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Podcast transcript – The State of Digital Commerce – Tech Trends

The State of Digital Commerce - Tech Trends

Podcast transcript

Unlock eCommerce Podcast - Episode 1 - Tony Moores

Podcast transcript

[00:00:00] RETISIO: Well, good day and welcome to RETISIO’s Unlock eCommerce Podcast. This is the show where we explore the latest trends in tech and the fast-moving world of e-commerce. In this interview-style podcast, we ask the important questions to digital commerce practitioners and retail leaders to help you gain traction and sell more online.

[00:00:19] Today we are pleased to have Tony Moores as our guest. Tony is currently the Chief Technical Officer at RETISIO. Thanks for joining us, Tony. I’ll give you a little bit of introduction here. Tony is a veteran digital commerce practitioner who has been developing software teaching and consulting for more than 20 years.

[00:00:36] He has a long track record of leading retailers and brands and e-commerce software. Implementations that enable them to operate online more efficiently, reduce risk, and grow their businesses. In our conversation today, we are going to discuss the state of digital commerce right now and look at which technologies will be most impactful both today and in and maybe in the future.

[00:00:58] Well, Tony, thanks for joining us. [00:01:00] I have some questions here for you that I’m gonna feed to you and we’ll just see where the conversation takes us. Cool.

[00:01:05] Tony Moores: Thanks for having me.

[00:01:05] RETISIO: Absolutely. Starting off. So being in the retail tech space for such a long time, what is your ideal scenario for a retailer or brand from a tech perspective?

[00:01:20] Tony Moores: Oh gosh. That, that’s kind of tough cuz there’s so many different you know, so many different retailers doing, you know, a wide variety of things. Like, so for example, there are retailers out there with you know, a very narrow and selective assortment and you know, those folks really wanna make sure supply chain and fulfillment and their ability online to actually communicate that stuff are extremely important. But then again, for other retailers who are like more of a big box thing where. There’s a wide assortment and their customers can kinda get their product not just from them, but from anywhere else.

[00:02:11] These guys, you know, really wanna look at technologies that are gonna be, you know, make them very, very efficient so they can meet the price points. And then, you know, if you’re in, in the fashion area where things turn over so quickly you know, trends change, styles change, seasons change.

[00:02:31] Mm-hmm. , I think you’re looking at technologies that, that really kind of speak to business agility. So it, it’s. It’s a spectrum and it kind of depends where you are on the spectrum, whether you know it’s gonna be, you know, operations or financials or, or something else that are, that, that should drive the, the technical decision.

[00:02:55] But I’m, but I’m glad you asked because that’s like, you know, [00:03:00] a lot of folks just jump right into technology and you. At the end of the day, technology should be driven by the business and not the other way around.

[00:03:12] RETISIO: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well along those same lines, there are a lot of different types of e-commerce technologies out there. A lot of AI and ML words are being flashed around that nobody really, or at least the average person, doesn’t know what they mean. What types of tech are you seeing right now that are most important in your view of digital commerce? For example, we see a lot of companies bandying about e-commerce tech terms like MACH, composable, reactive, headless, etc.

[00:03:44] What, how do you help us, can you help us get a, a sense of, of what all these things mean and what they mean to a, to a retailer or a brand or a, even an e-commerce practitioner from

[00:03:54] Tony Moores: Yeah. Good question. Right, because, because there’s a lot of terms and bud word [00:04:00] buzzwords in the markets. , you know, some of them get picked up by big groups.

[00:04:05] Other of them are, others are, are somewhat obscure, and the worst ones are the ones that actually mean something else in, you know, in the English language. And you don’t know what the heck they mean with respect to e-commerce. And

[00:04:17] RETISIO: some of ’em have double, double meanings in different places, you know?

[00:04:20] So yeah, like music and mercury and it’s hard for people to understand what, what you know, how they, how these things can help.

