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NRF 2020: A New Decade of Commerce, A New Perspective on Technology

Nearly 40,000 people flooded New York City for NRF 2020, Retail’s Biggest Show, and Elastic Path was there for it. This year was especially exciting for us, not only to engage with business and commerce leaders to discuss a new decade of commerce but, we had a not so little secret we couldn’t wait to announce on the second day of the event.

What we’d say had to be the most international NRF we’ve ever been to, we left with what we feel was an even more acute understanding of the commerce needs of brands, retailers, and manufacturers from all over the world but also, a sense that the perspectives of these organizations had shifted.

Spending our time talking about why organizations needed to digitally transform their commerce experiences felt very 2019. Nearly everyone we spoke to was well aware. Now, they needed someone to unpack all these buzzwords they’ve been inundated with the past few years. They want to gain a clear understanding of how.

Demo: Omni-channel Commerce vs Unified Commerce

It would’ve been hard to be at NRF and not notice the overarching themes of omnichannel commerce and unified commerce. However, no one could blame you if after 3 days on-site you were still left wondering what the difference is.

“Omni” means “in all ways or places”. Omnichannel commerce means delivering a commerce experience across every “place” – device, touchpoint or channel – your brand interacts with a customer. Easy to explain but typically very hard to do.

Unified Commerce is the delivery of that experience from one platform that acts as a single source of truth with infinitely less complexity. One major advantage is with one platform driving the experience across every place you meet your customer, everything you could need to know about your customer to give them the most relevant, personalized experience is unified in one place.

Here, Brian Gilmore of Elastic Path shows how this looks in real-life: one commerce experience happening concurrently across multiple devices, each supporting a different commerce use-case yet powered by one platform.

It's Time to Move on From Monoliths

NRF showed us that 2020 could be the year we finally close the chapter on monoliths. After all, one of the biggest commerce vendors of the decade has already closed their chapter by divesting their platform altogether.

Many of the business leaders we spoke with are finally understanding that monolithic commerce technology cannot support the experience they want to deliver. At its core, it wasn’t built for anything beyond browser-based commerce that arguably looked the same for every brand, retailer and manufacturer across the board.

This new decade of commerce not only brings the need for organizations to deliver commerce everywhere they meet their customer, the rapid digital transformation touching every market means organizations have to be able to stand out from the crowd. Monoliths were able to haphazardly adapt to a portion of the common customer touchpoints with an increased complexity that costs organizations speed and agility. But true differentiation is where monoliths will finally be left in the dust.

Today’s commerce buyers are acutely aware of the new innovative approaches to commerce and the disruptive, value-added ways of engaging their customers, but, they need to also stay true to their proprietary advantage over their competitors and convey that digitally if they want to unlock their next phase of growth in 2020.

Our new phase of growth is aimed at helping them do that.

Elastic Path Acquires Moltin

On January 13th, we officially announced that we had acquired Moltin, a fellow leader in API-first commerce technology. Together, we created the first and only modern microservices architecture with powerful API orchestration. This will simplify, and accelerate, the way business leaders deliver innovative, high-value commerce experiences.

It also removes the biggest hurdle organizations face when they find themselves attracted to the obvious rewards of microservices but feel hemmed in by the complexity and frankly, the sheer amount of work it takes to see the true power of microservices come to life. The siren song of microservices is the ability to build out a commerce strategy that truly represents the unique advantage of your business and, can be accommodated into a business incrementally, seemingly mitigating the inherent risk of a full-scale digital commerce technology overhaul.

The caveat, some organizations find out too little too late, is with that comes a greater onus on the organization itself to design, build and maintain its own architecture that supports this differentiated experience. This quickly makes the adoption of microservices out of reach for so many organizations without the internal ability or expertise to take that on.

“To date, the technical sophistication required to realize the full benefit of microservices has generally been out of reach for most organizations” explains Harry Chemko, Elastic Path Co-Founder and CEO.

“This is where our approach really shines. The Cortex API orchestration capability in our Elastic Path Commerce Cloud platform provides the choreography needed to transform the benefits of a microservices architecture from a promise to a reality. The combination of Elastic Path and Moltin creates the first, and only commerce platform that enables every business leader to quickly and easily leverage the full power of microservices to increase digital agility and create shoppable experiences anywhere they choose. And to do so at scale for those Oprah, Instagram influencer, or Black Friday type of moments.”