Opinion

Composable. Unlocking flexibility, simplicity and pace in the world of phygital retail.

Delight your customers with connected journeys

In the rapidly changing world of ecommerce, retailers must update their platforms to meet modern consumer demands. Composable commerce offers a fully modular approach, enabling retailers to pick and choose best of breed options to suit their specific needs and objectives. However, the ongoing challenge for retailers with both physical and digital footprints, is change.  

The consistent change curve in retail means sound decisions made in the past can rapidly become ‘blockers to change’ as consumer habits and expectations constantly evolve.  

True success in delighting the consumer is best measured in the ability of a retailer to react quickly and effectively to provide the journeys that are important to customers, without compromising on what has made their brand successful in the past.  

Customers require consistency and clarity at all touchpoints within a retail offer. This can be on mobile, web, kiosk, self-checkout, or at the staffed service point. Every retailer needs to focus on knowing their customers’ habits, learning how they like to interact, and ensuring that the brand experience is consistently delighting the customer, whilst also bringing forward new journeys that support a well thought through shopping experience. 

Technologies used in composable commerce provide greater ability for retailers to focus on incremental change through flexibility, simplicity and pace, in a way that retail architectures have not allowed in the past. 


Put flexibility at the heart of store colleagues experience 

Your store colleagues' experience of technology is vitally important when building the strategy around delighting retail customers. Yes, technology is the enabler, but staff deliver many of the customer journeys. 

Notwithstanding the technical skillset or approach of your staff, they all require flexibility and simplicity to accomplish a myriad of tasks, and to be the ambassador for your brand when interacting with consumers.   

Any device, any format, all apps should facilitate the completion of retail tasks in a way that works easily for colleagues. 

The modularisation of hardware in the store is critical to ensure the right tools are in place for the task at hand. Composable technologies are built and integrated natively, based on concepts of modularity and mobility. Simple, modular apps can deliver new functions to store staff and evolve when business priorities shift and customer journeys change. 

The days of heavyweight releases, training and change programmes are increasingly being replaced with technologies that are light, simple and intuitive.   

We are increasingly witnessing forward-thinking retailers successfully putting simplified apps into the hands of their staff to deliver clienteling, point of sale, stock counts, order management and web lookups. These deliver better engagement from staff and faster returns on investment where it counts most. According to PwC, companies that invest in, and deliver, superior experiences to both consumers and employees can charge a premium of as much as 16% for their products and services. 


Retail operations at the heart of collaboration

The role of Retail operations has changed dramatically from process, people and spreadsheets to becoming the facilitators of technology, trainers of new solutions and drivers for change. Retail operations are the best people in the business to define what the solutions need to do. And with so many options in the market, this is critical. 

Composable architectures allow for open collaboration between IT and Retail operations in a way that heavyweight or monolithic IT delivery projects have not supported well enough in the past. The ability to integrate more rapidly, test, trial and deliver technology pilots is changing technology operating models for the better. An example of a technology pilot could be for a retailer’s ‘click and collect’ service, where the pilot is conducted in order to test the implementation of automated order fulfilment. 

Retail operations and technology staff are becoming synonymous teams, working closely together to deliver flexible, connected journeys that delight customers and colleagues. They must understand each other’s challenges and goals, working towards one vision, but with different approaches, the ReOpsIT to the DevOps world, to coin a phase.  

Simpler projects delivering rapid incremental change stand a much better chance of success! 


Make technology truly componentised both digitally and physically

For technology teams, the opportunity is vast and exciting, with countless options, technologies and choices that provide flexible solutions and futures within composable commerce.  

With continuous advancements in mobile and app technology, physical retail is already the next frontier for composable design. 

Modular capabilities designed around a central integration strategy allow teams to layer technology change into a retail store’s landscape over time and across all items that are ‘physical’, such as printing, scanning and stock management processes.   

Furthermore, composable solutions allow digital experiences to be rapidly overlaid onto existing retail processes, such as digital receipt, customer capture, in-store order management, fiscalisation, loyalty and direct interaction with customer devices through QR and proximity technologies. Composable allows the seamless customer journey across channels that we now have the ability to make real. 

A composable strategy for store technology becomes truly liberated when retailers can think holistically and without the constraints of slow change and technology blockers.   

Platforms and apps that are truly ‘agnostic’ in e-commerce integration and output format (e.g. IOS, Windows, Android) offer the greatest flexibility and likelihood of success. They ensure that the continuous release of technology change is flexible and future proofed. 

Working with technology vendors and integrators who are willing to operate across an eco-system of incumbent and future technologies (digital and physical) offers the best chance of success, without expensive lock-ins and change control. Asking the right questions upfront is key. 

Ultimately, the technology team mindset should be one based on a commitment to best of breed modern platforms and apps, low-cost change and pace.   

Getting started should be easy. Keeping up a continuous rate of change requires a little ‘thinking and exploration’, however, the change dividend can be huge and well worth the investment! 

Check out our Graphene platform here to see how to convert customers with an engaging experience in store.

 

To see the article as previously published on LinkedIn, click here.



Elliot Winskill, Head of Solutions

As Head of Solutions at PMC, Elliott heads up the Graphene team, a digital cloud platform enabling the digital world to seamlessly integrate with the instore environment. Having held both commercial and technical roles in Retail, Elliott combines a Technology Evangelist mentality with a detailed knowledge of how to apply retail business concepts. Elliott prides himself on his knowledge of the newest technology. Continuously striving to be a thought leader and to offer a vision for the business application of technology.


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