Composable Commerce: How It’s Reshaping Modern Ecommerce

Previously, commerce platforms offered a uniform, blanket solution, ideal for businesses to craft basic online customer journeys. This approach was effective during the dawn of digital commerce, catering to customers’ need for straightforward online shopping experiences.

Yet, merely setting up a store doesn’t cut it anymore — businesses must now differentiate themselves. Legacy structures can’t keep pace with the escalating demand for immersive digital interactions and the prominence of e-commerce as the primary business interface. With the fast-paced evolution of consumer behaviours and an increasingly crowded online business landscape, companies are pressed to innovate their tactics.

That’s where composable commerce steps in — moving away from the standard platforms, it empowers businesses to build distinct commerce experiences by tailoring their technology stack. This adaptation enables them to stay current with e-commerce trends and carve out a unique position in a saturated market.

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable commerce involves selecting top-notch tech from many vendors instead of leaning on one vendor’s standard solution.

For example, a composable stack may include services like TaxJar for tax matters, AfterShip for fulfillment, Bloomreach for customer engagement or product discovery, Shopify for commerce, and Stripe as a payment gateway. Each of these services performs a distinct role in the e-commerce landscape, aiding companies in better catering to their customers’ needs.

Composable commerce isn’t like the old e-commerce models that tie you to a single vendor or a fixed setup. It uses flexible microservices—separate functions you can grow, modify, or change individually. So, businesses can choose and assemble components to craft a system that fits them perfectly. The goal is to enhance customer experiences and rise above the competition.

Benefits of Composable Commerce

  • Flexibility with vendors: Composable commerce means businesses aren’t locked into a single vendor’s solution. They can tweak strategies and explore new business models—IT staff aren’t as tied down.
  • Agile structure: This approach supports quick, efficient delivery. It ensures faster market access and improved customer experiences at every touchpoint.
  • Open environment: An open source platform lets brands build their best solutions. They can use third-party apps, their in-house tools, or bespoke apps to do this.
  • Cost management: Composable commerce helps manage costs effectively. Businesses select only the needed features and vendors, reducing operational expenses.
  • Gaining a competitive edge: Businesses with custom applications will outpace those with off-the-shelf solutions. According to Gartner, by 2023, firms using composable commerce will implement new features 80% quicker than their competitors.

Drawbacks of Composable Commerce

  • Vendor handling: Adding a new microservice means more vendor negotiations, from purchase agreements to terms and conditions. The process also involves integrating it with your existing tech. Remember, every vendor has its own service level agreement, handling challenges like traffic spikes differently.
  • Connecting microservices: It can be a tall order to link microservices from different vendors. Businesses have to develop a user interface to unite these components. Some people have compared it to building with LEGO blocks, but without an instruction manual.
  • Team adaptation: With composable commerce, your e-commerce stack gets more variables. It’s a complex process, and during implementation, teams may struggle to grasp how to use the software or its capabilities.

How Composable Commerce Functions

Composable commerce breaks down a conventional, single-block e-commerce platform into smaller, more manageable pieces. Each piece, or microservice, does a particular job like managing product catalogs, processing payments, or handling shipping details. These microservices talk to each other using APIs, making communication smooth.

The part the customer sees, the front end, is separate from the underlying e-commerce structure, the back end. This separation allows businesses to create custom experiences for their customers across various channels. 

This is the work of headless technology that separates what the customer sees from the commerce platform. The entire composable commerce setup lives in the cloud. This means businesses can easily change the size or scale of the system as they need to.

Imagine an e-commerce business. They are struggling with an old platform. It’s rigid and not meeting customer needs. The platform is also tough to maintain because any changes affect the entire system. They decide to try composable commerce.

Here’s their action plan:

  • Microservices: They start by breaking up their old platform. Each function like product catalog, checkout, and shipping gets its own microservice.
  • Headless technology: Next, they separate the customer-facing side of their platform from the back-end operations. They use headless technology for this.
  • Best-of-breed vendors: They handpick the top software vendors for each microservice. The vendors are connected through APIs. For instance, they might choose a vendor that specializes in fraud prevention for their payment gateway. For shipping, they might choose a vendor with real-time tracking.
  • Cloud-native infrastructure: Finally, the company takes their new system to the cloud. This allows them to scale and adapt as their business needs change.

Composable Commerce vs. Modular Commerce

Composable commerce may sound like a buzzword, but it’s actually a powerful next step from modular commerce. If you’re familiar with modular commerce, you know it’s part of the headless commerce family. In headless commerce, the front-end—the bit your customers see—doesn’t interfere with the back-end—the bit that keeps everything running.

Now, modular commerce took this idea and went a step further. It separated all those backend services like databases and file storage. It meant you could choose and pay for only what you needed, not a prepackaged system. Composable commerce takes that flexibility up another notch. It gives retailers total control, not just of the back-end, but also the front-end. You choose the services you need, when you need them.

If you want an analogy, consider this. If modular commerce is like combining bricks from different LEGO sets, then composable commerce is like combining bricks from any toy brand, in any way you like.

Headless Commerce vs. Composable Commerce

When you hear about composable commerce and headless commerce, you might think they’re the same. They’re not. They’re similar, but they also have key differences.

