23 June 2023 11min.
Composable commerce – what is it and how can it impact your business
Changing trends, ever-evolving technologies and systems, and increasingly high customer demands are the daily bread of every online store that wants to stay current and continuously grow its business. In such a dynamic industry, it’s difficult to keep up with both the competition and the changing needs of customers, especially while maintaining costs at a sustainable level.
- Main trends in e-commerce architecture
- What is composable commerce?
- Key Principles of Composable Commerce
- What can you gain from composable commerce?
- Composable commerce – who is it suitable for?
- Magento 2 and composable commerce
- How to implement composable commerce effectively?
- To ensure a successful transition to a Composable Commerce architecture, proper preparation is essential.
However, composable commerce comes to the rescue, representing a fairly recent approach to e-commerce development, with its main principles based on agility, flexibility, and improving user experiences.
What is composable commerce? What benefits can it bring to your business? And how can you implement it in your e-commerce? You will read about this in the following part of this article.
Main trends in e-commerce architecture
Along with technological advancements, the trends related to the architecture of online stores have also evolved. The way top players in the e-commerce market design their sales systems now significantly differs from how they did it just a few years ago. These changes stem not only from the new possibilities provided by technology but also from the evolving needs of online customers.
Monolithic architecture of online stores
This is a classic approach to building sales platforms. In a nutshell, it involves all the elements necessary for the proper functioning of the store, such as the user interface, application features, sales data, or business logic, relying on a single system, a single code. They are not separated in any way. Introducing changes in one area affects all the others. Unfortunately, this can lead to many errors.
Monolithic architecture has long dominated the world of e-commerce. And not without reason. Consolidating all the store elements into one code seems like a simple and seamless solution. But is it really?
To a certain extent, yes. However, when your store starts to grow, your customers expect new functionalities, the product catalog is much larger than at the beginning, and performance issues begin to arise. New functionalities require further expansion of the system, making it complex and difficult to manage. A more complex system requires more computational power to handle, which means greater server resources. Consequently, the costs of maintaining such a store increase. A convoluted and extensive system means that implementing changes within it becomes time-consuming and, as a result, more expensive. Scaling the business becomes increasingly challenging.
However, it is not the case that monolithic architecture is entirely bad. It is a very good solution for smaller e-commerce businesses that have a relatively small product catalog and do not need to frequently introduce new functionalities.
This type of website architecture involves separating the frontend from the backend. But why do it? Why are more and more leading e-commerce businesses adopting this approach for their online stores? There are several reasons.
Firstly, separating the visual layer from the functional layer allows for independent modification of these two code parts. This enables you to continuously test new visual elements without interfering with the backend of your store. Such a solution minimizes the risk of critical errors occurring when modifying frontend elements while allowing for the dynamic growth of your business. Isn’t this a great solution for e-commerce businesses that want to keep up with changing customer needs?
Secondly, having the frontend detached from the backend provides the opportunity to create separate frontends for different devices while maintaining a single data source (backend). As a result, all customer touchpoints with your e-commerce will provide a consistent shopping experience, tailored to each specific device. In a world where mobile shopping has already surpassed desktop, this seems like an inevitable solution for ambitious online stores.
E-commerce architecture based on headless and microservices
The next step in the decoupling of sales systems involves microservices. This technology separates the frontend-detached backend into so-called microservices, which are connected to each other through APIs.
Each microservice is responsible for a specific business function, such as payments, product description management, or order processing. Each of these system components is self-contained and, importantly, only communicates with the others when necessary.
This solution has several important advantages:
- Improved performance of your online store
- More flexible system
- Easier expansion and maintenance
- Reduced likelihood of critical errors
- Independence from a single provider
It is precisely this type of e-commerce architecture that the composable commerce approach is based on.
What is composable commerce?
Composable Commerce is a term coined by Gartner in their report “Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications” from 2020, which describes an approach to building sales platforms based on modules called Packed Business Capabilities (PBC).
PBCs are very similar to microservices, and these terms are often used interchangeably. However, it is not entirely true. Microservices generally serve as individual services, while PBCs are more focused on specific business needs and can consist of one or multiple microservices.
Key Principles of Composable Commerce
Composable Commerce goes beyond the technical aspect of building online stores; it represents a completely new approach to e-commerce. It is based on four main pillars:
An e-commerce store built with the composable commerce approach will never be a monolithic system. It will always rely on components responsible for individual platform functions. Importantly, these modules are always connectable, scalable, and replaceable.
By using composable commerce in your online store, you become independent from a single provider. While it’s valuable to have a dedicated agency that integrates all the components into one e-commerce solution, you have complete freedom in choosing the payment module, order processing, chatbot, and other components.
With composable commerce, you can create a fully personalized sales platform that provides enormous growth possibilities. The modular construction of such a system allows for flexible connection and disconnection of individual components or changing providers for specific solutions. That’s why composable commerce is an ideal approach for stores that need to quickly adapt to changes in the e-commerce industry.
