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Intelligent Experiences with Composable Commerce

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Kin + Carta recently hosted a webinar featuring guest speakers from Google Cloud, commercetools, Bloomreach, and Quantum Metric. These experts discussed typical problems retailers are experiencing relating to commerce and explained how the Integrated Commerce Network (ICN)— a pre-integrated composable solution powered by Google Cloud— can help create value from data and make deep customer connections a reality.

Now, here’s the recap of this informative session.

Let's meet the composable commerce experts

Kami Kris, VP of eCommerce at Kin + Carta facilitated the webinar and the following folks provided their insights and expertise:

  • Omar Shanti, AI + Data Principal, Kin + Carta
  • George Keller, Partner Engineer, Google Cloud
  • Michael Scholz, VP Product & Customer Marketing, Commercetools
  • Adam Dille, SVP of Product Engineering, Quantum Metric
  • Chris Gardner, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Bloomreach

Drowning in data, thirsty for insights

Research independently conducted by Google Cloud and Kin + Carta revealed that business leaders are struggling to trust and use their data, especially at the intersection of commerce and customer data. A few excerpts from our State of Omnichannel Report 2023:

  • 76% of leaders believe real-time data access and analysis is crucial for business performance
  • Yet only 33% of leaders report having mature capabilities in data access and analytics
  • 72% of consumers have never had a memorable, positive experience with a retailer in exchange for their data

A poll was taken at the outset of the webinar: What’s the biggest commerce challenge you’re trying to solve? Votes were equally split between a) inaccessible data, and b) rigid architecture.

One of the things we see, especially with composable, is that it’s expensive and retailers are already struggling with slim margins. On top of that, data is disparate.
Kami Kris, VP of eCommerce, Kin + Carta

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Data issues are common for many retailers

Ask a retailer about their data, and you’ll likely hear about problems relating to data management, data usability, and data culture. Data is siloed and there’s no single source of truth. Business users are entering and storing data in different ways. And no one is really shepherding that data.

What kind of data is valuable when it comes to evaluating and migrating to a composable tech stack?

It really takes preparation to be successful in a replatforming effort. The kind of data you want to know beforehand are your baseline KPIs. For example:
- How quickly does someone move through an experience and get to conversion?
- What are your movement rates through the funnel?
- How many people move through search to product discovery, adding something to the cart, and completing their purchase?
Adam Dille, SVP of Product Engineering, Quantum Metric

It’s important to have solid analytics and key data points in hand before replatforming so that you can determine if you’ve moved your KPIs in a good direction post-deployment.

Why data value matters so much

Commerce sits at the core of solving many of these data challenges, as businesses try to drive better outcomes, more personalized experiences, and higher throughput. So how can companies best utilize data to increase customer lifetime value?

Data is good, but if you have too much of it you can’t do anything with it. The first thing to do is develop an initiative to define your goals around customer data. That means looking at it from an activation standpoint. How do you achieve a single view of the customer? How do you unify that customer data to take action upon it? Look at where your omnichannel strategy is broken, identify how to fix it, then ultimately look at how to personalize the customer experience across those touch points.
Chris Gardner, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Bloomreach

Commerce considerations - everything from build to buy

Organizations have a wide range of options when it comes to evaluating and choosing a commerce solution.

Build - A business can build its own commerce solution. But that comes with a lot of risk and expense, and very few retailers have the capability to build something that works in an optimal way. Those retailers essentially become technology companies.

Monolith - Popular from the mid 1990’s and into the early 2000s, these all-in-one solutions were effective for optimizing one channel. But now, as companies expand across many different channels, monolith isn’t necessarily the best option. Out-of-the-box features may no longer be effective or relevant.

Headless - This type of solution allows a retailer to decouple the front and back ends. With a headless solution, a company has the ability to fully customize the visual design of its front end, on top of a CMS. Different touch points, different experiences.

Composable - The next step in this evolution allows a company to not only decouple the front and back ends— the entire stack can be decoupled. That provides the ability to build unique experiences by combining different technologies that perfectly align with a retailer’s needs and goals. Composable makes it possible to leverage best-in-class technology for each and every aspect of the commerce solution.

I think composable is the best approach, not only for digital commerce solutions, but for technology in general because everything is decoupled. In a composable tech stack, every vendor has to prove their value immediately, otherwise they’re out of the stack.
Michael Scholz, VP Product & Customer Marketing, commercetools

What is composable? And what isn’t it?

