Has Composable Killed the DXP?

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LONDON & NEW YORK, May 12, 2023 Ecommerce businesses have grown with the evolution of marketing and ecommerce platforms. Now the delivery of outstanding customer experiences is the top priority for companies looking to accomplish better outcomes. This has led to the emergence of three key areas of technology: content-driven tools, data capture tools, and personalisation tools. Each of these applications has enabled businesses to create, organise, and deliver high-quality content, analyse digital experience performances and adapt the user’s experience based on their known behaviours, preferences and history.

Understandably, bigger organisations implemented comprehensive sets of these software tools and bundled them together as fully integrated, all-in-one experience suites. We know these suites as Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs). To begin with, they appeared to provide a basic technical architecture and proprietary framework suitable for web development and integration. But, in time it became clear that legacy DXPs had too many features and were proving unwieldy to manage and maintain, particularly as customer needs changed.

A New Proposition For Composable Experiences

Fortunately, a new proposition for building customer experiences has evolved to deal with these issues: For organisations, this means composing a customer experience platform from a selection of vendors who are best aligned to delivering the capabilities that suit individual business needs. It’s an approach that is proving more effective when it comes to delivering, optimising and managing contextual customer experiences.

Instead of the pre-packaged DXP suites of old which were then built, assembled and owned by businesses, the composable approach is enabled through the evolution of headless technology and MACH architecture.

The composable proposition has successfully addressed the challenges of agility, differentiation, and scalability. Businesses can opt for best-of-breed tools and build customised solutions that meet their unique requirements. The advantage is that they can then respond rapidly to changing market conditions, new tech developments and trends in customer behaviour.

Is DXP Still Needed?

Of course, this shift in the direction of composable architecture, MACH architecture and best-of-breed selection does raise the question of whether it has already replaced the need for a DXP. It’s not a yes or no answer, however, because the traditional DXP is still suitable for some businesses. Making a decision means understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each approach.

Composable architecture does offer more flexibility, agility and scalability but it also relies heavily on emerging technologies, such as headless and MACH architectures. This means that implementation requires technical specialists with a deep understanding of the complexity and nuances of building systems with distributed cloud services.

The enabling technologies that are used for composing experiences are still in their early days and evolving, and many have a narrow focus on the front-end visual elements of the customer experience, particularly for web development.

In addition to the consumer front-end, composability must also embrace the back office and digital operations, after all, this is the engine that powers digital businesses. If an ecommerce business only composes the visible elements of its storefront and not its operations, it will not truly be a composable digital business.

The advantage of a traditional DXP is that it can be simpler to implement because it is pre-integrated. However, there are downsides, such as the sheer range of features and capabilities which can be overwhelming for an ecommerce business to face, particularly if it is small or has limited resources.

With DXPs, companies can be caught in a never-ending cycle of updates and upgrades because many traditional models were born out of multiple products and companies. It can also be difficult and expensive to add or replace applications, as this requires vast amounts of custom development.

And talking of development, using a DXP can be tediously slow, and this has a knock-on effect on how quickly a company can react to the changing market conditions of today.

In summary, the move towards composable architecture and best-of-breed selection has introduced flexibility and agility into customer experience management. Undoubtedly, traditional DXPs will continue to be the right fit for some ecommerce businesses, however, on balance, the composable proposition delivers a more practical approach that enables companies to better respond at a time when this counts hugely towards brand value and loyalty.

Ultimately, building success in the context of our digital times means being positively connected and selecting an approach to the customer experience that best suits the ecommerce business’s needs.