Composable commerce represents the latest iteration of eCommerce technology. During earlier times, eCommerce companies focused on keeping their stores online. Meanwhile, customers were more worried about the wisdom of sending their credit card information over the Internet. At best, a successful transaction became the definition of a great customer experience.
Back then, eCommerce companies managed smaller markets and even smaller expectations. Single vendors managed to cobble shopping platforms that provided limited capabilities, which was enough for consumers during that time.
Today, eCommerce is now a trillion-dollar industry that handles one out of every five retail sales transactions worldwide. In fact, Insider Intelligence projects global eCommerce revenue to hit $6.3 trillion by the end of 2023. The COVID pandemic shutdowns of 2020 made it virtually impossible for growth-hungry retail companies to stay offline.
Conversational Commerce Led to Composable Commerce
Granted, the increased competition online exposed the flaws of older eCommerce platforms. Traditional online stores relied on monolithic platforms that kept tightly bound frontend systems with the backend architecture. This integrated system led to complications when developing custom solutions for particular markets. This is especially true with the introduction of conversational commerce.
The explosion of social media during the mid-2000s made its integration with eCommerce inevitable. In most cases, business end-users such as sales and marketing professionals had to secure developer support to keep up with this industry shift.
The popularity of conversational commerce signaled the demise of monolithic eCommerce platforms. A newer, more agile architecture that allows even business users to adapt to market trends quickly became must-have technology.
Instead of trying to fit your eCommerce requirements to your existing architecture, companies now require the systems to perform the other way around. This led to the development of composable commerce.
What Is Composable Commerce?
The idea behind composable commerce is that companies need the flexibility to continually adapt their eCommerce technology to market changes. The typical eCommerce platform requires several modules. They include various systems such as customer management, visual merchandising, shopping cart, payment, shipping, and analytics.
Instead of having single, monolithic architecture containing these modules, a composable commerce system employ a mix-and-match approach that allows companies to choose the modules they need. In addition, developers can interchange one component with another or deploy each one independently.
In short, composable commerce allows companies to build custom stacks that address their specific needs. If these needs change, they can simply rebuild their stacks and assemble the needed components.
Another way to differentiate composable commerce systems from others is that it’s both flexible and market-focused. Instead of starting over every time the market changes, they can simply build a new stack containing the necessary modules.
What Are Packaged Business Capabilities (PBC)?
Composable commerce features components known as Packaged Business Capabilities or PBCs. They’re a collection of microservices, or small, independent services that work together bundled with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and event channels.
PBCs are designed to function as the building blocks for custom applications such as composable commerce. More importantly, the design of each PBC is closely related to a specific and well-defined business capability.
When companies look for solutions to address specific problems, business teams will usually look for specific PBCs to provide the answer.
To differentiate a microservice from a PBC, think of the former as related components that make up the latter. An example of a common PBC is the digital storefront. In order for this storefront to function optimally, it has to have working microservices as components.
In this case, the digital storefront will need the following microservices: shopping cart, checkout, and customer information. Each microservice can independently work from the others but, when deployed together, can perform the function of an online store.
PBCs help companies organize their microservices into related sets. For business users with limited technical capabilities, PBCs allow them to work only on the microservices they need and avoid dealing with the rest. However, the beauty of PBC is that it allows flexibility.
When the needs of the market transform yet again and you’ll need more functions, you can revisit your PBCs to incorporate additional microservices. Conversely, you can split PBCs with multiple microservices into smaller, more manageable ones with fewer components.
This is yet another example of composable commerce’s flexibility and future-proof feature. Instead of technology defining your team’s capabilities, your needs will now define your technology’s capabilities.
The Benefits of Composable Commerce
Composable commerce not only allows you to quickly adapt your eCommerce platform to changing market trends. It also provides a number of additional advantages over older, monolithic systems.
Considering that today’s businesses rely more on growth than profitability, having your eCommerce platform keep up with your growth is a great advantage. Composable commerce’s modular and flexible system makes it easier to upgrade components to versions with larger capacities.
The flexibility of composable commerce extends beyond existing applications. It also means that it can minimize the chances of it going obsolete. Instead, its modularity can accommodate future developments so the platform remains relevant even when the market changes.
Composable commerce also frees platforms from the control of a single vendor. Instead of depending on a single solutions provider to supply the entire stack, companies can choose the software they want to create the solution they need.
Composable commerce also makes it easier for business end users to create customer experiences. When it comes to anticipating and addressing market changes, the marketing and sales teams are always at the forefront. Having a system that allows them to create timely content is a great way to stay competitive.
The modular nature of composable commerce means companies can add or remove PBCs depending on current needs. This reduces the system’s complexity and application costs to only the needed components.
Composable Commerce vs. Headless Commerce
Yet another term that often gets thrown around is the concept of ‘headless’ commerce. Basically, it’s the separation of an eCommerce platform’s front and back ends.
