Stay Agile & Adaptable: Digital Trends that Drive Composable Commerce

Nov 9, 2022 1:30 PM2:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways:

As eCommerce evolves with fluctuating consumer demands, adaptable solutions are crucial for optimizing purchase experiences and keeping up with digital transformation. Composable commerce is a viable approach that enables businesses to leverage modern technology and optimize digital experiences. So, what should you consider when adopting this solution?

First, it’s necessary to evaluate your business’ value proposition and goals for digital transformation. This allows you to determine an ideal composable architecture that meets your organization’s needs, maximizes ROI, and delivers a seamless user experience across multiple channels. When implementing new technology, you need to consider the operational challenges and develop strategies for managing products and components. To simplify this, it’s beneficial to partner with an experienced leader in the eCommerce space.

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant hosts Jozef Stawarz of Alcon, Brian Gilmore of EPAM, Jake Athey of Acquia, and Michael Scholz of commercetools, to discuss incorporating composable commerce solutions to remain savvy in the digital space. Together, they explain how MACH enhances composable commerce, the importance of composable commerce in digital transformation, and how to manage and optimize composable architecture. 

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Alcon utilized a composable commerce solution to launch its digital product
  • What is MACH (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless), and how does it enhance composable commerce?
  • Key considerations for adopting a composable commerce approach and evaluating composable technology
  • The importance of composable commerce in digital transformation
  • Managing and optimizing composable architecture
  • Tips for handling emerging technologies and commerce priorities during evolving consumer demands
  • The role of content in composable commerce
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Event Partners

EPAM

EPAM Systems Inc. (NYSE: EPAM) is a leading digital transformation services and product engineering company.

Connect with EPAM

commercetools

commercetools is a cloud-based headless commerce platform that provides APIs to power e-commerce sales and similar functions for large businesses.

Connect with commercetools

Acquia

Acquia provides the leading cloud platform for building, delivering, and optimizing digital experiences.

Connect with Acquia

Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jozef Stawarz LinkedIn

International Engineering Head, Alcon

Jozef Stawarz is the International Engineering Head at Alcon, a company that provides vision and eye care products. In his role, he leads global cross-functional teams to define, build, implement, and integrate applications. As a global eCommerce manager, Jozef has over 18 years of experience managing digital technology solutions, DevOps, and IT architecture to deliver cutting-edge processes that support eCommerce product applications.  

Brian Gilmore LinkedIn

Head of Growth for MACH, NA at EPAM

Brian Gilmore is the Head of Growth for MACH, NA at EPAM, a leading global digital transformation services provider. In his role, he uses MACH (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) technologies to help companies grow their eCommerce revenue and shape consumers’ shopping experiences. As an accomplished technical leader, Brian has led the architecture and implementation of complex platforms, including eCommerce, content management, and API gateways at companies like Macy’s, Delta Airlines, and BlackBerry.

Jake Athey LinkedIn

Vice President, Marketing and Sales at Acquia

Jake Athey is the VP of Marketing and Sales at Acquia, which utilizes a digital experience platform to enable global organizations to compose and deploy digital products and services that engage customers and drive conversions. In his role, he leads go-to-market strategies for Acquia Marketing Cloud. As a digital marketing leader, Jake helps brands connect intelligent content strategies across the customer experience for improved business outcomes.

Michael Scholz LinkedIn

VP, Product & Customer Marketing at commercetools

Michael Scholz is the VP of Product and Customer Marketing at commercetools, the world’s leading commerce solution built on modern MACH principles. With 20 years of experience in retail and software at SAP, Hybris, SuccessFactors, and Sift, he has been leading software development, presales, consulting, marketing, and strategic alliances.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Jozef Stawarz LinkedIn

International Engineering Head, Alcon

Jozef Stawarz is the International Engineering Head at Alcon, a company that provides vision and eye care products. In his role, he leads global cross-functional teams to define, build, implement, and integrate applications. As a global eCommerce manager, Jozef has over 18 years of experience managing digital technology solutions, DevOps, and IT architecture to deliver cutting-edge processes that support eCommerce product applications.  

Brian Gilmore LinkedIn

Head of Growth for MACH, NA at EPAM

Brian Gilmore is the Head of Growth for MACH, NA at EPAM, a leading global digital transformation services provider. In his role, he uses MACH (microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless) technologies to help companies grow their eCommerce revenue and shape consumers’ shopping experiences. As an accomplished technical leader, Brian has led the architecture and implementation of complex platforms, including eCommerce, content management, and API gateways at companies like Macy’s, Delta Airlines, and BlackBerry.

Jake Athey LinkedIn

Vice President, Marketing and Sales at Acquia

Jake Athey is the VP of Marketing and Sales at Acquia, which utilizes a digital experience platform to enable global organizations to compose and deploy digital products and services that engage customers and drive conversions. In his role, he leads go-to-market strategies for Acquia Marketing Cloud. As a digital marketing leader, Jake helps brands connect intelligent content strategies across the customer experience for improved business outcomes.

Michael Scholz LinkedIn

VP, Product & Customer Marketing at commercetools

Michael Scholz is the VP of Product and Customer Marketing at commercetools, the world’s leading commerce solution built on modern MACH principles. With 20 years of experience in retail and software at SAP, Hybris, SuccessFactors, and Sift, he has been leading software development, presales, consulting, marketing, and strategic alliances.

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect


BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.


