Engineering the Future of Software
16–18 October 2017: Conference & Tutorials
18–19 October 2017: Training
London, UK

Platform architecture for omnichannel retail

Joel Crabb (Target)
10:4512:15 Monday, 16 October 2017
Distributed systems
Location: Buckingham Room - Palace Suite
Secondary topics:  Case Study
Average rating: ****.
(4.82, 11 ratings)

Prerequisite Knowledge

  • A basic understanding of distributed systems architecture across multiple data centers and/or clouds
  • Familiarity with NoSQL, distributed event managers, distributed caching, and microservices
  • Knowledge of the CAP theorem (useful but not required)

What you'll learn

  • Explore a platform architecture for omnichannel retail and a framework for mapping systems


How do legacy brick and mortar retailers upgrade their technology and compete in today’s fast evolving retail landscape? These retailers often find it impossible to integrate their vast legacy of thousands of disparate systems into a single architecture that drives technical and business strategy. However, an architecture created around the concepts of platforms and tenants offers a possible solution.

Drawing on his experience as chief architect at Target, Joel Crabb shares a platform architecture for omnichannel retail that will organize and fuel the next generation of systems. The architecture takes into account both the operations of a multibillion dollar digital channel paired with a 1,800+ store footprint and associated supply chain and merchandising systems. Joel also demonstrates how to map the systems of an entire company into the platform framework in a matter of days.

With a combination of microservice-based APIs, distributed data systems, and cloud patterns, we can encompass all systems of a retail company and integrate them together through distributed events. By clearly defining system types and their place in the platform, enterprise architecture moves beyond simply governance and technology specification into enterprise technical strategy.

Photo of Joel Crabb

Joel Crabb


Joel Crabb is the vice president of architecture and the chief architect at Target, where he has brought a platform mindset to the company’s software engineering teams and created a platform architecture wherein data and business processes are presented through platform APIs that serve the entire enterprise. Joel has over 20 years of experience building large-scale applications, both business and consumer facing. Previously, he was the chief architect at Best Buy, where he replatformed the company’s digital channel into a cloud-based distributed system to support growth from $1.8B to $5.1B in revenue over four years.

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Picture of Joel Crabb
28/09/2017 15:26 BST

While this talk is based on working in retail, I believe the platform ideas and framework can be used in any context. I’m interested in people’s thoughts on this after the presentation.