In older monolithic systems, the front end (interface) and the back (servers, database, etc) are tightly integrated. This means tweaking any part of either end also checks the other end. Making changes on either end also means making the system more complex and, by extension, less stable.
Headless commerce is simply how the platform makes the front end independent from the back end. This means that both ends are now less intertwined with each other so changes to one end won’t necessarily affect the other.
The development of headless commerce allowed businesses to improve the customer experience without complicating the back end. This led to market improvements such as lightning-fast website loading, social media integration, and omnichannel marketing. For example, headless commerce made it easier for a customer to hear about a product on social media, log into a mobile app to order the product, and follow up via phone.
Headless Commerce Led to Composable Commerce
Rather than consider these two distinct but similar ideas, you can better appreciate them as related. Composable commerce brought a new level to headless commerce by incorporating Packaged Business Capabilities into the mix. This allowed platforms to mix and match components freely instead of relying on particular combinations. In short, composable commerce is headless commerce with modular capabilities.
Let’s focus on what each brings to the table to make that distinction even clearer. Headless commerce managed to decouple the front end from the back end, resulting in faster operations at the front end and better customer experiences.
Meanwhile, composable commerce focused on providing companies with the best solutions suited to their particular needs. In addition, these two systems aren’t mutually inclusive.
A system featuring headless architecture doesn’t necessarily have an underlying composable commerce system. However, a composable commerce architecture system will more likely feature headless commerce.
The Latest Trends in Composable Commerce
As composable commerce continues to disrupt the monolithic approach of traditional eCommerce platforms, new trends are emerging in support of the newer architecture. Chief among these trends is the continued demise of monolithic platforms.
Headless architecture continues to provide marked improvements in the front end. As a result, composable commerce allows for a more cost-effective, flexible, and modular approach to the headless commerce approach.
The fact that eCommerce sites featuring faster web page loading times helped reduce cart abandonment is a testament to the improvement brought about by headless architecture and composable commerce.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, composable commerce will help push 30% of digital commerce organizations to use packaged business capabilities (PBCs) in developing their application experiences. This also foresees growth in the number of vendors that can deliver PBC solutions.
Both cases signal the market’s continued shift from monolithic architectures into more customer experience-driven systems provided by composable commerce.
The increase of even more sales touchpoints can further drive composable commerce’s growth. Currently, direct-to-consumer marketing is eliminating distributors and dealers by appealing directly to end-users. In addition, marketers are also experimenting with new channels such as voice shopping, smart TV sales, and BOPIS/BORIS.
How to Get Started With Composable Commerce
The beauty of transitioning into composable commerce is that you don’t need to abandon your current system all at once. An incremental approach is much preferable where you can decide which capabilities need decoupling and which modules need to become microservices.
To help you get started with your shift to composable commerce, you’ll need to make sure that you have team members that can work on your back-end modules via an API-first approach.
In addition, you’ll also need your UI and UX team to develop a uniform design for all your proposed microservices and BPCs. This is especially crucial considering that composable commerce will likely make you acquire modules from different vendors.
Finally, you’ll need to decide on a composable commerce platform as well as choose the needed modules. For this task, you’ll need to compare and contrast each vendor’s offering in terms of ease of use, cost, modularity, and customer support quality.
More importantly, you’ll need to make sure that whatever platform you decide on should have an API-first approach to make your integrations truly business-centric. You’ll also need to remember that composable commerce means having the agility to catch up with the latest market trends. Your chosen vendor’s systems shouldn’t only be future-proof, but deeply flexible as well.
Be On Top of the Latest eCommerce Trends With the Right Tools
Composable commerce is the future of eCommerce that’s unfolding right now. More and more companies now realize that the fine line separating online and offline sales is slowly disappearing.
As a result, eCommerce is no longer an option but a means for survival. In adopting an online system, composable commerce and a headless architecture is the only way to proceed.
Even for companies that previously went online, the shift to composable commerce is similarly inevitable. Monolithic systems with integrated front-end and back-end systems are not responding to the demands of today’s customers. Staying competitive means delivering a better customer experience, which can only happen with an upgrade to headless and/or composable commerce.
Zobrist Software Group Inc is an award-winning eCommerce development team behind the online success of some of the world’s most popular retail brands. We provide companies with the right tools that help ensure visitors receive an excellent customer experience every time.
Its mobile commerce applications, Smart Merchandiser and Mobiecom provide the headless, mobile-first shopping experience that spells the difference between site engagement and cart abandonment.
Smart Merchandiser provides true drag-and-drop visual merchandising power to your online store easily. In fact, clients reported a 70% increase in productivity and a 20% boost in revenue by switching to Smart Merchandiser.
Meanwhile, Mobiecom helps companies enhance their customers’ online shopping experience by boosting page loading times no matter how extensive the site catalog may be. This helps reduce cart abandonment rates caused by slow loading times and, in turn, sends sales skyrocketing.
Learn more about how Zobrist can help you lead the eCommerce revolution. We’ll happily help you step to tomorrow to improve your customers’ store experiences today.