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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18

Happy Wednesday, everybody. My name is Aaron Conant, I'm the co founder and managing director here at BWG Connect. We're a networking knowledge sharing group with 1000s of brands to do exactly that we network in knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever it might be that shaping digital. When the same topics come up over and over again, we host an event like this, I spend the majority of my time helping brands out with digital strategy. And we've had a lot of questions come up right in this space, agile, adaptable, disposable, disposable composable commerce. And just really excited to kind of put on this webinar today. A couple of housekeeping items we get started. Number one, we want it to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, if you have a question, drop into the chat, drop it in the q&a, and we'll be sure to get those answered. The other thing is just in respect to people's time, we're starting this at three to four minutes after the 130 mark. And so we're gonna wrap this up, I don't know probably three to five minutes before 230 Eastern time where you have plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. And so if I if we kind of kick off the conversation as a whole the agenda today, first just gonna do a quick roundtable to meet the speakers. Next video case study with Alcon and after that EPAM Acquia commercetools accelerator, we're gonna have a panel discussion and answer some q&a. And so yeah, it's just super cool because we got some great friends partner support is the network over at EPAM Acquia and commercetools and a great brand and Alcon and so you know, Jozef, I'll kick it over to you. If you want to do a brief intro on yourself roll company. That'd be great. And then we can hit Brian, Jake and Michael. So I'm good.

 

Jozef Stawarz  2:06

Sure thing. Aaron thank you very much. Good morning, evening, everyone. Thank you for having me. Super happy to be here and share my story and I'll come story. My name is Jozef Stawarz I my title is International Engineering head within our digital health organization. What it means is I'm responsible for engineering of our one of our flagship digital products we calling Polaris. For those who don't know who Alcon is Alcon is an American Swiss medical company specializing in eye care products. And we're headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. And again, I'm super happy to spend three minutes with you guys and telling you our digital journey. Awesome, Brian, you wanna jump in? Or

 

Brian Gilmore  2:52

Hi, everybody. My name is Brian Gilmore, and I'm from EPAM Systems. And my role is the head of growth for our MACH and Acquia practices here in North America. I've been in Japan the last two years and before coming I've had a spent a lot of time in the content and commerce realm. So I'm happy to share some of what we've learned and what EPAM is seeing in the market today with you guys.

 

Jake Athey  3:17

Thank you. Awesome. Okay. Hello, everyone. Great to speak with you here today. I'm Jake Athey the VP of Marketing and Sales for Acquia a digital experience platform focused on composable digital experiences. And I oversee the go to market activities for the marketing cloud products including our customer data platform marketing, automation tools, digital asset management and product information management. I come from widen aqui as acquisition of widen for DAMMANN PIM last year. And that's where I have been learning about the world of eCommerce and composable commerce for the last 18 years. Great to be with you here today.

 

Michael Scholz  4:00

Yeah. Awesome. Michael, you enjoy Ben. Yeah, thanks for thanks for having me. And similar to Jake, I also spent the last 18 years in the eComm realm 10 years with SAP really focusing on sales service marketing, was there pre and post Hybris acquisition and then went to the dark side to the system integrator agency side and wanted to see how how things are happening over there as well. And really focusing on implementing Salesforce, SAP commerce tools the whole lot. And now I've been with commerce tools for the last year and a half running product and customer marketing. Again, super, like awesome to be here. We're looking forward to this conversation. Yeah, awesome. So

 

Aaron Conant  4:43

let's go ahead and kick it off. You know, one thing we really like to do is when we bring on brands just kind of walk through a case study as a whole. And so it's going to be kind of an open conversation we go, but Jozef if you want to kind of just tell me when to advance the slides. And as we

 