Composable technology is cloud native, component-based and tech agnostic. Let’s break that down:

  1. Cloud native - Software built for the cloud, in the cloud with all functionalities natively integrated with core components.
  2. Component-based - Software that consists of modules, each of which can be developed, deployed, and maintained independently. The modules don’t rely on each other for their functionality; they can be updated or replaced without affecting the rest of the system.
  3. Tech agnostic - The solution can be developed using a variety of different technologies and platforms. Software developers aren’t tied to a proprietary or specific programming language or skillset.

Composable is important for organizations that want to keep moving at pace and have the ability to utilize best-of-breed technologies.

What is the Integrated Commerce Network?

Launched by Kin + Carta, the Integrated Commerce Network (ICN) is a curated group of software partners that enables transformation across commerce, marketing, and customer experience. Intended to accelerate organizations’ time to value with a modern and future-proofed commerce tech stack, the ICN includes these partners:

  • commercetools, a robust and flexible foundation with unlimited scalability that supports all commerce operations. It offers all the components needed to build and run shopping experiences across all digital and physical touchpoints, and adapt to changing market dynamics and customer preferences.
  • Bloomreach, an Al-powered e-commerce personalization platform that includes a marketing automation solution enabled by BigQuery, Google Cloud’s serverless data warehouse. The Bloomreach customer data engine seamlessly integrates with the Google Cloud partner ecosystem to help create engaging customer experiences and increase conversion rates.
  • Quantum Metric, a customer-centered digital analytics platform that provides a simplified approach to monitor, diagnose, and optimize the digital journeys that matter most. The Quantum Metric platform offers in depth customer understanding, quantified and tied to core business objectives.

The ICN will continue to expand to include complementary partners to help businesses activate data and unlock new revenue.

Each of these ISV technologies work together in synergy to provide seamless experiences for a person who's actually consuming an e-commerce experience.
George Keller, Partner Engineer, Google Cloud

What does Google Cloud bring to the ICN? Google is always looking to do things from an industry lens; with its large base of customers in the retail space and a history in marketing and advertising, a retail-focused commerce solution was a good fit. Google’s Industry Value Network (IVN), a group focused on building industry solutions, helped to develop the ICN to make it truly best-in-class retail with Google Cloud.

Upleveling the commerce conversation

Traditionally, each one of these commerce technologies would be the purview of a particular buyer. For example, Quantum Metric would be of interest to someone responsible for their company’s website and customer experience. Since the ICN offers a solution across the entire stack, it uplevels the conversation to a more strategic level, the C-level.

The ICN is, itself, composable

The ICN not only provides the flexibility to work with one, two, or all of the partners, it offers the flexibility to add other technologies. It also gives retailers the power to own their own data, unify multiple data sets, and learn from a number of different technologies— all powered by Google Cloud.

Having that composability really does help mitigate fears of vendor lock-in. And it helps guard against what we're trying to get away from in the first place, which is the building of large monolithic stacks to something that's more flexible and you're able to iterate faster on.
George Keller, Partner Engineer, Google Cloud

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Personalization please

Personalization is a strategic, competitive advantage. In this day and age, the consumer has so many options; if you don’t provide a personalized experience in real time across the channels where the customer wants to engage with your brand, you’ll lose them to competition.

Personalization is really the hot button of data and the culmination of where data comes together.

In the last 10 years, there has been a proliferation of channels on which customers are engaging with brands. What has also happened is that companies have been buying more and more disparate technologies that don’t talk to one another– and that’s where a key challenge lies. While companies want to deliver personalized experiences, they are inhibited from doing so.

Because they have a tech stack that actually wasn’t built to support, a) all of those channels, and b) actually communicate with things like the commerce platform, with the analytics solution, because data needs to be interchanged between the solutions to harness a unified personalization strategy that actually works.
Chris Gardner, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Bloomreach

The ICN makes it possible for organizations to deliver highly personalized customer experiences via Bloomreach’s Al-powered e-commerce personalization platform.

Choose your own pain point

Retailers are experiencing a number of pain points that are difficult— even impossible— to solve at pace and at scale with a monolithic or aging commerce platform. These include:

  • Stagnating online sales
  • Struggle to attract and retain customers
  • Inability to manage and analyze data from multiple touchpoints
  • Competitors offering more engaging and personalized experiences
  • Inability to adapt to emerging market trends and customer preferences

The ICN’s goal is to be able to support this broader commerce experience and data experience by bringing together many different aspects of the customer journey into an analytics vision.

The ICN Accelerator— speeding the journey to modern commerce

As part of the ICN, Kin + Carta built the ICN Accelerator, an assessment designed to help organizations unlock value and improve customer experience in as little as six weeks. By targeting a high-ROI use case, we provide a blueprint for modular, repeatable workload integration, through strategic opportunities for real-time BI, federated governance, and streaming analytics. modernize storefronts and data foundations in Google Cloud.

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