How to future-proof your eCommerce?

How do you future-proof your business? It’s all well and good investing considerable sums upfront to install a shiny, all-singing, all-dancing (for now) monolithic platform. But, like the jack of all trades, these single vendor solutions tend to be the master of none. Is there a better, more efficient, more customizable approach that can be incrementally improved as demand changes?

Take the restaurant industry as an example. To start out you need a good location; you need to hire a chef who can cook; you need waiting staff to serve customers; you need a menu that reflects local tastes; you need trusted suppliers. However, none of these factors are set in stone. In fact, they are interdependent components that must continually evolve to be successful.

To future-proof your restaurant, you need to start with the basics above. But you also need to hire a chef who can keep up with culinary trends and can adapt the menu. You need to foster great relations with suppliers who can source seasonal produce when it is at its best, or alternatives when what you have ordered is unavailable. You need good recruitment for waiting staff in an industry where talent can be transient, and where you will need to scale to meet peaks in demand without compromising service, whether it’s Christmas or a wet Tuesday in March. This is what you might call composable commerce: interlinked competencies that can be constantly improved.

As Forrester research (available to subscribers) puts it, “future-proof e-commerce allows you to evolve your customer experience and adopt any new touchpoint without being dependent on your e-commerce vendor to enable that touchpoint. With only incremental effort, you can add or replace new experiences and commerce APIs.”

Composable eCommerce development

When it comes to eCommerce development, the same thinking applies. When you’re setting up a digital commerce business, the first things that will come to mind will include an operational online sales platform (your location) with integrated CRM (chef and waiting staff). But what about making sure that this can also work across multiple markets and channels? And how are you going to adapt and scale as the business grows? Just as the chef will want to adapt the menu, or the manager will want to diversify the offering to cater for new markets such as home delivery, so too does an eCommerce business need to be able to add new functionality and features as and when required over time.

eCommerce architecture decisions

We recently published a white paper exploring how companies and decision-makers decide when selecting, implementing and expanding eCommerce systems. It shows there is a clear immediate need to get a functional eCommerce solution up and running as soon as possible, but that there is also a need to future-proof your eCommerce solution so it can flexibly adapt to new requirements.

When deciding on deploying a new eCommerce platform, there is rarely a single pain point or trigger that urges decision-makers to switch systems. Likewise, there are multiple criteria that come into play, including trust, developer availability, modularization, ease of integration, and marketplace capability, among others. Much as the restaurant owner must manage numerous different considerations, so too successful eCommerce operations must take into account all the spinning plates and ensure there is a clear pathway for ongoing evolution and improvement.

Future-proofing your eCommerce platform

Our research* identified the most important and relevant elements that will future-proof your eCommerce systems. Four key factors stood out from our interviews with C-level executives: Performance, User Experience, Modularization and Scalability. These closely relate to the best-of-breed trend in creating flexible and modular systems that can easily be scaled according to changing business requirements and growth.

What becomes clear is that composability is the key to ensuring an eCommerce platform will remain fit for purpose. The composable software ecosystem is an environment where components can be continuously improved without impacting users, which scales seamlessly and can be painlessly reconfigured.

This composable commerce enables a plug and play, personalized approach to eCommerce. By adopting and ‘composing’ tools for specific tasks dedicated to one particular function, companies can enjoy a best of breed solution made up from components from multiple vendors. These components can then be upgraded, swapped out and improved without any hassle.

This means that companies are not tied to one monolithic, inflexible, single-vendor legacy system that demands huge maintenance overheads and where change takes time and money. Instead, they can take advantage of an agile, versatile and feature-rich solution that adapts to their needs.

That paves the way for a future where you can plug in practically limitless microservices, connected via APIs, to provide new features as the market changes.

Just as the best restaurants can handle peak demand even with fresh menus and new staff, you can scale up and down, add exciting new features, and upgrade existing components at the click of a button. That way you can be sure that your composable eCommerce platform is truly future-proof.

To find out more about how a composable commerce approach can help to future-proof your business, you can download our whitepaper “From Monolith to Composable Commerce”.

*The research was conducted by smart impact GmbH in late 2021 and comprised of 20 1-hour interviews with recruited decision-makers that came from B2B and B2C businesses — manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer. Positions of the participants ranged from CMO- to S(VP)/Director-level and the participants were based in Germany, Nordics, UK and BeNeLux.