Jozef Stawarz  4:59

do Yeah, let's The next next slide. Thank you, Aaron. So everything starts with specific use case and the business problem we're trying to solve. If you could get on to next slide, Aaron. Thank you. So, I will be talking to you guys about the story of our product digital product. It's called externally my outcome direct. Internally, we calling it, Polaris. And what is what is politest? What is my contract? In simplest terms, it's a b2c platform for our ECPs, our IK professionals, allowing us to sell contact lenses and other products to our consumers and patients. Polaris ensures financial benefits to our customers ECPs by retaining their consumers and patients who otherwise would have gone to other online stores and channels to purchase contact lenses. The platform itself is hassle free for our customers with minimal workload and effort required on their part and that's actually one of the key differentiator and key aspects of the system. From consumers and patients standpoint, Polaris provides for convenient and easy to use purchase experience and satisfying trial needs. So that's the background that's the business case. Let's now talk about a little bit of our journey, how we how we got here, or where we are with the journey we've gone through. So Polaris are going to be calling utilized because that's that's how we like to call it internally, has gone through four different phases and lifecycle from the very beginning. And those were insights and discovery MTP MVP and MMP. I'll walk you guys through what's on this slide. Insights and Discovery took place from August to October 2019. technology behind this phase was very simple. This was simply a clickable prototype and figma next phase was MTP MTP means minimum testable product which took place from July to December 2020. And the technology enabling this phase was very simple. It was react on the front end and MongoDB simple basic ordering system with no back end integrations to SAP or other systems. And the main purpose of this phase was to test and confirm the business case that was developed an earlier phase of insights and discovery. The key was really to confirm that it's commercially viable idea. And near the end of this phase, we reviewed and confirmed the business case and received the green light from our stakeholders to proceed to MVP and MVP phase, which we started in January 2021. And from technology standpoint, we we really proceeded to RFP phase right away because we wanted to ensure we picked the best technology for this digital product. RFP included some of the systems mentioned here before SAP Hybris, which is incumbent and currently use at Alcon our b2b model, Salesforce Elastic Path and commercetools. Aside from tooling, we are also being advised by Gartner and others to be on traditional eCommerce and architecture model and embrace the composable commerce and Mark architecture. And in the end, we chose commercetools as our engine for Polaris. And the final phase, the one we're really in now is the minimum marketable product, which is really all about expanding and deploying the digital product to more markets while keeping product standard and consistent across markets. composable commerce and Mac architecture is really the key here to be flexible and enable speed to implement when needed, or required by local legal and regulatory requirements. Let's go on to the next slide and do a bit of a deep dive on on these phases. I'll go through this quickly. So you see here a sample of a customer customer journey during that was developed during insights in discovery. This was then built into a clickable prototype. But as any early phase, this is something that was iterated over and some of the components and aspects of this journey have fallen off into from the next phase the MTP phase. If you're going to next slide, please Aaron a minimal testable product I've mentioned earlier, we started this phase at the end of July 2020. We build PWA Progressive Web App, a system here, and we piloted it from October 2020 With five CPUs in Japan. This was obviously way more than just clickable prototype. But we this was nowhere close to Mac or composable commerce this was simply a very simple app allowing us to again confirm the business case and the idea. We didn't have any automated integration here to our back end system, SAP. And again, the main objective here was to put least effort to get the maximum amount of data involved to validate the customer and consumer learning. Post this phase, we moved on to MVP Aaron if you wouldn't mind moving on to our next slide. We'll spend a little bit more time on this slide here. So this phase obviously followed the MTP phase. What are the key differences from NTP to MVP? Obviously, there's more users, we move from very limited user base to much bigger, ultimately national launch base, obviously, more features and there's full integration with various back end systems. SAP as an example. On the obviously outside on outskirts of it, we also need to have a customer service setup to handle increased user base. From PR standpoint, this is where Mark and composable commerce architecture come into play quickly. on very high level, there were there are three types of integrations in Polaris. On the front end, we have clients and integrations from talking to Google Analytics to tealium to stripe, our credit card processing, to Orchestration API API's be a five layer which abstract various different services, like Milissa address validation, or our CMS system I will talk about a little bit later, or our stripe, our Payment Authorization gateway. And obviously, we have a big back office integration, we spent quite a bit of effort, that alone. These are a set of API's that allow us to process order, fulfill an order, also integrated with Pim. We using here mules of as our our gateway to our internal systems. And we've really separated it out into its own component, this Yonezawa middle bottom layer here called plies, integrations where we we moved all the all the product specific logic from the mule soft into here into product, to keep the interface mule soft, simple and allow it to be reused actually by other products as well. Those are some benefits you see here coming out of the composable commerce and ability to use commerce tools and build around it. If we go into next slide and give her much. So this is the obviously the next phase after MVP and the minimum marketable product. So this is the phase that is in the process is not over yet, in fact, we will probably never be over healthy will never be over. Because in this phase, we are really proceeding into national launch in that first country, which was Japan. And we also started rolling out to next markets and next regions, we roll out to the market and in Europe and Poland to be specific started pilot in summer. And we're deploying to other markets in Europe and other parts of the world. With that, that wraps up my my overview of the various different phases of Polaris, maybe we can go on to some specific questions that we received prior to the webinar. So the question was are coming now with the modernization of the tech stack. So our focus is really twofold. Now, from non technical standpoint, it's all about really execution in the market now and adoption of digital product and make sure go to market strategy is correct. And works. And from tech stack standpoint, we're obviously expanding into new regions, as I mentioned earlier. And as we do that, we really need to have a flexible product that allows us to be enhanced, improved and flexible at the center and tried to be standard because speed to market and the ability to go fast. against our competitors is the key here, we want to be obscene first in the market with with such product. And speed is a key. So sometimes these are conflicting priorities, when we're trying to start out in standardizing the product, but at the same time we have either regional or local requirements that we have to implement, as example GDPR and in Europe, so having the mark architecture and really modular commerce powered system certainly gives us that flexibility. Let's go to next question. How does the environment impact their priorities and the roadmap? It's interesting question and some environment here means region are market. And as I mentioned earlier, our our key focus now is expansion and fast expansion. But still providing required regional market features and priorities. By the same time to not not building point solution for a given market. We're trying to accomplish many different things but also trying to build configurable components that allow us to, as an example, enable specific payment and type in given market or switch over to different payment gateway in the next region. And many, many, many orders. Yeah.

 

Aaron Conant  15:09

One other quick questions and from the composable commerce standpoint, was it just the flexibility? Like this is the primary driver? Because a lot of people are struggling with that today. Right? There are the standard platforms and way people have always done it is it is it the flexibility that allows and the complexity of your business model,

 

Jozef Stawarz  15:29

Maximilian and this speed, and simplicity in the way of the architecture of SAP Hybris as an example, we have it and is doing great job in our b2b space. But if we, and by the way, it was used in single single digital product in us internally. But if we ended up picking hybrids, for here for this project, we would have to rip up the whole front end, worry about the back end, how that integrates with SAP how to interject something in the middle. And it will, for sure, take more time to build it. So it's not just flexibility, but also speed it. Awesome. Love it.

