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30 Innovators to Watch 2021

‘GrapheneHC™ has been Designed to Become the Gold Standard for Merchandising’: André Brown, CEO of Advanced Commerce


“GrapheneHC has been developed using a modern API-first architecture designed to work in a Headless Commerce environment.”

Merchandising seems simple on the surface, but is both art and science. The primary importance of merchandising is to clearly display products, so they are easy to find. Effective merchandising increases online revenue through higher conversion rates, higher average orders value fewer canceled orders, and lower returns.

Advanced Commerce is one such company that provides a revolutionary merchandising platform, GrapheneHC, which has been designed to provide retailers with all the tools they need to merchandise their online sites effectively. It is an Enterprise-grade merchandising platform containing many new and innovative features packaged within an easy-to-use, intuitive user interface.

To highlight and further understand what Advanced Commerce stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with André Brown, who serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Below is an excerpt

As a journalist, I find Advanced Commerce quite striking. From the emotional branding standpoint, it has that appeal. How did you come up with the brand name? And please brief us about the history so far.

I like things that “do what they say on the tin,” so when I left my previous company to start a new technology business, I wanted a name that reflected what we plan to do – hence Advanced Commerce. We plan to provide the most advanced software for eCommerce possible.

Our initial offering is an online merchandising platform called GrapheneHC, the “HC” standing for Headless Commerce – more of that later. The software has been nearly three years in development and is brand new software written from scratch, not a re-working of older technology. It has been designed to work in a Headless Commerce environment, using an API-first architecture.

We launched GrapheneHC at the end of last year and started selling it from Feb 2021. We’re starting to gain traction in the market, having successfully signed a good number of well-known retailers in the UK, the US and Germany.

Q. What makes Advanced Commerce great? And how uniquely does the company help retailers compete online? 

Advanced Commerce is my second software venture in the search, merchandising, and personalization space. I successfully ran my previous business (Attraqt) for 15-years and grew that business from zero to become the leading European player in this space. Since leaving Attraqt, I’ve had a lot of time to consider how would I do things differently the second time around – that’s what makes Advanced Commerce great; it’s all of that experience and the opportunity to start again and do things differently and better, much better.

Q. What can you tell us about your GrapheneHC™ platform? 

GrapheneHC™ is a revolutionary new merchandising platform designed to provide retailers with all the tools they need to merchandise their online stores effectively while delivering best-in-class Customer Experience. The Software-as-a-Service platform has been built with an API-first architecture for the Headless Commerce environment, making it easy to integrate with third-party applications and eCommerce platforms.

GrapheneHC is effectively three core technologies in one – site search, visual merchandising, and product recommendations – providing retailers with all of the tools they need to merchandise their sites effectively. It is extremely flexible, supporting multiple approaches to merchandising, and includes many innovative features packaged within an easy-to-use intuitive interface. It has been designed to become the gold standard for Merchandising, outperforming many current platforms in terms of speed, functionality, flexibility, and price.

Q. That’s not all Advanced Commerce does. What are its other focus areas? 

The company will shortly be releasing an extended version of the platform called GrapheneHC Plus. This adds store-front functionality to the platform, effectively taking over the entire front-end of a retailer’s eCommerce site.

The reason to do this is that many online retailers suffer from slow site speeds, but their existing investment in their eCommerce platform plus back-end integrations (e.g., payment, shipping, and tax, etc.) is too great for them to consider moving eCommerce platforms.

GrapheneHC Plus provides the entire front-end experience up to the checkout but passes the checkout basket back to the eCommerce platform to process. This provides retailers with the best of both worlds. They get to keep the investment they have made in back-end systems and integrations but benefit from a new and very fast front-end that includes our search, merchandising, and personalization tools.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

One of our clients was running on an in-house eCommerce platform that had no merchandising capabilities. Following the adoption of GrapheneHC, their average order volume increased by 18 percent, and their order volumes went up by five percent, resulting in an increase in online revenues of 23.9 percent.

Q. From your perspective, how is the industry you serve currently evolving? And what are the trends in the different categories? 

The big evolution in eCommerce at the moment is the move towards Headless Commerce. Headless Commerce refers to an eCommerce architecture that separates the front-end display layer of an eCommerce site from the back-end eCommerce technologies that provide the eCommerce functionality. The rationale for doing this is to enable rapid changes to be made to the front-end without having to involve the back-end. It represents a move away from outsourcing the eCommerce function towards bringing control of that in-house – enabling retailers to build their own eCommerce solutions using various microservices technology.

GrapheneHC has been developed using a modern API-first architecture designed to work in a Headless Commerce environment. An API-first architecture means that the platform has been designed with the intention that the main user of the platform’s functionality will be another third party platform (typically an eCommerce platform) and that the main method of communication between the platforms will be API to API – i.e., it will be the platform’s APIs that expose the back-end data and application functionality for use by third party platforms.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future? 

As the ecommerce world moves towards Headless Commerce, a key transformation for Advanced Commerce will be to move towards a self-service solution – enabling customers to register and try out the software for themselves without having to deal directly with the company.

Q. What is your final message to The Silicon Review readers and to your current and future customers and partners? 

If you’re facing challenges with site search, visual merchandising, or personalization on your site, then come and talk with us – you won’t be disappointed.

The Leader Upfront

André Brown is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Commerce. He is also the co-founder and former CEO of Attraqt Group plc, a company that he successfully ran for 15-years. During that time, he took it from zero to being the major European player in search and merchandising with over 250 clients, including ASOS, Boohoo, Evans Cycles, Hermes, Matches Fashion, The North Face, Paperchase, Superdry, TK Maxx, Tumi, and Vans.

André’s journey at Attraqt also included a listing on AIM (London Stock Market) in 2014 and in 2017 an ambitious reverse take-over of the company’s largest European competitor, Fredhopper – a company several times the size of Attraqt at that time.

“The company will shortly be releasing an extended version of the platform called GrapheneHC Plus. This adds store-front functionality to the platform, effectively taking over the entire front-end of a retailer’s eCommerce site.”