eCommerce keeps evolving. Modern businesses are all about speed, innovation, scalability, and flexibility. Hence, today’s businesses require advanced technology that aligns perfectly with the elastic nature of modern-day businesses.
Composable commerce is the new tech-trend!
According to a recent quote “Gartner predicts that, by 2023, organisations that adopt a composable approach will outpace their competition by 80% in the speed of new features that they can implement”.
What is Composable Commerce?
Gartner coined the term composable commerce in a report in June 2020 to define the modular digital commerce approach. Under composable architecture, every component is pluggable, scalable, and replaceable at any moment without impacting any other parts of creating the application. Encompassing the Jamstack and the MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless) architecture, composable commerce is the broader concept that gives brands the flexibility to adapt to technological and behavioural changes. It allows developers to assemble a customised solution to suit their specific needs.
“Using the composable application approach, digital experiences are assembled as required, depending on the customer and touchpoint requirements, and delivery of an eCommerce site may be just one of these experience types”. – Gartner
The Fundamental Principles of Composable Commerce
- Modular: Every component of the system including the shopping cart, shipping platform, CMS, analytics, etc. can be interchanged and deployed independently.
- Open: Fret not about vendor lock-in. All the applications can be integrated seamlessly with other applications in the system.
- Flexible: You have the freedom and flexibility to tailor anything you want that would entice your customers. You can customise your stack to create a solution that would suit your business instead of relying on ‘all-in-one software’.
- Business-centric: Both business and customer habits change rapidly. Using this fully customisable solution, you can enable rapid response to the changing business requirements by making more things possible lowering costs and increasing potential innovation.
The Evolution of Composable Commerce
Composable commerce is the amalgamation of the best eCommerce solutions.
Until recently, enterprise and mid-size businesses relied on monolith architecture by default to build their eCommerce platforms. The monolith framework allows tying up all the necessary pieces of the platform together. Also, both the front-end and backend are tied together, making store customisations more taxing. Composable commerce is a much more advanced version of the all-in-one software. They are feature-rich and offer advanced functionality.
- Monoliths: Albeit all-in-one platforms seem like an easier option to use, the challenges of working within a monolith grow as the brands grow. We are aware that in a monolith system, the front-end and back-end are tightly tied. Hence, customising the code would make the system more complex with time, especially with increasing business capabilities and technological evolution. Also, such complexities mean that the business cannot respond promptly. Usually, implementing changes with monolith systems come with the risk of unintended consequences, which are a result of dependencies – one wrong move in a monolith platform means affecting the entire system.
- Headless Commerce: Headless commerce was developed to solve the problems that came with the all-in-one platforms. Headless commerce by definition is the decoupling of the front-end from the back-end. The front-end, also known as the ‘head’ of many eCommerce websites is the theme or template that controls what the customers can see. Headless commerce entails more flexibility in delivery as it allows you to integrate a customer management system (CRM), digital experience platform (DXP), progressive web app (PWA), and even the Internet of Things (IoT) device. You can customise the front-end without impacting the essential eCommerce components of your website such as checkout and payment security. Also, headless commerce platforms are easy to scale compared to monoliths and the front-end traffic does not impact the back-end as they operate individually. At the same time, decoupling enhances the speed and flexibility wherein one team can modify and update the user-interface whereas the other team can test the back-end. Also, you can connect multiple front-ends to one back-end and can experiment with different front-end options like the Internet of Things (IoT).
- MACH Architecture: Unlike headless commerce where some parts of the system are decoupled, in true microservices architecture, the platform and service-oriented architecture are fully decoupled. With microservices, businesses can combine each service as per their business requirements. These individual pieces communicate through API to create complex business transactions. But, these can also operate individually, which means, one piece can be picked out of the puzzle without affecting any other pieces of the system.
To help enterprises navigate the modern technology landscape and advocate for open technology ecosystems, a community of developers called the MACH Alliance was formed in 2020.
- Microservices: Microservices architecture is a decentralised and decoupled approach and is therefore considered to be the building block. It segregates multiple business requirements into different services that communicate with each other, instead of one solution that is programmed to do everything. Therefore, microservices architecture is known to offer speed and flexibility.
- API-first: For an integrated and best-in-breed solution, taking an API approach is the answer. Users can enjoy the flexibility to assemble a tech-stack based on the business requirements without relying on standardised, pre-built plugins.
- Cloud: With cloud-native architecture, you can provide fast delivery, reliable and shopping experiences to your customers irrespective of their location. The platform is designed to scale automatically depending on your business needs and assure speed, performance, and security.
- Headless: Headless commerce means decoupling the front-end from the back-end management. With such flexibility, users can enable eCommerce at an expansive range of touchpoints, thereby ensuring a seamless cross-channel customer experience.
- Composable Commerce: The Gartner report states that “today, these modular capabilities are often called microservices but while this usage is common in the market, it does not align to the technical definition of microservices. The market usage is more closely aligned to the idea of packaged business capabilities (PBCs) that has arisen out of Garner’s future of application research”.
- PBC: These are software components that denote the business capability and are designed to be functionally whole. PBCs can also be used as building blocks for applications and custom-assembled application experiences. The drawback about PBCs is that they have a size constraint and can bring micro or macro capabilities.
Composable Commerce: Advantages and Disadvantages
With evolving technology, retail businesses discover new ways to innovate their businesses. These businesses need to be designed to react quickly and anticipate changing customer expectations.
The benefits of composable commerce include:
- Customised Customer Experience: Since you have the leverage to pick the best solutions for your business needs, you can modify your final experiences to meet your customers’ needs. You can also ensure that the user experience is uniform regardless of what end-point the application will be served on.
- Better Flexibility: Like headless commerce, with composable commerce, you can easily create something you need and modify it along the way. Since everything is customisable unlike monolithic platforms, it is more convenient.
- Fast and Easy to Grow and Scale: With composable commerce architecture, matching the pace of the ever-evolving business needs and changing customer habits have become easy. You are no longer confined within the boundaries set by the big solutions and can swap solutions components as per your requirements.
- The disadvantages of composable commerce:
- Managing Multiple Tools and Platforms: The only advantage of using an all-in-one platform is that information and data are not segregated in multiple tools. But, with microservices, you will need to manage different solutions for every specific need.
- A DIY Approach: With composable commerce, you should be equipped to build your own solutions on your own and connect every component which is quite difficult compared to using a tool that comes with everything in-built. Also, since you have different services from different places, you need to ensure that both the design and user experience are uniform across the board.
- Infrastructure and Monitoring Tool Needs: Picking microservices architecture might change the infrastructure and tools you would need to monitor the different microservices. You need to be updated with the changes that would be required and include them in the total cost of ownership.
Nowadays, consumers have access to more products and interact with brands in more ways than before through social media, marketing channels, and customer service channels. People can shop from marketplaces, at pop-up events, on their smartphones, etc. Commerce, as we know, is omnichannel. To deliver personalised commerce experiences to your customers at scale require flexibility. This is one of the primary reasons why you need to pick an approach that offers composability. However, before making any decision, ensure that you have a complete and intricate overview of your business needs, internal and external development abilities, and the way the technology might impact your business.
For a granular understanding of why and how you should implement composable commerce, get in touch with 18th DigiTech. Our team will provide you with a more personalised wall-through about this modular, open, flexible, and business-centric solution.