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Jul 26, 2017 | 3 minute read

Ecommerce Solutions: 3 Weighty Reasons Why Top Brands are Abandoning the Monoliths in Droves

written by Harry Chemko

As companies across all industries pivot to digital, the landscape of full stack / monolithic ecommerce solutions has expanded. However, there’s a now growing trend among top brands to move away from monolithic commerce technologies that combine content presentation capabilities with catalogues, carts and commerce.

Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than half of all commerce sites will integrate technologies from more than 15 vendors to deliver a digital customer experience. [1]

We see the following reasons why leading companies are abandoning full stack solutions.

1. Transformation: Going digital is no longer just about going online

Top brands realize that digital transformation is not just about making their catalog “available online.” They are re-examining their fundamental value propositions, re-architecting customer experiences, and using technologies to express consistent offerings and services across all touchpoints.

For example, vehicle manufacturers are reimagining the way cars are researched and bought. Retailers are utilizing augmented reality to allow customers try on clothes virtually. Manufacturers are inviting customers to co-create their own pieces through mass customization. Telecoms are enabling the design of custom bundles.

These customer experiences combine best of breed content, marketing, industrial automation, commerce, and consumer technologies to reach a digital-centric customer. Naturally, industries will have different requirements. Typically, monolithic platforms are not always able to easily connect with customers beyond traditional browser based front end. Consequently, top brands are abandoning them in favor of ecommerce technologies that can adapt to any touchpoint (wearables, watches, cars).

2. Flexibility: Full stack solutions limit customer experiences

The most imperative business reason is also the oldest: companies need to differentiate or die. If a company simply wants to just present their catalog online, then a full stack / monolith solution could be the right way to go. However, when major brands seek to create new customer experiences, elevate new business models and disrupt their industry, traditional “add to cart” and “product review” functionality fails to deliver. Reacting to new customer demands, creating new services and customer experiences requires innovative thinking and technologies that bring that new thinking to life.

For example, a major cruise line knew that the only way to fight commoditization was to disrupt through customer experience. They sought to eliminate the friction points of a cruise all while driving increased revenue with innovative on-board commerce touchpoints. Now, passengers receive a bracelet with an embedded device which enables on demand food and beverage purchase, excursion booking, interactive gaming, personalized entertainment, sophisticated wayfinding and more. Passengers can move seamlessly from ship to shore, open their stateroom door without a key and purchase any item, service or excursion without a wallet.

Traditional monolith solutions struggle to enable this new customer experience.

3. Agility: Respond to new customer touchpoints

Monolithic platforms – even those with broad partner ecosystems – lack the ability to rapidly monetize completely new touchpoints, or to support new geographies with all the pricing and regulatory implications they entail.

Consider the problem of creating a way for people to purchase merchandise from their Apple watch. How does a monolithic ecommerce solution interact with this new touchpoint? How will a retailer’s development team respond to a new operating system that they have never worked with before?

As we enter the era of the Internet of Things, top brands may have to work with hundreds of new customer touchpoints that require integration and custom development. This is laborious, time consuming, and increases time to market.

Adopt a “best of breed approach”

For innovative brands, the days of full stack / monolith ecommerce are over. The way to achieve business transformation, continuously differentiate and remain agile is to adopt a best of breed approach to customer experience technologies. To power complete digital commerce functionality, companies must look for a sophisticated system that allows them to leverage any touchpoint, any legacy system, any content management system and any third-party application.

[1] Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, 2017