 

Aaron Conant  16:08

Love it. And I'm not sure if we got to the end, I interrupted a little bit your answer. No

 

Jozef Stawarz  16:13

worries, no worries. I think there's a last question. This one? Yeah, that's a good question. So how do tech partners including a size in ICS, provide support and support our vision and building resilient and adaptable enterprise. It's a bit of a disclaimer here. So I'm not responsible for enterprise. So I don't want to speak for it. However, I can speak for what we've done with what my team has done. Related to Polaris, and for sure, we, as we have gone through very specific business ideation concept, two very different product phases. Partners who has knowledge and and the skill, what were key to really help us kickstart our journey. First, make sure we make the right decision that's fit for purpose, help architected. And, in our case, help us also build our internal knowledge. We are big about having our own team, our own expertise, internal team. So over the journey of last two plus years or so as we were building the product, I was also building a team. And and partners, like if I'm aware and are really instrumental to this day, and in doing all of it, and without key partners, we would not be able to accomplish what we have. Awesome,

 

Aaron Conant  17:33

love it. Thanks, Jozef for, you know, just being open to share kind of the complexities of of the back end, and kind of reasoning around while you chose a composable commerce solution. But you know, as we kick it over here to Brian, you know, I know, you know, Brian, you've got some slides here. But if you want to talk a little bit about composable commerce, it said, you know, what is what does it actually mean? Right, and we've heard and maybe you're gonna cover this probably is we heard, you know, mock come up over and over again, if you want to put some detail around that, that'd be great.

 

Brian Gilmore  18:09

Yeah, absolutely. So mock is a great way to create a modern distributed architecture in the cloud that's best of breed. You don't have to worry about infrastructure deployments, the plan, the platforms, like commercetools are there, and can be used, as Jozef said, and in a very flexible and speedy manner. Now, I think when it comes to the composable aspects of this, what's what's really interesting is that there's this notion of package business capabilities. So you might have things like promotions, or price or cart that you you need to combine these with other solutions to create unique products or services or offerings, as Jozef did here with with Alcon and by taking these things you're you're you're moving away from what is considered to be kind of a commodity in the space where you might have used a suite before it because everybody's on the same platform using the same features and it's hard to customize. And now with that composable nature, you're creating things that are now unique to your business. These are the differentiators that sets you apart. Now, when EPAM was working with Jozef's team on Alcon we found that it was a great experience to take Acquia and commercetools and bring them together in a decoupled architecture where you had a muck solution like commercetools and then a robust enterprise platform like Acquia that that we proved to be not only viable together but also very valuable for clients like Alcon knowing that This solution would be desirable for others in the future. We, you know, when we finished the first release, we look back and we said, you know, what are some of the lessons learned? How can we do this better for the future because we know that clients want added value from there SI is right. It's, it's not just come in, build something and go away. It's, it's what Jozef was talking about a few minutes ago, where, where we were talking about ISPs and our size, we want to provide additional value, not just in thought leadership and also but also in how we actually deliver. And that's where we decided, hey, let's let's build this accelerator between operating commercetools, because we feel like future future clients might really appreciate what that could possibly bring. So the the premise behind the accelerator is that we would let each solution do what they're best at, right. This is also one of the fundamental principles behind moc that each platform specializes in does extremely well in their area of focus. So in the case of commercetools, it's managing the cart, the catalog products, check out the typical things that you would see in a store. And Acquia would handle things like navigation and content that would eventually be featured on the site. But because we also wanted to continue to do this in a decoupled manner, it was very, very important that we leverage the API first approach, so that we can ensure the seamless integration even when in this particular case with Alcon Drupal wasn't rendering the front end itself. So the accelerator itself saves a lot of valuable project time by handling a couple of key features. And I'll list those now. There are things such as the user login and profile creation, which is handled by the commercetools, authentication, bulk product updates from within Drupal, this is very important when you want to display those products, or that content around those products on the front end. Order Placement with the shopping cart and checkout flows, also very fundamental feature their management and price adjustments and promotional codes. And also things like search filters and navigation around the product category. So that the shop and browse type of things where you want to be able to display those products prominently that we think that our customers and clients might be most interested in. So EPAM understands that the clients are looking for aspects of their solutions to be pre composed. So we talked about a composable architecture. But at the same time, you know, being being able to swap out the components is great and composable. But sometimes you want to start with a couple of pieces pre compose together to speed that time to market and provide the ROI more quickly. And we believe that this accelerator with Acquia and commercetools does exactly that. Awesome, I love it.

 

Aaron Conant  23:11

So as we kind of wrap up this portion, and we kind of make it into the panel discussion and q&a, I'll actually stop sharing my screen here. And we can just kind of jump into a candid conversation. Again, if anybody has any questions they have across the board, drop into the q&a or drop into the chat, and we'll get them answered. I mean, I think the first one that comes up all the time in this space is the and I'm going to stay with you, Brian just a little bit longer on this one is right, what considerations you know, should a brand be making if they're trying to embark on this journey, right? They're trying to go down this path of composable commerce. And what considerations need to be made is it's somewhat new to a lot of organizations, right? It's been around for a while, but it's really new to a lot of organizations, especially executive teams, and trying to explain this internally is not always the easiest. So

 

