How to create a roadmap for digital marketing
Having a digital-first marketing strategy is a must for companies today. Customers expect an excellent experience every time they interact with you online. If your digital experience isn't up to par, your customers might go to a provider who's got their digital marketing game on point.
If you want to excel in digital marketing, it’s crucial to have a clear marketing strategy. In this blog post, we'll discuss:
- How to plan for using digital-first marketing technology
- How to determine what your customers want and match your technology to meet their needs
- How to set up your tech tools using a digital experience platform (DXP)
Define your marketing technology strategy
Defining a winning digital marketing strategy is more complex than just picking cool tech stuff. It's about purposefully building around tech tools that can help you better connect with your audience or customers, not just now but in the future. Remember, what works best might be different for everyone. Your strategy should be tailor-made, fitting perfectly to your unique business situation. This may take more time and effort, but it's ultimately worth it.
To define your marketing technology strategy, begin by analyzing your customer’s needs and assessing your ability to meet those needs.
Analyze customer needs
Determine what the ideal customer experience looks like for your audience. Customer trends are constantly changing, as is the technology available to marketing teams. It's essential to look at consumer behavior and determine which digital marketing channels your customers rely on the most and how they prefer to be engaged. For instance, do they respond better to your marketing messages via text, social media posts, or email marketing?
Honing in on which technology they leverage at each step of the buyer journey and where you lose them can reveal gaps you need to fill.
Assess current capabilities
Think about what technology you already have in place for marketing automation, web analytics, search engine optimization, content creation and management and other services. Then determine what technology you need to add now and potentially later. Evaluate your people to decide whether or not they have the right mindset and skill sets for any new technology you are considering. If not, what training will they require to get up to speed? Or will you need to hire new staff with expertise in the technology? Be sure to consider your leadership and organizational structure. Will leadership grasp the necessity of transitioning to the new digital-first marketing approach? If not, you must prove to them the investment will pay off.
Understanding the needs of your stakeholders
When planning to use digital-first marketing technology, you need to think about what everyone involved needs. This includes the people who work in your business, the tech folks who make everything run smoothly, and your customers.
Internal business users
Your internal business users are often the people who interact directly with your digital marketing tools. They could be in your marketing department, sales team or customer service. You need to find out what problems they're having and what tools they need to do their jobs better. Try having regular chats, sending out surveys or running workshops to find out. This can help you spot what's missing in your current tech tools and what you need to add or change.
Your developers are the ones who implement and maintain your digital marketing technology. Hence, it's crucial to consider their needs and feedback. Finding out what they need and listening to their ideas is essential. They need tools that work well, are flexible and they can integrate easily. Talking to them can give you valuable insights about which technology to pick and how to keep everything running smoothly.
Finally, your end-user customers are the most critical stakeholder. After all, your digital marketing strategy's whole point is to improve their experience. You need to understand what they like and don't like and how they behave. You can do this by looking at data, listening to their feedback, sending surveys and testing how they use your service. Maybe they love easy-to-use websites, personalized content, or quick customer service. Once you know, you can ensure your marketing technology delivers what they value most.
Creating a successful digital-first marketing roadmap is an inclusive process. It involves considering the needs of all stakeholders, ensuring they're equipped with the right tools, and fostering an environment that embraces continuous improvement and adaptation. Focusing on these critical aspects ensures your digital marketing strategy is robust, versatile and customer-centric.
Align technology capabilities
Once you better understand your current technology capabilities and customer needs, it’s time to identify any gaps between the two. For instance, if your buyers are young and make most of their online purchases after seeing a Facebook ad, it may not make sense to inundate them with marketing emails. Instead, devote more technology and resources to delivering relevant social media content and ads.
The overarching goal is to deliver quality customer experiences that pay off in the end, whether that means a potential buyer converts by making a purchase or an existing customer renews their subscription to your service.
One of the biggest challenges of creating an effective digital marketing strategy is ensuring that it’s future-proof. No one knows what the future holds, and technology changes rapidly. That’s why composable DXPs are at the forefront of most successful digital marketing strategies today.
Matching your tech to your strategy
It's important to ensure your marketing tech tools match your digital marketing plan. They need to be able to support the excellent online experience you want to give your customers.
Imagine your tech tools are like building blocks. Each block needs to fit together perfectly to build the thing you want. In the same way, your tech tools need to work together to create your digital marketing strategy. This is where composable architecture comes in.