[00:04:27] Tony Moores: Sure. Sure. So, so there’s a, there’s a couple of terms you mentioned, right? Like one of the terms you mentioned, I think was composable and headless, right? So you know, if you remember your ninth-grade math right? You might have learned about compositions of functions. So composable really means something bigger, like a system, made out of components. And, in a way, everything’s composable to a degree.You know, when I was nine, the Rubik’s cube and the screwdriver and whatever, I mean, made it composable even though it wasn’t meant to be. That was the only way I ever solved it. But,

[00:05:16] RETISIO: Same, same here.

[00:05:17] Tony Moores: But you can do the same thing with an e-commerce platform or any enterprise system for that matter.

[00:05:24] So composability is you know, something a lot of the analysts are talking about.[00:05:31]

RETISIO: Gartner in particular talks a lot about composable

[00:05:33] Tony Moores: Gartner does. But here’s what it comes down to, right? There’s always been this buy versus build discussion, right? Do you build something yourself or do you buy something off the shelf, right? And somewhere on the buy side of that, there’s the suite versus the best of breed, right? So, you know, do I get all of my components from, you know, one provider, right? I mean, look at Salesforce, right? They, they make, you know, c r m commerce all sorts of stuff, right?

[00:06:09] So, if you’re gonna go for like the big ticket item and the suite and you hope all these things are integrated you get the sort of, the ease of having that all come together. It was pre-com compos by a single vendor with a vision. But if you zoom in on any one of those parts maybe you don’t like, This part, or maybe it’s not the best of breed, right? It’s not the best in the industry. Maybe like one vendor’s e-commerce and another vendor’s, o m s and another vendor’s, c r m or you can zoom in on those, right? Just look at commerce. Maybe like one vendor’s you know, one vendor’s promotions and another vendor’s catalog. You know, composable is really about the ability to switch those.

[00:06:56] And it gets a lot of it, it, it gets a lot of [00:07:00] talk along with one of those other terms. You mentioned headless, right? So, you know, when you think about it headless means you know, no head or no client or no requirement to interact with the user in a particular way. It means that you as the consumer in this case of a, of e-commerce system get to choose the interaction model, get to choose the technology. And when you couple that with headless, right? You can have three or four different systems from best of B breed players, or maybe not best of breed players, but best for you players. Cuz that’s really how you should make your selection decision, right? And then stitch them together via APIs and. Maybe some front end technology.

[00:07:48] Yeah. So headless is an important part of composable. They go hand in hand. And of course, they often show up in the same company as another term. You mentioned MACH, right? So, so MACH is actually an alliance of vendors. Commerce tools is the, the biggest flag waiver of, of mock and, and mock actually is a word I, well, I guess it does appear in the Air Force, right?

[00:08:14] It’s how many increments, speed of sound you’re at, right Speed, right? Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, yeah, Mach five is five times speed of sound, right? Yeah, yeah. But it, it stands for something, it’s, it’s microservice. A p I first, which again, we can drill into that, that often kind of goes hand in hand with headless.

[00:08:34] In fact, the H in mo stands for headless, right? And the c it, it stands for Cloud Native. Okay. And, and, and again, those things might mean something to you or not. The, the other term you threw out there, which is a little bit harder to define because you don’t see it in literature that much is reactive commerce.

[00:08:54] And, you know, that’s what my company specializes in is reactive commerce. And reactive commerce is essentially digital commerce as it applies to the MACH manifesto. Which, you know, we can, we can talk about today or another, another show as people are. Yeah.

[00:09:12] RETISIO: And all those things point to the business agility part, like which one is gonna, these are gonna allow you to be more agile in your business.

Tony Moores: That’s the best question you can ask because I gotta, I mean, you’re putting me in a tough position, right? Because I’m a technologist and I spend a lot of my time telling people, you know, why this technology is better than this in, in this situation. But none of these things directly make the business more agile. In fact, some of them can even slow them down. So, so for example how fast you change your selection if you’re a fashion retailer, right? Business agility is, is, you know, how quickly can you change out the selection online, right? Right. And that might have more to do with tooling than architecture. Gotcha. Now, of course, if you are in a look, buying apparel is buying apparel all the time, any way you cut it. Right? So the operations might not change all that much.

