Future of digital transformation: Key takeaways from MACH.ONE conference in London

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Sep 14, 2022

Reza Javanian

Mohammadreza Javanian

Editorial Content Writer

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5 minutes to read

MACH ONE conference was held on June 28th and 29th in London.The conference was the MACH Alliance's flagship event, an organization advocating for an open and best-of-breed technology ecosystem (Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS and Headless). 

MACH.ONE conference was the MACH Alliance first hybrid event which included a conference and an award ceremony for best projects and the winners of the MACHathon. We are proud that our customer River Island was shortlisted for the best retail project.

The event brought together a large number of audience from around the world, including executive leaders, technology decision-makers and practitioners from the growing global ecosystem of the Alliance.

The participants held many insightful discussions where they talked about the latest developments, shared experiences and showed the speed and versatility with which MACH technologies propel digital experiences.

The MACH Alliance, launched in June 2020, is a group of independent tech companies dedicated to advocating for best-of-breed technology ecosystems. The alliance was founded on the common belief that the interoperability and open architecture of modern software will propel current and future digital experiences. 

Talon.One became a member of the MACH alliance in June 2021 and was the first member in the promotion and loyalty space.

Talon.One’s Head of Partnerships, Thorunn Devoy, attended MACH.ONE conference. Here are Thorunn’s key takeaways from the discussions and talks held during the event.

Keynote: Re-tooling River Island for digital retail

Head of Architecture at River Island, David Edwards, discussed why the company needed to invest heavily to create a great omnichannel experience across all of its stores and the web.

Founded originally as a fruit and vegetable store in 1948, River Island is now one of the UK & Ireland’s largest fashion retailers, with more than 300 stores! Despite their large High-street presence, 40% of their sales are made online, so eCommerce is critical to the brand's continued success.

David discussed how River Island’s original commerce was built as part of a monolith architecture, customizing slowly over 15 years. This meant that they relied heavily on 3rd parties to change the system, slowing down innovation which caused increasing frustration and a growing backlog of tasks.

MACH.ONE conference Keynote: Re-tooling River Island for digital retail

Following decisions to replace the all-digital infrastructure in 2020, the teams embarked upon a transformation to MACH architecture in order to:

  • Integrate new solutions (gaining greater control over each tool) more easily.

  • Improve content & personalization dramatically.

  • Differentiate the business for consumers.

Their method was to avoid a big-bang re-platform and make the changes incrementally in smaller cycles. They also avoided big vendors who could offer them everything and instead chose smaller suppliers with rich experience, more focused products and more time for them. They didn’t just want a tech vendor; they wanted a business partnership to work closely with their product team.

“What we wanted to achieve was buy not build, to ensure we had solid commerce foundations and still have the flexibility to swap tech in and out. Inevitably you are forced to customize, and we needed the ability to do this,” said David Edwards, Head of Architecture at River Islands.

“We have been doing this for a couple of years. We decided to decouple our front ends a couple of years ago and built out micro frontends, treating our monolith as headless. We then started to pick components out of our monolith and replace them with MACH compliant components.”

David also pointed to the flexibility of microservices-based architecture: “Decoupling the frontend means we can chase those marginal gains. We can buy best-of-breed microservices. With this focus, we are creating the things that set us apart. The MACH architecture provides us with the flexibility to keep our system providers on their toes, replacing them if they are not the best option for us.”

The next step for River Islands, according to David, will be “delivering truly omnichannel services to our customers.”

Boohoo’s pivotal re-architecting business model

Launched in 2006, Boohoo is now one of the most popular online retail brands in the world. Since then, the digital-first retailer has acquired 11 brands, accelerated its digital transformation efforts and looked toward omnichannel business models.

For instance, in January 2021 Boohoo acquired Debenhams, a traditional brick-and-mortar store and completely transformed it by accelerating Debenhams’ digital transformation. 

Boohoo’s Technology Director Steve Nolan & Chief Architect Mark Elliott talked about how they turned to re-architecting their tech stack as a priority. First and foremost, they evaluated their commerce keystone product data and their PIM. No matter what they add or change from there onwards, high-quality and trustworthy product information is a prerequisite for success.

MACH.ONE conference: Boohoo’s pivotal re-architecting business model

In 2021 Boohoo moved to Composable Architecture. They decided to use Commercetools platform, launching one of their brand sites even if the set-up wasn’t complete with the functionality they had before. They shared “mind the gap” re-product enhancements, categorization, price and promotions, staging and preview, publishing, and of course the integration challenges that come with a multi-vendor solution.

Hilding Anders & the story of MACH technologies adoption

Thomas Antvorskov Krag, former Tech Director at Bang&Olufsen and CTO at Hilding Anders, shared his experience of working with MACH technologies. In a workshop with Uniform, Thomas shared real-life stories of transitioning to a composable architecture. 

Thomas emphasized the importance of aligning technology with business goals and incentives in order to find the right balance between online and in-store sales when delivering an omni-channel experience.

He also referred to the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior. Shoppers now tend to browse in-store but buy online, which has affected sales at physical stores as they try to compete with online platforms.

It’s therefore important to create an omnichannel experience that creates an outstanding journey for the customers and aligns business incentives on- and off-line. MACH technologies allow businesses to strike this balance.

Thomas Antvorskov Krag (Hilding Anders) speaks at MACH.ONE conference in London

Final thoughts

Flexibility and speed of innovation is key to success in retail. If you don't jump into a future tech state with a MACH approach, you risk ending up with a legacy monolithic stack that will slow you down. 

From both business and development views, MACH technologies can lead to positive outcomes. They help developers to use their coding more efficiently and support businesses to create better customer experiences and subtly upsell products.

At Talon.One we are 100% dedicated to fast forwarding our customers' ability to move into a headless, API-first approach, giving them a promotional solution characterized by speed, flexibility, and control.
Click here to learn more about the MACH Alliance and how it can define the future of digital transformation, click here.

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