We’re in Q3 of 2021, and it’s clear that digital transformation in commerce will continue at the rapid pace set early in the pandemic. The need to offer consistent, high-quality customer experiences is so urgent that in 2021, “every company -- not just the 15% of firms that were already digitally savvy,” will invest in technologies to drive better customer experiences and business operations, according to Forrester Research.
The reason for the investment is that legacy commerce and customer experience (CX) technology can’t adapt fast enough to keep pace with new customer expectations. The current transformation requires IT to work closely with marketing and CX teams to implement microservices architecture solutions that enable the seamless, continuously optimized experiences that customers expect at every touchpoint.
Agility and Flexibility Enable a Better Customer Experience
Headless, composable, or API-led microservices architecture lets businesses quickly test apps and solutions, customize them, and deploy them across channels for a seamless customer experience. This new architecture makes it easy to add virtually any app or channel to their platform.
The ability to update platform connections quickly ensures that customers have a friction-free and relevant omnichannel experience no matter where their journey originates. For example, as new social platforms emerge, they can be integrated quickly with the commerce experience without a long lead time that frustrates customers and interrupts their preferred journey.
IT Challenges for Microservices Implementation
Moving from legacy platforms to microservices creates opportunities for better marketing and customer experience but it poses challenges for IT in terms of design, security and testing, and operational complexity. Also, because the microservices paradigm allows companies to use different technology for each service, the diversity of technology can increase costs compared to the legacy paradigm.
On the other hand, legacy applications require heavy maintenance and operational costs, and they can't meet modern CX needs like better reusability, improved scalability, and faster time to market. Microservices enables faster response times on websites, more responsive and easier to navigate interfaces, and creation of a single view of the customer for more effective sales, marketing, and customer service. Those are some of the reasons that 84% of companies have adopted microservices already. Other advantages of microservices include lower maintenance costs, lower total cost of ownership, and better ROI than organizations would realize from trying to continue with legacy technology.
Implementing a Modern Experience Architecture Journey
Implementing microservices architecture doesn’t have to be “rip and replace.” The transition from legacy monolithic architecture to a modern API and microservices-based architecture can be done in logical steps, so the legacy platform can be replaced systematically. There are four key stages in this process.
The first is discovery. What data do you need to deliver experiences that meet customers’ expectations? Which channels do your customers use to engage with your brand? Can you make real-time updates across all your systems, touchpoints, and channels? By working closely with marketing and customer service leaders at this stage, IT leaders can help identify all the relevant data and what is needed in terms of CX technology.
The second stage is development of APIs that allow you to connect your platform’s back end to multiple front-end channels to create a consistent experience across devices and channels. While IT takes the lead here, it is important to maintain communication with marketing and other departments so that the results align with the company’s CX goals.
Stage three is scaling. Start small in implementing your new headless architecture. Select one product line or customer persona, monitor, and test the rollout, and then add more products, personas, and regions as you gain confidence and data on your new architecture’s performance. At this stage, IT can use marketing, sales, and customer support data -- analytics and voice of customer -- to refine and iterate the first implementation and the later scaled-up deployment.
Stage four never ends. Keep iterating and keep collaborating with customer-facing departments. Customer habits, behaviors, needs, and expectations will continue to evolve, and so will technology. Track the trends and be ready to add new capabilities to your commerce stack when there’s demand for the experience they support.
An Investment in the Future
Overhauling the digital commerce and CX architecture stack requires a major investment, but the ROI is more revenue, stronger customer loyalty, and the ability to make the most of new opportunities as they arise. With IT, marketing, and customer experience leaders working together, businesses can use microservices-based architecture to remain competitive and differentiate in a landscape where businesses are doing all they can to deliver ideal experiences for their customers.