A Changing Retail Landscape
Consumer expectations are rapidly evolving and placing heavier demands on retailers to meet the needs of their customers. Dramatic shifts in end user behavior, particularly in the use of digital mediums, are creating new opportunities for retailers to exploit. To satisfy their customers and capitalize on these changes retailers must be able to tailor their digital commerce capabilities and deliver optimized experiences.
“The most important capability of any ecommerce system for a large company is customizability. The CDOs [Chief Digital Officer] we spoke with were largely not interested in turn-key solutions. These entities prefer to have complete creative control over the environment their customers encounter.”
– The New Chiefs of Commerce in the Digital Enterprise, page 10
Traditional commerce packages built on monolithic architectures present an obstacle for retail success in this new era. Fortunately, a new breed of platforms has emerged, led by commercetools which invented the concept of a ‘headless’ commerce platform back in 2013. commercetools is a dynamically extensible, cloud-native commerce solution. It allows retailers to sculpt a solution that fits their unique needs today, and is flexible to support their evolving business strategy tomorrow.
“commercetools was built from the ground up to provide developer-friendly APIs backed by cloud-native microservices in a multitenant architecture. This setup gives it the distinct advantage of being versionless and highly elastic at unprecedented cost-efficiency. Its product strategy and roadmap are above par compared with others in this evaluation. It gives its customers a commerce platform for building visionary commerce experiences at a fraction of the cost and time it would take to build in-house.”
– The Forrester Wave(TM): B2C Commerce Suites, Q2 2020
Differentiate Your Business
Technical innovation is a difficult but essential ingredient in retail differentiation. Too many companies find themselves constrained because their platform’s data model is fixed or difficult to extend. Too many retailers have no way to extend the business logic provided by their platform provider, short of completely deprecating large portions of what they’ve licensed. Too many retailers find themselves unable to get real time access to platform events and build out functionality that handles those interactions, making it impossible to react dynamically to customer interactions.
You don’t find these technical constraints when you use commercetools. It handles the core needs all retailers have while allowing you to experiment and differentiate where you need to. The commercetools platform offers you powerful tools to make all this happen and we categorize them into two buckets: customizations and extensions.
Customizations and Extensions
The commercetools platform supports a variety of methods for modifying your commerce solution.
Customizations are achieved by leveraging features built into commercetools to enhance its functionality and customize it based on your unique needs. This is a characteristic that’s often overlooked when selecting a commerce platform, that businesses later find critical as no two companies have identical operational needs. You can leverage commercetools’ Custom Fields and Custom Objects to perform this level of customization.
Extensions are achieved by integrating solutions that run externally from the commercetools platform. Extension solutions can come in many forms: custom microservices you build yourself, commercial solutions you’ve licensed, open source projects you want to leverage, and, of course, commercetools Integration Marketplace solutions. Using these methods allows for a rich ecosystem of loosely coupled solutions to co-exist and interoperate.
Finally there are options that blend the two approaches. We will call these Hybrid Extensions and the two techniques we cover in the white papers are API Extensions and Subscriptions. In these cases, built-in commercetools features are customized to be aware of and interoperate with extensions that run on systems outside the platform.
Fortunately, all of these techniques can be used without modifying the underlying commercetools platform, and without impeding the ability to benefit from the frequent upgrades and enhancements to the platform. Leveraging commercetools within a well defined, cloud native architecture is a true difference maker in giving your business an edge when compared to more traditional commerce solutions.
Building commercetools customizations and extensions
Fearless Technology Group, a commercetools implementation partner, has published a series of technical white papers that provide a more extensive description of these customization methods, including detailed tutorials for several of the most common techniques. Get started with Building commercetools customizations and extensions.
About Fearless Technology Group
Fearless Technology Group (FTG) helps retailers modernize their technology architecture, solve critical business problems, and capitalize on business opportunities in an evolving landscape. FTG is a partner of both commercetools and Google Cloud. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-432-9068.