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A Step-By-Step Guide to Composable Commerce
Aug 7, 2023
MACH

A Step-By-Step Guide to Composable Commerce

In the last few years, ecommerce has witnessed an extraordinary 10x growth, surpassing even its rapid expansion in the previous decade. There remains a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity, with 81% of commerce relying on non-digital avenues.   

But this transformation isn’t just about the overall sales generated. As ecommerce soared to new heights, new sales channels emerged, new marketplaces were created, and the market opened to new competition. 

Businesses that want to stand apart, increase profitability, and secure margins found that their web monoliths couldn’t keep up with the competition because they were:  

🔹 Sluggish in adapting and expanding into new markets and channels  

🔹 Difficult to set apart  

🔹 Slow for customers  

🔹 Costly to update and operate  

Composable commerce represents a revolutionary leap forward in the evolution of e-commerce, moving away from the conventional, all-in-one software monolith. While monolithic platforms have previously offered a wealth of features and functionalities, they are not nimble — their rigid nature hinders agility and tends to slow business innovation instead of fostering it. Composable commerce offers businesses a modular and flexible approach to developing and managing their systems.  

Gartner indicates that the composable approach uses modularized, cloud-native business capabilities “to move toward future-proof digital commerce experiences.”  

That being said, we’ll look into composable commerce, its benefits and opportunities, and how to migrate to it, empowering you to create unique digital experiences, accelerate growth, and lead the competition. 

What is Composable Commerce & Why is Everyone Talking About It 

Today’s businesses need modular ecommerce solutions — ones that align with the flexible, rapidly evolving nature of modern enterprises.  

Composable commerce refers to a software architecture that divides the UI (frontend) from the business logic (backend). It enables the use of top-notch technologies to build a flexible ecommerce stack. The system communicates through APIs, thus allowing for easy replacement of specific solutions without affecting the rest of the system. 

API Frontend Backend
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Monolithic Platforms Vs. Composable Commerce Systems 

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The Problem With “Old-School” or Monolithic Platforms  

Traditional or “old-school” commerce platforms, also referred to as monolithic platforms, are characterized by tightly integrated front- and backends, making it challenging to implement necessary modifications like displaying up-to-date product availability. This rigidity hampers the agility required to keep up with the dynamic demands of the modern market.  

These platforms are typically not cloud-native, relying on physical servers that hinder scalability to meet fluctuating demand. Additionally, their compatibility with hybrid or remote working models becomes a challenge, causing operational inefficiencies in a world that embraces distributed teams and remote work.  

Most importantly, these platforms often use custom code to establish integrations. This approach extends the time-to-market significantly, needlessly complicating the integration journey and causing bottlenecks in the overall business growth.  

The solution? A new commerce approach that allows users to experiment with various systems seamlessly without jeopardizing critical data, shortening the integration journey and, hence, the time to market. This new model is none other than composable commerce, and it is already taking the retail industry by storm:  

“By the end of 2023, organizations that have embraced composable commerce will outpace their competitors by a staggering 80% in terms of implementing new features and enhancements.” — Gartner.  

A composable system shares a strong correlation with the characteristics of MACH architecture: Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless components. These elements represent the ideal vision for composable commerce.  

MACH

The Backbone of Composable Commerce: MACH Architecture 

🔹Microservices-Based: As they are granular and independent services, they enable effortless implementation of new features and touchpoints. 

🔹API-First: Bridge the gap between frontends and a centralized backend with robust APIs, fostering seamless communication. 

🔹Cloud-Native: As composable commerce systems are cloud-native, they eliminate server dependencies, enable automatic updates, and auto-scale for unrivaled performance. 

🔹Headless Commerce: Unleash flexibility and speed with an architecture that decouples customer-facing frontends from backend operations. 

To know more about MACH Architecture, read our article: What is MACH Architecture & Why It Is the Future of Ecommerce 

How Composable Commerce Benefits Businesses  

Since ecommerce is highly driven by consumer expectations, preferences, and online behavior, having a technology stack that can swiftly respond to market changes plays a significant role in a company’s success.   

