The Key to Successful Composable Commerce? A PIM Solution
There’s no debate that the retail industry has seen a dramatic shift in consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic; shoppers are headed to digital channels in troves, and they’re not slowing down. The brands and retailers that were able to quickly and effectively optimize their online presence in the past few years are the ones capturing the largest share of the market, but even those businesses are still dealing with the fallout. From keeping up with a growing number of online channels to supply chain issues and changes in working culture, the effects of this consumer shift are seeping into every business at all levels, creating a recipe for miscommunication and misinformation.
Because of this, many organizations are transitioning to a new commerce technology architecture that provides the flexibility, agility, and omnichannel activation that they’re looking for. This is what is known in the industry as a composable commerce (or headless) architecture: a modular, best-of-breed approach to commerce technology that enables your team to effectively communicate across every aspect of your business. By using individual applications to handle each specific aspect of the overall shopping experience, your team can ensure that every channel is optimized to its fullest potential. Without having to upgrade the entire back-end infrastructure with every new update, composable commerce opens brands and retailers up to implement new features across every single channel and unlock brand-new shopping experiences for the consumer.
With the benefits that come with composable commerce architecture, replatforming can be a daunting task. A successful replatforming hinges on having clean data and product information, as that’s what flows through every single one of those modular applications. Your product data must be well structured, consistent, complete, and accurate (and of course, compelling) to be handled reliably across those applications and correctly according to the channel or experience on the front end. Simply put, you can’t have a sturdy house without a good, clean foundation, and you can’t have a headless architecture without good, clean product information.
In order to set you and your organization up to optimize the growth made possible by replatforming to a headless architecture, the first step is to implement a product information management (PIM) solution. Why? A PIM offers your team a central repository of product information to simplify communication across any channel that your customers are on, regardless of who owns it. It is the single best way to ensure that your product data is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, and it enables your team to create the best product experience for consumers.
3 Things to Look for in a PIM Solution
But even still, not all PIMs are created equal, and there are a few key factors that your team should be considering when selecting a PIM solution to de-risk your e-commerce replatforming project.
First, your team should be looking for a cloud-native SaaS application that is reliable, secure, and scalable. This is a key tenet of a composable commerce architecture: PIM applications that are merely on-premises software hosted with a cloud infrastructure provider may not provide that scale and reliability you need.
Second, composable commerce architectures are built around application programming interfaces (APIs), so your PIM solution simply has to be API-first with services that are available in a number of different ways and can scale as needed. A PIM solution that is integrated with a composable commerce platform needs to be able to handle massive amounts of API calls and as many SKUs as you have in your current and future catalog. We’re talking about confidently handling tens of thousands of API calls per hour, and millions of SKUs.
Last, your PIM solution needs to be able to support all the new channels that your composable commerce architecture will open up for you. As you look to grow your business on new and future channels, you don’t want to be wasting time re-creating product information and content just for those new channels that have their own specific requirements. Some e-commerce platforms have a built-in tool for managing products in your catalog. But they are typically limited in scope and intended for managing the catalog sold on your owned e-commerce site. That won’t suffice as you expand to other owned and unowned channels. A modern PIM supports true omnichannel shopping, providing capabilities to let you enrich information and products across all channels (and locales) efficiently, without having to re-create attributes and content for each one, both today and in the future.
So to truly support a composable commerce architecture, your team needs a PIM solution that is well-structured and scalable, while ensuring the product experiences your customers have are consistent, complete, and compelling. A good PIM solution will help you gather your data into one single source of truth, enrich your product information, and put it in the proper context for both new and existing channels. It should also provide you with a tool to help you create and manage high-quality digital assets such as photos, videos, and anything else you can use to win over e-commerce shoppers. Once you’ve got your product experience and information management up to par, replatforming to a headless architecture becomes significantly less risky, and gives your team more chances to convert customers by accelerating time-to-market and boosting enrichment efficiency.
By centralizing and cleaning up all of your product data into a single source of truth, a good PIM solution unlocks unprecedented growth opportunities by getting your products to market more quickly, providing an unparalleled product experience to consumers, and helping to raise e-commerce revenue. You can also be more flexible, adaptable, and prepared to respond to changes in your supply chain or sudden shifts in market trends. Migrating to a composable commerce architecture is your best bet to not getting left behind in this ever-evolving, digital-first market, and just like a house, that replatforming project needs to start with a solid foundation: clean product data housed within a sturdy PIM solution ready to scale with your needs.
Ali Hanyaloglu is the senior director of product marketing at Akeneo and is a PMA Top 100 Product Marketing Influencer.