Three lessons from Trinny London's Chief Technical Architect Jay Jetley
Pandemic lockdowns created a high demand for online retail over the past few years, becoming the catalyst for the birth of many eCommerce brands. As consumer demand for online adjusts, and the cost of living crisis affects consumer spending, how can these new, mid-size digital-only brands compete and set themselves apart?
The key to differentiation in this more competitive market is the ability to continually engage shoppers with the 'new' and quickly adapt to changing consumer needs, trends and market shifts — both of which require a flexible, dynamic eCommerce platform. Unfortunately, as many of these startup brands are scaling up and addressing new challenges and opportunities, they've found the platform on which they launched their business too rigid to allow for growth. This makes a case for migrating to composable commerce, which gives brands the freedom to customize the online customer experience fully.
One brand, Trinny London, has successfully migrated from its entry-level eCommerce platform to a customized commerce system built on composable commerce technology from commercetools. Jay Jetley, the brand's chief technical architect, shares his main lessons from making this change.
1. More Control, More Choices
Moving from the comfort of an all-in-one eCommerce platform to a composable one may seem more expensive. But, you realize that you can create significant savings because the composable approach gives you the freedom to choose your own payment provider. For example, we were able to do a deal with a big credit card player and get much better rates on all of our transactions. In addition, you discover that an all-in-one eCommerce provider makes money from charging you for each transaction. So when your business grows, they make more money from your transactions.
Going down a composable path means the job is much bigger in some ways because it opens the door to trying things you couldn't do before. This does take some time to accommodate, but you quickly realize filling requests from the rest of the business for new capabilities and features is possible.
2. More Flexibility, More Power
Any higher cost is massively offset by how much composable gives you the flexibility to support the business. The business felt restricted by the platform we used to start our operations, so it was easy to sell them the investment in a new approach with composable commerce technology. An excellent example was how we wanted to differentiate ourselves around customer service experience in the market.
A driving force for us in moving away from an eCommerce platform was how composable commerce allowed us to be in control of the checkout process. We wanted customers to be able to pick samples during the checkout process and those samples to match what they had bought, for example, a shade of eyeshadow appropriate to the color of lipstick. This level of personalization is only possible with composable commerce.
Traditional eCommerce systems cannot cope with this complexity. For example, many e-commerce platforms require you to make every combination of a bundle available as an individual SKU. We didn't want to do that and to be honest, we couldn't do that because of the number of colors in the makeup ranges. Some of the bundles we wanted to allow our customers to build up could end up with over half a million possible combinations. No team could maintain this, especially when every time you launch a new color, there could be up to another 200,000 new possible combinations.
3. More Agility, More Stability
The composable commerce approach gives you stability when you need to move fast and dramatically to answer customer demand. We've learned how to exploit an API-first offering to build component tests and performance tests. So when we release stuff, we can release it with confidence. Currently, the team is doing new releases two or three times a day to support the business. We have tests to ensure that the website's core functionality doesn't fall down, and we know that the user journeys are right, and part of that is being able to test the back end of commercetools. Exploiting the API-first nature of composable means, we were confident that we did a software release right in the middle of our last sale day.