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What Is Composable Commerce and its Benefits?

All-in-one solutions are past their time. For e-commerce businesses, this has never been more true given the assortment of tools necessary to run a competitive e-commerce store. Companies need to have the flexibility to adapt to quickly changing consumer behaviors, dynamic market trends, and evolving business requirements.

Many enterprise-level organizations are embracing concepts like composability to accomplish this. In fact, Gartner claimed that “the future of business is composable” with the recommendation that businesses follow the four principles of composable business: modularity, autonomy, orchestration and discovery.

This trend is now extending to eCommerce through composable commerce. And yet again, Gartner has claimed in a report that “application leaders responsible for digital commerce should prepare for a “composable” approach using packaged business capabilities to move toward future-proof digital commerce experiences”.

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable commerce is an approach to building an e-commerce system using best-of-breed components. This way businesses can choose the components they want for their e-commerce stack. It goes against the traditional approach to building e-commerce systems with all-in-one solutions.

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Businesses can select the best tools for a particular use case from a vendor specializing in it.

For example, they can have one vendor for the CMS, another for the e-commerce platform, another for PIM, etc. Software tools that form part of a composable commerce stack can communicate using APIs, following the same principles as headless commerce. As a result, these tools can operate independently yet be combined to form one eCommerce solution.

Aside from headless and composable commerce, you may have heard about other concepts such as MACH.

But how do all of these terms relate?

MACH, an acronym for micro-services, APIs, Cloud-native and headless represents a movement that supports the new way to build digital experiences. The MACH Alliance strives to help companies take advantage of the most innovative and flexible enterprise technologies available and to break the release cycle.

Headless commerce decouples the front-end from the back-end. Composable commerce takes the headless approach to another level. In addition to separating the front and back-end, composable commerce also enables brands to split front-end functionalities and back-end functionalities.

Ultimately, all the concepts represent a push away from traditional and monolithic approaches towards modern technologies.

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Why e-Commerce Companies Are Embracing Composable Commerce?

E-Commerce businesses continue to move away from the monolithic solutions they once favored for a few reasons.

Roughly a decade ago, all-in-one marketing solutions were the best option for most businesses. These solutions could handle everything from analytics to email marketing and more.

However, more vendors have begun specializing in one aspect of the marketing technology stack over time – content management, analytics, email marketing, personalization and optimization, live chat, CRM, payments, etc. The list goes on and on, with over 8000 solutions forming part of the landscape in 2020, a number that has likely increased since then.

With so many niche players to choose from, businesses have recognized that they would be better served composing their own eCommerce stack rather than relying on one vendor to handle everything.

Another factor in the evolution of composable commerce is the presence of packaged business capabilities (PBCs). Packaged business capabilities are software components that are built around specific business functions.

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For example, a CMS that handles content management, a CRM that stores and manages customer data, or a storefront builder that handles front-end interfaces. These packaged services are separate from other components and can be connected via APIs.

PBCs enable businesses to define their eCommerce stacks with exactly what they need. Cart and checkout systems can be combined with payments and pricing tools. Headless content management systems can be combined with headless storefront builders, and analytics tools can be combined with personalization tools. Each business capability is packaged separately but can be integrated easily.

Micro-services are the more granular version of PBCs. While some micro-services can be considered PBCs as they provide a clear business function, in many instances, PBCs are constructed from several granular micro-services.

With many companies adopting modern approaches to building their e-commerce stacks that involve microservices, composable commerce, MACH, Jamstack and more, today’s businesses can’t afford to be left behind with monolithic and restrictive architecture.

If your competitors are adopting these tools, it puts them in a better position to adapt to market changes, attract their ideal customers and convert them into buyers. Embracing composable commerce is essential for eCommerce stores that want to remain competitive.

Requirements for Composable Commerce

Three key principles are important for composable commerce.

  • Modular Architecture: Components of composable commerce must be modular, meaning that they can be interchanged as required. If you’re unhappy with one component, it can be swapped out for another without issues.
  • Business-centric Focus: Composable commerce should enable e-commerce companies to respond quickly to changes, be innovative, and meet key requirements.
  • Open Ecosystem: Composable commerce is the antithesis of the all-in-one commerce solution. An open ecosystem should facilitate easy integrations and doesn’t lock you into a specific vendor.

What are the benefits?

Flexibility & Freedom

Composable commerce enables businesses to choose the pieces that go into their e-commerce stacks. This increased flexibility is crucial for both the front-end experience and the back-end architecture. It means choosing the best tools to accompany an e-commerce solution or building a front-end interface.

Omnichannel Experiences

Nowadays, customers don’t only shop on one channel. The customer journey can span multiple channels, both in-store, online, social media platforms, and different IoT devices. Businesses need to be able to deliver omnichannel experiences to their customers and composable commerce facilitates that.

API-based Architecture

APIs are the cornerstones of modern commerce initiatives. They enable best-of-breed technologies to combine into one system and create commerce experiences for almost any channel.

An API-based architecture is another key benefit of composable commerce as its future proof, meaning that new technologies and channels are simply opportunities for e-commerce businesses and not hindrances.

Cost Reductions

Composable commerce can reduce the costs for e-commerce stores, first, by helping to prevent vendor lock-in and allowing these businesses to select only the software tools they need. Also, composable commerce makes it easier to incorporate no-code tools that reduce the resources necessary for modern stores to deliver the commerce experiences customers demand.

The e-commerce world is changing, and businesses need to be able to build their e-commerce stacks as they see fit.

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