Top tier retailers have hit an inflection point on customer engagement. For years they managed to add new capabilities to their creaking technology stacks – albeit often with lengthy, costly and resource-intensive projects. But today, lightning-quick change in digital, omnichannel and customer expectations means innovation and deployment schedules must shrink. Flooid Product Manager Andy Bourke explains how retailers are responding with a new approach.
Why do retailers need a new approach?
“Retailers have always felt the pressure to deliver new ways to engage with their customers; and overall they’ve managed to adapt existing systems to cope with new capabilities. But this has never been easy. Often it requires immense ingenuity and willpower, plus large budgets and expenditure of another key resource: time.
“Now, and over the past few years the pressure to make changes more quickly has put enormous strain on retailers’ resources. Some of this has been driven by unforeseen circumstances, such as the pandemic. But a lot is to do with innovation giants like Amazon showing consumers new, disruptive and exciting ways to engage. This is a trend that is going to continue, and it is driving retailers to be more agile in addressing shoppers’ demands. This is where composable commerce comes in.”
What is composable commerce?
“Composable commerce is an architectural approach that delivers a truly modular solution. This means both large and small components can be easily and securely swapped in and out, to deliver new features or improve on existing ones. This puts the retailer in the driving seat, by providing the ability to quickly make significant business changes with low impact on resources. Picture composable commerce as a way of working that’s more like adding or subtracting an individual element each time you want to add a new feature, rather than having to tear down large parts of the structure and build it again.”
What does Flooid do in composable commerce?
“Our single unified commerce platform is built through the application of composable commerce principles. When retailers engage with Flooid’s platform, they enjoy speed and simplicity in adding or subtracting new capabilities – for example mobile consumer apps, self-service experiences, checkout-free in-store shopping or advanced loyalty, insights or promotional tools.
“But our composable commerce is not limited to the platform. We offer four key technologies that support retailers with their rapid change programs; user experience, microservices, service providers and containerization.”
What are key benefits of these technologies?
“The Flooid user experience is designed for ease of change and common use across different selling channels such as self-checkout, point of sale, and mobile. Open standard frameworks enable independent working as well as collaboration between Flooid, the retailer and even third parties. This gives retailers total freedom. Imagine for example that they’d like to add a consumer mobile application so customers can scan their own shopping and pay on their mobile phones in-store. Flooid’s composable platform allows the retailer to choose to build the application in-house themselves, or commission a third-party developer to create one, knowing in advance that whatever route they choose will work easily with the Flooid platform.
“Microservices is a technique that maps unique business domains into software-based domains. Good examples of this would be inventory, customer order and product. Microservices can be independently worked on, supported and deployed, creating a faster and more secure route to change. Again, retailers and third parties can utilize Flooid’s proven scalable services to create their own front-end while taking advantage of Flooid’s full basket management capabilities in the cloud.
“A service provider is a specific integration to a non-Flooid application that conforms to a well-known or generic functional area; gift cards for example. All Flooid experiences use a generic interface standard so the specific provider is hidden away. This feature delivers the ability to change a significant integration component in the platform with low impact on business and no impact on in-store systems. It’s about making change achievable with less cost and effort and without negative impacts on business as usual; all would be difficult without the value of a composable commerce architecture.
“Lastly, containerization is a cloud technology that simplifies and speeds up the process of deployment. Each separate containerized service is given the resources it needs to grow or shrink depending on demand. Trying out new business initiatives becomes easier with finer control over when and how to make them available and to which groups, backing them out if you are not achieving the desired results.”
What is the main value of adopting a composable commerce approach?
“The overarching value is threefold: flexibility, cost-reduction and faster innovation. With composable commerce, the retailer can build or buy the capabilities they need to compete, without intricate, costly change programs. They can concentrate on what they want to do, rather than spending valuable time and money wondering how it can be achieved. They can have confidence with flexibility giving rise to innovation without complication. Retailers also have the assurance that they do not need to re-platform, regardless of what capabilities they may wish to add in the future.
“Cost-reduction comes from swifter, more efficient systems for adding new capabilities, that require less internal time and budget to get the job done. Because of the simplicity of the composable framework, there is less costly re-engineering to solve unforeseen issues of the type typically seen with legacy systems.
“Faster, better innovation is also achieved as composable commerce allows retailers to leverage modern software technologies, so they can select best-of-breed solutions to all types of customer engagement tools. And this leads to world class customer engagement and experiences – keeping consumers loyal and spending more for the long-term.”
A more technical paper, Beyond Composable Commerce, can be found here.
Watch a short explainer video about composable commerce: