SalesTechStar Interview with Cory Cummings, CEO and Co-founder of Pack Digital
Cory Cummings, CEO and Co-founder of Pack Digital shares more on the growth of headless commerce platforms and how they can be beneficial to the end-user experience:
Hi Cory, welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, tell us more about your journey through the years and the story behind Pack Digital?
I started working with Shopify in early 2014 when I found myself at a small agency (at that time) called BVAccel whose specialty was building and optimizing sites for brands on Shopify. I was able to work with some of the most successful brands to use Shopify Plus including MVMT Watches, Untuckit, and Native. From starting as a contributor as a development resource, I moved into leading delivery teams to create successful projects. Back then I noticed every brand had one common demand regardless of their size: lightning-fast websites. I spent countless hours finding ways to increase site speed and overall performance but I didn’t feel like it was moving the needle enough, and that’s when Pack Digital was founded.
In 2018, I teamed up with two co-workers and we set out to deliver the highest-performing commerce storefronts on Shopify. Since then I’ve led our team in building some of the first headless storefronts in North America while building out an end-to-end headless commerce platform that lowers the barriers to create and operate modern storefronts. After working with developers and merchants to learn exactly what they wanted from a headless commerce platform, we built ours that now counts brands such as Liquid-I.V., Cuts Clothing, Prima and others as customers, to give merchants a platform that is resource-light and easy to maintain.
We believe a brand’s site is the central hub for how they tell their unique story and connect with their customers. Our platform helps brands and retailers communicate with their customers through a beautiful and engaging shopping experience.
Headless Commerce is changing the game for online retailers today, can you talk about some core benefits and how you see these technologies enabling retailers today?
The benefits of a “headless” approach, when done right, are not only faster loading and moving storefronts, but more control for marketers and more efficient development. In the world of eCommerce, headless has become increasingly popular due to the improved site speed and overall user experience which leads to significant improvements in conversion rates, average order value, and overall engagement. Many DTC and omnichannel brands using our platform have a growing number of mobile shoppers, some with 70%-90% of all traffic coming from mobile. Providing a fluid experience is key, and consumers expect app-like experiences around speed and interactivity when most of their exploration is through social media apps (i.e., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok). Merchants need the agility to be able to quickly and authentically interact with their customers, and these store management capabilities is where we are focusing to ensure merchants have the necessary tools to grow.
In the future, how do you feel headless commerce platforms will grow further and evolve as a market?
The technologies entering the market all stem from consumer demands such as faster and more fluid shopping experiences, consuming content across a number of retail channels, and shopping wherever and however they want with zero friction. As these technologies mature, in order to stay competitive in the market eCommerce businesses will need to have a robust set of APIs to enable frictionless integrations with others in the space that are addressing different needs. The space will evolve and the winning technologies will be those that provide an easy-to-use, end-to-end headless commerce platform offering complete flexibility and customization. The end result will be a set of integrated technologies that will empower merchants to sell wherever and however their consumer shops whether that’s through websites, QR codes, voice, smart mirrors, etc.
Can you talk about the industries/teams headless commerce platforms benefit most and how these teams can optimize their workflows to gain more from these technologies?
Today’s brands that benefit the most from a headless approach are those demanding more from their monolithic, customer-facing front-end “theme” that don’t have unlimited technical specialists on standby. The key benefits we deliver are faster site experiences, more agile marketing tools, and more efficient development.
With all the various tools and approaches for headless, the biggest variable is marketing and development efficiencies. One critical element that brands need to closely evaluate is how their life is going to be different in a headless environment. Will my team be able to move quicker? Is this solving my marketer’s problems? How will my development team be impacted? Oftentimes this gets swept under the rug with all the excitement around site speed, but this should not be neglected. Our focus is to ensure that marketers have the tools they need to quickly create and manage content, stand up landing pages, and effectively run their marketing campaigns. From a development standpoint, it’s important to have set standards in place and to ensure the reusability of components, so there can be more time spent on features that will continue to add value.
A few thoughts on how AI will deepen how these platforms will function and serve online retail needs better in future?
In this API-driven microservices landscape, these technologies are meant to operate and benefit alongside one another. AI has a promising future in commerce as it relates to personalization, recommendations, pricing, and purchase decisions and options. We are working with the most advanced technologies making the online purchase process nearly frictionless, and powered by many external tools and we’re excited to see more technologies enter the commerce space.
Some last thoughts and takeaways before we wrap up?
First-generation headless commerce is behind us. Piecemealing front and backend infrastructure was never merchant-first and it required brands to have fewer resources, and is quickly becoming the new normal. It’s a very exciting time but remember headless is an approach, not a solution. Ask yourself what you’re trying to solve by taking this approach and then back into solutions. As headless commerce continues to mature there will be tools and platforms to help standardize the approach, which will allow teams to become hyper-focused and more efficient in this new wave.
Evaluate options and understand the new approach will have an effect on your team, and build around it. The value that can be gained through this approach, with faster sites, efficient marketing, and development processes can be tremendous for the growth and success of your brand.
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