Composable architecture is like a set of Lego blocks. You can mix and match different pieces as you need, adding or removing blocks to fit your unique situation. This flexibility makes creating the perfect tech stack for your business easier. It allows you to pick and choose the tools that best fit your strategy and change things as your needs change.
So, whether it's email marketing, social media, customer relationship management, or data analysis, make sure your tech tools are up to the task. Remember, the goal is to make the digital experience awesome for your customers. The right tech tools, put together in the right way, can help you do just that.
Making your digital plan happen
So, you've made your digital marketing plan. Now it's time to put it into action. Start by breaking your plan into smaller tasks. Then, set a timeline to decide when each task needs to be done. Be realistic — you want to get things done, but not so fast that you make mistakes. Next, decide who will do each task. Make sure everyone knows their jobs and deadlines. This will help everything go smoothly and ensure you remember everything. By planning your tasks, time, and teamwork, you'll turn your digital marketing plan from a dream into reality.
Get expert insights on digital marketing strategy from Contentstack CMO Susan Beermann in this episode of "Contentstack LIVE.”
Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable digital experience platform and headless CMS can help make your digital marketing plan a winner.
Why composable architecture is the future of digital experience
As digital experiences rapidly evolve, more enterprises should consider moving to a composable digital experience platform. Should your business be one of them?If you haven’t started your journey to composable architecture, read on to learn:Why experts say composable architecture is the way of the futurePotential benefits of a composable digital experience platform (DXP)How to get started and why being “fully composable” mattersWhat is a composable DXP?The composable DXP is the most recent concept to emerge in the evolution of the digital experience from its beginnings when enterprise content was limited to a static website viewed on a desktop where customers could find information about a brick-and-mortar business.With no need to frequently update or publish to multiple digital channels, a monolithic architecture was the answer to publishing enterprise content. Businesses would purchase a predetermined set of tools designed by one vendor.Then came the smartphone, which led to today’s e-commerce landscape, where consumers shop online on many devices and digital channels. Monolithic platforms, which require developers to code any changes to content, cannot keep up.The composable DXP is the latest solution for businesses aiming to delight customers, increase customer loyalty, improve customer experience management, and serve customers across multiple digital channels and devices. A composable DXP uses a headless CMS as the foundation for a content hub where microservices are delivered via independent APIs, allowing content to be quickly and easily deployed across channels.Why a composable DXP is the way of the futureAs businesses are transitioning through digital transformation and as digital commerce evolves, customers not only expect to be able to interact with your digital products and services; they expect a seamless and personalized experience. Monolithic systems, which require IT teams to code every change and update, can’t rapidly respond to customer preferences and publish fresh omnichannel content.According to Gartner Research, businesses can no longer meet their objectives with monolithic platforms. In its 2021 report “Drive seamless digital customer experiences with composable UX,” Gartner predicted that by 2023, analyzing and understanding the nature of enduring changes in customer behavior will be a crucial factor for organizations in determining the most influential business strategies for the remainder of the 2020 and organizations that adopt a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in implementing new features.Potential benefits of a composable DXPA composable DXP offers many benefits for enterprise marketing and IT teams, which can positively impact the success of the overall business. These include:Flexibility, scalability, and faster developmentComposable architecture allows organizations to choose and combine a unique mix of best-in-breed tools and microservices and to change this mix as business needs evolve quickly. The modularity of composable architecture supports the seamless integration of these independent best-in-breed solutions. Components and building blocks can be added, removed, and recombined in composable architecture quickly without downtime. The ability to deploy services independently to multiple websites and channels from one central hub enables enterprises to scale faster and more efficiently as needed.Speed and agilityBecause the tools and microservices in composable architecture are modular – meaning they work as independent components or APIs – each can be updated incrementally as needed without impacting other tools, services, or channels. Organizations become more agile, improving their experience strategy as marketing and IT teams are empowered to act faster to keep pace with changing customer expectations by providing more up-to-date content experiences.Ease of useWithout coding or technical expertise, marketing teams can modify user interfaces and content experiences without opening tickets and waiting for developers to fulfill requests. Workflow governance for multiple sites and channels is managed from one central hub with customizable user controls, ensuring the right persons have approved content before rollout.Rapid innovationMonolithic platforms have complex pain points that require hundreds of hours of development time and resources to upgrade and maintain with heavy reliance on tech teams. A composable platform is more manageable for IT to upgrade as technology evolves because new apps and integrations can be launched independently. Major website overhauls become a thing of the past. Free from mundane marketing requests and maintenance, IT can focus on innovation and delivering better customer experiences.Increased ROIA composable DXP reduces both development and publishing time, resulting in reduced costs and an increased profit.Real-time