerce website, design and sourcing operations, and a wholesaling business with more than 1,000 points of distribution.

Business & Technical Challenges

The client wanted to improve customer service and increase customer satisfaction by offering their shoppers the ability to order shoes in-store and have them delivered anywhere. Challenges included integration of the solution with the client’s central systems and databases, third party vendors and APIs

Infogain Wins Deal to Provide Robotic Process Automation to Japanese Multi-National Consumer Products Company

Singapore, May 29, 2019: Infogain, a leading provider of technology solutions, is pleased to announce a deal with one of the world’s leading consumer products companies. The new client is an established brewing, distilling and retailing company in Japan, with annual revenues exceeding $19.2 billion and over 37,000 employees worldwide.

Infogain will establish a Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Center of Excellence and automate certain business processes. Infogain’s solution will implement automation processes in its subsidiaries located across Asia including, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries.

Infogain’s automation solution, utilizing RPA capabilities will reduce manual time, errors, delays in processing and this will allow for its employees to take on more value-added tasks. In the long run, this will lead to increased productivity and future growth.

“We are thrilled to help one of the world’s leading consumer products companies begin their RPA journey. With our strong Automation Anywhere partnership and recent RPA implementations, our automation team will provide a comprehensive automation platform that drives business value in this cognitive era,” said Sachin Nagarajappa, AVP and Head, South East Asia.

Infogain’s Automation Practice has deployed over 350 bots to the technology, retail, travel and insurance industries. In addition to start-up kits for RPA fitment and adoption; and reusable automation frameworks, core activities cover – CoE blueprinting, bot development, bot testing, build CoEs and bot support. Infogain was one of the first to deploy and integrate Automation Anywhere’s RPA Platform to Google Cloud for a World Leading Digital Hospitality Marketplace, presenting this success story at Google Next’19.

About Infogain

Infogain is a Silicon Valley headquartered company with expertise in software platform engineering and deep domain skills in travel, retail, insurance and high technology. We accelerate the delivery of digital customer engagement systems using digital technologies such as cloud, microservices, robotic process automation and artificial intelligence for our clients. For more information, visit www.infogain.com.

For more information, contact:

Cathy Chandhok, VP – Marketing

Email: Cathy.Chandhok@infogain.com

Singapore: +65 62741455

India: +91 12 0244 5144

Indian Retailer Magazine | How retailers can transform in store purchasing experience?

A guest article appeared in Indian Retailer Magazine, co-authored by Niranter Kumar Dubey, Delivery Head – Retail, Infogain, and Ashish Tripathi, Tech Lead-Mobility, Infogain. To view the original article please follow this link

mPOS transforms the in-store purchasing experience, leading to greater operating efficiency and reduced costs

In an era of strong competition, retailers are continually seeking ways to attract more customers with loyalty programs and other methods. With this in mind, mobility solutions for the retail industry have designed in-store experiences that contain interactive information of their items, including inventories and prices and promotions available at their customer’s fingertips.

Mobile devices that contain retailers mobile solutions empower their customers with real time information. Real time pricing, availability and promotions on any product are instantly available without asking the sales associate.

Introduction TO Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS)

Mobile point of sale (POS) is an in-store solution for the stores to increase operational efficiency and reduce the cost of an additional sales counter.

Basically, mobile POS allows for customer transactions to be carried by a portable mobile device instead of a traditional checkout register.

Most retail stores and restaurants have a fixed point of sale, during the transactional stage when money is received in exchange of goods.

Today, most of the transactions are transpiring via credit or debit cards over the POS, which consists of a computer linked with machine, allowing the merchant to swipe/insert the chip and pin the cards. Whereas the mobile point of sale is hand held portable device that performs the same operation, with the advantage of working remotely for the same system.

Increasing the in-Store retail experience with mPOS

Typical brick and mortar stores are still needed, because their customer’s desire the touch, feel, look and smell of merchandise. They must also compete with online brands and stores on price.  To retain their business, the merchant should offer a compelling in-store and online experience that provides value and convenience, so that the customers do not go elsewhere.

You do not know what a customer satisfaction fails looks like. If you want your customer to be excited about your brand, then you need to execute a strategy that enhances their in-store experience.