Headless commerce is an e-commerce solution where the front-end—the part customers see—is separate from the back-end—the part that handles all the work. This approach is common with a content management system. For example, Bloomreach offers Bloomreach Content. It’s a headless CMS that lets companies manage their storefront easily. They can add products to any page through powerful APIs.

Even so, headless commerce and composable commerce aren’t the same. You can’t use the terms interchangeably. Here’s why:

While going headless is many firms’ first foray into composable commerce, more advanced builders like a CMS or personalization provider are required. This helps complete the e-commerce experience to meet customer expectations. Headless commerce and composable commerce do work together. The technologies used need to be headless for composable commerce to work.

Here’s a comparison table:

Headless Commerce

Modular Commerce

Composable Commerce

Front-end and Back-end

Separated

Separated

Separated

Backend Services

Tied together

Separated

Separated

Control

Front-end

Back-end

Full (Front-end + Back-end)

Customization

Limited

More freedom than headless

Complete freedom
 

The Power of Choice: Payments in Composable Commerce

When it comes to payments, choice is key. Bitcoin, Apple Pay, PayPal, and credit cards are just a few options consumers use today. Composable commerce brings the flexibility to meet these needs. Businesses can add any payment gateway to their system, not just one. It’s all about making checkout easy for the customer. This approach may even lift conversion rates.

Growing with You: Global Scaling in Composable Commerce

Business growth often means crossing borders. Different markets have different needs. Composable commerce makes meeting these needs less daunting. Companies can plug in services suited to each region. Maybe it’s a local payment gateway or a specific shipping provider. Perhaps it’s a translation tool for smooth communication. All this can be done while keeping a consistent look and feel to the brand.

Staying Ahead: Swift Adaptation with Composable Commerce

Change is a constant in eCommerce. Customer preferences shift. Technology advances. Trends come and go. Composable commerce is ready for this dynamism. Let’s say AR shopping becomes the next big thing. Businesses can quickly add an AR service to their platform. If a service isn’t performing, it’s easy to replace it. No need to disrupt the whole system. This ability to adapt gives businesses a big edge in the fast-moving eCommerce world.

Examples of Composable Commerce

The world of online shopping is busy. Big changes can mean big wins. Businesses don’t want the same old stuff. They want things their way. They want to pick and choose. They want to move fast and change things up.

BigCommerce got the message. This top-notch online shopping platform made a smart move. They picked up composable commerce. Their plan was simple: give businesses the best tools to build their online shops. BigCommerce lets users take different parts, put them together, or change them as they like. This helps businesses build online shops that fit them just right.

dotCMS is another name in the game. They saw what composable commerce could do. They made it part of what they offer. dotCMS likes to keep things easy for users. They help users manage their online shops without a hitch. Now, with composable commerce, they give users even more freedom. Users can add or remove services as they need. They can stay on top of changes and trends in the market.

Both BigCommerce and dotCMS show us something bigger. They show us how composable commerce is changing online shopping. They give businesses more power and freedom. They let businesses run their online shops, their way.

Imagine breaking down your digital shop into small, reusable pieces. That’s composable commerce. Each piece can function on its own. You can mix and match them to create a unique shop. Sounds great, right? But, don’t rush into it. It’s not a magic fix. You need to think about how you’re going to use it. You need a strategy. And you need to understand how to connect the pieces.

It doesn’t stop there. You need to invest time and resources into it. You need to keep track of how it’s working. And you need to fine-tune it to fit your evolving needs. Composable commerce is not just a quick solution. It’s a dynamic approach to building a digital shop that evolves with your business.

Examples of Composable Commerce

Key Drivers of Composable Commerce

In this section you’ll learn about the key drivers of composable commerce. Here are the main factors driving this commerce type:

Driver

Explanation

The Inflexibility of Traditional Systems

Traditional systems show their limitations in today's dynamic marketplace. They are rigid. Adapting them to new trends or requirements proves hard. Composable commerce solves this issue. It provides flexibility and adaptability. Businesses get to design their e-commerce systems to their unique needs.

Rising Customer Expectations

Today's customers demand more. They want personalized, unified shopping experiences. Composable commerce steps up to the plate. It combines different services. These include product recommendation engines, support chatbots, and customer feedback analysis tools. Businesses use them to create the desired customer experiences.

Adoption of New Technologies

The e-commerce landscape is evolving rapidly. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are playing bigger roles. They are transforming e-commerce. Composable commerce offers an easy path to incorporate these technologies. Businesses can improve their e-commerce systems. Features include automated customer service, AI-driven pricing strategies, and predictive analytics.

Fast-Paced Nature of E-commerce

E-commerce is an ever-changing field. It's dictated by new technologies and changing customer expectations. Composable commerce helps businesses respond swiftly and effectively to these changes. They stay relevant and competitive in the industry.

Conclusion

The concept of composable commerce redefines online shopping. It flips the script on traditional e-commerce, moving away from an insular, platform-focused model. Instead, it zeroes in on the customer experience.

Composable commerce equips brands and retailers with the adaptability to reach their business objectives. It keeps them in step with the constantly changing demands of customers. What’s more, it opens up a world of choice. Businesses can cherry-pick top-notch solutions tailored to every aspect of their operations. With this flexibility, companies can make swift tech adjustments as needed. They can personalize the user experience for each customer. This adaptability and customization make them stronger competitors in the global market.