feedbackWebsite analytics, social media, customer relationship management, and other data sources collected via the tools and microservices in a composable architecture can provide a complete picture of your customers in real time. This enables the personalization and up-to-date, relevant content experiences that customers expect.Omnichannel content deploymentIn a composable DXP built with a headless CMS, the creation of content and the channels where it’s published are mutually independent. This allows marketers to maintain a responsive presence across digital channels and devices from one central hub by seamlessly and rapidly optimizing and pushing out marketing campaigns to reach customers where they are.Getting started on the journey to composable architectureIf your current digital experience solution is holding you back from experiencing the benefits above, it may be time to switch to a composable DXP. But where do you begin?Start by listing everything that isn’t working in your current platform. Consider the parts of your current system that are working well to meet the needs of your business and whether those needs will change soon. This will help clarify which apps, mobile apps, and microservices you should include in your future solution and how to approach implementing it.Transitioning to composable doesn’t necessarily mean throwing out your current system and starting with something new. Based on your assessment of what’s working and not working, you may want to adopt a gradual approach by implementing composable applications in crucial areas where it could make the most impact and where your monolithic platform is slowing you down.Finding the right composable DXPOnce you’ve decided on the best approach, it’s time to research solutions. If you decide on a gradual process, ensure the vendor you choose can help your organization reach its goal of going fully compostable.Many vendors currently market their platforms as “composable architecture” even though they aren’t fully composable. Instead, they sell platforms built on monolithic architecture that offer composable functionality, such as plugging in some APIs or integrating with specific microservices.A fully composable DXP, on the other hand, is built on a composable architecture rather than a monolithic. A headless CMS at its foundation separates the back-end coding from the endpoints, such as your website interface. Instead of being one centrally controlled system, it’s a variety of independently managed solutions that work cohesively from one central hub.Does being ‘fully composable’ really matter?If you’re wondering if it makes a difference whether a DXP is fully composable or not, it matters a great deal. A DXP built on monolithic architecture will not deliver all the great benefits of a fully composable platform we’ve covered in this blog. It will have many limitations that a fully composable platform won’t have.One of the most notable differences is with monolithic architecture; the vendor controls the type of technology that you can and cannot use. Your organization will only sometimes have the flexibility to choose and leverage the best available apps and microservices for success as your business grows. This is especially important moving into the future as technology continues to evolve and new options become available.A fully composable DXP provides the flexibility to choose the best solutions now and later so your organization can always leverage the most up-to-date technology tools it requires for success. A fully composable architecture puts you in control of creating a unique DXP that will evolve to continuously align with business needs without being limited by a vendor.Learn moreReady to embark on your journey towards composable architecture and transformative digital experiences? Discover insights in the report "Drive seamless digital customer experiences with composable UX," and learn how to develop an organization-wide digital experience strategy.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s composable digital experience platform can help future-proof your enterprise.
Why travel brands need composable DXPs
The travel industry is finally bouncing back after the COVID-19 pandemic as people return to leisure travel in droves, booking everything from family vacations and destination weddings to long-awaited cruises and getaways of a lifetime.While revenue growth is welcome news for travel brands, consumer expectations have heightened. Travelers are savvier than ever and want travel brands to meet their needs through every customer journey stage. Research indicates they are willing to pay more for great experiences.Competition is stiff among travel industry brands that have weathered the pandemic, and much is at stake. According to Statista, global travel industry revenue is projected to reach more than $850 billion in 2023 and $1,016 billion by 2027, when it’s forecast that 74% of total travel revenue will be generated from online sales alone. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how composable digital experience platforms (DXPs) powered by headless CMS can enable travel brands to rise to the task of delivering unmatched customer experiences.Travel has evolved and continues to changeAccording to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce State of the Travel Industry in 2023, the travel industry has proven resilient despite changing significantly since the pandemic. For instance, while leisure travel is recovering nicely, business travel has been slower at returning to pre-pandemic levels and isn’t quite there yet.Booking windows are also much shorter now, indicating that some travelers are wary of unforeseen events that might occur if they book their trips too far in advance. More people are also taking “blended” trips for multiple purposes. They may combine business and leisure activities into one vacation, for example.Amadeus, a leading travel technology company that provides search, pricing, booking, and other services, predicts travel engagement will continue to be enhanced by virtual online experiences that give potential travelers a taste of what their trips will be like before they open their wallets.And when they decide to book, travel news outlet TravelPulse predicts that alternative forms of payment like ApplePay and GooglePay will increasingly become more mainstream for travel-related expenses, from upgrading flights to