All the aforementioned pillars of composable commerce allow you to focus on your business goals. If your advanced product configurator is not being used by customers, you can easily remove it from your system and stop paying for it. The modular construction, openness, and flexibility of composable commerce enable you to optimize your business costs and quickly respond to changing user requirements.
What can you gain from composable commerce?
Building an online store according to the principles of composable commerce is not just an artistic endeavor; it is an action that can bring tangible benefits to your business. Here are some of them:
Greater efficiency for your e-commerce
Shifting to a Composable Commerce approach is often a response to performance issues associated with monolithic systems. Breaking down a unified application into smaller parts allows you to isolate the elements that consume the most resources. This fragmentation also reduces the number of queries because each microservice typically has its own database, which interacts with others only when necessary. Importantly, each module can be developed using different technologies and maintained on separate servers. As a result, overloading the server with queries during peak sales periods is highly unlikely.
A more secure system
Dividing the system into Packed Business Capabilities (PBC) allows for implementing changes in specific modules without interfering with others. It’s an excellent way to minimize the risk of errors. Even if one module fails, it won’t disrupt the entire sales platform. This breakdown into microservices also enables faster problem localization and easier resolution. So you can rest assured that a small change won’t cause a system-wide outage in your e-commerce operations.
Placing individual modules on different servers provides better protection against hacker attacks for your store. In the event of a cyberattack on one microservice, the remaining services hosted on other servers will remain secure.
We won’t sugarcoat it. Implementing Composable Commerce can be an initial investment. However, maintaining such a modular system can turn out to be much cheaper than in the case of stores based on monolithic architecture. Why? A unified system is usually more complex. When modifying one feature, you often need to make changes in other areas to ensure everything functions correctly. Conversely, a system based on PBC operates differently. Changing one module doesn’t interfere with the others, reducing the time needed to implement such modifications and, consequently, the costs involved.
Another important aspect is the freedom to add and remove modules. If a component is not utilized by your customers or a cheaper option emerges in the market, you can easily detach the old microservice and attach the new one without major issues. This way, you can optimize the costs of maintaining your e-commerce.
Quick response to market changes
E-commerce is a highly dynamic industry. New user experience trends constantly emerge, technological advancements offer greater possibilities, and customers change their preferences and demand new requirements. To keep up with such a rapidly changing market, you need a system that allows for rapid implementation of modifications and testing various solutions without the fear of unexpected errors that could hinder user experience or, worse, impede sales. In such situations, Composable Commerce proves to be excellent. Its modular structure ensures the freedom to introduce changes to the system and enables quick coding of the necessary elements. You don’t have to rebuild the entire application; you only change what you want to change.
Since Composable Commerce provides the freedom to make changes and modifications to your sales system, it means that you can constantly add new modules and thus grow your business. Your possibilities are not limited by the capabilities of the e-commerce platform. By easily testing different solutions through the implementation and potential removal of modules, you create a system that is proven and meets the real needs of your consumers.
Composable commerce – who is it suitable for?
Implementing a modular architecture for a sales system, as mentioned earlier, can be costly. For this reason, we do not recommend it for small, newly established e-commerce businesses.
However, this approach will be an excellent solution for:
- Large sales platforms where system performance is crucial.
- B2B companies that require complex sales platforms integrated with other tools such as PIM, CRM, or ERP systems
- Businesses operating in the omnichannel model with multiple touchpoints with their customers.
- Rapidly growing online stores that prioritize continuous improvement of their sales system.
- Companies operating in highly competitive industries where staying up-to-date is essential for the survival of their business.
Magento 2 and composable commerce
If you’re planning to implement your store on Magento, you’re on the right path to successfully implement Composable Commerce.
Magento, an open-source engine, is one of the most flexible platforms on which you can build your e-commerce. From its inception, it has been based on modules and extensions that help build an online store. Its wide range of integrations allows you to create a sales platform tailored to your needs. Therefore, it is almost an ideal solution for implementing the Composable Commerce approach.
How to implement composable commerce effectively?
Żeby proces zmiany architektury e-Commerce mógł zakończyć się powodzeniem, należy się do niego dobrze przygotować.
To ensure a successful transition to a Composable Commerce architecture, proper preparation is essential.
When considering new technology for your e-commerce, the question usually arises, “Who uses it?” However, it can be challenging to find a good example, especially if the approach is new and few companies have had the chance to implement it. However, that’s not the case with Composable Commerce. The biggest giants in the e-commerce industry, such as Amazon, Allegro, Zalando, and Uber, have already adopted this solution in their online stores.
But is it the right move for you? Unfortunately, you’ll have to answer that question yourself. However, we hope that this article will help you in your decision-making process.
To conclude, we would like to share another prediction from the previously mentioned Gartner report.
By 2023, organizations that have implemented Composable Commerce will outperform their competition in the speed of deploying new functionalities by up to 80%.