Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Tech consolidation: the trend of 2024 in ecommerce 

by Sebastian Gierlinger, VP of Engineering at enterprise CMS Storyblok 

Not so long ago we surveyed 500 business leaders at mid-sized ecommerce companies in the US and Europe to gauge their current levels of martech spend and perception of website performance. Its purpose was to assess whether current levels of tech spend were delivering in terms of overall functionality and user experience. The results proved rather revealing.

Half (48%) admitted that their website had recently embarrassed them in front of a key stakeholder or customer. Worse still, nearly every business (92%) said they believed their website’s poor user experience was costing them sales, with 30% estimating this sum exceeds $100,000 per year. This is despite those same businesses having invested, on average, nearly half a million over the past five years, with 14% spending more than one million.

Why does this matter? Inflation and interest rates, recession, diminishing consumer spend and problems in global supply chains all combine to impact every type of enterprise. This is seen as experts predict even more firms will be likely to go bust in 2024.1 Building resilience amid these tough economic conditions requires new focus on reducing costs and increasing efficiencies. At the same time, reduced demand results in more competition, putting enterprises under even more pressure to create personalised and engaging customer experiences. This requires data and AI in every platform. 

Our study is indicative of a common underlying contradiction between what business leaders are willing to spend on martech and what it delivers in return. Put simply, for years there appears to have been a misconception that bigger is better, and that buying a more expensive tech stack will pay off. This is no longer the case. However, it has created a legacy of firms paying above the odds for a variety of platforms, resulting in a highly complex tech ecosystem that is costly and difficult to navigate. But, with economic difficulty resulting in renewed focus on the tech stack and opportunities to improve economies of scale, boost profitability and user experience, this is and must change.

Cue the increasing trend of consolidation in the marketing technology world. This continues to be seen as more projects where multiple CMS systems were in play are combined into one single system that is no longer self-hosted anymore. The result is huge cost savings on hosting, operation, and duplicated efforts.

Steps to consolidation

Where to begin for those considering whether to consolidate? Of course, in any type of tech transformation there will be different approaches dependent on the incumbent platforms and tools. However, generally speaking, one of the simplest and most effective ways businesses can transform the online experience and impact bottom line is migrating to a MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-based, and Headless) architecture. 

For the uninitiated, MACH architecture is basically shorthand for a future-proofed system. Put simply, instead of being tied to a single platform, a MACH architecture means giving businesses the freedom to create tech stacks, applications and services that are specifically designed to their needs. A typical set up will combine different individual technologies to create one unified cloud-based setup that can communicate via APIs.

The result? Better oversight, flexibility and adaptability, translating to faster deployments and overall cheaper operations. But more than that. This unbundling of the once favoured ‘all-in-one’ bundled packages signifies a paradigm shift towards a more streamlined, nearly universal, bespoke approach, enabling businesses to continue transforming their digital journey with ease. Also, while not as widely documented as gen AI or VR, the reality that MACH architecture remains the ‘master key’ in unlocking the promise of these and other major techie trends too.

Take, for example, the marketer’s ‘holy grail’ – the omnichannel experience. Though certainly not a new concept, the reality is that the creation of a truly seamless customer experience which connects a company’s online and offline touchpoints still remains definitively out of reach. MACH architecture has the potential to change this. This is because it allows businesses to handpick each individual technology to support their omnichannel needs, quickly and easily and with totally scalability. Team this with the latest breakthroughs in VR and AR and we may be closer to virtually ‘trying-on’ clothes or smart carting groceries as standard than we realise.

What’s also great about this type of architecture is that it is 100 percent future-proof. If the last few years have taught us anything, surely it’s that no one truly knows what’s around the corner. We must always expect the unexpected. With this, MACH architecture ensures businesses are primed for whatever change may come. Thanks to the easy nature of integrating technology, it’s possible to add new programs or improve existing ones quickly and easily. This means it’s possible to embrace the best and latest advancements – be it new VR technology, the next wave of the metaverse or something completely new – with minimal friction or downtime.

For many businesses, now may not seem like the right time to invest in new technologies.  But as customers demand more from the online experience and competition tightens, the reality is that resting on one’s laurels and hoping for the best is not an option. By transitioning to a consolidated tech approach, firms can ensure they have a solid foundation in place to respond to market changes easily, future proof and remain primed for growth. 

  1. Telegraph