Maximizing Digital Commerce and Customer Engagement Strategies in 2023

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Gone are the ways of traditional or legacy, “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” solutions. To compete in today’s market, technology leaders in the commerce industry are engaging in composable strategies that enable them to build or buy systems that are the optimum match for the company’s requirements, all while orchestrating the data between each node in the tech stack. These composable-first technologies ingest data from individual best-of-breed systems, so organizations can compose the commerce stack they want.

Yet, to execute this vision, data flow, abstraction and interoperability must come first in a distributed commerce world. Companies are looking to flip massive legacy tech stacks inside out by ingesting commerce data, such as content, category, product and inventory, from best-of-breed solutions. They are also adopting these modern commerce stacks to go “headless,” decoupling the commerce frontend and backend to deliver experiences, best-fit tools and flexibility without IT overhead. The tools and services of the modern commerce stack are purpose-built, support a lean IT footprint and deliver on speed—both in performance and productivity.

So, as the modern commerce stack continues to extend decoupling and leverage deep specialization of tools, applications and even microservices, expect to see the following trends in the coming year:

Trend #1: Threat of stagnation results in conservative capital outlays

Driven by loose monetary and fiscal policies during the pandemic, inflation continues to reach all-time highs. The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates to combat inflation, which affects the consumer in several ways: decreasing the value of homes due to higher mortgage rates and more expensive home equity lines of credit, an increase in the credit card interest rates and a decrease of corporate loan borrowing which eventually leads to higher unemployment. None of this bodes well for the consumer’s discretionary wallet.

In 2023, forward-thinking commerce leaders will reconsider significant capital outlays, especially for technology. Instead of risky, expensive platform/re-platform changes, merchants will consider extending the life of the technology systems they have in place and slowly move to an ideal stack over time. This conservative approach allows leaders to regularly reassess the market and take bite-sized technological upgrades to save capital and benefit from best-of-breed offerings.

Trend #2: Headless commerce becomes the go-to

After years of gaining traction among early adopters, headless will become the norm in the coming years. According to a Salesforce Commerce Cloud survey, 80% of all online merchants are either already – or plan to be – headless over the next two years. Headless commerce offers a competitive advantage to those who embrace it. Specifically, merchants who are headless see increases in conversion rates, average order values, engineering productivity and website change velocity. When one competitor in a vertical goes headless, a technology adoption race occurs as others scramble to upgrade and keep pace.

Headless implementation in isolation will be deemed foolish, so in 2023, top merchants will look at headless within the context of their broader company vision and technology strategy.

Trend #3: Data flow becomes the engineering focal point

Due to the significant growth in online commerce, many new best-of-breed vendors are focusing on solving just one problem and making that solution 10x better than what out-of-the-box, legacy platforms offer. This trend will become increasingly beneficial to merchants as it allows them to compose a stack of solutions that best meets their needs.

Today, most vendors offer an API, yet forward-thinking CTOs know that an API is not enough; data flow to and from the network of individual best-of-breed vendor solutions becomes the key to success. In 2023, shrewd architecture work will implement best practices in this distributed world, and engineering patterns like data normalization, event replays, data transformations and abstraction will become the norm.

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