Brian Gilmore  24:05

absolutely, it can be very daunting, right? When you when you look at a composable approach, it's kind of like going to the to the local electronics store and you have like, you know, six different flavors of phones that you might choose from and it can be very confusing, like, what's my favorite? What do I value? What what do I want to pick first? And I think there's, I think there's two main things that need to be considered. So from a technology perspective, I would say the primary consideration is to choose the appropriate starting point for that, for that transformation journey. Picking what part of that composable architecture to bite off first is is probably the most important thing besides setting kind of your target vision for what things should look like at the end. And if you take the what we call the incremental innovation approach of choosing the one component that will give you good ROI To start with that's achievable in a short amount of time, that demonstrates value. Those are key criteria. So you kind of saw this in Jozef's example right going from, you know, the MTP to the to the MVP, it's right, you're you're taking pieces, and you're testing them and making sure that they provide value, and then releasing that in a very quick manner. And you're doing it in a way that you can get feedback. If if it doesn't work you can course correct. Now, the second part of this, which I don't think many people appreciate, right, everybody thinks about the technology, right? Like what what sexy thing do I want to choose to put to put out there to build my my solution? But there's also a business perspective. And I think most people don't necessarily think right off the bat that oh, there might be an impact to how I author my content, how I manage my products, there's there's operational considerations that the business needs to think about when you have a modern way of working by by by adopting this new approach, with platforms and solutions like Acquia, and commercetool. So having somebody that's that has the thought leadership and has been there and done that before, I think is to help with that business perspective. And to plan for those changes

 

Aaron Conant  26:15

is really important. Yeah, if I can get back to Jozef, if you want to? Well, here's a great one. What were the considerations? So question comes in, and it's kind of along the lines of what I see in one was around, you know, how does composable technology fit in? Like for your, your, your digital transformation as a whole? And we have a question that comes in what were the considerations for Alcon when you chose commercetools

 

Jozef Stawarz  26:43

over others? Good, good question. And it'll take probably a long time to go through the details. We, as I mentioned, we've gone to whole RFP process, in fact, the panel is helping us run through it. It's series of questions and categories in the Senate. But at the end of the day, that the key topics are being discussed here last few minutes. What's the business value here? What a key key consideration from a business standpoint is speed to market was one. And it's it's almost oxymoron sometimes, because you pick a commerce tools, that's a box in the middle, you have to build around it. But reality is you always build around. In most cases, when you build an eCommerce system, you pick a platform, and then you build it within it. And you spend a lot of time doing it. Because there's constraints and greater freedom, we put the commercetools, and we're able to do whatever we wanted around it. And we let commercetools be what it is, cart, order all these things. And we had a freedom to do what we needed around it. We, so this gave us gave us speed, not be constrained by platform and maybe something else. And other aspects were with commerce tools, we don't have to worry about upgrades maintenance, it's true cloud solution. And unlike other maybe ecommerce protocols or solutions being offered, this is true cloud solution would be an API and that's what he worked with. And and I love it. What else? It it challenged the team as well. And the whole commercetools and mock composable commerce ultimately empowered innovation within the team. Engineering team, which just which is good, positive flexibility. Obviously doing integration points, all the various integration points would consist commercials integrate with vs not ability to integrate with systems like like Acquia, Drupal, we have very rich and big notification system based on it. And many, many more, could have probably

 

Aaron Conant  28:54

more than happy to connect you with them afterwards, as well as you can kind of do that deep dive. You know, I'm sure that'd be a valuable connection. That's a lot of what we do here. But I mean, oh, if I give you a little bit of a break, Jozef and I kick it over to Michael, you know, that speed the nimbleness of a commerce solution, you know, for you think about companies the ability to scale the ability to grow, like how important are you? Are you seeing that in this space as a whole

 

Michael Scholz  29:25

I think it's super important. I think a lot of people especially when someone like Alcon runs like an RFP process, I think Alcon went amazingly about it and setting up those MTP, MVP MMP and other fancy acronyms in that sort of decision making process. But I think a lot of people just look at feature parity of some sorts and and the bottom line at the end of the day, what are you paying from a license perspective and that's very, very misleading. I think. We don't really appreciate the flexibility the time to market the speed that we've been robbed. I'm seeing over the last couple of minutes to an extent. So I think it's, it's truly important that you are nimble and you are agile. But at the end of the day, it always always depends, right? I mean, it depends on your digital maturity. Sometimes you can overcome that digital maturity, because you sort of outsource kind of like the system integration work to someone who has the experience to build out a composable stack to build out a modern commerce stack. And I'm talking more than just the commerce platform. But you can also have those skills in house. I also think it's more than just a tech conversation to to the earlier point, I think it's it's, it's about the business as well. And, and it also depends on where you're coming from. Whether you're a small business, whether you're a medium sized business building an enterprise business, are you sitting on like a legacy platform like an Oracle and SAP like an IBM or even a homegrown solution? I think in those cases, it's very easy to be nimble, because you can use a strangler approach where you're just sort of chipping away at the monolith. And you're able to, to build out that composable and modern commerce stack. And to the earlier point from Brian, I think it's really key to figure out like, where do you start? And then we get that question all over the place. Some people feel very comfortable with starting with the product catalog, or the PIM, some people want to tackle the hardest part first, which is the checkout. Some people just want to play around like an order or card API. So it really is flexibility and agility that is required by the system integrator, maybe by by the, by the company, by the retailer, by the b2b business and in and of itself. And then you have other sort of moments where you're coming from a SaaS solution like Shopify Plus Bigcommerce, like an actual SAS solution. So the strangler approach is still an option. But I think you're more looking at a big bang approach. But how can you sort of build something up step by step? How can you test little things here and there, and test well fail fast and build up something new. So I think being nimble is a concept and the mindset that the organization that wants to adopt that need to have. And I mean, we've seen super large, and also sort of kind of like legacy companies be very, very open minded about this best example is llbean, massive company, as you can imagine, they really wanted to rebuild their entire omni channel strategy. And they said, you know, what, we don't want to, like all of a sudden replace everything with like a big bang approach. We're gonna start with three API's. And they went live in three weeks just using order and cart API's. So like that nimbleness, that agility, is this necessary, it's desired. And it's not only desired by the tech folks, but also the business. I think what we're seeing just from a commercetools perspective, is there's all these migration paths, like you, you grew up as a company, you go from your homegrown little thing to maybe a Shopify Bigcommerce, you outgrow that you might go to Salesforce, and then you might go on to something else. I think there's always a migration paths. The the beauty about commerce tools is we're providing a commerce portfolio of services that you can grow into, but you never really grow out of, and when you when you sign up to this composable notion, and you buy into it, you're never growing out of it and becomes this living organism. And I think that's, that's really interesting.