Mobile POS (mPOS) adds tremendous value and enhances the in-store customer experiences. Mobile POS  is not limited to the retail industry. It is applicable to many other industries like Travel, Hospitality etc.

mPOS Solution Key Benefits

Ease of Searching Inventory and Pricing

Sales associates can easily check the inventory and prices with the help of mobile point of sale, when asked by a customer. With the portable POS device, the sales associates can easily walk around in the store and can help the customer on demand.

Consultative Selling                                                                                                             

Sales associates have the capabilities for consultative selling with the help of Mobile POS (mPOS). They can discuss options with the customers in store and steer them toward a better product or items.

Sell Anywhere Anytime

Mobile point of sale is the key to facilitating the payment process and reduced transaction times. With mPOS, sales associates can complete the transaction when the customer is ready to make a purchase.

Queue Busting

With the help of mobile point of sale solutions, long waits at the checkout queue are a thing of the past. Customer satisfaction is increased due to the efficient transaction and payment process of mPOS.

Email Receipts

Since mPOS provides the digital records of the customer purchase, they can easily keep track of their purchase records.

mPOS is Versatile

mPOS solutions can be used as a cashier, return station or help desk.

Selling via Pop-Up Stores

Point of Sale solutions are not portable because of the connection to register and payment devices. In this case,it is difficult to increase sales via pop up stores. At pop up stores only the mobile point of the sell is the right option for selling the product. Sales associates can carry the portable devices which are connected with the server remotely with easy installation.

Secured Payment Process

The fully encrypted transaction is processed without storing the card data via mPOS. By usingP2PE (point-to-point encryption), credit card information is encrypted upon the initial swipe and then securely transferred to the payment process before being decrypted and processed.

Rewarding a Loyal Customers is Easy

It is easy to integrate the merchant CRM system such as loyalty with Mobile POS (mPOS). Loyalty benefits are given to the customer during purchases by analyzing the customer’s profile and prior purchase history.

Locate the items in store

Mobile POS (mPOS) can provide to customers, real time information about the store layout and location of the Items with the help of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and location based services.

Replacing Cash Register with Wireless Cash Drawers and Printing Receipts

Mobile point of sale can replace the cash register and work with wireless cash drawers and printers. The customer does not have the card, yet can make the payment once purchasing is complete. The customer can make the payment via cash with the help of sales associates over the wireless cash drawers.

Easy Payments

Mobile point of sale integration with Apple Pay, or Android Pay makes life easier for the customer during payment. Sales associates can simply tap their card from the customer or theirs martphones. Easier payment is achieved with Near Feld Communication (NFC)that contains card details.NFC technology increases the customer’s  in-store experience.

mPOS creates more opportunities to sell and promotes customer centricity

Mobile point of sales solutions can handle omni channel touchpoints including“By Online”, “Pick-up in store,”and “Placing orders” in addition to scheduling home delivery or delivery to any nearby store.

mPOS can be configured to process the return on the spot, giving additional opportunities for sales associates to enhance the customer experiences or make an additional sale.

Mobile point of sale allows retailers and merchants to place consumers at the center of their interactions, no matter where they are at in their shopping journey.

mPOS beyond Retail

mPOS is not limited to the retail sector. Mobile point of sale includes more than payment processing and extends beyond retail stores.Several examples include restaurants, health care applications, hotels and resorts.

MPOS is perfect for sporting and other events in fixed venues to avoid the queues and allows for payment at other locations,  mPOS may be used in similar fashion at conference and conventions in addition to outdoor concerts and festivals that take place at temporary locations.

mPOS solutions continue to experience strong growth with micro merchants. Many micro merchants operate with cash and check only because they cannot afford the high costs associated with traditional card processing equipment, processing and maintenance fee.

Adopting MPOS gives micro merchants a low cost solution and flexible pricing models that makes accepting credit cards feasible. At the same time, mPOS allows for larger retailers to gain efficiencies, while enhancing the in-store shopping experience for their customers.

mPOS transforms the in-store purchasing experience, leading to greater operating efficiency and reduced costs. Contact Infogain’s mobility team today to learn how you can implement mobility in your organization.

 

Jesta’s 5 Takeaways from NRF 2019 Retail’s Big Show & EXPO

Guest Blog by Camille Chin, Jesta 

Retail partner Jesta gives a product experts recap of NRF: Retail’s Big Show, recently held in New York City.

There’s no better place than NRF: Retail’s Big Show to get the buzz on the retail streets. It’s unarguably the place to get tips that could impact the way you do business and also to catch wind of the trends that will likely shape the industry next.

NRF’s daily session presentations are ideal for gleaning new business insights. Here are five of the talks that our very own experts attended at #NRF2019, January 13 to 15, and the tips they took away.

1. Map Out Your Touchpoints
How many customer touchpoints does your company have? Can you count them on one hand or is the number in the dozens? It’s important for retailers to map out all the touchpoints their customers may experience to ensure cohesive brand interactions and shopping journeys. Whether it be through emails, blogs, print ads, digital ads, call centers, in-store visits etc., companies from start-ups to multimillion dollar enterprises have so many opportunities to talk to shoppers and make a lasting impression. Session: Larger than life – Creating the Ultimate Immersive Experience.

2. Retain Tech Talent
Top companies like Stitch Fix and Sephora continue to grow in size and popularity, and it’s hardly by chance. In addition to attracting, recruiting and hiring individuals who are well-versed in the latest ground-breaking tech, top companies integrate and retain “tech-talent” through creative flexibility that nurtures and expands their knowledge. Benefits such as working from home and flexible hours also ensure that employees feel trusted, empowered and in turn motivated to succeed and influence the larger culture. Session: Tech First – How Retail is Reimagining Talent and Acquisition for the Digital Generation.

3. Attain Omnichannel Musts
Leading retail companies like eBay, UK-based John Lewis, and Walmart prioritize shopping experiences to ensure they’re flawless across every customer touchpoint, device and location to grow sales and customer loyalty. The five omnichannel capabilities listed here were identified as must-haves to make lasting shopper impressions:

  • Accurate inventory visibility across all channels
  • Consistent Endless Aisle experiences both online and in store
  • The ability to start a transaction online and then complete it in store
  • The capacity to buy online and pickup in store with a short fulfillment time
  • Same-day ship from store

Session: Five Secrets to Omnichannel Success.

4. Stay On Top of Trends
Understanding global consumer trends can help retailers invest in technology more intelligently, create dynamic experiences for customers and find best-in-class strategic partners. One current project with a pulse on how retail is changing and the direction it may continue to evolve is Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Hudson Yards has been described as the neighbourhood of the future and is one of the largest, private, mixed-use real estate projects in the world. Its hotel, residential spaces, office towers, stores, and restaurants are so tech-forward, even in terms of sustainability, it’s no doubt a project to stay on top of — and maybe even model. Session: Understanding the International Consumer.

5. Be Mindful of Other Industries
Tomorrow’s consumer will expect anything, anyplace, anytime. We have to improve our shipping times and inventory turnarounds now by exploring new models and technologies. Could the solution be robotics, delivery drones or self-driving vehicles? The answer is being explored as we speak, but one thing is for sure: online groceries are a massive opportunity finally reaching an inflection point. Follow the advances in the food industry — self-checkout apps, click and collect, driverless delivery and more — for ideas about your fulfillment future. Session: A Long View on Logistics and the Future of Fulfillment.

How We Can Help:
Jesta’s end-to-end Vision Suite platform streamlines and unifies entire supply chains. Our Omnichannel Solutions, complete with Endless Aisle and Order Management software, will get you many of the must-have capabilities and help you create immersive shopping experiences to uniquely color each of your customer touchpoints.

For more information on retail solutions from Jesta I.S. and Infogain, click here or reach out to us at retailsolutions@infogain.com

Platforms & Cognitive: Transforming QA Engineering Technologies, Roles & Expectation

Infogain, in partnership with IDC, hosted a roundtable for a select group of CXOs, senior executives and IT leaders on October 18 in Dallas. This exclusive group of executives shared the ways in which they are driving technology-related initiatives within their organizations.

It was an extremely constructive event as participants, including Infogain’s solutions leadership, discussed key topics including QA Transformation, the benefits of test automation, cognitive technologies, enterprise adoption, and industry trends. In addition, participants brainstormed challenges and shared success stories.

