December 29th, 2021 | 5 MIN READ

Futureproof eCommerce: What Does it Mean & Why it Matters

Written by Pranav Bahadur

Pranav Bahadur is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path living in the Boston area.

With every year, new trend reports aim to predict the future for the years to come. Within the world of eCommerce, we've seen drastic shifts in customer behavior and expectations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, these proved to accelerate the future predictions rather than depart from expectations. While some brands were able to adapt quickly, many struggled to keep up and eCommerce managers were left wondering first, how to catch up and second, how to ensure their brands wouldn’t fall behind in the future. This post will walk through the importance of 'futureproofing' your eCommerce solution and why you prioritize it now versus in the future.

What is Futureproofing?

Simply put, futureproofing is ensuring your eCommerce solution will continue to deliver value for your brand into the future. That's not to say that a single solution will last forever. Instead, it ensures that your eCommerce solution will continue to keep up with your needs as they change. For example, the ability to easily support new experiences like mobile-self checkout or, seamless integrate new technology.

For a breakdown of crucial commerce trends, check out our Gartner's Predicts report post.

Why Legacy Monolithic Solution Is Vulnerable

Monolithic eCommerce software (or, legacy all-in-one solutions) by design provide interlinked functionality from a single package. Because each commerce function is 'tightly-coupled,' a monolith solution requires extensive work to customize or add new functionality. To learn more about monolithic solutions and how they compare to more modern headless solutions, check out our post here

Most monolithic solutions have long release cycles; they will need several months to add a feature like curbside pick-up or mobile self-checkout, two experiences that gained massive importance during the pandemic. Adding new experiences to a monolith is constrained by the very nature of its architecture. Since each component is 'tightly-coupled,' they are not designed to work with new features easily. Any customizations or additions mean that long hours of implementation and testing are required to ensure a new experience works with the entirety of the rest of the existing monolith. Due to these long release cycles and the lack of control over them, brands running a monolithic eCommerce solution had no possibility of quickly spinning up these experiences, losing customers to competitors that were on future proofed solutions that allowed the rapid addition of these new experiences.

Gartner sums it up well, "Monolithic digital commerce applications cannot support the agility and flexibility needed to support fast-moving digital business. Organizations will need to move toward composable commerce to keep up with the pace of change in customer demand."

 

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What is Composable Commerce? Is it the Solution?

In a nutshell, Composable Commerce is an approach to digital commerce that enables your brand to create a 'best-for-me' solution comprised of third-party vendors and core commerce capabilities that fit your brand's unique needs. It offers a variety of benefits over a traditional monolithic solution, including and not limited to:

  • Speed to market
  • Speed to optimize/ change as needed
  • Flexibility to tailor a solution with third-party features to fit your brand
  • Unmatched scalability with could-native architecture
  • Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  • Business-centric solution to manage multiple customer touchpoints across several channels (B2B, B2C, B2B2C, etc.).
  • Microservices based features are designed to function independently, making them easy to add, remove, or swap as the market and your brand’s goals evolve

To learn more about Composable Commerce, check out our guide here.

A Composable Commerce approach is well equipped to seamlessly add functionality on the fly as your business goals and customer habits evolve. Take mobile touchpoints as an example; with Millennials making up a large percentage of buyers in today's market, it is as vital as ever to have a state-of-the-art mobile commerce experience to fit their expectations. Failing to add a mobile-self checkout or having an app or mobile site that is slow to load can lead to lost conversions and, ultimately, revenue. See our post to learn more about page load speeds and how they impact your bottom line.

A composable approach isn't only about keeping up with the Joneses. It also ensures that you have the flexibility to test and innovate with third-party solutions for a particular functionality to ensure that you create a solution that works best for your brand's needs. For example, experimenting with adding a voice-enabled chat bot or AR showrooms to test if they improve your conversion rates. Compared with the underwhelming, restricted 'what you see is what you get' reality of a monolith solution, a composable approach allows continuous improvement and innovation. Free from coming up with workarounds to a monolithic solution, your eCommerce team can focus on quickly delivering customer experiences that help your brand stand out amongst the competition.

What About 5 Years Into The Future?

If you’ve been in digital commerce for a while, you’re probably experienced in wholescale re-platforming. At this point, you are likely wondering if there is a way to escape the never-ending cycle of re-platforming. It is a costly journey that your brand may have undertaken multiple times already. The reality is, with a SaaS-based, Composable Commerce solution, a full-scale re-platforming is not a concern in the next 5 years.

While no solution will last forever, with a Composable Commerce solution, your brand will be in the best possible position to evolve with the rapidly changing world of eCommerce. You will never have to wait for a new 'release' of a monolithic solution to provide a consistent multi-experience offering to your customers.

Ready for the future? Talk to us today to see how Elastic Path can help your brand solve your eCommerce needs today & tomorrow.

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