Feb 23, 2022
10 min to read
Migrating to a new composable or headless commerce platform might seem daunting. It doesn't need to be, thanks to PIM.
They say that hindsight is a great teacher. And if we look back at the last couple of years, we have learned how important it was for brands and retailers to have been ready for the huge pivot they were forced to make virtually overnight (as many of us were in our own ways). Those businesses are still dealing with everything from supply chain issues to getting onto new channels where their customers are now buying. For some, their legacy ecommerce platforms just weren’t ready to keep up with the sudden change in needs and expectations that we shoppers had – whether that was fulfilling demands for sanitizing wipes, or expecting the same high-quality service we got in-store to be available to us digitally. As a result, we at Akeneo have seen a lot of interest in the market to move to new commerce technology architectures that bring that agility and flexibility to those brands and retailers, enabling them to be ready for the growth challenges of today and tomorrow. Let’s take a look at why this matters…
A composable commerce architecture, including headless commerce, is one such modern path that promises to bring that agility and flexibility to commerce businesses. These solutions take a modular, best-of-breed approach to commerce technology. By decoupling and then orchestrating front-facing capabilities and experiences from back-office business applications and integrations, brands and retailers can implement new features across all their owned and unowned channels within a matter of weeks, not several months, while supporting new shopping experiences, all without having to upgrade the entire back-end infrastructure (hence being headless). Composable commerce promises to bring greater control back to those businesses for the experiences they provide, compared to the ones the legacy ecommerce platforms used to drive while supporting the ever-evolving needs that we fickle shoppers have, irrespective of where and how we wish to discover, browse and buy the products that we need (or convince ourselves that we need!)
Composable and headless commerce sounds really promising, right? We agree. But these new approaches can be somewhat mystifying to many in both business and IT roles. So much so that Forrester found that 84% of firms are at a beginner or intermediate level of digital maturity. Yet many modern composable commerce solutions are only suitable for the most digitally advanced clients. As Forrester’s Joe Cicman said, “Thinking about your new platform merely as a container to lift and shift legacy customizations is a recipe for trouble.” We have heard from our customers and partners that thinking this way can end up significantly delaying these strategically important transformation initiatives. And that puts businesses at the risk of missing growth targets as a result of a delayed or failed ecommerce replatform project. Relying solely on a new commerce platform isn’t enough to transform a business and be ready for the next pivot, especially if your organization isn’t mature enough or doesn’t have the required resources to make the switch in-time and on-budget. There are so many other factors and technologies that need to be taken into account, from the types of data needed, to the people and processes involved, to the related technologies that need to be integrated into this new composable commerce architecture. So what should be tackled first to smooth the migration to this exciting, future-proof composable commerce architecture?
The recommended first step to take before or when starting to replatform to a composable commerce architecture is to get the underlying product data and content in order and ready for migration. And that’s where a PIM solution comes into play. Why is that?
Firstly, everything that constitutes product information is a critical foundation to how you deliver product experiences, irrespective of the architecture used or the channel it appears on. The first touchpoint we typically have with a brand or retailer is through the product experience we have with them, and getting the product information right will determine success, no matter how we deliver that experience today or 10 years from now. When we do start shopping for hard-to-find console game controllers from our in-car display screens, businesses won’t be recreating information about their products just for that channel.
Secondly, a headless, composable commerce architecture by its nature is made up of individual, best-of-breed applications, each handling a specific aspect of the overall shopping experience (recommendations, merchandising, shopping cart, payment, and so on). Product data and content flows through and is processed by many of those applications, all of which are orchestrated via standardized APIs. Therefore, the product information needs to be well-structured, consistent, complete, accurate (and of course, compelling) to be handled reliably across those applications and correctly according to the channel or experience on the front-end.
If you’re thinking “well it sounds like a PIM is a necessary part of this composable commerce architecture” you would be right!
What should you be looking for in a PIM solution to de-risk your ecommerce replatforming project and be ready for whatever challenges the future throws at us? There are a few things to include in your checklist:
So how can Akeneo help you check these things off this list of success criteria you now have, we hear you ask…
Demystifying how composable commerce architectures and headless commerce platforms can help your business transform while being ready for the next pivot we will inevitably have to make can seem daunting. But by taking some first steps to build a foundation for your ecommerce replatforming with a scalable, well-integrated, and fast-to-implement solution like Akeneo PIM can ensure the product experiences never miss a beat and get your business going in the right direction. By doing so, we have faith you will be one step ahead of, and not relying on hindsight, in building the next great product experiences!
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