Peter Marston, Lead Analyst at IDC gave the keynote presentation and was also the moderator of the roundtable.

Below are central takeaways from the event.

      I.Preparing for the next generation of QA

Peter Marston’s keynote presentation provided an overview of the impact of automation on QA and enterprise business value. Automation = speed and dramatically reduces the time of business processes while increasing the utilization of storage, systems/servers to 80% of capacity. Automation also reduces the time responding to an event-driven situation such as a security breach, a product recall or competitive situation effectively enhances risk management.

Marston’s presentation prepped the roundtable for a lively discussion as he asked participants to consider how their businesses will change in the next 5 years:

  • How many ‘distinct/unique’ business applications now and in 5 years?
  • DevOps strategy and capabilities?
  • Architectural Preferences?
  • Deployment of Releases?

Marston’s conclusion: QA will grow more complex in the future, but there are ways to be successful as QA evolves.

Marston also urged IT leaders to:

  • Identify their future QA state
  • Assess internal capabilities, gaps, and maturity levels
  • Establish, cultivate, and groom your partner ecosystem
  • Explore next-generation services contracts
  • Adhere to best practices.

    II. Mitigating risk in tomorrow’s software architecture

Vikas Mittal and Nishith Mathur, solutions leaders for Infogain, followed Peter Martson’s presentation, digging deeper into the future of QA by sharing Infogain’s strategy for the future. They raised the importance of thinking of QA as an enabler of Customer Satisfaction rather than mere “Defect Finding”.

What is holding businesses back?  The pace of application delivery demands has accelerated, so QA organizations need to ensure proper test case coverage across functional, regression, usability, integration, performance and security testing.

Advanced testing frameworks and toolsets coupled with data analytics offer the best solution to meet this need:

  • BOTS for automating Test Infrastructure & Test Data
  • A Test Automation Engine

This is the framework of Infogain’s Unified Automation Platform (UAP), an advanced test automation framework designed with Agile and DevOps development frameworks.

Through Infogain’s UAP platform, BOTS and Test Automation achieve:

  • 50%-80% reduction in annual regression spending
  • Adding Intelligence to Test Automation reduces spending by another 50%.

What is the key to design of a successful intelligent design? Frame and address the challenges:

Vikas and Nishith’s s presentation was followed by examples of Infogain’s UAP in action.

One of our clients is a leading technology solutions provider to the nearly US$8 trillion travel industry, and the world’s largest provider of airline and hotel technology. Their challenge? The continuous growth of test cases and frameworks, tools and technologies, led to regression suites that were hard to scale, costly to maintain and slow to execute.

Infogain’s UAP was implemented and achieved increased regression coverage, a 50% reduction in execution time with quicker execution time at lower costs and minimally invasiveness to existing investments, and the key achievements being:

  • Mainframe monthly regression duration was reduced from 2 weeks to 5 days
  • Effort was reduced from 1,400+ hours to 321 hours

Above all, with the addition of Intelligent test automation, UAP and test framework are scaling to Next Gen Platform needs:

  • MicroServices Testing
  • DevOps Ready
  • Contract Testing
  • Standardization of test data, expandable across platforms (Golden Data set versus local data)

Infogain’s Quality Assurance solutions combine automation with intelligence to help enterprises deliver products that are error-free and in line with customer expectations. Our Agile approach enables organizations to achieve speed, efficiency, and accuracy while adopting a proactive approach to development. Learn more about Infogain’s UAP platform here.

Contact us today and learn how we can help reduce costs and deliver a better-quality product with Infogain’s UAP framework.

TechGig & MapMyIndia Boardroom Dialogue

TechGig, India’s largest tech community and MapMyIndia, India’s leading geo tagging-based service provider, hosted an exclusive Boardroom Dialogue on Aug 23, 2018 in Gurgaon. The purpose of the event was to discuss the optimum use of location intelligence for FMCG domain. Dr. Hemen Goswami, VP Solutions at Infogain, participated as a panelist at the round table event which highlighted how location intelligence can become a crucial competitive advantage for FMCG/Retail & Healthcare companies in the future. Upakul Barkakaty, the head of Infogain’s mobility practice, participated as well.

