What is composable commerce?
How changing your mindset to retail software can help you give your customers what they want this year.
The old saying goes – only two things in life are certain; death and taxes. But there’s one more thing we can add in here; change. Change is constant and failing to prepare to deal with change is the same as preparing to fail. It’s this constant change which is one of the drivers behind retailers across the globe embracing a new mindset around retail software and IT architecture.
In this article we’ll show you:
- What composability means and how it impacts your business, employees and customers
- How composable applications can help you deliver on your customer promise
- The benefits of a composable approach to retail software
- How to embrace change and build change into your approach to software
- Why you need to be flexible, agile, fast and responsive.
What is composability?
Firstly, what does composability mean? Gartner define it like this:
Incorporating composability into digital business enables the enterprise to change and grow despite persistent uncertainty. Instead of avoiding the risk of change, executive leaders must reinvent their thinking to see change as a well-trusted tool for business resilience and growth.
In retail, the deployment and use of tech is making the difference between success and failure. For example, brands who embraced digitalization fared far better through the pandemic than those who were slow to react.
What’s more, tech is no longer limited to one area of the business; it’s everywhere.
Gartner calls this Total Experience which they describe as “a business strategy that integrates employee experience, customer experience, user experience and multiexperience across multiple touchpoints to accelerate growth. Total experience can drive greater customer and employee confidence, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy through holistic management of stakeholder experiences.”
Gartner adds that, with a best-of-breed approach to software, IT departments in future-facing retailers are leveraging cloud-native platforms to build resilient, elastic and agile IT architecture – enabling them to respond rapidly to digital changes.
What do composable applications mean for CX, your business, and your store associates?
The retail software you choose – whether it’s a CRM, eCom, footfall counter or a unified commerce platform anchored by point of sale (POS) – and your IT architecture, play essential roles in helping you deliver the kind of experiences your customers desire.
What these experiences look like will differ, not just from brand to brand but from customer to customer. And that’s why you need a flexible best-of-breed way of thinking, to be able to set up and orchestrate systems and processes that work for you and deliver on your customer promise.
This ‘composable’ approach – built on simplicity, adaptability and open innovation – means you can quickly adapt to customer needs and market dynamics.
Besides making you as a retailer more agile and adaptable, according to research from Gartner, the composable approach also most often leads to reduced overall costs.
Think of it like Lego. You have an open box in front of you. How are you going to slot the pieces together? What colours are you going to use? How can you build the structure you really want and you know is going to work for you? And how will your final ‘structure’ benefit everyone who uses it – whether that’s your store associates or customers?
The role of the CIO or CTO in retail today is all about being the ‘master builder’ and assembling the right pieces to create the best solutions that deliver seamless customer journeys and experiences – every single time.
The benefits of a composable approach to retail software
Everything starts with how customer expectations are constantly evolving. The way we shop is constantly evolving. It’s your job to keep pace with this evolution and ensure your customers get what they want everytime they interact with you.
But it takes time for an organization to adapt. It’s, therefore, crucial that you build a retail ecosystem that’s as agile as possible and sets the right foundations in the organization to be able to meet new and emerging ways of shopping.
Software solutions are your building blocks. Your mindset must be to use these building blocks to enable a set of capabilities that form the experiences buyers want. Customer journeys are no longer linear and, by managing these capabilities and solutions, you enable your customer to create their own journey – you don’t even have to map it out for them.
Your IT department has to control your building blocks and create your own retail ecosystem. This means that you must find best-of-breed solutions you can use to create the best setup for your business; POS, ERP, Ecom, PIM, Payments and so on. All of these blocks are built with modern, cloud-native technology, are API first and easy to integrate to fit with the others.
The right blocks should not only be easy to integrate and implement – they should also be easy to replace.
Rethinking your approach to software and changing your mindset brings with it a host of benefits for your business, your store associates and your customers.
- Enablement & empowerment. With a composable approach, you’ll be running the software you want on your terms. This makes life a dream for your store associates as everything is straightforward, optimized for its purpose, easy to use and works seamlessly. This means they can focus their energy on serving your customers and giving them the kind of experience they expect.
- Cost efficiency. The best-of-breed, SaaS model means you keep costs down. Maintenance and field service costs evaporate, you can significantly reduce consultancy hours and you won’t have to dig deep into your pockets to pay for updates every time you want to roll out a new feature. Most of our retailers transforming their business with a best-of-breed approach usually have a run rate saving of up to 50% when they have undergone their transformation and the total cost of ownership is reduced.
- Time to market. As above, the best-of-breed model means you can react and respond instantly to what’s happening around you. By removing the need for bespoke development, you can roll out new, integrated software and features in record time.
- Flexibility. With endless opportunities and possibilities, you have the flexibility to choose what you want and how you want it to work. You can build your perfect solution and if one block doesn’t quite fit, you can easily replace it with one that does.
- Operational excellence. Alongside fast and efficient integration, rethinking customization means there’s lasting compatibility and no need for bespoke development or maintenance. With customization without disrupting the code base and external services as an integrated part of the POS, you can sleep safe in the knowledge that everything will work seamlessly, all of the time.
- Next level CX. By having a 360° view of your customers cross-channel behavior (and, in turn, giving them a 360° view of you) you can turbocharge your CX and put yourself in a position where you can give your customers exactly what they want – every single time. Your store associates are empowered, through this approach, to deliver personalized experiences to your customers, helping you go above and beyond customer expectations and stay ahead of your competitors.
No one knows what will happen in three or five years from now, so you don’t want to end up in a backseat situation where you don’t have control over your tech. You need to be the driver.
Radical changes might be needed to meet new customer expectations and this transformation must start now. Prepare yourself for challenges, and that it will require investment in the entire organization.
Embrace change and build change into your approach to software. Be flexible, agile, fast and responsive.
Focus on the things that increase sales, improve operational efficiency and provide a fantastic customer experience. Empower your associates with the right tools so they can serve your customers, give them what they want when they want, and always feel like they can say ‘Yes’ to any question your customers have.
Tn stay on top of what is happening in the industry, make sure to check out the organization setting the new standards for retail software, MACH Alliance. The MACH Alliance, a not-for-profit industry body that advocates open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems, was only founded in June 2020 but has already been referred to by leading global market research company. Membership approval is now seen as a gold standard for retail tech companies to secure, see why we join in one our recent blog post.
Download our free guide to find out how to ramp up your CX by changing your mindset to retail software and IT architecture.