Adopting a “composable” infrastructure can be a game-changer for businesses aiming to be customer-centric. It allows brands to shape the entire customer journey and associated touchpoints while maintaining the integrity of underlying systems and performance.  

Here are the top 5 benefits that composable commerce brings to retail businesses:  

1. Flexibility & Agility  

Composable commerce derives its unmatched agility from its cloud-based nature. By being cloud-native, composable solutions gain inherent speed, flexibility, and scalability compared to those running on physical servers. With the ability to handle larger workloads and users than on-premises software, it effortlessly adapts to changes in demand and fosters seamless growth.   

With composable commerce, you are not locked into a single vendor’s ecosystem. Your open, composable system is custom-made for your business.  

Through modular iterations and best-of-breed, you can add, remove, or switch functionalities at will, ensuring your business stays agile and responsive to evolving customer needs. Moreover, it allows you to release new features up to 8x faster than monolith systems.  

2. Scalability   

Change a component, not the approach. When something doesn’t work, simply replace or remove it hassle-free.  

With composable commerce, your possibilities are limitless. You can run multiple brands, venture into new markets, and explore diverse channels effortlessly. This flexible approach allows you to experiment with various business models without constraints.  

Moreover, autoscaling ensures your platform adapts to sudden spikes in traffic and customer demand in real-time. Be prepared to capitalize on high-traffic events like Black Friday, maximizing your revenue and customer satisfaction.   

3. Speed to Market   

By leveraging pre-built and well-tested commerce components, companies can accelerate their time to market for new features and services. This agile approach enables faster innovation and keeps businesses ahead of their competitors.  

4. Reduced Costs   

Investing in financial and technological flexibility yields significant benefits, including higher cost efficiency and eradication of technical debt.   

Do you have technical debt? Read this article to learn how to prioritize your technical debt.   

Adopting a composable system optimizes your commerce investment by allowing you to choose components and solutions tailored to your specific needs. With a versionless solution, you break free from unnecessary expenses on forced upgrades that offer no value to your business. A composable solution also allows you to say goodbye to maintenance fees and backward compatibility testing.  

5. High Performance & Increased Operational Security  

At TechBlocks, we firmly believe that composable commerce is the ultimate solution for building high-performance platforms with a global reach.  

Whether you’re a startup aiming to scale or already managing a vast technology ecosystem, our Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs) are designed to grow with you. Powered by cloud-based software, PBCs have their infrastructure with built-in elasticity, ensuring you can handle the changing demands of your business.  

With a composable structure, site response times are significantly reduced compared to monolithic systems. Embracing composable and headless strategies means moving away from single-server dependency. By diversifying connection points to various providers, you unlock faster and more secure site operations.   

Join TechBlocks’ journey to unleash the potential of composable commerce and elevate your business to global success. 

How Businesses Can Migrate to Composable Commerce Approach 

Migrating to a composable commerce approach is a gradual process, not an overnight change. It involves several steps tailored to each business’s unique objectives, resources, and desired level of composability.   

While each journey may differ, the fundamental steps toward composable commerce remain consistent:  

Step 1: Define Business Goals & Use Cases  

Start by identifying your business objectives for transitioning to composable commerce.  

Ask yourself critical questions: What drives this shift to composable commerce? What are your expectations and desired outcomes?   

Define the areas you wish to improve, such as customer experiences, operational efficiency, or business growth. With a clear vision, align your efforts and prioritize the right components and services for composability.  

Tip: Document your objectives and use cases, ensuring they are measurable and aligned with your overarching business strategy. This will provide a solid foundation for your journey toward composable commerce success.  

Step 2: Evaluate Current Infrastructure & Tech Stack   

Evaluate your current infrastructure and tech stack for limitations or dependencies hindering composable commerce adoption. Check if your systems are modular and compatible with external services. Ensure your technology stack supports API-driven architectures and microservices.  

Understanding these gaps will guide you in planning essential updates or migrations to pave the way for composable commerce success.  

For a comprehensive consultation to assess your infrastructure and tech stack, contact one of our ecommerce specialists.   

