New Elastic Path CMO Brings Commerce to the Forefront
Nearly a month ago, Darin Archer, previously with IBM joined Elastic Path, a provider of the world’s leading headless commerce platform for enterprises, as their new Chief Marketing Officer.
Described as a digital commerce luminary, Darin brings a wealth of knowledge to Elastic Path from IBM, where he was the Director of Strategy and Offering Management for WebSphere Commerce.
His role was not only instrumental but reinvigorating to the organization’s 22-year-old commerce platform, WebSphere Commerce, where it's said that he also introduced a new SaaS solution with artificial intelligence capabilities while at the organization.
We were eager to speak to Darin to get gain exclusive comments on why he joined the team, challenges in the digital commerce market, the foundational principles of experience driven commerce and the current and future technology trends in that space.
I dove into my first question and asked Darin what it was about Elastic Path that made him want to join the team.
“I think this space is a really changing and having been a practitioner on the commerce side it really led the idea of putting a CMS in front of a commerce platform to empower marketers to start to own the shopping experience. I’m really excited that you guys are covering it from that perspective which gets me to why I joined Elastic Path.” said Darin.
He also made a really great point on the evolution of this space and where we are today stating “As you think about where the web has evolved from the early days where we actually all wished we could have virtual reality and augmented reality and there was this idea that we were going to have virtual shopping malls, avatars and everything else.
Back then there wasn’t the bandwidth and certainty, the web browser did not have the capabilities with HTML and 1.0 so it went into this lull, we went into this period where we were limited by bandwidth we were limited by the fidelity of the browser and so we created really boring online experiences and ecommerce became something that was our beautiful products that we spend so much passion and energy on whether they're made by us or even as a retailer the ones that we resell, we relegate them to little thumbnails in rows and columns like category pages which just never made sense to me and in the beginning I understood the constraints and why that had to be but as you fast forward to the point where you know, flash is out there and HTML 5, obviously we don’t have any bandwidth challenges today”
He mentioned that with Elastic Path he saw this kind of pivot a few years ago and as a marketer he wants to enable his peers and is very excited to be within a company that has this type of platform, especially heading into a new era like now that’s always evolving.
Since we were on the topic of evolution and Harry Chemko, CEO of Elastic Path described Darin as a “A technology maverick and the original champion of experience driven commerce” I asked Darin to describe the ways in which he intends on challenging the digital commerce market with Elastic Path.
Darin responded with “You know I’ve been challenging that notion for a while and getting folks to really say ‘Hey let’s bring the two teams together and let’s make all that content shoppable’ And I think going forward its really about pushing this industry forward even more and as a brand if you want to be relevant to your customer today, you can’t just hope that Amazon’s going to represent you well or even some of your favorite retailers that are just selling and distributing your products, you’ve got to get out there and have that customer experience.”
I definitely couldn’t agree more with Darin with making content shoppable and continuing to push the envelope not only for customers but especially as a brand it really creates a compelling experience. Reimagining the shopping experience will definitely make an impact for customers. In regards to the customer experience I asked Darin what the foundational principles of experience driven commerce meant to him and what are some ways brands can reach that point. His first words of advice and his primary foundational principle was “Don’t send your shopper somewhere else to buy.”
Also adding “Let’s make that content shoppable. If you have me excited about something and I want to add it to my basket don’t make me walk down the alley way, let me add to basket right there. And that does require a pretty big technology lift to make sure that those content experiences are shoppable and also aligning sometimes multiple parties in an organization where you may have a leader who owns an ecommerce store and a leader who owns a brand site so you have to bring those together. So I’d say that’s the starting point, that’s the foundation as you asked and then beyond that it’s just continue to push the envelope on creating compelling experiences that matches up to what suffrages that started 100 years ago plus with visual merchandising.”
With Darin’s expertise and deep experience in the digital commerce industry, I asked him which technology trends he thinks are most important right now or what trends we will see in the near future.
“I think the biggest trend is figuring out some of these new engagement models. The emphasis really has been on virtual reality or augmented reality and I think there are a lot of great use cases for that. Particularly in the retail space we have large retailers, do it yourself retailer or department stores where you might want to help the customer get in and out faster, get to their product.”
Darin used Lowe’s as his example, an American company that operates a chain of retail home improvement and appliance stores in the United States who are doing some really neat things with their mobile app. He described the user experience when navigating a quick product search “it will literally show you with augmented reality how to walk down the aisle and where that product is and I think that’s phenomenal.”
Darin’s Earlier Days Before IBM
Prior to IBM, Darin held senior leadership positions at Intel and Adobe, where he drove product strategy in digital marketing, commerce and the Internet of Things. He has also led transformational programs for top brands in retail, financial services, communications and high tech as a management consultant at Accenture.
After my interview with Darin ended, we couldn’t help but to continue our conversation surrounding ecommerce and he mentioned that “I like just pushing this whole industry forward to be honest. We’re kind of all competing against Amazon. If you don’t want Amazon to be the single online store and be all then we have to figure out how to make our stuff look a little nicer and be a little easier to use.”
This was something that really stuck out to me because it really shows Darin’s passion and drive to delve into his position and really showcase his passion with joining Elastic Path. I’m truly excited for him and can’t wait to see what the company brings to the forefront.
My interview with Darin was nothing short of enjoyable. There is nothing better than to gain perspective from an industry veteran such as himself.
With acquisitions such as Adobe acquiring Magento or even when Elastic Path came together with Bloomreach DXP, it’s no surprise that the industry is evolving as Darin mentions and we will be sure to keep you in the loop of any new and exciting news such as these so be sure to check back!