 

Aaron Conant  33:37

Yes, super interested in there's no I like, because nobody likes to replatform nobody likes to grow out of it and be forced into something new and have to unplug everything. And then I don't know, the implications to business, especially right now, you know, post COVID, with as much going on in digital side and eCommerce, it's,

 

Michael Scholz  33:55

we had new customers come to us and said, we selected you, among other things, but we selected you because we never wanted to replatform again, that was literally the notion. Yeah.

 

Aaron Conant  34:09

No, so So question that comes in. Can we hear a little bit about composable architecture management on the app side? Right. So once it's there, you can read it once there's 1000s of API, you know, becomes a large set of SOA. So if you want to jump in who's best to handle that just basically the ops side of a management. Jozef is that you like what does it look like?

 

Jozef Stawarz  34:37

Yeah, I'm trying to try to think how to answer that. First, I understand if I understand the question correctly, I would I'll do my best. So what I haven't said about architecture is again, with help of EPAM we're fully serverless. And the way we build those lambdas and how we're deploying them, we were going fast and That pieces and, and more recently, we started to see some challenges and some performance limitations with lambda AWS, and how many API specifically we had and how we manage them. So we started breaking them down into separate chunks. And, again, having this module commerce, architecture really allows us to do it chunk by chunk as we as we want to without impacting things along the way. I'm not sure if that answered the question. we're ultimately going and probably going to be going I see other digital products with an alkane was where you really start to build parts teams that are responsible for certain components almost and certain API's. And that's what they manage and only manage that. And maybe we'll get there one point in time. We're not there yet, just from a maturity standpoint, but but again, given the architecture we have and the tools we have, for sure, we can do it if we get to that scale.

 

Brian Gilmore  36:00

Yeah, I can maybe add a little bit of color to that as well, I think it is, first of all, it's a fantastic question. Because the very nature of bringing together multiple solutions on the cloud, it you know, if you're, if you're if you're in the ops area, it probably keeps you awake at night thinking about all the different things that could possibly go wrong. I think it all starts back, actually, before you go live when you when you have to think about the design. So if you guys remember in Jozef's diagram, he talked about creating that that BFF layer between the front end and commercetools, so creating the proper abstraction layer so that all those different API calls don't cascade through the user experience is probably the number one thing. You also I think, want to look at your user journeys throughout that as being independent. So I'm not quite sure I understood the Facebook point. But like, if you're tying into something in social media, or you're tying into like an external recommendations engine or something like that, you don't want that to break your checkout process. So you have to, you have to think about how you how you place those API calls, within the journey, so that you have kind of discrete Transaction Sets that that don't impact other things. And then I think, finally, we talk a lot about composable. And I think that as the mock space evolves, you're gonna see more and more pre composed sets of solutions and, and platforms together. And as those pre composed pieces are released into the market, I think you'll see a lot of the hygiene around the monitoring and the support, and the in the certifications that go behind that to ensure that that they're running properly. So rather than having to troubleshoot, you know, six different things you get, you'll get more of a unified view as the solutions become more precomposed. So it's a great question, and I appreciate that. But it's definitely a work in process, I think for folks on the SI side to make sure that all goes smoothly after after go live.

 

Aaron Conant  38:19

Awesome. So a couple more questions. One, I'm going to bring in Jake, for this, and this is two parts, right? The first is, is we look at new eCommerce demands and challenges, you know, you know, what are some of the lessons from disruptions that you've seen over the past couple of years? And the other one is, you know, what have you seen organizations do to manage product information and their business and commerce priorities?

 

Jake Athey  38:43

Yeah, absolutely. I'll start with the first one. And I guess the lesson I want to convey is, as I'm sure we've all experienced, that digital experiences, the customer experience, and brands of all sizes, as we've talked about really aiming to convey the shopping experience, I'll be at a lie of shopping experience online or hybrid with richer digital experiences. Take for example, another another brand, customer of ours Purple Mattress, and they were to bring a richer design experience to their digital platforms, which ultimately creates a better user experience for their customers to have this, this richer shopping experience. And so their design system focused on clean elements that really emphasize the product attributes with clear visuals, important call outs, and helpful comparison tools to really help their customers decide on which products were right for them. Now the challenge, however, was really bringing to life this simple front end experience. For customers, it's often the result of a complex set of tools that are working together under the hood. Now to achieve this purple needed to sync say pricing data from commercetools, and layer in the conditional pricing and promotions and custom display option. which is a really complex feat to orchestrate. But nonetheless, it's necessary to deliver better, more relevant customer experiences, in addition to this lesson that they've overcome, just from a design standpoint is performance, the performance of their site really had to be lightning fast on any device. And so an eCommerce, especially with sites that leverage very dense media assets, any drop in performance is a result in lost revenue. And so, in summary, that the lessons is that the eCommerce experience needs to be richer, more complete with that balance of objective and subjective information, and come across as a seamless, simple and fast experience on any device. And because you have customers that shop online, they shop online and buy in store, and those that augment their in store experience on their mobile devices. These are all critical requirements for businesses embarking on on a new commerce platform journey. And so those are some of the key lessons now to get to your your other question, which if I repeat it back at I think it was to the to the lines of like, what are organizations doing to manage product information. For commerce, we see it a few different ways coming from a dam and PIM provider we see people who manage their their product information within say, a product information management or master data management tool, that's that's a more traditional means managing product information and integrating with with commerce technologies, we of course, see customers that take a more hybrid approach to managing both digital assets and product information in a single product record to then connect with commerce technologies for syndicating that content to different distribution channels. And then we have those who, who are using a mix of best of breed tools, and also very piecemeal solutions. So there's not one best best answer to how companies are managing the product information. But the key is, all of that information is managed with one set Golden Record, and then it's connected to the places where it can be easily put to use in the different channels, commerce in particular.

