At its core, Demandware is all about empowering and enabling global retailers to use innovative technology to reach their goals. That’s why I was thrilled to team up with Demandware senior product leaders Rohit Goyal, Rama Ramakrishnan and Kathryn Murphy to give a product update at our recent XChange conference. In a fast-paced hour we collectively covered enhancements we’ve delivered since last year’s XChange and, as Rama put it, “what’s brewing” for the future.
By the time we were done, a few in the audience probably were thinking of Demandware as one of those bottomless cups of coffee you get a classic diner. In addition to general updates, we also provided insight into our specific plans to combine the technologies we’ve acquired over the last few years into a unified commerce platform.
Rohit, Demandware Senior Vice President of Engineering (pictured below) kicked things off by reminding everyone of the principles that have guided the development of our platform for some time. That is, to provide a commerce platform that is built on a versionless cloud, is customizable and open.
“Versionless cloud” means every client is using the same version of the platform – the current version. No one gets trapped on old versions and is left scrambling to upgrade to take advantage of new capabilities.
“Customizable” means clients can build totally unique experiences for their customers. If you look across the diversity of experiences our clients have built, they’re so different you’d have a hard time believing they were all built on the same platform.
“Open” means the platform is architected to connect into a larger technology ecosystem, leveraging pre-built integrations with our LINK technology partners and our open commerce APIs to meet other integration needs.
A major element of our strategy for building the unified commerce platform is to extend these tenets – versionless cloud, customizable and open – beyond digital commerce into every other element of the platform. In some cases, this represents a veritable technology revolution, especially when it comes to point-of-sale and the store.
Instant, automatic upgrades to the latest store technology? The ability to customize the in-store experience without getting trapped on old software? Pre-built integrations with complementary third-party technologies and easy integrations to whatever else you want? Most retail CIOs get misty at the very thought. We announced some of the clients in our Demandware Store charter program earlier in the year, which will be the first to enjoy the benefits of this revolution. Kathryn, Demandware Vice President of Engineering, Store Solutions, provided a great overview of where we are with Demandware Store and where we’re going next. As she put it, “the world doesn’t need another POS platform.” Instead, “welcome to your modern store solution,” expected to be released in the US later this year.
Beyond extending these historical principles to the full platform, our unified platform strategy has driven us to add two more principles to the list. As we work on combining our native digital commerce capabilities with the technologies we’ve acquired (order management, predictive intelligence, and point-of-sale), we believe the platform must provide a personalized experience for each consumer, with a single real-time version of the truth across the entire platform.
Using data to engage consumers with personalization and build competitive advantage is becoming a key to success in retail. Rama, Demandware Chief Data Scientist, reminded everyone that Demandware has now made its first predictive intelligence capabilities – predictive email and predictive recommendations – globally available. As Rama described, we are on a mission to infuse predictive intelligence into the fabric of the platform, making it much easier for retailers to engage consumers. “Brewing” for the near future – capabilities such as predictive sort, which allows search results or any kind of sorted list to be presented based on what will be the most engaging for the individual.
When Demandware speaks of unifying the platform around a single version of the truth, we’re talking about making sure that every function in the platform leverages a single, real-time source of information about orders, inventory, prices, promotions, the customer and other important business elements. Demandware’s strategy is to build the architecture of the unified commerce platform on a set of unified commerce services, based generally on the concept of micro-services.
Currently, retailers at best have only a loosely integrated “suite” of products. Indeed, many software vendors declare victory after assembling a suite and effectively end the unification process there. Demandware is committed to moving beyond this to a truly unified platform.
In my presentation I provided an update on Demandware’s recent and upcoming investments in core digital commerce functionality. Our investments in digital commerce are more important than ever, because optimizing digital commerce is exactly the right starting point for a retailer to begin the journey to unified commerce. Many of the enhancements from the past year were covered in our recent press release.
As for what’s brewing, on the list were more distributed commerce investments, enhancements to our mobile capabilities, a two-pronged strategy for content management (including expanding our own capabilities and also partnerships like the recent one with Adobe), SEO and search advancements, a unified customer service user interface, and all the “little” improvements that on its face might not sound exciting but make a big difference for users of the platform – such as granular permissions, single sign-on across UIs and easier multi-site management.
We are looking forward to presenting these updates at our European conference in June in Berlin. The coffee is on us.