[00:10:28] Right. But, but the selection, the prices, the seasons, you know what your customers are after that, that might, yeah. So in this case, that kind of case, business agility. Kind of not, kind of, not an architecture thing. Got it. But for folks who are who are trying to captivate their audience, who they’re growing their business, not by managing their product selection, but by managing their experience.

[00:10:57] Right. Then [00:11:00] headless, for example, is a good example of yes, that can make them more agile because it allows them to change their customer experience faster than something else might. Right? So but not, but not everybody needs to do that, right? So it kind of goes back to your first question, right? It, it kind of depends.

[00:11:21] What’s the business driver? How do you find agility? And, these things that you mentioned aren’t mutually exclusive. You can be composable and reactive and headless all at the same time. And you can be those things, you know, whether you’re MACH compliant or not are still not agile. Say again, still not agile. Well, what do you, what do you mean by agile? Right?

RETISIO: Well, that sounds, I mean very interesting and you know, there’s a lot of these words being bandied about, but where are we headed?

[00:12:04] I mean, how do all these things play out in the next few years, and do you see anything that’s changing? That sort of thing. What should the person who’s leading a retailer, for example, or brand, be thinking about and, and preparing for? In relation to some of these new techs that are available?

[00:12:20] Tony Moores: Yeah, I mean, look, from a, from a best practice point of view you that never changes, right? You need your best practice should be business-driven, right? Where, where’s your growth opportunity? What’s your plan to grow the business? Or, or maintain it, right? Or, or optimize its margin, right?

[00:12:47] Whatever it happens to be. And then, and then look for the technology that is going to assist best with that, right? So for example you know, there is a lot of, or there historically has been, you know, huge. Marketing teams managing campaigns managing, you know, personalization, ex you know, rules and, and things like that.

[00:13:16] You know, the digital equivalent to, you know, designing an end cap in a, in a, in a store, right? So for people with big assortments who are. You know, dealing with commodities, right? Where price is the biggest differentiator, right? Mm-hmm. for, for them the future is automation, right? So you’re talking about AI and ML.

[00:13:44] How do I more quickly characterize both my products and services to my clients, and how do I. Pair them you know, as quick, as quick as pop possible, right? So it’s [00:14:00] identifying classify, and that sits squarely in the, you know, the machine learning and artificial intelligence domain. However, you know, for folks who are not necessarily in a business where they’re competing for price, right? They’re competing more for experience or convenience or, or, or something of that nature, then it kind of branches out quite a bit, right? For the bigger players, things like composability move forward. There’s also tooling, right?

[00:14:32] Making, you know, look, looking for optimizations. Again, that could be a I M L assisted as well to make tooling faster, right? So there are fewer actually hands-on dials. Yeah. You know, making, making the business more efficient. But then there, there, there are lots of other areas, right? You know, we’ve been doing things, we’ve been doing things kind of the same way for a long time, right?

[00:14:58] I mean, you know, [00:15:00] we’ve, we’ve gone back and forth between client and server models. We’ve gone, you know back and forth with n-tier architectures and, you know, big and small and, and, and back and forth. You know, but at the end of the day, each e-tailer has its own database of your personal information.

[00:15:21] Right. So I think at least here in America, with the slight exception of California I think, you know, we’ll trade our privacy away for convenience all day long. But things like, you know, applications where you know, people start using blockchain to move. Your personal information out of these hundreds and thousands of databases held by every vendor on the planet, right into, you know, a small group of places you trust where they’re, you know, signed and managed by you and not by, you know, some other guy.[00:16:00]

[00:16:00] RETISIO: What about risk as far as like some of these technologies that we’re talking about, how does that relate to risk and. How can they, you know, take advantage of that from that perspective? I, I think there are a few retailers this year that had trouble on Black Friday for example, that sort of thing. Is there anything you could say briefly just about risk and the potential major problems with outages? 

