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What Is Composable Commerce?

Victoria Burt

IBISWorld estimates that the number of online businesses increased by 27.9% in 2020, caused by the rapid adoption of eCommerce in light of the pandemic. Even as this growth has slowed to return to natural levels, companies are still looking for ways to respond to changing market needs and customer behavior quickly.

Gone are the days when businesses acquired their entire tech stack, including an eCommerce platform, from a single vendor. Instead, these companies are moving their eCommerce capabilities toward a modern microservices-based architecture that provides them with the flexibility and adaptability to make adjustments as market conditions and customer demands change. 

Gartner predicts that by 2023, organizations that use composable commerce will be able to implement new features 80% faster than the competition. Representing the future of online retail, composable commerce provides the means to make eCommerce flexible, adaptable, and scalable for companies. But what is composable commerce? This article will explain more about it and show you how a hybrid headless CMS can help you implement it.

What Is Composable Commerce?

Composable commerce combines the best-of-breed technologies from various vendors to create a custom digital commerce solution to meet unique business needs. The term composable commerce is relatively new in the tech world, as it wasn’t until Gartner’s report from June 2020 that they coined the practice as an updated version of modular commerce. However, combining best-of-breed systems has been going on for some time, and the commerce world is recognizing the benefits.

In contrast to the older monolithic eCommerce architectures, composable commerce uses pluggable microservices. These microservices can be scaled, removed, adjusted, or changed individually. Changes to one block do not affect the rest of the composable architecture.

Forward-thinking organizations can select and deploy independent components to create unique architectures tailored to the business’s requirements. It allows these businesses to establish their digital commerce and rise above the competition by optimizing experiences for their customers.

The Evolution Towards Composable Commerce

As already mentioned, composable commerce is a relatively new approach. Until recently, many businesses still implemented their digital commerce on monolithic architectures. However, they began noticing issues while attempting to modify or scale the system. 

The Monolith Problem

Monoliths meant that all the functionalities were locked together in a single large code. Even the slightest change to a single function could bring unprecedented complexities to the rest of the system. Incorporating changes in such a system was time-consuming, costly, and often inefficient.

Modern businesses constantly need to add new features to meet the ever-changing market dynamics. As a result, the one-size-fits-all approach is quickly becoming outdated as companies realize their incompetencies in the market. 

Introduction of Headless Commerce and MACH Architecture

The increasing need to innovate quickly and embrace new channels pushed headless commerce as the ideal solution for businesses previously using monolithic architecture. Headless commerce decouples the front-end interface from the back-end system, allowing organizations to create unique shopping experiences on different devices such as smartphones, VR devices, and more.

In addition, headless is part of the MACH concept, which also includes microservices, an API-first approach, and cloud-native support. Headless commerce focuses on the front-end experience, but when combined with the other elements of MACH, it also provides the foundation for composable commerce by enabling developers to connect components like building blocks and create a unique, flexible, and scalable commerce system. 

These pieces can include Content Management System (CMS), shopping cart technology, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Progressive Web App (PWA), and others. At any point, developers can add, remove, replace or customize the components without compromising the existing end-user experiences.

Benefits Of Composable Commerce For Your Business

In the post-pandemic world, competition in digital commerce is growing fierce. Organizations need to prepare themselves so that they can bring improved experiences to customers faster than their competitors. Here is a list of benefits that composable commerce brings to the table:

Personalized User Experience

Composable commerce allows you to tailor the end-user experience to meet your unique business requirements and customer demands. You can personalize the application and UX through dynamic components like product recommendations, customer services, promotions, and more.

Adaptability

In today’s dynamic market, customer preferences and business requirements constantly change. Nowadays, businesses need a flexible commerce solution that quickly incorporates new features without impacting the existing user experience.

Scalability

As your customer base grows, you can quickly scale up your business too by complementing or swapping components to suit the evolving needs. Furthermore, each component is independently scalable. So you can curate customized, cost-effective solutions.

Prevents Vendor Lock-In

Businesses with monolithic architecture often experience vendor lock-in. Their entire system is associated with a single vendor. Hence, this makes it very costly to switch vendors even if they are not entirely satisfied with the features of their existing vendor. The headless architecture offered by composable commerce makes it easy to swap out components as required to meet the changing business requirements.

dotCMS: Your Solution For Building Composable Experiences

Composable commerce is the necessity of the modern customer-centric business approach, but you need the right architectural foundation to embrace it. Many organizations turn to MACH and headless CMS solutions to provide that foundation, but these solutions only scratch the surface of what modern eCommerce requires. Instead, a hybrid headless solution that enables you to move towards MACH+ provides a better solution.

dotCMS is a hybrid headless CMS that allows you to fuel your eCommerce content experiences. With the traditional content authoring experience that marketers love and the API-first headless capabilities that developers require, your business will have everything they need to create engaging and memorable digital experiences. 

As digital commerce continues to evolve, businesses must embrace composable commerce to future-proof themselves and bring more visitors on board. Here’s how dotCMS delivers:

  • Omnichannel Shopping Experiences: Today’s customers are shopping on more than just their desktops and mobile devices. Leverage REST APIs and GraphQL to easily connect to any front-end interface and create engaging shopping experiences on any device. 

  • Interoperability to Extend Outside the Box: Monolithic solutions attempt to provide everything out of the box, but we know that’s impossible for today’s eCommerce requirements. Make seamless integrations with the help of our API-first approach to add additional functionality to your eCommerce stack. 

  • NoCode & LowCode Flexibility: Many headless or MACH solutions fail because they restrict marketers and content authors with hard-to-use interfaces. dotCMS provides NoCode tools for marketers and LowCode tools for developers to simplify authoring and development, saving you time so you can launch eCommerce campaigns faster. 

  • Speed & Scalability: Whether you need to juggle multiple eCommerce sites or millions of customers, dotCMS has the infrastructure and multi-tenant capabilities you need to scale without slowing down and ruining the customer experience.

Brands like Chewy, the $9 billion e-commerce pet supply retailer, use dotCMS to handle their composable commerce needs. While many eCommerce solutions offer content management capabilities, they don’t quite hit the mark, and it can be difficult to manage promos, product videos, ads, descriptive product content and more, especially across multiple brands. 

With dotCMS, they can use Salesforce Commerce on the backend to manage inventory, process orders, and other eCommerce-related activities. At the same time, dotCMS handles all of its content needs on the frontend. 

Discover more about dotCMS and our composable commerce capabilities by watching our webinar on headless commerce: Headless Commerce: Rethinking eCommerce to Stay Ahead in the IoT Era.

Image Credit: Bruno Kelzer
Victoria Burt
Director of Product Marketing
October 11, 2022

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