Composable commerce can be an alluring option for a traditional monolith approach, especially when you’re going after growth aggressively. Composable commerce offers many pros over the monolith approach, especially for larger companies with complex needs and multiple platforms, but it's not always the best way to go. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the concept of composable commerce and explain to whom it is the best choice and when it’s not the optimal way to go.
What is composable commerce?
Composable commerce means building your e-commerce in a modular way, using separate, compatible components tailored to your business needs. It is a modern alternative to the so-called monolith approach. The composable approach lets you pick the best microservices or packaged capabilities for each function, creating a customized solution for your customers. It adapts as your business grows, making it easy to add new components or switch to better ones. Tools that help companies utilize composable commerce to the max include companies like Commercetools.
This approach gives you more control over your IT setup, avoiding the constraints of a monolithic platform. It relies on the so-called MACH architecture and must include these items to be genuinely called composable: microservices, APIs, cloud-native SaaS, and headless. Using separate microservices or capabilities lets you choose your tools freely, connecting top services via APIs. For example, you could use Voyado for multichannel marketing and product discovery and Adeona for product information management (PIM).
The real strength of composable commerce lies in its flexibility. It's the choice for businesses looking to scale to new markets or expand offerings, allowing easy integration of new services. While setting up this architecture demands time and resources, it can be cost-effective in the long run. It prevents feature overlap and streamlines functionality additions, reducing the total cost of ownership, or the estimation of the expenses associated with purchasing, deploying, using, and retiring a product or piece of equipment.
Gartner predicts that by 2023 businesses adopting this approach will outpace competitors by 80% in new feature implementation speed. While it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, composable commerce can provide significant advantages, taking digital sales to the next level.
Headless vs. composable commerce
Sometimes when talking about composable commerce, the term headless pops up. It's sometimes used almost interchangeably with composable, although they mean different things.
Headless development is a software architecture approach where the front-end and back-end of an application are decoupled, allowing for greater flexibility and freedom in designing user interfaces. Composable commerce, on the other hand, is a broader concept that encompasses the idea of modularity, microservices, and an API-first design in building an e-commerce system.
The link between the two lies in the fact that composable commerce often employs a headless development approach as one of its foundational principles. While headless development primarily focuses on decoupling the presentation layer, composable commerce takes this further by emphasizing the creation of a modular and adaptable e-commerce ecosystem through the use of microservices and APIs. In essence, headless development is a key technique used within the broader framework of composable commerce to achieve a flexible and customizable e-commerce solution.
Benefits of composable commerce
When it comes to revamping your digital sales strategy, adopting the composable commerce approach has its perks.
Customizability. If your business model doesn't quite fit the traditional mold, composable commerce could be your ideal choice. When your sales processes are complex and varied, especially in the world of B2B, composable commerce steps in to ensure a smooth experience for your buyers.
Larger companies often come with more extensive e-commerce requirements that align perfectly with composable commerce. For example, it enables the efficient creation of multiple web shops for various brands across multiple markets, all powered by the same back-end functionalities. Modularity also means that distinct functions can be managed by different teams or individuals.
Flexibility in development. If your company already boasts an existing digital commerce infrastructure, you can ease into composable commerce one step at a time without risking your business with a major overhaul. Composable commerce offers the flexibility to integrate new components into the existing setup without scrapping the old systems entirely. Consequently, expanding your business becomes a smoother and more efficient process.
Omnichannel experience. Today, customers discover brands through a myriad of channels, from offline to the web and social media. The importance of omnichannel sales is on the rise. An omnichannel-ready composable commerce solution positions you to reach your customers wherever they are.
Composable commerce seamlessly integrates across different devices and touchpoints, from mobile apps to social media. Composable commerce is the foundation that supports ambitious omnichannel strategies, making it easy to add new sales channels and customer interfaces swiftly.
Performance boost. Browsers are mostly pretty powerful and devices (not mentioning desktop computers) have a lot of processing power. Offloading this from the server will impact the site's performance significantly. Also, the backend and frontend can be scaled not depending on each other.
When not to choose composable commerce
If you're launching a new e-commerce business with limited technical and financial resources, a monolith e-commerce solution can be a more practical choice. These solutions often come with built-in features for essential e-commerce functions like product management, payment processing, and order fulfilment. They require less initial development and integration work compared to composable solutions, allowing you to get your store up and running quickly.
On the other hand, if your primary goal is to get your online store off the ground rapidly, a monolith e-commerce platform can offer simplicity and speed. These solutions come with a pre-designed architecture, reducing the need for extensive customization and integration. Composable commerce for example comes with a slightly higher risk of possible SEO hiccups since the SEO aspect needs to be considered ‘separately’ and integrated into the project from the get-go to succeed. Simplicity and speed via ready-made solutions can be beneficial when time-to-market is critical, as it streamlines the development process and minimizes complexities.
Also, if your e-commerce business has relatively straightforward requirements and doesn't demand a high degree of customization, a monolith e-commerce solution may be a better choice. These platforms typically provide a standardized set of features that work well for common e-commerce scenarios. If your business doesn't require unique or complex functionality, you can avoid the additional complexity and cost associated with a composable solution's modular approach.
It is essential to note that while monolith solutions offer simplicity and ease of use in these situations, they may become limiting as your business grows or if you need more customization in the future. Composable commerce isn’t always the answer, however. Careful planning and expertise are needed to evaluate the best technology for the implementation phase based on real user stories, features, and architectural aspects. If you need our help in scoping your project, contact us. You can also read more about our digital commerce services and references.