About MapMyIndia

MapMyIndia is India’s leader in premium quality digital map data, APIs, GPS navigation, telematics, location-based SaaS and GIS Solutions. MapMyIndia’s offerings include:

  • Map data solutions with cutting-edge location technology products and solutions in the areas of Navigation, Tracking, IoT and Analytics for products, services and solutions
  • Fleet Tracking & telematics which allows the monitoring of location, movement, status and behavior of a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.
  • GeoAnalytics & Decision Support, using location knowledge to frame marketing efforts by adding location intelligence to business analytics provided valuable insights into where to pitch, open a new branch, penetrate a new market.

The main focus of the event was about applications within India with examples of how retailers use MapMyIndia’s offerings for inventory replenishment and location, personalization, and location-based marketing campaigns.

Other location-based intelligence approaches that help businesses in India were discussed as well, including Unified Commerce, a business design that that leverages the integration of retail processes and systems to provide full transparency of consumers on the back end and seamless customer experiences on the front end, regardless of the journey taken to make a purchase.

“Retailers are making a transition from Omnichannel to Unified Commerce,” said Infogain’s Hemen Goswami, “Omnichannel talks about integrating brick and mortar but still at the backend it is diverse enterprise systems.  Unified commerce applies omnichannel to the system environment. The primary focus is to leverage data, captured from distributed sources and multiple channels, to ensure that the end consumer’s experience achieves precedence over everything.”

“An excellent example of Unified Commerce, outlined by Justin Guinn of Software Advice, a Gartner Company, looks like this:”

On the back end:

  • A Retailer tracks customer’s movement throughout the store. RFID tags, shelf labels and perhaps even computer vision and other sensors communicate with a newly designed consumer app on the customers’ phone.
  • Retailers can record products that a customer looks at, picks up and even carries around but doesn’t purchase. Interaction with these products will be stored with previously in-store and online interactions.
  • Past recorded interactions with similar products will prompt a targeted social campaign that features the product(s) in question in an Instagram post. The post includes a link to purchase that opens the retailers’ app to the checkout screen with the item in customers’ cart.

On the front end:

  • Customer revisits a physical store, browsing products on shelves while looking at special in-store deals featured in the store’s app.
  • Customer picks up a few products, even carries one around for a while, but doesn’t make a purchase.
  • While browsing Instagram later in the same day, the customer sees an ad for the product that was almost purchased. There’s a link in the text of the Instagram post stating the customer can get the product for 10 percent off the store price by clicking the included link.
  • Customer clicks the link in the Instagram text and it prompts the retail store’s app to open. The app opens directly to the checkout screen and features the product in question already in the cart. Related items are listed below that can be added to the cart with one click.
  • The customer adds two of the related products to the cart and purchases them with the original product in question. The customer receives a message on the store’s app confirming the purchase and asking if the customer wants to receive a 5 percent-off coupon for use in-store by sharing a notification about the purchase across social channels or directly to contacts.

While intelligent location-based processes for marketing and operations are promising, executives at the Board Room Dialogue discussed the challenges that exist:

  • Internet connectivity issues, particularly in smaller (“tier 2”” and “tier 3”) cities in India.
  • Location information that comes in a convoluted form.   In broad terms, retailers need to obtain the location information, then link it to their customer records, then get insights, then use the insights, then execute targeted actions accordingly.
  • The struggle to use data to get intelligence.  Proper data modeling is needed, as well as data scientists who can use the data to build the intelligence.
  • Determining which devices to use to capture location information, including electronic GSM devices, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and receivers, GPS satellites.
  • Standard governance.  Location is closely connected to IoT, and location info comes from IoT devices.  We must insure privacy and make sure that government regulations are respected properly.

The event was a great opportunity for participants to collaborate with C-Suite executives and thought leaders from the leading FMCG/Retail & Healthcare industries about driving growth factors, process innovation and technology adoption for tapping growth in both urban/ rural markets.

Infogain’s Unified View platform enables Data convergence and data regulation in conjunction with IoT and location-based solutions. Contact us to learn more.

Microservices: 5 Challenges and How to Solve Them

By : Mohit Kumar Mittal | Senior Architect and Hemen Goswami | Vice President

Introduction

Microservice is an architecture that has been gaining traction in the past few years. MSA (Microservice Architecture) defines an application as a program composed of loosely coupled services. This comes with lots of challenges that we must solve up front.  Below are some such common challenges, patterns to solve, and some potential technical solutions.

