Retail Consumer Goods
Managing Partner & Sitecore MVP
Compose your Multichannel Customer Experience One Touch at a Time
The Promise of Composable in the Retail and Consumer Goods Industry
The Retail and Consumer Goods (RCG) Industry is a complex and ever-changing landscape. To succeed, RCG companies must address several critical challenges, including delivering personalized shopping experiences, adapting swiftly to changing customer preferences, providing multiple touchpoints and seamless omnichannel access, and unifying online, in-store, curbside, and even metaverse experiences.
These endeavors require a tremendous effort. Let’s take product discovery (search) as an example, to create a good search experience, a retailer must bring together several components:
- Product Information Management (PIM) or Product Content Management (PCM), and Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems for creating, enriching, and merchandising product data.
- A robust search engine or tool is essential for customers to search for products and apply filters and facets to their search results.
- A storefront is necessary to display and facilitate product discovery.
- A personalization engine is needed to provide more relevant and individualized results based on customer behavior and history.
- Supporting elements like SEO, SEM, accessibility features, and analytics are vital.
- In some cases, a visualizer may be required to enhance the customer experience.
- The retailer must offer product discovery across various channels, including web, mobile, in-store, Internet of Things (IoT), metaverse, social media, voice search, and online marketplaces.
Traditionally, successful retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Apple invested millions of dollars in developing their bespoke eCommerce platforms. In contrast, many other retailers chose to implement monolithic eCommerce platforms and filled the gaps by integrating third-party products into the core platform. This approach, however, presented several disadvantages and challenges for RCG companies:
Vendor Dependency and Lock-In: RCG companies had to rely on a single major eCommerce vendor, resulting in vendor lock-in and dependency. Innovation was constrained by the vendor’s product roadmap, timeline, and pace.
The “Meets All Requirements” Mindset: Since it was challenging to find a single platform excelling in all eCommerce features, retailers had to settle for platforms that “met” most requirements, sacrificing excellence for conformance.
Expensive Integration and IT Operations: As major monolithic platforms offered most features, RCG companies had to design systems, processes, and integrations around the platform’s prescribed approach, leading to higher integration and operational costs.
Why now is the right time to adopt composable? The promise of composable is going to change all of that. Simply defined, composable is like building with Lego except you get to use Lego (Micro-services) from different providers. You use Lego and groups of Lego (Packaged Business Capabilities) as your building blocks all of which are guaranteed to fit together and work nicely under a common reference framework (MACH).
Here are the ABC’s of Composable:
A: Microservices are small independent services that provide a business feature (for example Add to Cart)
B: Packaged Business Capability (PBC) is a building block using one or more microservices to provide a business feature (for example Shopping Cart)
C: MACH (Microservices, APIs, Cloud, Headless) is a framework that all composable providers must follow for Legos (A and B) to nicely play together.
The composable approach empowers RCG companies to concentrate on the entire customer journey, from product discovery to purchase, order fulfillment, order servicing, loyalty programs, marketing, and more. Retailers can compose these experiences using modular building blocks from various providers that excel individually or meet specific organizational requirements.
Let’s revisit our product discovery example where an organization only needs to map the customer experience for product discovery and then select composable providers that best suit its needs. The promise of composable solutions holds immense potential for transforming the RCG industry and significantly impacting an organization’s growth and success. It brings several advantages such as:
Accelerated Time-to-Market: Organizations can prioritize MVP features and add new features based on their schedule rather than adhering to a platform vendor’s timetable. They have the flexibility to move fast or slow based on their needs.
Plug-and-Play Approach: Composable allows organizations to cherry-pick the best capabilities that align with their needs and seamlessly integrate them into their overall solution.
Multi-Channel Flexibility (Build once, Use everywhere): Organizations can develop a capability, such as loyalty programs, and seamlessly incorporate it into various channels and solutions like storefronts, native apps, in-store kiosks, point-of-sale systems, and online marketplaces without significant investments or rework.
Experimentation and Adaptation: The plug-and-play architecture enables organizations to quickly replace underperforming features or introduce new capabilities to enhance the customer experience and profitability.
Incremental Transformation: Organizations can avoid costly and risky monolithic platform rip-and-replace initiatives and adopt more incremental change and deployment strategies. They can also tailor different solutions for various markets and segments, pursuing controlled expansion and growth.
Scale as needed: With composable solutions, organizations can scale on demand, specifically targeting capabilities that require scaling. For instance, they can upscale product discovery, which typically experiences higher traffic, without affecting other capabilities like checkout.
By embracing composable as part of their thinking and digital roadmap, RCG companies can successfully navigate the intricate world of multi-channel customer experiences. They can unlock new levels of flexibility, adaptability, and efficiency, that ultimately drive growth and success in a rapidly evolving industry.