2020 has been a challenging year for retailers, with COVID-19 shining a light on the unpredictable nature of this industry. The pandemic made it clear that the ability to adapt to change is key, which is only made possible by flexible and agile technology. But what specific commerce technologies will be the defining trends of the new 12 months?
1. Frontend developers will break free from legacy tech
In 2021, employers will realize that to prevent loss of top talent, they need to listen to their employees’ concerns around being blocked by outdated tech, and provide them with modern technology platforms that allow them to thrive in their roles. Modern commerce architecture based on “MACH” principles – microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless – work with developers, not against them, relieving pressure, and improving job satisfaction and retention. Increased adoption of modern technology will free developers to innovate and problem-solve, ultimately generating better results.
2. 2021 will be the year of composable commerce
Composable commerce describes how retailers can pick and mix elements of their commerce technology from numerous vendors that do one thing only – but do that one thing extremely well, and “consume” them through individual APIs independently. This enables retailers to have greater control over the online shopping experience they are creating for customers. The driving factor for composable commerce is continued advancements in cloud computing, as more powerful cloud services will make it even easier for developers to create unique experiences.
This year, we will see a raft of 100% cloud- and SaaS-based new market entrants that only provide a single piece of the puzzle – whether it be product search, checkout or something else – but provide an exceptional experience for that commerce functionality. Accordingly, when they are all used together by a retailer, shoppers are satisfied throughout the entire online experience.
3. Late adopters will jump to headless commerce
More conservative companies still tied down by legacy software suites will no longer be able to ignore the rigid tech stacks holding them back. By decoupling their frontends from their backends through the adoption of a headless commerce solution, IT teams will finally be able to get rid of serious competitive disadvantages and increase agility. With headless platforms, tech leaders and their teams will be able to realize superior compatibility with their CRM systems, deliver higher degrees of customization to fit their commerce needs and roll out new features to multiple frontends faster to improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales.
4. Auto-generated software development kits will be key
Developers will use more smart tools to eliminate repetitive, monotonous work and give them back precious time to focus on more complex and bigger picture tasks. Traditionally, whenever developers make a change that affects APIs, their software development kits (SDKs) have to be updated. The more updates there are and the more developers making changes, the more complicated the process and the more times SDKs have to be manually revised. In addition, teams may not be sure what is up to date or the latest version.
Auto-generated SDKs automate updates giving back precious time to development teams to focus on more complex tasks. In addition to mainstream no code/low code software which automates routine integration work, more developers will leverage auto-generated software development kits (SDKs) which take away the headache of remembering to keep records up to date.
5. Machine learning will be put into practice
AI hype is well and truly over – seemingly every vendor is claiming they are using AI to some degree, but not all of it is the real deal. In the next 12 months, the phase of experimenting with machine learning will pass and organizations will become more pragmatic, focusing on the use cases that add business value. For example, machine learning will be increasingly used for customer product recommendations, and AI, such as collaborative filtering algorithms, recommend items based on what shoppers have selected previously to drive increased average basket spend.
There are countless other opportunities for how machine learning can be used, including churn prediction, which predicts when customers will cease use of a service and analyze the reasons for that, forecasting stock levels to make production and distribution more efficient and sentiment analysis to understand perception levels of individual products, all of which will increase in use next year.
6. GraphQL will emerge from the shadows
GraphQL, aka Graph Query Language, has been steadily increasing in popularity across big brand names that leverage high-tech, as well as in the commerce community, over the last three years. While many developers are using it, the open-source query language has yet to enjoy the fame it deserves. GraphQL, which is a layer that can be applied over any REST API, simplifies the process of data retrieval, making the overall process of building commerce applications far quicker and easier. As more and more developers realize its value, GraphQL will no doubt go from being the industry’s best-kept secret to being recognized as an essential tool in 2021.
Interested in how commercetools can prepare your commerce platform for 2021 and beyond? Get in touch with us today.