paying for in-flight meals and train tickets.Why travel brands need a composable DXPTo stand out from the competition, the right DXP with a headless CMS can enable a travel brand to deliver engaging customer experiences at every stage of the buyer journey now and into the future.With a headless CMS, where the front end is independent of the static back end, a brand’s marketing teams can quickly make changes on all the channels where they engage their audience without any technical expertise or fear of impacting functionality.An API-first composable DXP can be integrated with internal and external systems that connect multiple data sources for more seamless content delivery and personalized experiences. When integrated with analytics tools, for example, a DXP gives marketers the speed and agility to react quickly to customer feedback and unpredicted changes. These can range from weather-related closures flight updates, and booking cancellations.By integrating localization and analytics tools, content can automatically be delivered in the correct language based on the user's location and in the correct format for their device. Composable DXPs also enable travel organizations to swap out functionality and design elements as technology evolves into the future. As the name implies, an organization can “compose” its unique tech stack by choosing the best solutions and services for its DXP based on its current business goals and then changing up as often as needed. The old days of taking down outdated websites and building new ones every few years to change design and functionality become a thing of the past. How three very different travel brands benefit from composable headless CMSHere’s how three real-life travel brands benefited after switching from legacy platforms to composable DXPs built on the Contentstack headless CMS. GolfbreaksGolfbreaks, a leading UK-based golf vacation company, needed a consistent source of truth for content across multiple sites, and its previous CMS wasn’t up to the challenge. Another issue was accessing and formatting data to be leveraged by other applications.Case studyAfter transitioning to Contentstack, data was made accessible and structured for use in a weekly newsletter and marketing emails via Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Overall, the organization benefited from 90% faster publishing times and a 70% reduction in developer time. To learn more, read the entire case study, "Golfbreaks shoots a hole in one with Contentstack."IcelandairAfter switching to a headless CMS, Icelandair saw a 90% decrease in the time it took to push out promotions, and it was also able to simplify integrations between the airline and its translation platform. The result was a 70% faster translation delivery rate and a more straightforward process for the content team.Case studyThe airline’s content team gained the capability to manage multiple languages for 16 locations, all through an automated process without leaving the CMS. Translation entries are sent within the CMS by simply publishing them to a separate environment and selecting the desired languages. After translation, the content system updates the environment’s entries as localized versions. To learn more, read the full case study, “Icelandair improves automation, workflows, and localization with Contentstack.”REWE GroupThe REWE Group, a diversified retail and tourism cooperative based in Europe, needed to dismantle a Java-based, monolithic platform that had undergone a decade’s worth of customizations and extensions.Case studyAfter taking a phased approach to implementing Contentstack, the user experience of content managers significantly improved, as they could make real-time edits without developer support. The result has been improved consistency and quality of content coupled with faster publishing. To learn more, read the full case study, “REWE group accelerates content publishing with headless CMS.”Key considerations before making the switch to a compostable DXPTransitioning from legacy to a composable platform can be complex, so there are some essential things to consider before moving. First, ensure you have buy-in from leadership and stakeholders on business, marketing, and IT teams. A shift in mindset is just as necessary as choosing the right implementation partner. Secondly, analyze your existing tech stack, channels, and business goals to determine what areas to focus on first. Decisions should be made to prioritize rollouts based on which content improvements will significantly impact customer or user experience, existing maintenance costs of your old platform, and other factors.Next, create a roadmap that outlines your implementation plan. A phased approach that tackles key challenges first for the most significant return on investment is ideal. For instance, if your main website is outdated and causing you to lose business, focus on that first. Start by integrating the must-have solutions initially, then roll out additional features and tackle other sites or channels over time. Fortunately, one of the most significant benefits of switching to a composable DXP with headless CMS is implementing phased rollouts via APIs without impacting functionality and features set up in the back end. In short, the front and back end are decoupled so they can be developed independently of each other while still being able to communicate via APIs.Last but not least, be sure to find the right implementation partner and platform. Consider previous experience and expertise. Be sure to read testimonials and case studies from their existing customers. Also, ensure the platform supports the customization and integrations required to meet your biggest challenges.Learn moreLearn more about how a headless CMS can help your business in our guide, “What is a headless CMS?”Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack’s headless CMS can help your travel brand deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Make your business stand out with headless commerce
