Adobe showcases how AEM can play a critical role in a headless omnichannel architecture

The 2020 Adobe Experience Summit March 31 was unlike any Adobe summit before it. Unlike some organizations that canceled conferences in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adobe quickly mobilized and curated content for an online version of the event. Understandably, this approach resulted in a narrowed focus, as it would’ve been impossible to cover as many topics as the live event would have. There was still plenty of useful content to see, including topics related to Adobe Experience Manager, a content management system (CMS). At the Experience Summit, the AEM-related sessions focused on AEM as a cloud service, cross-product integrations, and omnichannel experiences. I found the omnichannel content most engaging.

Three sessions in particular showcased AEM’s ability to empower businesses to provide omnichannel journeys for users.

While each session touched on different details, there was a great deal of overlapping themes between them.

Omnichannel Experiences and Headless Commerce

For example, they each highlighted the people and processes aspects of omnichannel experiences and headless commerce (i.e., separating the front end and back end of an ecommerce application). Nick Whittenburg and Amol Anand discussed content architects and their role in defining the data that makes a specific model of content; as well as how important it is to think of that model as decoupled from any specific user interface so that a content author can “author once, and publish everywhere.” Similarly, Martin Buergi and Nishant Kapoor referenced a shift from traditional product owners to journey managers, where a journey manager is responsible for ensuring a great customer experience for a type of user across multiple products.

Hybrid CMS: Provides Value to Content Authors, Developers and Users

Of course all three sessions touched on the Adobe products that enable omnichannel user journeys, with AEM’s position as a hybrid CMS taking center stage. That is, AEM can be used as a headless CMS, where authors work in a form-based environment, as well as an in-context CMS, where authors can create experiences as users will see them in a browser.  In Gabriel Walt and Amol Anand got that point across by stating “Headless ≠ Headless.” Finally, Nick Whittenburg and Amol Anand did an amazing job demonstrating how to use AEM in both contexts by authoring content and experience fragments to be used on a traditional website, a single-page application (SPA), an Adobe Campaign integration, a chatbot, and a voice application.

The notion of a hybrid CMS is strikingly similar to some observations we’ve made about headless commerce based on our own client experiences. For example, in a white paper we co-authored with Adobe Magento Commerce, we noted:

The emergence of modern API-based devices has helped push Headless Commerce into the mainstream. Most consumer touchpoints require it by default with the result being that most brands are ending up with a kind of hybrid headless architecture where new touchpoints are integrated in headless mode while the website remains deeply coupled to the platform’s proprietary presentation layer.

Our white paper discusses headless commerce as one of multiple strategies to future- proof an e-commerce platform and omnichannel strategy.

Technical Implementations

I also appreciated how all three of these sessions went deep with the technical implementations. As an example, attendees were able to see how to deliver content and experience fragments via the Assets application programming interface (API) and the out-of-the-box model.json format, how to leverage the SPA Editor and the Adobe JS software development kits (SDKs) for React and Angular, and how to use workflows to trigger Adobe Campaign events.

Succeeding with AEM

While many of these features have been available for a few the last one-to-two versions of AEM, I found that the way they were presented, and the use cases they used, have matured quite a bit from previous Adobe Summits. As well, it was impressive to see the power of Magento Commerceintegrations with AEM Core Components and how they can be used together to further scale up omnichannel and headless commerce experiences.

A Successful Partnership

After watching a number of sessions, I’m excited to leverage Isobar’s partnership with Adobe to bring these solutions to our clients in order to enable elegant customer experiences, powered by creativity and technology. As we mention in our white paper, embracing headless commerce can be daunting task. That’s because with headless, it is not just a question of a technical implementation or a new platform strategy, but it also changes the way an organization strategizes, plans, operates and measures success.

Through our approach, we develop comprehensive headless commerce strategies that support the three main pillars of a customer experience – emotional, functional, and tangible. (Our white paper provides more detail.) Headless commerce needs to deliver against all three in order to provide customers with the quality of experience they expect.

We have extensive experience helping businesses design, develop, deploy, and manage ecommerce solutions, including headless commerce. With the help of Isobar Fast Track Commerce, businesses can now launch commerce experiences in several weeks instead of several months.