According to a 2023 survey, 72% of retailers in the US practice composable commerce to some degree, while 21% plan to adopt it within the next year. After roughly three decades of brands relying on monolithic platforms to power their eCommerce business, composable commerce—a service-oriented approach to software architecture that separates front-end elements from back-end logic—is going mainstream.
There are a number of reasons why so many businesses are migrating to composable commerce architecture, which we’ll get into soon. Despite these benefits, many organizations fail to make the switch successfully due to a phenomenon we like to call “vendor fatigue,” or “analysis paralysis.”
Unlike traditional eCommerce setups, composable commerce offers the ability to leverage any technology vendor you desire—based on the unique goals and requirements of your business and its customers—for managing website content, digital assets, products, payments, customer data, and so on.
However, with so many technologies available, not to mention the option of building custom solutions from scratch, attempting to pick the right vendors for the most optimal tech stack can be stressful. If your stack is built without the necessary time, resources, and expertise, you’ll end up with high costs, low visibility, scattered data, and other issues that will have defeated the purpose of your migration altogether.
Let’s dive deeper into the benefits and challenges of migrating to composable commerce architecture.
Benefits of composable commerce architecture
Once you’ve successfully migrated from traditional to composable commerce, your business can expect the following advantages:
Access to best-in-breed technologies
Let’s say you discover a content management system (CMS) that fits perfectly with a new, superior eCommerce strategy envisioned for your business, as it allows your marketing team to make quick and easy updates to website page designs, copy, images, blogs, and so on.
There’s just one problem: The CMS isn’t compatible with your existing eCommerce platform. Thus, simple website updates—like adding a new section to the homepage—require significant time and effort from your development team, and there’s not much you can do to streamline the process. This is a common issue among businesses using traditional platforms.
Composable commerce offers an elegant solution. The CMS and other solutions aren’t tied together in a single, monolithic codebase, and instead communicate via APIs, so you can swap one tool out for another, make updates, and so on, without needing developers to overhaul the entire tech stack.
To summarize, composable commerce architecture enables you to choose the right front- and back-end solutions for the most optimal tech stack, then manage those solutions independently of each other to avoid workflow bottlenecks. This provides unprecedented freedom and flexibility, as your team can swiftly adjust to ever-changing business goals, market trends, and customer expectations.
With traditional eCommerce platforms, businesses often pay for features and functionality that they never end up wanting or needing. But with a composable approach, you will only implement, maintain, and pay for the tools necessary to get the job done.
Whether it be your CMS, email marketing tool, website chatbot, or customer data platform (CDP), you can go with the most cost-effective solution, based on your technical requirements, budget, and eCommerce strategy—which, of course, vary from business to business.
As mentioned above, composable commerce creates an environment where non-technical employees, such as branding and marketing folks, can make quick and easy updates to the customer experience, without requiring the help of developers.
Once they’ve defined what the front-end experience should look like, it’s simply a matter of implementing, managing, and updating certain features and functionality, which then communicate with the rest of the system via APIs. Tasks like publishing blogs, running promotions, and updating product pages can be handled without any hard coding. This means faster deployment times, as well as the ability for developers to focus on more high-priority objectives.
Another pitfall of traditional, monolithic eCommerce—from a developer’s perspective—is having to write code in a single programming language. With a composable architecture, custom and third-party solutions within the same business ecosystem—yet decoupled from one another—can be constructed in whatever language the development team prefers. One feature can be written in Python, while another is written in Ruby, and another in SQL, and so on.
Evaluating vendors & optimizing your tech stack
We’ve established that composable commerce enables you to harness the best possible tools for your business, but how do you know which tools really are the best? After all, every SaaS product—whether it’s a CMS, CRM, or analytics tool—will claim to be the best, so picking one isn’t as simple as visiting their website and speaking with a sales representative. To make the right choice, you need guidance from real composable commerce experts.
A partner agency or consultancy will use their experience to evaluate the risks and rewards of different solutions for critical tech-stack components, such as:
- Ecommerce platform
- All the C’s:
- Digital asset management (DAM)
- Shipping and logistics
Keeping your business’ unique goals and requirements top of mind, your partner should do evaluations of two to three competitors for each of these components, with each evaluation taking around one month—which means a thorough evaluation stage usually takes six months or more. In addition to the basics like cost and usability, these evaluation reports should address common challenges in composable commerce:
A lack of expertise
If your team doesn’t know how to use the technology, they may require hands-on training, helpful documentation, and access to a 24/7 support team. Or, you may need to outsource the management of this tool altogether. What’s the right path forward here? Will your partner—or the vendor itself—provide training sessions and a support team? How will this affect the overall cost?
To achieve a holistic view of your business, as well as leverage AI to automate workloads and personalize the customer experience, you need well-structured, centralized data. But with composable commerce, data can quickly become siloed in various tools across your ecosystem. Through data pipelining, you can unite each solution and ultimately maximize the value of your business’ data. When evaluating vendors and imaging your new tech stack, make sure to prioritize and understand exactly how data will move from one system to another.
Rather than providing a single service, certain composable platforms offer a full suite of related products. The CDP, Bloomreach, for example, offers tools for email and SMS marketing, on-site search, SEO, CMS, and more. By managing multiple features and functionalities on a single platform, you can simplify your tech stack, saving significant time and money in the long run.
Connectivity between systems
As discussed, successful composable commerce relies on seamless integrations between various technologies through APIs. In other words, each vendor must be API friendly. Your team should be able to integrate the tool with the rest of your business’ ecosystem, without introducing any issues for that tool or any of the tools it’s connected to.
Get started with composable commerce
As a design and development consultancy that specializes in migrating businesses from monolithic to composable commerce architecture, Codal has seen many different cases of vendor fatigue. Clients often don’t know what technologies are available, let alone which ones are right for their business or how to implement them. That’s where we come in.
Our team of eCommerce and digital transformation experts has a proven track record of analyzing legacy tech stacks, evaluating and recommending vendors, and determining whether to build a solution from scratch or buy it off the shelf from a third party. Plus, we’ve got a network of best-in-breed technology partners whom we’ve worked with on many projects. This in-house experience and expertise allows us to recommend vendors with a high level of authority, as well as implement those technologies and resolve issues with unmatched speed and efficiency.
Once we’ve conceptualized your future ecosystem in our initial Discovery stage, we’ll execute a smooth migration process, where we build out integrations, replicate certain features and functionality from the legacy platform, introduce new capabilities, and train your internal team members on new technologies and workflows.