Just over a year after Sitecore released XM Cloud, many businesses are taking their first steps into the cloud, and in turn embracing a headless approach to content management. Some are also hedging their bets another way: a hybrid approach that twins a headless CMS with back-end customization.

At Sitecore DX 2023 Sydney, Zoe Freeman, Cam Walker and Anthony Hook from Sitecore Solution Partner Deloitte, were joined by TelstraSuper’s Head of Marketing and Digital, Esme Eterovic, during a breakout session to share the real-life lessons from their journey so far.

TelstraSuper: From PaaS to SaaS

Australia’s superannuation system is complex, and members need a digital experience that makes it simple, accessible, and easy to understand. That’s why member engagement is a core part of TelstraSuper’s digital strategy, especially after recently expanding its membership and enabling anyone outside of Telstra’s workforce to join.

“Driving personalized tailored experiences is really key to engagement, and that ultimately leads to better financial outcomes for our 85,000 members,” said Eterovic.

The super fund transitioned to Sitecore’s Experience Platform with the support of Deloitte Digital. TelstraSuper’s lean marketing team now leverages the full potential of the platform, using data to personalize member experiences every day.

“Our digital and marketing team is very hands-on in using the platform. They’re in Sitecore every day building out different experiences and campaigns – really using the platform as it should be used,” said Eterovic. As the fund expanded to include a more diverse target audience, the platform’s scalability has enabled a switch in focus from retention to new member acquisition and growth – while still marketing to a segment of one.

The results have been impressive so far, with TelstraSuper rating in the top three funds for digital experience for the past three years. “The  Net Promoter Score (NPS) is +47, we have a customer satisfaction rating of 8.6, and digital engagement metrics for members grow year on year,” added Eterovic.

Sitecore and Deloitte Digital have helped us build an industry-leading digital experience. - Esme Eterovic, TelstraSuper

For TelstraSuper, the journey to the cloud will allow them to adopt composable and headless solutions that will make it simpler to deliver content across multiple platforms.

MECCA: The beauty of seamless ecommerce

Next, Deloitte shared the story of how they supported beauty brand MECCA in their switch to a composable approach. MECCA has been redefining the beauty retail landscape in Australia and New Zealand since 1997. Making the transition to a full cloud stack was always going to be a complex undertaking, with multi-site environments, complicated integrations, and significant ecommerce requirements.

When MECCA first embarked on this transformation, Sitecore XM Cloud wasn’t available. However, from day one the team was working towards a fully-SaaS architecture, with Experience Edge enabling a seamless move into XM Cloud in the future.

“Our customers are really demanding, but we’re demanding of ourselves as well. We want to make sure they’re getting an online experience that’s comparable with what they’re getting in store,” said Dan Riddell, MECCA Head of Engineering, in a video that was played in the breakout.

The headless component of Sitecore’s solution has allowed MECCA’s teams to react to customer needs, quickly updating content and providing consistency across physical and digital touchpoints.

Composable architecture also means MECCA can plug in the products or platforms they need –whether that’s a rating and review system or ecommerce functionality. Intuitive product search will be the next area of focus.

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A strategic approach to hybrid headless

MECCA is already on a hybrid headless journey. As Hook explained, “They’re transitioning to headless while maintaining some on-prem stack, because it’s not just a case of lifting up the digital experience and dropping it into a SaaS world.”

In contrast, TelstraSuper is fully utilizing XP – and delivering an amazing experience. Hook suggested the fund’s next step on the pathway to cloud will be to adopt composable products.

“Because Sitecore is so deeply embedded, that’s less about technical impact than changing human behavior – such as training and reporting,” he said.

“One of the things about headless and composable tech is that they allow you to adopt things in a very rapid-fire way. You can take Sitecore Search, you can grab the JavaScript, you can drop it on your site, and within a couple of weeks, you have a decent search experience on your site.”

But the downside of doing things so fast is the potential to get it wrong.

“Headless asks you to make a lot of decisions, and without proven frameworks to guide you, that can be challenging,” Hook explained, sharing Deloitte’s methodology for delivering great digital outcomes, at speed.

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The three-step framework starts with a Figma-based design system, with more than 50 components to keep everything consistent. It then provides a standalone capability to deliver Next.JS framing and enable custom experiences, and finally integrates the customer data platform (CDP) and other elements such as CMS or search.

As TelstraSuper and MECCA have seen, it’s possible to transition to the cloud and headless technology in a strategic way – enabling lean marketing and developer teams to do more with less or overcoming the perceived barriers of complex multi-site environments. And working with the right partners can help you make the best decisions at each step of the way.

Looking to transform your brand’s CX? Learn more about XM Cloud and how Sitecore’s suite of composable solutions can help you create, manage, and deliver hyper-relevant experiences at speed.

Fiona Hilliard is a Content Marketing Manager at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.