From the moment I realized the paradigm of software development has shifted, I became a strong believer in composable commerce. Then, my next thought was that the front-end developers are driving the technological changes. They’re using and mixing the back end and API more like utilities solving some specific business needs while still keeping a healthy buy vs. own balance.
Having said that, I think we’re witnessing the next business revolution. In this revolution, the tech experiments, PoCs and even production ready apps can be explored and built by non-technical (or non-core technical) people. It’s a huge change when marketing departments can deploy their own event application, experiment with customer segmentation, etc. No queues to the IT department, deployment cycles, or maintenance costs.
When you look at the recent YC combinator batches, with newcomers like WeWeb and UiFlow but also B-round and well-established companies like Retool, it becomes clear that low-code and no-code tools are super hot. They’re also here to stay.
Wing Ventures VC did a great job compiling the Enterprise Tech 30 report with a list of the most promising private companies in enterprise technology. I was stunned by how many of the tools listed are circling around low-code and data processing applications. In many cases, they can provide great support for eCommerce managers.
In this blogpost, I’m just presenting five low-code products supporting eCommerce use cases.
Identity management is the key to success in the composable commerce world. It’s a world where we need a single source of information about user accounts across all the microservices and products. Auth0 provides a platform to authenticate, authorize, and secure access for applications, devices, and users. It’s super easy to customize with webhooks, JSON data, tokens, JS/Golang/Java/Python/PHP, and SDKs. It’s also way easier to use than Amazon Cognito and Azure AD services. That’s probably because of its long history of dev-experience driven products and marketing. With a long list of supported identity providers and integrations, it’s surely a product worth giving a try. The integration is super easy even for junior developers, and it provides them with a solid and secure foundation for solving more business-focused problems.
Airtable is a no-code platform that enables users to build their own useful collaborative business applications. It can be used as a tabular data source, available through the API, for all sorts of use cases like event registration, lead gathering, marketing plan management, even eCommerce. They’ve prepared a long list of ready-to-use templates, but actually building your own won’t take you more than a couple of minutes.
With Airtable, you can easily build custom apps in minutes instead of days or weeks.
The cool thing is that the data can be imported from the most popular tabular data sources or the API. That makes it an easy integration target for third-party systems.
More info: Airtable website.
Census is an operational analytics platform that makes it possible to deliver actionable data to your team from any data warehouse. No engineering skills needed.
Census automatically publishes SQL and dbt models from your warehouse without a line of code. You can stop deciphering external APIs and maintaining custom scripts, and just focus on the business outcomes.
The data can easily be imported from one of the 30 integrated data sources including Hubspot, Salesforce, and Google Ads. Imagine mixing Hubspot information with Zendesk tickets and Intercom chat history to get a real 360-degree view of the customer. No engineers needed here either. Of course, you can use the standard data sources like SQL, NoSQL, and Google BigQuery databases as well to integrate your custom data.
Retool is a fast way to build internal tools. It’s something between Visual Basic, Microsoft Access, and Delphi but for the modern web. The list of available components is pretty amazing. The same situation is with the templates where you can find the boilerplates for applications ranging from Slack Notifier to custom admin panels and CRMs.
Of course, the interface builder is one of the most visible killer features. However, under the hood and similar to Census, there’s a variety of data integrations.
More info: Retool website.
The elevator pitch is simple: MySQL database, serverless functions, GraphQL API, and more is waiting for you. 8base is an application platform that is somewhat similar to Heroku with an easy-to-use database management system. It generates a beautiful GraphQL API. The 8base environment provides developers with services that are already integrated, like Auth0 based authorization. It also provides a way to host the serverless custom apps and the management CLI. It’s probably one level lower than Retool, but it’s probably even more focused on production apps and gives more control to the developers.
No-code and low-code are clearly vital trends. The Enterprise Tech 30 report is a great overview of just some of the most popular ones. For a more comprehensive and broad list of the available options, I recommend you read an awesome blogspot, that could even be released as an ebook because it’s so deep, by Stride.VC.