The eCommerce industry moves so fast it can be challenging for retailers to come up with fresh ways to meet customer needs. But unless they are positioned to exceed customer expectations and consistently deliver outstanding services they will fall behind the competition. The secret to success is providing memorable customer experiences that improve conversion rates and drive up revenues.
What retailers can no longer do is rest on their laurels. The legacy eCommerce platforms that enabled them to satisfy customers a few years ago lack the flexibility and agility that is needed today, and that’s where MACH architecture comes into the picture. But first let’s look at the importance of customer experience.
Assessing the influence of customer experience
Customer experience (CX) drives thriving eCommerce business. According to Deloitte’s ‘Milliseconds Make Millions’ report, 61% of customers have stopped buying from a company because a competitor provided a better experience. And if your website is slow, it will have a detrimental effect, with 70% of consumers acknowledging that page load speed affects their willingness to shop from a retailer. But if you do deliver you will be rewarded because 59% of customers are willing to pay more for a great experience.
What do customers want?
Unless you know what consumers are looking for, it’s tricky to create an experience they will remember, but there are some fundamentals that are important
First, provide personalised content. This is what customers expect and it’s what they are accustomed to. Retailers should be aiming to deliver unique experiences that are customised to suit their clients. This might mean individual collections and personalised offers based on purchasing history.
Next, make sure your mobile experience is fantastic. Today’s buyers are browsing, selecting and purchasing on the move, so they want a smooth, agile mobile experience. This means fast and optimised for mobile platforms so that purchases are boosted.
And then there’s performance. This must be lightning fast. If your page load time rises above five seconds, you will lose customers. Bounce rates grow with every additional second that a customer must wait.
How to provide it
The best approach is by adopting MACH architecture. MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. It is a way of building a complete IT ecosystem piece by piece which makes it easier to align with the retailer’s own needs, as well as those of the customer.
Each element is important. To be microservices-based, an eCommerce system will comprise individual apps that are separately developed, deployed and managed. This allows each microservice to play a specific role such as delivering product search reviews. All the components in the MACH architecture communicate via an Application Programming Interface, or API, which supports seamless, fast data flow. Being cloud-native SaaS means retailers don’t have to be involved in the installation of the solution, it is accessible from the cloud. And the final element, headless, simply means that the frontend and backend layers of the system have been separated so retailers can integrate different solutions and speed up their time to market.
The modular nature of MACH architecture means that retailers can not only select the best technology solutions on the market to create their eCommerce system, but also integrate them together without the need for a disruptive re-platforming project. This allows them to quickly address the areas of their business that are most challenging.
Because the frontend and backend functionalities are separated in headless commerce, unlike in legacy eCommerce platforms, this means that customer touchpoints can be enhanced with more seamless processes, precise data and efficient scalability. This leads to an improved CX, drives conversions and sales and also allows retailers to react and adapt to changes quickly, scaling as they grow.
API-first approach makes retailers more customer-centric
Performance is not all that a MACH approach improves. A decoupled frontend makes the UI layer more flexible which gives marketers, product designers and frontend developers freedom in UX/UI design.
Given the importance of offering and supporting an omnichannel approach, retailers need this level of flexibility to scale and to stay relevant. An API-based connection to the backend layer of the system allows businesses to deliver content through one default channel and distribute it to different devices such as desktops, smartphones, wearables, and any ‘smart’ devices.
The role of microservices
Microservices simply means the division of business elements into separate micro-apps. Retailer marketing or development teams can create, test and deploy each element without any disruption to the wider system, so when a change is needed on the website it can be done without impacting the customer experience.
A decentralised development process means that teams can experiment with different ideas and implement new functionality for customers before going live.
Putting together microservices with an API-led and cloud-native solution strategy means retailers can be more agile which lets them innovate to keep ahead of the competition.
Cloud hosting provides the ability to scale at pace, adding new sites, systems and functionality without slowing anything down, ensuring that speed is of the essence.
The bottom line
With the MACH approach, it’s clear to see why retailers are transforming their CX, enjoying greater conversions and boosting sales. The ability to deliver personalisation at scale together with super-fast performance is only possible today with modern technology. Now is the time for retailers to address the pain points in their business and look to MACH architecture to help them build eCommerce platforms for the future.