Challenge #1: Service Discovery and Registry

Microservices is an architecture style for distributed computing. An application is composed of multiple fine grain independent services that communicate over a network. To use a service, the consumer needs to know its specific network location. This is an issue that will grow even more complex if the network location of services keeps changing.

Some examples of consumers of services are external clients like Mobile App, API Gateway and other (Micro) services.

Recommended Solution

System designers should implement a service Registry and a database of all the services network locations. They can register services themselves or by way of a third party to a common registry. Consumers can use this service registry to dynamically discover network locations of services.

Technical Implementation

Netflix Eureka service registry, Kubernetes Service

Challenge #2: Unified Access of Services

In Microservices architecture, there can be multiple services and multiple consumers. Different consumers may require different services—for example, Mobile App may need to display fine grained information, while web-based applications may need to render coarse grained information.

On top of that, services may be using different protocols like JMS or REST etc. In order to simplify services access, there needs to be a unified access mechanism.

Recommended Solution

A potential solution to this concern would be to implement an API gateway as a single-entry point for all services. All the consumers will call API gateway and API gateway should route them to their required services. Additionally, API gateway can provide services like “Aggregation of Services”, “Security”, “Metering” etc.

Technical Implementation

Spring Cloud Zuul, Amazon API Gateway, Apigee

Challenge #3: Authentication and Authorization

Security is a key aspect in Microservices.

Recommended Solution

Implement a common and centralized authentication service. This service will allow all the consumers to get authenticated before seeking a services access. Individual services should be responsible for the authorization of its consumers.

Technical Implementation

oAuth, JWT

Challenge #4: Logging and Debugging

In a Microservices architecture, there can be use cases that span across services. In a scenario in which each service generates its own logs, it would be nightmare for a developer to troubleshoot a bug, as he/she would have to aggregate all the services log and analyze manually

Recommended Solution

One could instead implement a common logging service, wherein each service can use this service to write logs.

Technical Implementation

Elastich Serach, LogsTash, Kibana (ELK)

Challenge #5: Configuration

Configuring services is an added complexity in Microservices. Since each service is independent, it must be configured separately. This will make it difficult to run applications in different environments without making adjustments. Configurations can be anything like DB Credentials, Environment Variables and Network Locations.

Recommended Solution

Implement a common/centralized configuration service. This service can be backed by a common configuration repository so that all services can request this service to read configurations.

Technical Implementation

Spring Cloud Config Server , kubernetes configmap

Infogain Announces Strategic Alliance with Jesta I.S.

Los Gatos, CA – August 28, 2018 – Infogain, a Silicon Valley provider of vertically-specialized software engineering services, is pleased to announce our partnership with Jesta I.S. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Jesta I.S. is an international supplier of integrated software solutions for brand manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers specializing in apparel, footwear and hard goods verticals. The company was recently positioned as a “Major Player” in IDC’s report “Worldwide Point-of-Sale Software in Small and Midsize Retail Apparel and Softlines 2018 Vendor Assessment”. The report assesses vendors’ capabilities in omni-channel, technical, integration, customer (record/engagement), product, transaction management, and fulfillment.

In the new alliance, Infogain will support Jesta I.S. to provide best-in-class retail functionality to customers in the United States and Canada as well as responding to for demand for Jesta IS services internationally. Infogain’s deep retail industry expertise combined with new digital approaches such as robotic process automation will improve business operations and enhance customer service for Jesta I.S. clients.

“Our new alliance with Infogain will enable Jesta IS to leverage and further enhance its marketing and sales efforts by strengthening our position in North America and expanding as a market leader in the APAC and Middle East regions. Infogain’s extensive retail client relationships and delivery centers around the world make this partnership a great step in the right direction for Jesta, and will help us meet the increasing demand for our solutions.” said Moris Chemtov, President of Jesta I.S.

“Infogain’s digital transformation and automation solutions, along with our software platform engineering expertise complement Jesta I.S. offerings and further expand value added at Jesta customers. We are excited to partner with a software solution leader that is best-in-class, innovative and recognized for outstanding client service. We look forward to a long and successful partnership,” said Rohit Nagpal, VP & Global Head of Retail, Travel and Hospitality services at Infogain.