 

Aaron Conant  42:24

I mean, what I one of the key things that comes up over and over again, is this increasingly complex landscape of emerging technologies and service providers and devices and customer touchpoints. You know, I'll kick this one over to you, Brian, like, you know, how are companies navigating that today? It seems like, every week, there's something new popping up. And it's just thrown at people and everything is like the new, you know, shiny object? Do we chase it? Or do we not chase it? Right?

 

Brian Gilmore  42:55

I know, speaking of shiny objects, I've been eyeing the new pixel watch that just came out from Google. And I've like, maybe I can put that on my Santa Claus list. But it's just the latest example of another devices coming in on the smartwatch category, and they're just endless ones of these then. So you know, if you're trying to target an experience, or how do you sell through that device, or whatever the case might be, it's just, you're on a treadmill that you're never going to keep up with. So I think the key thing here is you have to consider a headless approach, right? It's it's just goes without saying that it's probably your best insurance to give you the most flexibility for whatever future device might come out. And the reason for that is because not only are you are you decoupling that experience from your your transactional layer with the commerce but I think most importantly, you don't have to go rebuild everything under the covers, right. If you are able to, you know, have have all your your products and your promotions and things in a solution like commerce tools, all you need to do really is to tune and target that to the new channel. You don't have to recreate everything under the waterline and so you're really just focused on how do I tweak the experience for whatever that new device is, as opposed to building everything from scratch?

 

Aaron Conant  44:24

You know, Jozef I'd love to hear your thoughts like as well. Like how are you how are you handling it? Oh, wouldn't you and I mean, you have to be pitched all the time. Right? You have to be pitched all the time. Is that on the brand side right so I can see you know, Jake, Brian, Michael, they helped vet it all out. But on the side you've got to get paying with the new technology you know, everybody's hitting you up you know oh the check out this you know, I don't see virtual Tryon for contact lenses yet but something like that, you know,

 

Jozef Stawarz  45:00

Yeah, there's a lot to that. But we're not we're trying to be focused really what it is we're trying to do. And we have specific goal in mind what the product is doing. And we, as I mentioned, our priority is really expansion and markets. You know, the shiny objects, for us could be a features, or I need to have this bread, this capability in pilot say, but it's really a priority question for a product owner. So does it really need or not? Is it gonna break something else in Italy and somewhere else. So that's our sort of shiny objects. We're constantly chasing about technology, the shiny the big, shiny object with the technology standpoint, from us from US Congress tools and architecture, and we went for it, and we're happy warrior.

 

Aaron Conant  45:47

Now, I'm going to jump back just to Michael, really quick, just from your standpoint, just sitting on this cutting edge, you know, any lessons that you have from the disruption over the last couple of years, strategies that have worked, that you see for brands that you're dealing with? Sure.

 

Michael Scholz  46:08

I mean, for me, it's, it's really three things like I see companies that are successful in adopting this approach doing three things. Number one is, they realize this is not only a technology transformation, but also a business transformation. They see technology as an enabler of business success and not an inhibitor. And I think Alcon is the perfect example making sure the organization is aligned. Like even during the procurement process, that is key, like getting everyone involved, I think, the days of business versus it, and then things are over. I think, with adopting a composable approach, it's almost like productizing, the business strategy will have either not depending on the size of the business, but maybe have 10 people sitting just in checkout five people sitting in pin more product catalog, a couple of people's just sitting on your CMS, like the product isation of the actual function, as opposed to the business analysts dreaming up an amazing user journey here. And then it sort of getting that added on, like some sort of roadmap, I think, like that merger, I think is happening. And I see like organizations being very successful adopting that. The second one is starting small. So growing into the platform, embracing the approach, we've heard speed mentioned probably 10 times already, but the speed and the simplicity and the focus on that one key point is super, super helpful, right? Like if that focus is Pim, if that's checkout, if that's the core commerce, like you own that, and you proceed with that you can be successful with that. Like, and that's also with the way that you can prioritize those shiny features that are coming up, right, like, if you have set up a composable approach with a state of the art Pym, a commerce engine, and maybe other bits and pieces around the edge, the whole notion of of headless or composable, as obviously that whatever new touch point is coming in, doesn't really matter. Because you're not changing anything under the hood, you're just like pointing the arrow somewhere else. And that's where the user experience or the customer experience goes. So like, again, starting small and growing that into a new platform, embracing that approach really is helpful. And I think just generally starting with a holistic and comprehensive approach, leveraging the entire platform, like you can go small and grow. Or you can go big bang, and really, like live and breathe that. And lastly, I think what's always working is really finding true partners, like the typical store on trusted advisors, building your, like, Partner Network or partner ecosystem out, and I'm counting everything, I'm counting the size, the agencies, the ISPs, everyone, like building that out and have a true partnership, I think that will help you be successful in building out a cool future proof commerce deck.

