Conor Barr, Chief Product Officer at Patchworks, on the Evolution of eCommerce in the Digital Age

As commerce evolves to serve more people with greater accessibility and higher expectations, the digital services of ecommerce businesses have had to evolve in kind. With a portfolio of success stories including viral brands Gymshark and Huel, Patchworks is a company enabling a new era of flexible, high-volume ecommerce players.

We asked their Chief Product Officer, Connor Barr, about how the business has achieved all it has, and how their offering is uniquely suited to the digital age. In this Q&A, Connor talks through the tech behind Patchworks, the reason it’s caught on as fast as their flagship customers, and what the ecommerce space may look like in the future.

Conor Barr
Chief Product Officer at Patchworks

Conor Barr is the Chief Product Officer at Patchworks, where he is in charge of driving the product roadmap, strategy, and delivery. That means he’s responsible for all of Patchworks’ offerings – from their integration platform itself, to Patchworks BI and Stockr. He has a Masters of Engineering in Computer Science, and has worked as an engineer, architect, and leader. Why is integration critical for ecommerce brands in the modern digital landscape?

Conor Barr: “As digital services evolve – with richer content and more personalisation – ecommerce stacks are becoming more heterogeneous and integrations more complex. Fast growing brands need to connect all the apps within their tech ecosystems to remove operational friction, utilise channels, and optimise and monetise experiences.

“By using data to identify the ideal channels for selling products to generate highly intuitive and personalised experiences for consumers, brands can connect systems, data, and insights across an increasingly complex and diverse tech stack to be able to embrace the busiest sales periods without a hitch.

“The latest integration methods can enable fast growing brands to explore different ways to market, change stacks to suit evolving needs and stay in control of expenditure, stock, and customer services. Eradicating marketing, operational, and finance silos is critical to driving footfall, boosting efficiency, and saving costs.”

What makes your solution specifically useful to high-volume brands, and is determining a high-volume brand as easy as popularity/low cost of individual products?  

“Our scalable architecture with high visibility and support is ideal for high volume brands with large transaction volume. One of our largest clients has a huge international volume of orders and our scalable platform is capable of processing them. We’re a transaction-based pricing model, which means the more you use, the more you pay – perfect for small and large businesses alike.

“Patchworks’ self-serve dashboard and automation is also very popular for enabling speed to market as it helps our clients streamline setup and keep their operation simple.

“We determine a high-volume brand by asking the client for their typical order numbers over a given month and across the calendar year. We’ll look at their peak seasons, how many returns they typically receive, their growth plans, and what products they sell. It’s also important to know how many integrations they have or want to have, and how many systems they have in their business. For instance, do they have an ERP or WMS which needs seamless integration? All of this is critical information for us to know in the discovery phase of working with a new client, as it allows us to provide them with the best possible service.”

When did you realise that there was a gap in the market for an ecommerce integrations platform like yours that services so many lifecycle functions?

“Our iPaaS is designed to be as automated and self-serve as possible in an easy-to-use platform. We fulfil a gap for merchants who want to get set up and into the market as quickly as possible, offering a wide range of systems.

“There’s also a market opportunity around business intelligence and visibility. When building integrations, you can end up with a black box situation and lose the ability to do a business analysis on all the data. That’s where our BI platform comes in, enabling full visibility across the board.

“Real time stock synchronisation across all stores – our Stockr app – is also a game changer for instant/real time reliable integrations. There’s a clear need for a real-time stock pool between stores and warehouse services, which keeps all stock in sync. For businesses with multiple stores, Stockr is an effective way to avoid issues of overselling and underselling, and ensuring stock is allocated correctly across all stores.”

The latest integration methods can enable fast growing brands to explore different ways to market, change stacks to suit evolving needs and stay in control of expenditure, stock, and customer services.

Conor Barr Chief Product Officer, Patchworks

Has the evolution of the digital consumer landscape affected Patchworks’ business model in any way?

“It’s affected our business model primarily in what we offer to clients, based on what they want to see and integrate to best service their customers. We want to offer a library of different systems from 3PLs to ERPs. Customers can pick the best-of-breed these days, so we must be prepared to offer a wealth of connectors to integrate in a universal setup.

“We’re also continuously evolving our infrastructure and architecture, following the principles of the MACH Alliance: microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless. We promote modern, cutting-edge tech and best-of-breed software, which allows clients to build bespoke experiences for their customers, enabling speed to market in an ever-changing ecosystem.

“We want to be cutting edge with our infrastructure, which is why our approach is to build in a modular and flexible way, enabling change quickly. We intend to officially join the MACH Alliance next year.”

What do you see as the key skills that’ll be most in demand in your industry in the next 2-3 years?

“Experience with a vast array of different types of APIs and query languages such as GraphQL, as well as experience with serverless architecture and DevOps.

“More broadly, what’s becoming important is being able to combine that with functional industry ecommerce experience in terms of being exposed to different Ecoms, ERPs and warehouse management systems, and understanding the business functions behind all of that will position an individual with an invaluable skill set.”

Learn More About Patchworks

Patchworks was born in response to the massive application sprawl taking place as ecommerce exploded. Companies struggled to maintain oversight of their apps, leading to data silos, fulfilment issues, and damaging outages. A solution was desperately needed.  

Patchworks iPaaS is powerful and easy-to-use, connecting your core business applications – whether that’s your ecommerce platform, warehouse software, ERP, 3PL, or anything in between. Infinitely scalable, Patchworks is your key to rapid growth.