How fast can you move with MACH? A 4-week augmented reality experiment
MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless) technology is built for speed, allowing you to adapt quickly and follow a modular approach that makes it easy to plug in new tools. As digital technologies like Augmented Reality come to market or reach maturity, MACH technology enables teams to implement those faster than ever. At least that’s the hypothesis. But is it true?
Contentstack and Valtech teamed up to put the power of MACH to the test. The idea: Build a proof of concept for an Augmented Reality application that’s pulling in content via Contentstack’s headless CMS — in just four weeks.
Keeping up with an ever-changing omnichannel world: The power of a headless CMS
We are living in an omnichannel world. Brands and consumers interact via countless digital channels, from websites to apps, digital billboards, email marketing, smart speakers, and wearables, and analog ‘good old’ communication with the hotline or in person at reception, in stores, branches, on platforms - the list goes on.
When consumers engage with a brand, they expect a consistent message across channels. Marketers face the old challenge: delivering content across a growing number of digital touchpoints without having to update duplicate content in multiple places manually. Just that this challenge has become even more complex and more urgent than ever before. A harmonious experience across the customer’s journey is not aspirational anymore: Today, it makes or breaks businesses.
Technologically, this is where the power of a MACH CMS such as Contentstack comes in. Simply put, a headless CMS is a modern kind of content management system that manages and organizes content without a connected front-end layer. You manage all your content and assets within your CMS, but then use APIs to distribute that content to anywhere and everywhere you need it — your website, your mobile app, your email marketing tool, or, as in our project, an AR application.
But a CMS that’s powered by MACH principles doesn’t just make the day-to-day tasks of orchestrating content across channels easier. It also allows you to add new channels faster than ever before. Because a modern CMS is built from the ground-up to make it easy to add or replace services and build out new channels, it’s a powerful foundation for marketing organizations looking to adopt new technologies and customer touchpoints quickly. And that was exactly the goal of the Project Spyglass experiment.
Project Spyglass: Building an Augmented Reality app for the retail space in just four weeks
Together with the team at Valtech, Contentstack decided on the following scenario for this ambitious project:
A skincare brand is looking to use the power of AR to simplify the complex information around their serums, tailor the content to customers’ needs, and ultimately make it easier to navigate the brand’s product line. In-store, the application should support the purchasing process by surfacing helpful information — including reviews, ingredients, and allergens, as well as facts on sustainability and ingredient sourcing. At home, the brand’s AR experience should give the customer personalized guidance on how and when to use the product. Additionally, it should help them keep track of how it does (or doesn’t) help their skin and suggest related products that fit their changing needs after a period of using the serum.
All of this was to be delivered as a mobile-web-browser-based Augmented Reality experience, which pulled all content from Contentstack in realtime.
Within four weeks, the use cases to be covered were fleshed out and translated into interaction designs. Then, an AR framework was implemented that could track the serum bottles and let the user interact with the content by swiping on-screen, and rotating and tilting the bottle, and connecting the application to Contenstack to pull in all relevant content.
If you’re curious, you can read the week-by-week breakdown of the steps taken to make this idea become a reality:
- Week 0: Getting to the pitch
When it came to pulling in the content that shaped this new AR experience, Valtech could truly leverage the flexibility of Contentstack’s powerful GraphQL API. This was only possible because Contentstack is an API-first, headless CMS that puts you in full control over where and how you want to leverage your content.
“There isn’t a long-standing tradition of AR and VR applications, and there’s no solution that is pre-built for the problems that an enterprise is going to experience when they’re developing for AR. When you’re trying to do something uncharted, you cannot let yourself be limited by something that was built with “websites” in mind.
Contentstack is agnostic to the display and dynamic in the way it relates content to the display layer so that you can architect the data and the content structure in the best way for where it’s going, no matter what the end goal is.”
So how did it turn out? Just four weeks after kicking off project Spyglass, Valtech had built a working prototype — and the results couldn't have been better.
In retail now more than ever, the secret to success lies in embracing change and doing it fast. Project Spyglass shows that with tools built on MACH principles, you can leverage new technologies like AR to present existing product information in a brand new way. You can experiment with new tools and build new products that seamlessly plug into your existing tech stack without months of integration work — and can build innovative, digital experiences that set you apart from your competition.
Can you keep up with the staggering pace of digital innovation?
The digital world continues to evolve at rocket speed — but to many organizations adopting new channels feels like an impossible task. That’s because they’re stuck with legacy technology that causes the release of new initiatives to take months, even years, or make it too complicated to attempt at all.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you adopt technology with a MACH mindset at its core, experimenting with new channels and technologies is a whole lot easier, setting your brand up for success in the ever-evolving world of digital innovation.
Contentstack is a Content Experience Platform (CXP) with a headless content management system (CMS) at the core. To learn more about Contentstack, visit our website.
Valtech is a global digital agency focused on business transformation. We enable clients to anticipate tomorrow’s trends and connect more directly with their consumers across digital and physical touch points, whilst optimizing time-to-market and ROI. For more information, visit www.valtech.com.