Headless commerce is revolutionizing the digital market space, enabling businesses to deliver top-notch customer experiences. But what is headless commerce? In this post, we'll introduce you to the headless commerce approach, its benefits and its architecture. We'll explore how a headless commerce architecture uses APIs to separate front-end and back-end operations and why it is an increasingly popular choice for businesses seeking a faster time to market and improved customer experiences. Understanding headless commerceThe term "headless commerce" may seem odd initially, but it's quite simple. Think of a traditional commerce platform as a mannequin. It comes with a predesigned user interface (UI) or presentation layer — the "head" — attached to its commerce functionality — the "body." The "head" and "body" are interconnected and cannot function separately.Headless commerce, on the other hand, disconnects the "head" (front end) from the "body" (back end). This decoupling allows the user interface and commerce functionality to operate independently. It enables developers to build a separate front for each customer touchpoint (web, mobile or IoT devices) using any preferred technology stack. This approach is a key factor in providing a better user experience and accelerating a faster time to market. The cloud's third waveHeadless commerce is a product of the third wave of the cloud. As conceptualized by Tercera, "In the third wave, customers no longer new to the cloud are using a diverse set of cloud building blocks to create digital experiences that connect and engage customers and employees in a whole new way." This shift is about improving user experiences online while enabling experience managers unparalleled flexibility. By keeping the appearance of a website separate from how it works, creators can make the user experience even better. There are no limits on how they can change the user experience. This flexibility helps businesses as they can easily adjust to what their customers want. This way, they can create unique experiences that match what people need in this new "third wave" of the internet.The headless commerce architectureIn a headless commerce system, the front end and back end are connected through application programming interfaces (APIs). This setup enables the system to make an API call to the back end whenever it needs to access or update commerce data, ranging from product information to customer details. This API-first approach also allows for more flexible and personalized user experiences. Headless commerce platforms are designed to support any current or future customer touchpoint, unlike traditional platforms that limit how and where you can sell.Headless commerce and content managementA critical part of this headless commerce approach is the integration with a headless content management system (CMS). A headless CMS operates on the same principles as headless commerce — it separates the content repository from the presentation layer, giving experience managers the freedom to build and deliver content anywhere without being limited by a predefined template or platform. Combining a headless commerce system and a headless CMS can make a powerful tool for businesses. They enable developers to create custom user interfaces for every touchpoint and experience managers to manage content more efficiently across those interfaces, leading to a better overall customer experience.Headless commerce benefitsSo, what makes headless commerce so appealing to businesses? There are several benefits of headless commerce, including:Faster time to market: With the headless commerce approach, businesses can change their user interface without affecting the back end. This means they can quickly respond to market changes and customer demands, launching new features or interfaces in less time.Greater flexibility: With a decoupled architecture, developers can build a separate front for each customer touchpoint, using the best technologies for each platform. This flexibility allows for more creativity and personalization in the user experience.Cost savings: With headless commerce, making changes to your online shop is easier. You can spend less time or money on development.Future-proof: The API-based structure of headless commerce platforms enables businesses to easily integrate new technologies and platforms as they emerge. This makes your commerce platform more resilient to technological changes and helps ensure a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.Headless commerce solutionsThere are numerous headless commerce solutions on the market today. When evaluating options, consider factors like API flexibility, the ease of integrating with a headless CMS and the ability to support your customer touchpoints.In today's competitive business landscape, it's crucial to adopt the best headless commerce platforms that provide seamless integration with other systems and robust APIs is crucial. By doing so, your business can deliver a personalized and exceptional customer experience, which is vital to stand out from the competition. With the right tools and strategies, you can take your business to new heights and achieve long-term success.To make your customers the top priority, you should focus on their experience, understand what they want and offer services that meet their needs. A headless commerce strategy can help by giving you the flexibility to provide personalized, seamless experiences across all channels. It's not just about using new technology but also about having a customer-first approach that encourages innovation and growth.ConclusionHeadless commerce is an innovative approach that significantly benefits businesses seeking a faster time to market, more flexibility and an improved customer experience. It's a powerful solution for companies looking to break free from the limitations of traditional platforms and take complete control of their customer interactions. So, next time someone asks you, "What is headless commerce?" you can confidently explain that it's a technology solution that empowers businesses to deliver personalized and scalable customer experiences across all touchpoints, using a flexible, API-based architecture. For any business considering a move to headless commerce, it's essential to evaluate the potential benefits and challenges carefully. The right solution should align with your business objectives, technological capabilities and customer expectations. With the right strategy and platform, headless commerce can transform your business and elevate your customer experience to new heights.Learn moreLearn more about headless commerce in our guide, "The ultimate headless commerce roadmap."Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable content experience platform can help your organization embrace headless commerce.
