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Retail’s future is fearless: FLOW Summit keynotes chart the path to a new commerce era

Read “The State of Commerce 2023” report

“The State of Commerce 2023” report

Cover of Signifyd's State of Commerce 2023 report

Signifyd’s annual gathering of the best and brightest in commerce provided plenty of expert insights into AI in retail, the balance between customer experience and enterprise security, and strategies for weathering uncertain economic times. But more than anything else, FLOW Summit 2023 on Wednesday brought the future of ecommerce to the stage.

The future, as in years from now — and the future, as in tomorrow. Digital commerce is developing in dog years and it favors the fleet of foot. The more than 300 attendees at the second annual FLOW learned that the future requires a new operating system — one that is part technology and part mindshift. 

The winners in online retail and payments will embrace a platform of platforms — a commerce ecosystem in which data moves fluidly among banks and payment providers and ecommerce platforms and commerce protection platforms, and post-purchase orchestrators optimizing returns, refunds and customer support.

The future will bring the customer journey together

“You get into this concept of how do I get access to something new in the customer journey that gives me an edge,” Signifyd CEO Raj Ramanand told the crowd at the day’s opening session. “The future is going to be tying together that customer journey that is very disparate today. I think that is the next, big, very exciting opportunity in this space.” 

Ramanand’s keynote kicked off Signifyd’s second annual FLOW Summitt, which brought together retail, commerce and payments professionals in lower Manhattan for a day of learning, challenging assumptions, charting the future, connecting with old friends and making new ones. 

A Summit theme was Fearless Connections and the summit energy was optimistic and future-focused. Focused on the future, including that platform of platforms idea. 

Data, not surprisingly, will be the glue that holds the platform together. The work constructing it is already well underway. In fact, FLOW’s opening panel, “The Next CX Frontier: Connecting Platforms Across the Customer Journey” personified the model. It brought together experts from Adobe, Narvar, Google Cloud and FIS/Worldpay — a group of industry leaders that spans the entire shopping journey. 

“I think the future is catching up to what we’re talking about here,”  said panelist Jason Knell, Adobe’s senior director, commerce services GTM & content partnerships. 

It’s time to become more prescriptive

Merchants, he explained, are overwhelmed by the choices of platforms and solutions available to help them get their jobs done across their entire operations. The answer to the overload, Knell explained, is to pull together a strong ecosystem that works together. With that at their disposal, solution providers are better able to guide merchants toward the best decision.

“We’re trying to make that easier by picking partners that we want to bet on,” Knell said. “We’ve gotten more prescriptive to help solve that problem.” 

For instance, he explained, Adobe has doubled down on its partnership with Signfiyd, rather than suggesting a range of potential fraud-protection providers to merchants using Adobe Commerce solutions. 

And about that data, the glue holding the platform of platforms together, the key is having “a strong consortium” with meaningful data, said John Winstel, vice president of product management at FIS.

“For me, it really boils down to data at the end of the day,” he said. “Any type of machine learning-AI-type model, it’s really only as good as the data and being able to see across ecosystems — across multiple merchants, multiple financial institutions.” 

Say goodbye to spotting the stoplights

In fact, it’s data, intelligently deployed, that has allowed Google Cloud to protect commerce with its reCaptcha solution, Cy Khormaee, head of product, Google security explained. And it’s an incredible volume of data that has allowed Google to do that in many cases without consumers even realizing they were being confirmed as legitimate users. In fact, the panelists joked, copious amounts of data means consumers are no longer required to identify photos of stoplights in order to log into accounts — a little Captcha humor. 

But even with the data and the strong consortiums, and the end to picking stoplights from a photo lineup, it will take something more to successfully launch the platform of the future.

“The way that I really think that we turn it around is to be fearless, like you started the day with,” Kelli Lin, Narvar vice president product, told the packed room, acknowledging Ramanand’s opening remarks and echoing the theme for FLOW Summit 2023.

Be fearless

For instance, she explained, if a carrier sends a customer a message that an ordered package is on its way, that might smooth the post-purchase customer experience. But wouldn’t it be better for both the customer and the merchant, if that were a branded message, if the brand was part of the reassurance?

“Have you recaptured your brand in that and driven the next level of engagement? No,” she said. “You have to step into it. You have to give that information as opposed to just reacting and managing. So, being fearless is hopefully my message.”

It certainly has a nice ring to it. And no doubt it is a message that was resonating throughout the keynotes, sessions and hallway conversations that are the essence of FLOW Summit 2023.

Photo by Mike Cassidy

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Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].