 

Aaron Conant  48:59

And, Jake, I want to bring you in here. I love what you're saying. And you also brought up like PIM a couple of times. And I think from the content side of things, right, the role that content plays, the new strategies, you know, technologies that are popping up, we'd love to hear your thoughts in this space, too, as we as we kind of get to almost the end here. So

 

Jake Athey  49:23

yeah, as far as what's the role of content? Yeah.

 

Aaron Conant  49:26

Yeah. I mean, it sounds so simple. If you go back five, seven years, it's just oh, we're producing content, we're producing content and now it's, it's more important than ever to not only generate it, but handle it to distribute it at the right time, the right place to the right person and everything we've gotten so personalized now. There's a lot more complicated just say, hey, we need to create some content.

 

Jake Athey  49:51

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. You know, content is king, as they say that's that's been the case and still is the case. It's really everything in a composable Have you in commerce driven experience products or information in a digital world and users consumers, they search, browse and find products based on on the content experiences. And as both a brand and a consumer content is used to differentiate products from alternatives and, and these modern commerce experiences demand two types of contents subjective information, emotionally driven content that helps to intrigue people, that's, that's the value of the digital assets, and then objective information. And this is to backup those marketing claims and really help buyers purchase products with confidence. Now, content in a composable commerce experience really needs to be broken down into small structured pieces that can be reused across channels. And that's where having a holistic content strategy and maturing practices per se, content taxonomy and metadata management and content governance played a real critical role, because you're seeking to manage content centrally for what can become a decentralized ecosystem of of touch points. So we'd love to hear the customer perspective on say, we're managing product content fits in and your business priorities, if anyone would like to get engaged further. Yeah. Awesome. I mean,

 

Aaron Conant  51:20

you know, as we think about it, we're almost here at time. But you know, Michael, if we kind of get I'll kick it over to you really quick around, you know, strategies and commerce technologies that you're seeing allow organizations to innovate. You say sit there at the cutting edge. And you know, it's a composable commerce you do pretty much whatever you want with it. We'd love to hear. You know, we'd love to hear your thoughts there. And then we'll kind of kick it over to Brian to start wrapping it up.

 

Michael Scholz  51:49

Yeah, sure. I think I mean, I hate to say it, but it always depends, right? It depends on your requirements. I think the requirements and the complexity of the business drives a lot of these decisions. But I think having a nimble and agile mindset, both from a tax perspective, as well as from a business perspective, that's kind of like what the organization's 80 to 90% of the success really mean? I think using composable commerce platforms, like Pim, syndication, personalization are all key to the success. And I think again, it's no longer a business versus it conversation, it's no longer a build versus buy conversation for for us, it's really hit home that there's a great opportunity around adopting the notion and really embracing the notion of build and buy, because that's what composable is all about. Some people, I think, have a bit of a hesitation there, and probably rightly so. But I think embracing the notion of building by and really being responsible for owning that experience, I think, is key. And I think following that sort of mindset, following those kind of like strategies, and kind of like all the tech that's coming out is super, super important. But like, again, back to the Alcon story, I think they've done a tremendous amount of research, they followed the right process. And I think the way that they've gone about it and brought outside information and like even from analysts like Gartner, I think go out there, I mean, the information is out there. And my favorite term at the moment is always like pop the hood, like if you if you can't look under the hood, or you have to sign an agreement. Or you might even have to sign an agreement and pay for something, it's probably not composable. So that qualifies out a lot of noise in the market. Because at the moment everybody's headless, everybody's composable so I think cutting through the noise and really popping the hood is actually going to be really, really helpful.

 

Aaron Conant  53:47

You're right, though, everybody says everybody's composable just ask them. You know, Jozef, I'll kick it over to you, you know, key thoughts here as we wrap up and then I'll I'll go over to Brian to close this out.

 

Jozef Stawarz  53:59

So quickly, obviously, be bold and don't afraid to make bold decision. Ask around for help with partners like EPAM and, and stick with them. We were I'm still with them. And from the beginning really we contain and we still actually want him or the miking don't do not differentiate it's the pen person or outcome person. It's one team and and that's the best way to do it.

 

Brian Gilmore  54:24

Brian, you want to kind of wrap us up here with key takeaway? Yeah, I think I think the key takeaway is don't be don't be overwhelmed at the thought of starting this journey. I kind of like Jozef come at people, right. It's, it's, you know, don't be afraid. It's actually the the barrier to entry is much lower than most people consider. And if you're thoughtful about your approach, and you leverage the experience of people around you, the mock community, your your trusted advisors, to pick that first starting point, I think Do a lot of customers will achieve that success and quick ROI that they're looking for. So, so yeah, go for it.

 

Aaron Conant  55:10

Awesome as he kind of wrap up here, Jake, we'll make sure to connect you over with Noel. She reaches out and says, hey, we'd love to talk more about content management. So if anybody in governance, so if anybody's like connection over to Jake and the team more than happy to do it, Jozef as well, Brian and Michael, that's what we do. Here were giant connectors and love to do that. And thanks so much for everybody who sent in the great questions today. Thanks again, Jozef, Michael, Jake and Brian for your time. With that. We're going to wrap it up here. Pretty much right on time. Hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday. Have a great rest of the week. Everybody. Take care, stay safe and look forward to having you at a future event. Alrighty, thanks, everybody.

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