Unleashing the power of composability with Contentstack
The birth of the Composable HeroA few months away from South by Southwest® [SXSW] 2023, a Contentstack account executive had an idea to host an experience during the event that would capture the attention and imaginations of the attendees. A joint team of composable technology experts from Contentstack, Aprimo and EPAM was assembled to create an unforgettable experience around the platform.Considering the rich history of SXSW, they knew they needed something truly engaging that would showcase the endless possibilities of composable technology and the digital experience platform (DXP). This is the story of how the Composable Hero came to be."We aim to inspire companies to transcend conventional implementations and experiment with composable architecture and artificial intelligence to engage their target audience. The Composable Heroes project embodies the limitless potential of forward-thinking businesses that want to redefine routine technology applications. By pushing creative boundaries, embracing AI technologies, and leveraging MACH principles, we are able to showcase the transformative power of innovation through a fun and imaginative experience." said Zamir Thind, Sr. Solutions Architect at Contentstack. "GenerativeAI is set to completely disrupt how our clients work. As we already have one of the most advanced applications of AI for digital asset management and content operations, we wanted to continue to push the envelope of possibilities with our cutting-edge partners at Contentstack and EPAM," said Erik Huddleston, CEO, Aprimo. "We collaborated with our partners to incorporate generative AI platforms into the content creation process, illustrating how seamlessly our companies work together to address our client's content scarcity challenges and prepare for their content abundance challenges of tomorrow."“Through our partnership with Contentstack and Aprimo, we’re committed to bringing innovation to the forefront by developing this unique and interactive AI-fueled app,” said Yury Bialykh, CTO, Digital Engagement Practice at EPAM. “By investing in MACH technology, our main goal is to support our customers in their business transformation journey and help design, build and deliver engaging digital experiences at scale.”Conceptualizing an AI-powered interactive experienceThe team was faced with a few fundamental questions: How could they maximize the potential of Automation Hub?How could they harness the power of new technologies, such as AI-generated content?How could they create a unique omnichannel experience?Out of these questions, the initial concept took shape. Inspired by the idea of a photo booth, they envisioned an interactive experience where users could have their photos taken while providing additional input, such as their name, work title and job duties. This data would then be sent to Automation Hub, which would seamlessly communicate with AI generators.In a matter of minutes, the AI would work its magic, transforming the individual's photo into a personalized superhero image and generating a captivating superhero story to accompany it. Using this data-driven model, the team would create a digital superhero card for each user. Dubbed the "Composable Hero," this experience aimed to demonstrate the true power of composability. Unleashing AI: Choosing the right servicesWith a clear vision of the end product and experience in mind, they began planning the development cycle steps.For the text portion, selecting OpenAI’s ChatGPT (gpt-3.5-turbo) was an obvious choice. Its powerful API and remarkable generative capabilities made it the perfect fit for creating personalized superhero stories based on user input.The next challenge was AI image generation. Real-time transformation of images alongside text prompts required an image generator capable of consuming image files and delivering the desired results. However, building models for generative AI is a time-consuming and resource-intensive task. They explored various options and found that Midjourney (V4) produced the best results, despite not having an available API. To overcome this limitation, they took matters into their own hands and developed an API to interact with Discord, which is where Midjourney hosts its services, enabling them to generate the images seamlessly.To complete the experience, they needed a design templating engine that could effortlessly combine the generated image and story into an elegant, cool and fun trading card. The product manager for Automation Hub discovered Placid during a quick Google search. Its API-friendly nature and easy reconfigurability made it an immediate contender, swiftly earning its place on the whitelist.The components required were all ad hoc, and the need for Placid as a design templating engine only became apparent after they had selected the generative AI services and needed a way to bring everything together seamlessly. This exemplifies how, with a simple idea and the right vendors that meet your project's needs, you can