[00:16:20] Tony Moores: Yeah. There, there’s a pyramid there. There’s a pyramid of risk, right? So if you are in retailer or anybody who does digital commerce, right you know, your biggest risk. Is not being there for your customers to serve your customers, right? So things like outages and then, you know, you can be running but flooded or, or throttled in other words, you’re not scaled to handle, you know, business is too good.

[00:16:47] You have more than so that, those are the kinds of things in the, in the top layer. And being cloud-native. Being reactive you know, being elastic, right? Those things mitigate those kinds of risks. Mm-hmm. You know, as you go down, right? The next thing kind of comes down to operational, right?

[00:17:11] Maybe, maybe, you know, you take care of the tip of your iceberg, thereby making sure it’s always available and it’s always elastic. But maybe you’re doing that because, you know, there are hundreds of people running around turning dials and pulling, pulling levers, right? So that’s when you start getting into You know, risks of margin, right?

[00:17:32] Where you’re, you’re paying a lot of people or you’re, or you’re turning to technology and, and then paying for suites or people to configure those suites to do those things in a, in an automatic way, right? So there are risks in that category that can be again, managed by selecting the right, the right technology and then, then using it the right. And you probably shouldn’t be worried about that if you got problems at the top of the pyramid. And then below that there are, there are additional risks which you know, which fall into the I told you so, or I’m too late. Category. Right. So if, if, if you’re trying to grow a business that needs to be.

[00:18:15] Just in time then, your ability to receive signals quickly identify what those signals are trying to tell you, right? And, and then react to them, right? So it’s a combination of sort of, of like big data and … my chemistry advisor in college was fond of saying, you know, the difference between data and knowledge is compression, right?

[00:18:47] So here’s a bunch of events but this is what you can infer when you see events like this, right? And then of course there are a whole bunch of risks that have nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the business, right? I mean, if you’ve got supply [00:19:00] chain problems, right? What your e-commerce system is doing probably doesn’t matter all that much right now.

[00:19:09] True. All right.

[00:19:11] RETISIO: Well that being said, what, so there are, for people in the audience that are thinking about maybe hanging up their tech pack or re-platforming from an e-commerce perspective, what’s your advice to them to maybe kick get things started or continue some of the research they’ve been doing?

[00:19:27] Where, where should they go?

[00:19:31] Tony Moores: Don’t, don’t be captivated by the snake and the snake charmer. Right. That’s, well, that’s a problem. That, that’s the problem with starting with technology. Right? Because it’s very interesting. It’s a big well, if, if you’re like me, it’s very interesting. Yeah. But you spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about something that ultimately might not matter.

[00:19:50] Right. So my advice is one, be business driven. Two, make sure you know what you know and what you don’t [00:20:00] know and fill the, what you don’t know with by surrounding yourself with good, trusted partners, right? Not, not necessarily consultants who are coming in. Consultants are fine as long as these consultants know your business.

[00:20:15] Know your industry, know your situation, and know your opportunity because you know, The computers and machines are designed to do nothing but what you tell ’em to do. So it’s very important that you tell ’em to do the right thing And it’s the same way with picking technology.

[00:20:34] RETISIO: I love how you make the simple analogy out of something so deep and so technical to a smaller chunk that’s easier to digest for us laymen in the audience appreciate that. Thank you for joining us. We’ll let’s continue the conversation and the future podcast and take a deeper dive on reactive technology because that seems to be super hot right now, and we could tell, tell the audience more about [00:21:00] how it can potentially help them and prevent risk as we talked about.

[00:21:09] So thank you Tony for being on the podcast. We really appreciate you being here.

[00:21:12] Tony Moores:  Thank so it was my pleasure. Thanks for having me. And I’d be excited to come back and, and talk a little bit more about reactive commerce and awesome. How it’s how it’s built. We’ll do it soon.

[00:21:23] RETISIO: Thank you listeners for joining us today and, and for your support of the Unlock eCommerce Podcast.

[00:21:29] In the meantime, be sure to check out retisio.com for more resources and solutions to help you unlock e-commerce for your business. We’ll talk to you soon and see you on the next episode!

 

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