Step 3: Research & Select Composable Commerce Components   

Conduct thorough research to find components and services that align perfectly with your business objectives. Explore various options like e-commerce platforms, content management systems, payment gateways, inventory management systems, shipping providers, marketing automation tools, and more.  

Tip: Prioritize components with robust APIs, seamless integration capabilities, and the freedom to customize and extend functionalities. Ensure the selected capabilities are scalable, secure, and backed by reliable vendor support.   

Step 4: Plan Your Integration Strategy   

Avoid a risky “rip-and-replace” approach. Instead, plan a gradual migration by prioritizing critical components for initial implementation. This step-by-step approach minimizes disruption to existing operations and allows for testing and optimization along the way.  

With TechBlocks, you can focus on compatibility and flexibility to seamlessly accommodate future integrations as your business evolves and transition towards a composable architecture at your own pace, without needing a complete IT landscape re-platforming.  

Step 5: Build Customization & Extension Functionalities   

One of the major advantages of composable commerce is the ability to personalize and extend capabilities. You can leverage cutting-edge technologies like headless CMS, microservices architecture, or serverless computing to enable flexibility and agility in your customization efforts.   

Tip: Prepare your team for the new composable infrastructure by providing training and resources to work effectively with the modular components and maintain the system’s stability and security.  

Step 6: Implement Composable Commerce  

With components defined, systems integrated, and customization capabilities developed, it’s now time to unleash the power of composable commerce in your business.   

Take the final step towards a dynamic and customer-centric commerce experience, elevating your business to new heights of success. Embrace the future of commerce and watch your vision come to life.  

Step 7: Monitor & Evolve  

Once the migration is complete, closely monitor the performance of the composable commerce ecosystem.   

It is crucial to remember that composable commerce is not a one-time implementation but an ongoing journey. To make the migration successful, you must keep track of emerging technologies and components to ensure your ecommerce infrastructure remains agile and adaptable to future changes. 

Conclusion: Composable Commerce is the Way Ahead 

Composable commerce empowers you with enhanced site security, speed, and customization, driving unparalleled customer-centric experiences for your brand.  

Since this approach allows you to design and update system modules independently, you can perform frequent feature tests and upgrades with minimal downtime. Moreover, it gives you peace of mind as you future-proof your tech stack.  

At TechBlocks, we abide by principles that prioritize business problem-solving and ease of operation while providing flexibility for the future.   

For example, OEC Group, a global logistics and supply chain industry leader, was being held back by legacy technology & fragmented infrastructure. They were looking for end-to-end digital process transformation.  

TechBlocks helped OEC Group to build an IT solution to support their business goals, improve decision-making and business agility, streamline collaboration among global stakeholders, and improve operational efficiency across business processes.    

Learn how we enabled OEC Group to manage new business workflows — from purchase orders and booking to shipment and delivery.    

We can do the same thing for you and more. With our composable commerce strategy, we build highly customizable, customer-centric solutions, ensuring your success in the ever-evolving world of commerce.  

Reach out to one of our ecommerce specialists, and we’d be happy to guide you in the next phase of your digital transformation and growth. 

About the Author

Kevin Gordon

Born in Technology, Raised in Marketing – This is the one-liner Kevin uses to describe his 20+ year career. Kevin is our Director of Marketing and joined the team in 2021, coming from technology start-up, SkipTheDishes.

Starting out in technology, Kevin has a unique blend of technical and marketing experience, with experience as a computer hardware technician, web designer, programmer, Windows & Linux systems administrator, and product development manager, which has allowed Kevin to lead a team of high-performing developers and systems administrators to build integrated omnichannel marketing & sales technology platforms used in retail stores across Canada and the USA.

In addition to his technology background, Kevin has 12+ years of progressive data-driven marketing experience in B2B and B2C industries, including legal, retail, agency, financial technology and more, with over eight years of direct leadership experience in marketing roles.

Kevin has education in Diversity & Inclusion from Cornell University, Business Administration and Project Management from Red River College and additional formal training in Change Management and Business Analysis.

Kevin Gordon