move at MACH speed to create something innovative. Simplifying the user journeyThe remarkable thing about this initiative is its simplicity and adherence to the core principles of everyday web services. It all boils down to a straightforward process: collect user data, transform the data and present it back to the user in its new form.The first task was to define the user story. The team wanted to ensure that users could easily navigate through a form that provided intuitive suggestions for constructing their hero. Simultaneously, they had to ensure that the data they provided was valid for processing. One crucial aspect they initially overlooked was that users would primarily use their phones, specifically iPhones, to submit and view their heroes at the event. Consequently, they discovered an obstacle: if users captured a picture with their iPhone, the file would be in HEIC format, which Midjourney/Discord did not accept.The team devised a solution to compress these files into a more suitable format. Additionally, it became imperative that the website was mobile-first since that would be users’ primary mode of interaction.The art of prompt engineeringTo ensure an exceptional user experience, the team developed a system of prompt engineering that stores specific prompts as metadata entries in the Contentstack stack.Each character choice corresponds to a prompt designed to elicit attributes and traits that align with that particular character type. Simultaneously, these prompts provide ChatGPT with the user's input and the selected character type, allowing for seamless integration of personalized elements into the hero's story.Solving the name puzzleAnother crucial aspect the team had to address was the generation of a Composable Hero name. While they could ask ChatGPT to include a name in the story, extracting and identifying the hero's name from the text posed a challenge. One approach was to instruct ChatGPT to add a special character next to the name in the story, which worked effectively when using ChatGPT in the browser. However, this method proved less practical when using the API.As a result, the team devised an alternative solution: after generating the story, they fed it back into the service to obtain a hero name based on the story. Additionally, they requested the service to provide us with the hero's powers. This refined approach allowed them to create a more precise flow diagram, outlining the interactions between various services and Automation Hub.The revised flow diagram served as the blueprint, guiding the interactions between the different components to deliver an exceptional result.Automation Hub: Streamlining the experienceAt the core of the unified experience lies Automation Hub, a vital component that optimizes various tasks, including API interactions, content publishing and email notifications. The main automation includes a Lambda function that plays a pivotal role in orchestrating the entire workflow.Here's a concise breakdown of its key steps: Creation of hero imageThe Lambda function sends a customized prompt to generative AI services in order to create a hero image specific to the user.Image handlingOnce the image is ready, the image is retrieved and securely stored in an S3 bucket.Text content processingThe automation sends the text content to ChatGPT.The hero's story is retrieved, incorporating personalized elements based on user input.Card creationThe generated image and story are seamlessly integrated into a visually appealing trading card using Placid.Storage and managementThe final card is securely stored in Aprimo.The card's URL is stored within the initial Contentstack entry.Real-time displayTo enhance the user experience, the team leveraged Pusher to display the generated images in real-time on the front end.The magic of Composable Heroes with MACH and generative AIWith the individual experience in place, the team aimed to make the event interactive and enjoyable. They set up a dedicated photo station equipped with a blank canvas and professional lighting to achieve this. Users had the option to have their photos taken (with their own phone) on the spot or upload their own pictures, including images of themselves or their pets.The live event proved to be a resounding success, showcasing the immense potential that can be achieved by adopting a MACH approach to generative AI. Central to this success was Automation Hub, which played a pivotal role in executing complex tasks, such as interacting with APIs, publishing content, and sending emails. With a sophisticated automation workflow in place, triggered by user actions, the team was able to harness the capabilities of generative AI to deliver personalized hero images and stories.To learn more, click here to book a demo and learn how EPAM, Aprimo and Contentstack:Maximized the potential of Contentstack’s Automation HubHarnessed the power of new technologies, such as AI-generated contentCreated a unique and immersive omnichannel experienceAs well as create your own personal Composable Hero trading card!
