April 19th, 2023 | 5 MIN READ

How to Supercharge Your Product Catalog without Replatforming

Written by author_profile_images Bryan House

Bryan is the Chief Experience Officer at Elastic Path. Previously, Bryan was the Chief Commercial Officer at Neural Magic, a deep learning software startup where he ran Product, GTM, and Customer Success. An Acquia founding team member, he helped lead the company to $170+M in revenue. His expertise spans machine learning, digital experience platforms, and open source technology. 


There’s a longstanding belief that if you want to change your commerce product catalog, you’re probably signing up for a full-on replatform. The reason? Catalogs are often tightly intertwined with how the commerce platform works overall. In a monolith, the catalog is tightly coupled with promotions, cart, product information management (PIM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and order management systems (OMS). Unwinding this mess is complex and error-prone.

However, supercharging your product catalog doesn’t have to involve a replatform. 

Many brands struggle with rigid, inflexible product catalog management systems that make it nearly impossible to create dynamic product bundles, build shoppable landing pages, and respond quickly to market opportunities. Using EP Product Experience Manager (PXM) it’s possible to execute on unique product merchandising opportunities without custom development work or replatforming. Let’s talk about why a flexible product catalog management experience matters, and how it works. 

Merchandising every moment

At the heart of many frustrating commerce interactions is a broken catalog experience. Or as my colleague Julie Mall put it, “The eCommerce catalog is dead.

If you’ve ever tried to buy something from a “shop the look” page, only to have to search through endless size and color options, you’ve felt this pain. Just recently, I visited two separate landing pages from a brand collaboration to discover that sizes were fully sold out on one brand’s page, but available on the other. These types of catalog configuration and data integration issues shouldn’t be happening in 2023 — but they do all the time!

Even so, brands want to take advantage of all of their merchandising and distribution options. It’s the secret to responding to a moment in time for a campaign, creating a unique product bundle or collaboration, or experimenting with a new marketing or advertising channel. Rigid catalogs stand in the way of progress, and the perceived pain of replatforming is holding brands back from making any changes.

That’s why we built EP PXM to work with existing commerce systems, enabling brands to launch all kinds of creative catalog configurations without custom code. Let’s take a look at how we do this. 

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How EP PXM works with existing commerce platforms

Unlike the traditional commerce catalog, EP PXM can output “finished products,” which can then be ingested into a traditional catalog system. This happens the same way a catalog system might add products from a PIM or ERP, only EP PXM would serve as the product data source.

That way, merchandising and brand teams can work in EP PXM to build bundles and SKUs to increase average order value, quickly move excess inventory, and help their customers assemble multiple products into a single package. From there, these teams can push these bundles through their existing commerce system to be sold like any other product.

In the past, it was very hard to do things like product bundling effectively without a lot of custom development work.

I was visiting a snowboard website recently and was struck by an obvious bundle opportunity — a snowboard requires bindings, the rider often is buying boots at the same time, and there are multiple upsell opportunities including gloves, hats, and jackets. In today’s ecommerce experiences, the best a visitor might get are recommendations such as “people also purchased,” “shop compatible gear,” or “designed to work together.” While these offer visitors flexibility, they also push the burden of packaging multiple options to the visitor — introducing friction into the purchase process and resulting in abandoned carts from someone who was a high intent buyer.

Tightly coupled catalog architectures have been a major barrier for brands to offer bundles, which leaves a missed opportunity to generate incremental revenue on the table.

With EP PXM, all of the capabilities required to build bundles are built from the ground up as decoupled, independent services to give merchandisers incredible flexibility. And all of the capabilities are delivered out of the box eliminating the need for custom development work or off-platform CloudOps to manage custom code.

Another option would be to create influencer-focused landing pages that only exist for a moment in time. For example, brands often want to work with an athlete or an influencer to capitalize on a big win or a viral moment. Using EP PXM, pre-approved brand assets, and a simple development front end, they can quickly spin up a new landing page with a custom product bundle, processing transactions through their existing commerce system. In the past, many brands haven’t been able to move quickly enough to respond to these moments, due to the custom development required to launch this type of campaign.

Building the case for a gradual replatform

Some companies need to see EP PXM to believe how it empowers their merchandising and marketing teams to move faster. Seeing EP PXM in action is often enough inspiration to gradually replatform in favor of a more nimble, API-first composable commerce approach.

Like any modern, agile software development project, you can test a product catalog-focused campaign, and learn enough to drive toward a future replatform. Over time, the merchandising team can solve their business problems, without grinding progress to a halt due to an expensive and disruptive replatforming process. 

Instead, a brand might choose to replatform gradually with a single market or product line, continually testing and learning from each experience. I recently wrote about how to break up with your commerce monolith, describing this “start small” pattern in more detail. I encourage you to check it out if you’re interested in transitioning to Composable Commerce without the pain of replatforming all at once.

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