Last week, the Retail Connections team caught up with a panel of digital commerce leaders to explore how retailers can build the tech stacks needed for success. Speaking on the IRX Main Stage, gym wear brand Sweaty Betty’s CTO, Simon Pakenham-Walsh, D2C beauty brand Trinny London’s CTO, Taher Khaliq, and Founder and CEO of Patchworks, David Wiltshire, discussed the key elements and capabilities needed to build an agile architecture to drive forward growth and performance.
Build the tech that will deliver the business’ vision
“First you need to understand the business’ USP so you can ensure that the tech stack you are building will complement the organisation, its culture, its goals and its objectives,” Trinny London’s Khaliq told the audience. He suggested that how you define the business goals and vision should be your first point of call in defining the tech roadmap to achieve them.
Building a value chain also proved an integral stage in developing a successful tech stack for Sweaty Betty’s Pakenham-Walsh. He shared an example which ran from the Data Platform to the Customer Data Platform, which in turn powered the segmentation of customer insights to drive personalisation, and improve CX. This would then drive increased click through rates (CTRs) and build out bigger basket sizes and Average Order Value (AOV). He put it that you can’t begin to start talking about tech to drive up CTRs or AOV without that value chain in place.
Composition is key: Composable commerce and the building blocks for scale
Khaliq’s advice was to ensure you could build flexibility into the programme at the outset, saying retailers should “ensure that you have allowed yourself space for evolution within the roadmap, and that means not tying yourself to one tech stack.”
He nodded to when Trinny London first launched, and the challenge they faced was growing the customer base. They were so successful in rapidly scaling their customers, that they quickly recognised their current platform wouldn’t be able to survive in two years’ time. In response, they broke down the tech roadmap in to iterative stages in order to evolve as the business needed. “You will also need to assess what you can buy versus what you will want to build, understanding that you will need open API architecture to scale,” he added.
“As a multichannel retailer, we need to ensure that we have a unified set of touchpoints and that the data flow – and quality – is available from the central platform to each end state system,” Pakenham-Walsh told us.
“We need to ensure that data quality is there to move that information all the way through to the end customer touchpoint. We use composable commerce so we can build a roadmap for each of those elements of the stack.”
Start with the customer and work backwards
For David Wiltshire, Founder and CEO of Patchworks, the leading integration platform provider, tech stacks need to be reverse engineered from the customer. He advocated starting with the customer first and then working backwards so that every element of the tech capabilities support and enhance the shopper’s experience.
He also pointed to composable architecture, suggesting that those developing tech stacks should ask themselves how the infrastructure will be able to cope and scale in 5 years’ time, whether it can support internationalisation and offer customer support where needed regardless of global time zones.
People, not technology, drive success
The panel also suggested that it was the power of the innovators – the people behind the tech – rather than in the innovations or solutions themselves, that would drive forwards success.
“It’s the people behind the tech, not the tech itself, that will drive CX. The tech stack is simply based on the brains of those who built it. So, you need to understand that you can have the perfect technology roadmap, but if the people round the table aren’t innovators or up to the task, it’s not going to have a good outcome.”
Taher Khaliq, CTO, Trinny London
Another important element is simplicity, Pakenham-Walsh told the panel. Keeping it simple by “ensuring that there are the right partners and right people involved, and that they all understand the priorities when it comes to building out the tech stack” would be key to delivering tech that would deliver for the business – both now and in the future.
Sweaty Betty, Trinny London and Patchworks were speaking at IRX, which co-located with DTX and UCX at London’s Excel on the 12 and 13 October. For further information about future events, webinars and roundtables run by IRX, Internet Retailing’s event arm, visit: Events – Internet Retailing.