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Ecosystem

Nov 01, 2022

8 min to read

What is Composable Commerce, and Why is it Important?

Discover why future-thinking brands and retailers are making the move to composable commerce architecture, and how it can revolutionize your eCommerce offerings.

Keywords

customer experience

eCommerce

omnichannel commerce

product experience management

PXM

Every single day, new digital touchpoints emerge that offer users an enticing new way to shop. Whether it’s new retailers coming onto the scene, social media apps looking to break into eCommerce, or new technology permeating the retail landscape, there seems to be an almost endless stream of new channels that many, if not all, brands and retailers are struggling to keep up with. Why?

Simply put, their eCommerce presence is precariously built on a traditional, monolithic commerce architecture that offers a single solution, from a single vendor, offering a single digital experience. And while this one-size-fits-all approach worked for many years to support standardized experiences and basic eCommerce offerings, the digital marketplace has expanded at such a rapid pace that we’ve quickly outgrown this legacy architecture. It wasn’t built to accommodate all the facets that are now required to produce high-quality product experiences across so many different channels.

Enter composable commerce; the modular approach to eCommerce that enables true omnichannel activation.

 

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable commerce is a development approach that enables organizations to activate their entire product record across every channel by leveraging best-of-breed commerce vendors composed together into a singular, custom-built application. This type of software model allows teams to create an ecosystem that is customized to meet their organization’s specific business needs.

Instead of the traditional, monolithic approach, composable commerce software communicates via API. Each individual solution can be updated or replaced at any time without disrupting the rest of the system, meaning that your eCommerce stack is flexible and can scale to meet your needs.

 

Difference between composable commerce and traditional architecture

A traditional approach offers an all-in-one solution from a single vendor, providing the basic capabilities needed to activate an eCommerce site. For a while, this met a need in the market; everything was stored in the same place, and organizations had everything they needed to provide a singular, standard experience for all their customers.

However, thanks to the impact of both the pandemic and rapid technological innovation, the needs of modern organizations span much farther than the reach of traditional commerce architecture. There are new digital touchpoints emerging constantly that these legacy platforms simply weren’t built to accommodate, not to mention the ever-growing expectations of customers to have a dynamic, cohesive, and engaging experience with your product no matter where they discover or search for you.

It’s no longer simply enough to show up on these channels; your product information needs to be personalized to meet the needs of the channel, whether or not it’s owned by you.

At a more granular, technical level, massive monolithic code bases present steep roadblocks; plug-and-play replacements of outdated technology is impossible, extensive knowledge of the code base is required for developers to do any sort of adjustments, and scalability is severely limited. As a result, development speed and time-to-market is simply too slow to keep up with the speed of today’s economy.

As consumer behaviors continue to rapidly shift and digital touchpoints continue to expand, more and more organizations are beginning to move away from a traditional model and towards a composable commerce model that decouples the frontend user experience from the backend logistics. This offers organizations the flexibility to customize their tech stack to their specific business needs.

With composable commerce, brands are able to:

  • Create compelling, coherent, and consistent product experiences across every channel, regardless of their specific personalizations.
  • Accelerate time-to–market and expand into new territories, products, and markets more seamlessly than ever before.
  • Leverage best-of-breed technology solutions to ensure that you’re utilizing the most up-to-date and efficient processes.
  • Scale your tech stack with your company by replacing technologies as you continue to grow and take on new challenges.

 

Composable Commerce & MACH 

If you’ve been anywhere near the product information industry over the past year, you may have heard of MACH architecture, or the MACH Alliance; in essence, MACH architecture is at the core of composable commerce.

MACH stands for:

  • Microservices-based: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed.
  • API-first: All functionality of the product is exposed through an API.
  • Cloud-native: SaaS that leverages the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling and automatically updating.
  • Headless: Front-end presentation is decoupled from backend logic and channel, programming language, and is framework agnostic.

Like MACH architecture, composable commerce takes a modular approach that allows your organization to select best-of-breed technologies and customize the technology to fit your specific business needs, now and in the future.

By migrating towards a MACH architecture, you’re enabling your team to take full advantage of a modular approach that will revolutionize how your organization scales and grows, particularly in eCommerce.

 

Tenets of Composable Commerce

Composable commerce architecture has been growing in popularity as more and more organizations continue to search for a more scalable and flexible model. But what does that actually look like in practice? Let’s take a look at three of the defining features of this modern commerce architecture.

1. Modular

Arguably the most important aspect of composable commerce approach is its modular nature. Every component of your tech stack is replaceable, and therefore scalable. Changing, adding, or removing one aspect of your tech stack will no longer crumble your entire ecosystem like a fragile Jenga tower.

What does this mean? Accelerated time-to-market, increased eCommerce conversions, eliminated redundant technology costs, and stronger omnichannel experiences.

2. Open Ecosystem

An open ecosystem essentially means that your organization isn’t tied to one specific vendor; you are free to select the software that best serves each individual business need, ensuring that you’re receiving world-class SaaS products across the board. This is a particularly useful aspect as it allows your team to easily swap out technology if a piece of software isn’t performing the way you intended it to, it’s been changed, or it becomes obsolete due to changed internal processes.

This open ecosystem also encourages simple integrations and deep customization capabilities, allowing your team to essentially build the perfect system for your commerce tech stack.

3. Flexible

The scalability and flexibility of a composable commerce architecture is one of the biggest reasons so many organizations are beginning to transition. Whether it’s adapting to meet the needs of new customer markets, new global locations, new products, or new eCommerce channels, composable commerce offers the flexibility to meet your organization’s needs that a traditional approach can’t compete with.

 

Why Composable Commerce?

If it hasn’t been obvious enough up to this point, we here at Akeneo are proud supporters of composable commerce. By why? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why a modular approach like this is already leading the charge toward the future of world-class customer experiences.

Create truly omnichannel experiences. 

Mobile, print, web, social media, retailer sites, even newer channels like voice search and TikTok. All of these existing touchpoints, and those of tomorrow, are potential places where your customers could discover you. An extensive and flexible commerce platform is required to enable truly omnichannel experiences.

Eliminate vendor risk

Swap in and out components of your tech stack as needed, allowing your ecosystem to scale to meet your needs. Whether you need to replace an old piece of technology, incorporate a new software tool, or upgrade existing functionality and capacity, you can do so freely with this type of replaceable architecture.

Reduce operational costs. 

By increasing internal operational efficiencies and leveraging modern technology stacks, your organization is able to save time and money. Plus, you’re customizing your tech stack to what works best for your team, so you aren’t paying for features you don’t use.

Remove heavy reliance on IT

The user-friendly aspect of composable commerce means that managing and operating within this commerce approach doesn’t require in-depth technical skills from developers. Unlike the traditional model, composable commerce allows non-technical employees to perform necessary tasks.

 Deliver highly differentiated, personalized experiences that win against your competition.

More channels than ever before means more competition than ever before; the product experience that you offer to your customers needs to stack up or you risk losing their loyalty. By utilizing best-of-breed technologies and allowing your organization to scale, you’re able to provide your consumers with the personalized experience they’re looking for.

 

Future-proof your business with composable commerce

By 2023, Gartner predicts that organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace their competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation. The inherently modular nature of the architecture, coupled with the flexibility and scalability it offers, means that a composable commerce approach is the only way brands and retailers can activate their product story across each and every channel, regardless of if it’s owned by them or not. By streamlining internal operations and relying on best-of-breed technology, composable commerce enables organizations to deliver unique, personalized product experiences to their consumers at every stage.

Interested in learning more about how to migrate to a composable commerce model? Request a demo of Akeneo today to see how our MACH-certified PIM can help.

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