About Jesta I.S., Inc.

Jesta I.S. is an international supplier of integrated software solutions for brand manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers specializing in apparel, footwear and hard goods verticals. Jesta’s Vision Suite is a modular software platform that helps simplify the Omni- channel journey for retailers and wholesalers – from PLM to POS. With 50 years in the business, Jesta I.S. has the experience and resources to help with the technology aspect, the human factor and everything in between. Customers include Perry Ellis International, Puma, Harry Rosen, Genesco, Town Shoes, Peter Harris Clothes, , Cole Haan, Canex, DSW, Carter’s and Stokes. For more information, visit www.jestais.com.

About Infogain

Infogain is a Silicon Valley headquartered company with expertise in software platform engineering and deep domain skills in travel, retail, insurance, and high technology. We accelerate the delivery of digital customer engagement systems using digital technologies such as cloud, microservices, robotic process automation and artificial Intelligence for our clients.

Our unique engagement approach of “Listen-Curate-Deliver” helps to accelerate the innovation journey of 5 of the world’s largest 50 companies and 24 of the Fortune 500, with several relationships of over 10 years. We deliver positive business outcomes using rapid prototyping and a solid foundation of DevOps-based software platform engineering that ensure high-quality and on-time delivery. Our 3,500 global employees across the US, UK, Singapore, Middle East and India focus on client value creation, delivery excellence and innovation. For more information, visit www.infogain.com.

For more information, contact:Infogain

Cathy Chandhok
VP – Marketing
Cathy.Chandhok@infogain.com
(408) 355-6028

Can Microservices revolutionize automated testing?

Source: https://dzone.com/articles/what-are-microservices-actually

In the field of test engineering, microservices have been making waves in the testing community over the past year, and with good reason. With many companies investing in DevOps and favoring a more microservice-oriented framework of software development, testing practices will also need to change. Microservices will have various significant impacts on the future of testing.

Before we tackle these changes, let us define microservice. Microservices architecture is a branch of services-oriented architecture (SOA) that consists of several extremely narrowly focused services that, when brought together, function as an application. In contrast, monolithic applications are when a single application is comprised of the client access code, business logic, and the data layer combined.

The problem with monolithic applications is that when a company wants to make minor changes to a single line of code, it requires a complete overhaul of entire application. Microservices present a novel solution to this problem, because rather than redeploying all the code, an arduous and complex process, the target layer they wish to change can be altered individually.

A real story of this positive transition is the Amazon application. In 2001, the Amazon retail website was one large architectural monolith, a huge single code base and a clumsy, frankly outdated way to operate the application. In keeping with their forward-looking culture, they took the truly revolutionary approach of decoupling service architectures to simplify their pipeline and enable them to roll out updates every 11.6 seconds. This is a testament to the value of microservices and demonstrates how it is feasible for scalability, relatability, and availability. Other companies like Netflix and HelloFresh are following Amazon’s example and breaking up their apps as well.

As these development processes transform, optimal testing technology choices also change.  Karate is a simple, elegant open-source tool that simplifies microservices testing and claims that the business of testing web APIs might be fun. It does this by reducing the entry barrier to writing a test, thus increasing the readability of tests and making the test easier to maintain.

Furthermore, microservices will change the methodology of testing. When you want to make a specific change a microservice, you can use stubs to isolate individual integration points of the application from each other for unit testing. This will dramatically simplify the testing process. Also, you can automate testing earlier in the process, because you won’t have to test the code that’s driving the user interface and experience, absolving you of onerous, manual, often subjective evaluation of these components. On the other hand, testing microservice architecture poses a unique challenge that did not really exist with monoliths: when running software tests on a microservice, you need to ensure that not only that specific microservice performs as expected, but also that all the microservices that compose an application behave harmoniously as they were intended.

In summary, as teams adopt microservices, companies will observe significant simplifications in the way in which testing takes place.  Infogain’s testing team provides microservices-based testing for Fortune 100 companies and is a world leader in automated, cognitive-automation-driven automation testing.

Vikas Mittal | Head – Testing Expert Centers and Solution Delivery

https://www.infogain.com/digital-transformation/