Headless commerce vs. composable: What you need to know
The online world is constantly evolving, so companies must change how they work and develop new ideas to meet customers' changing needs. The e-commerce sector has witnessed the rise of two unique models: headless commerce and composable commerce. While they might appear similar at the outset, a deeper examination reveals critical distinctions.In this article, we'll demystify the two approaches, spotlight their respective pros and cons. And provide insights for organizations pondering a transition to a composable architecture.How headless commerce beganIn the early days of online shopping, businesses had two ways to sell their products: physical stores and online platforms. But as technology advanced, many companies didn't keep up with the changes. This made it hard for them to stay up with what customers wanted and take advantage of new trends. The problem was that their technology wasn't flexible enough to adapt to new ideas.To serve customers better, stores began separating their online behind-the-scenes system from what the public sees on their websites. They did this by using APIs to access the back end, which made their operations more flexible.Headless commerce is a way for brands to keep their complicated commerce systems while making the front end more flexible to changes in the market.Composable architecture means that each part of the system works independently and can be customized to fit a brand's specific needs. This gives businesses the power to choose which parts of their digital services to use to meet their unique business requirements best.Examining headless commerce architectureHeadless is a new way of handling e-commerce that separates the parts that users see (the interface) from the parts that do the work behind the scenes (data, operations, applications). Most e-commerce systems combine these two parts, making it hard to keep up with the constantly changing digital market. Headless, by contrast, allows the front- and back-end systems to function independently. Benefits of headless architectureAdopting a headless system introduces several advantages:It delivers a flexible and customizable front end. With the visual layer decoupled, developers are no longer tied to the constraints of the back end, allowing for the creation of custom user experiences. It enables seamless integration with other systems. The back end operates independently, communicating simultaneously with multiple front ends. This allows businesses to provide a consistent omnichannel experience across various platforms like websites, mobile apps, smartwatches, and IoT devices. For instance, should a brand face difficulties in producing content for new products due to the constraints of its content model, the headless commerce system allows the integration of a different content management system with adjustable content models. This flexibility ensures a smoother operation by effectively mitigating the identified issue.It accelerates the speed of innovation. Changes to the front end won't impact the back end, and vice versa. This promotes quicker updates, experiments and iterations, all critical components in today's fast-paced digital landscape.Drawbacks of headless architectureWhile headless offers clear benefits, it also carries some drawbacks:This way of setting up a system can be challenging to handle. It needs someone with technical knowledge to take care of the different parts and keep them working.While the freedom to customize front-end interfaces is a benefit, it also means that businesses are responsible for designing and developing these interfaces, which can be time-consuming and costly.Depending on the chosen system, limited support or functionalities may be available.Understanding composable architectureComposable is an approach to building digital services that allows each component to exist independently. This includes things like managing product information, content and customer relationships. Businesses can choose which parts they need to create a custom digital platform.Advantages of composable architectureComposable e-commerce offers significant advantages.It provides extreme flexibility. Since all components are separate, they can be independently updated, replaced or reconfigured, enabling a truly agile e-commerce platform. This architecture allows for continuous optimization without fear of disrupting the entire system.Composable future-proofs your DXP stack by implementing task-oriented packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which are essential for faster time to market and better adoption of a digital experience. With the ability to add or replace components as needed, businesses can keep pace with technological advancements, customer demands or changes in business strategy.It promotes the best-of-breed approach. Businesses are no longer confined to the capabilities of a single vendor. They can select the best software for each component, maximizing functionality, efficiency and performance.Pivoting toward composable architecture: Points to ponderEmbracing composable commerce vs. headless architecture is a significant decision you should not take lightly. Businesses should thoroughly analyze their current and future needs, evaluating whether the flexibility and adaptability of composable commerce align with their strategic goals.The appeal of composable architecture lies in its flexibility and potential for success. However, it's important to remember that just because something is possible doesn't mean it's a good idea. Composable architecture can be compared to Lego blocks, as it allows for the creation of many different structures. But the challenge lies in deciding what to build and how to make it happen.The challenge is twofold. First, there's the job of putting together all the components. Second, it's essential to ensure that each element chosen is not just a fun extra but helps create the desired digital experience is essential. It's crucial to tell the difference between the "must-have" and "nice-to-have" features. Focusing too much on the latter can take away your IT team's attention and resources from the essential functions.It's important to think about how much technical knowledge is needed. Composable gives you a lot of choices for customization. Still, it takes a skilled technical team to handle everything and ensure it works well. If you're thinking about using composable, you should ensure you have the right resources or get help from experts to make it easier.Additionally, companies must evaluate their current system's limitations. Are you finding it challenging to innovate due to a rigid, tightly coupled e-commerce platform? Does your business plan to expand into new channels or markets that your current platform cannot support? These pivotal questions can help determine if the transition to composable is warranted.When picking technology partners, it's crucial for organizations to choose carefully. The best partners will offer a variety of components that can be easily swapped out and will provide support and updates over time. The goal is to create an e-commerce platform that can grow and change as the business and customers do.Learn moreLearn more about transitioning to composable in this episode of "Contentstack LIVE!" featuring Contentstack Vice President of Technical Services Pete Larsen.Schedule a free demo to see how Contentstack's composable digital experience platform can help your organization achieve its e-commerce goals.