60 Days with Elastic Path
I’ve officially hit 60 days in my new role as Head of Developer Advocacy with Elastic Path. I feel both new to the company and as though my last role was a lifetime ago. Having been in the commerce space for almost two decades I wanted to share my first impressions.
I've never experienced such a positive company culture before in my career. I have seen everything from toxic managers to trendy companies with foosball tables and unlimited free snacks. My favorite working experiences have always been with small startups, the feeling of camaraderie of a small team pushing themselves towards a common goal. Startup employees can become your family and generate life-long bonds. This experience has always been generated by the employees, sometimes despite poor management.
Working at a larger company with games, snacks, coffee, and free lunch was also a wonderful experience. Who doesn't enjoy a freshly made cappuccino on your foosball break? These perks could never replace a great collaborative team, but they did smooth over any complaints as hardworking long-term employees were passed over on raises or promotions for new hires.
Elastic Path is a larger company, leading the way for eCommerce to adopt a composable approach, yet it embodies the collaboration and culture of a small startup. What's more impressive is that while startups rely on employees to generate this culture, at Elastic Path it is initiated and re-enforced by the company.
After only 60 days, I don't fully understand how the leaders at Elastic Path have accomplished this task, or how much each component from onboarding to bonus.ly impacts the results. What I can say is that Elastic Path has an amazing company culture steps ahead of every other company I've worked for. Either I have had the worst luck in choosing jobs or Elastic Path has something incredibly special.
The core product offering is Elastic Path Commerce Cloud. While it's not the perfect solution it is able to stand out from a crowded market of API-Commerce platforms through three core areas speed, flexibility, and completeness.
Fast - Every company is going to tell you their software is fast. If anyone is willing to admit to things being slow, it must be extremely slow. For most of these companies it's just marketing hyperbole.
This makes it more difficult for people to distinguish a truly fast API as opposed to industry average. The current trendy marketing push is MACH (Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native, Headle... erm API again). The list of MACH companies is growing longer than the list of fast software. Elastic Path Commerce Cloud has the foundation to be considered MACH, but so is Fabric, whose customers have needed to deal with serverless cold starts and extreme latency. The MACH Alliance is filled with companies that lack MACH architecture. It won't be long before MACH loses all meaning and becomes just another buzzword.
Microservices and cloud-hosting can certainly improve API performance and Elastic Path customers benefit from that approach, but Commerce Cloud takes it much further. From choosing a compiled programming language to orchestrating intelligent caching and edge delivery, every aspect of the Composable Commerce technical stack optimizes speed, reliability, and performance.
Flexible - API solutions are inherently more flexible than monolithic software. Having developer focused APIs for every action means never writing a proprietary plugin or trying to hack at direct database access.
APIs are the new standard for SaaS, it won't be long before companies who don't follow an API-First approach are fully replaced by newer options. Flexibility with Commerce Cloud goes beyond the API. The data model of each microservice can be extended with any additional fields required. New REST endpoints can be created by calling an API or just a few clicks on the mouse. Events can be sent directly to a cloud queue or leveraged through webhooks to ensure they can be read from any environment.
This extreme flexibility is a developer's dream as any commerce solution can be built, in any programming language, and hosted on any server or cloud.
Complete - While every other company chases Composable Commerce, it feels like Elastic Path has moved on to Complete Composable.
Product features are not considered complete after an API is released, instead it must be fully supported by the business tooling (Commerce Manager), be represented in the documentation, and included in the learning center. Our CTO proclaimed, "We build products, not APIs", which is a refreshing sentiment in a sea of headless commerce.
The company is ready to support the entire Composable Commerce stack. Companies don't have to be the first layer of IT support, diagnosing the issue so they can determine which vendor to contact.
Instead of building out MVPs or POCs, the Elastic Path product team talks about Simple Lovable Complete (SLC) which is a far better approach to rolling out new features and products.
The HUB provides ready-built integrations so that adding or replacing components in the composable commerce solution is simple and fast instead of a costly development project.
Gartner is convinced every company needs to move to a Composable Commerce approach and adopt best-of-breed offerings. I absolutely agree with this assessment, the days of buying everything from a single vendor are gone, eCommerce has become too robust and complex. However, a prospect from my old job once told me that headless commerce is incomplete, and at the time I did my best to convince them otherwise, but in retrospect they were correct. There is a lot missing from a typical headless commerce offering, going well beyond the required head. Composable Commerce is necessary for companies to compete, but Complete Composable is necessary for companies to thrive.