Composable Commerce – simply a new hype word, or actually something worth exploring?
We’ve probably all heard of the term Headless Commerce countless times now, and now we hear all about its similarities and dissimilarities with Composable Commerce. What is Composable architecture exactly, and why has it taken the tech world by storm?
Well, for a variety of reasons, really. We will get into them below:
The Time of Monolithic Platforms is Over
Monolithic platforms were the standard go-to solution for many businesses wanting to create an online presence. They were easy to deploy and solid to work with. Many online stores are still built and run on monolithic platforms. However, there is a lot of rigidity and confinement that comes with this platform.
What is a monolithic platform?
The best thing to do is to break the word apart to make sense of it. The last bit, platform, I think we all understand – the thing you use to set something else up. The word ‘mono’ is also rather known and derives from the Greek meaning ‘one’. Like monologue, a speech that is given by one person, or ‘monopoly’ a situation controlled by only one.
The word ‘lithic’ also derives from the Greek word and stands for ‘rock’. At first, this might not make sense, but if you take a more visual stance, you’ll see that it fits perfectly.
Similar to a rock, a monolithic platform is one solid structure that is very hard to move, shape and change. A monolithic structure in E-Commerce means that you have one big bundle of code that sets up your entire system or website. It is not divided into the back-end and front-end. No, no, both of these are completely merged. It is notoriously difficult to change code here as with every little thing you change, you need to go into the original database to make changes. It can affect the whole performance of your website.
Think about it like a painting. If you add a cloud at the top, or a pretty flower at the bottom, you will see it, and it will impact how your painting looks and how it affects the people’s eyes when looking at it. You cannot go in and add a flower to enhance the happy feeling of the painting, but have the flower hidden. No, if you wanted the flower hidden but a happy feeling lingering, then you’d need to add a flower to the back-ground, and add emotion to the foreground, which would mean you no longer have a monolithic structure, but a headless architecture, or even a composable architecture.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently bad about a monolithic structure (so if you’re reading this, and you know that your website is on a monolithic structure you are not doomed!). The thing that people start to really get frustrated by on a monolithic structure is the fact that functionality, flexibility and scalability really fly out of the window here.
Without functionality, flexibility and scalability, it is hard for online store owners to quickly adapt and compete with faster and more adaptable players. This is really the decisive disadvantage of monolithic platforms in today's eCommerce space: in a field of strong competition, players need to have a flexible approach to be able to move fast and be creative in their own eCommerce business approach, which is both harder to achieve with monolithic platforms.
Think about it. If you need to introduce changes to a large source of data every time you want to tweak one small thing on your website, you can imagine that it’s hard to incorporate a higher level of functionality as every small move already takes a lot of time, effort, and investment. Now imagine you intend to make some significant changes, your entire budget would be absorbed instantly. This also means that you’re relatively stuck, not flexible, in what you want to do and create on your online store.
This is no good for creative digital businesses that wish to offer a bespoke service or product to their online customers within an ever-changing online market. Lastly, scalability is crucial and yet so hard to achieve on a monolithic platform. You cannot change or incorporate new features very easily, which means that you cannot grow with your online consumers.
And we all know what happens when you can’t keep up with those around you – you tend to fall behind, and it’s hard to catch up again.
Wait a second, though, is it really that hard to catch up? Well, take a read of the below and see for yourself.
Build a Bespoke Setup for Your Business
How Composable architecture works is in the form of creating online stores or other complex applications out of many different independent components and software systems.
Composable Commerce is the idea of creating an eCommerce presence out of various components. Each of these software components can be hand-picked by yourself (or your tech team) to create an online store that is as bespoke, unique and as functional as you need it to be. It’s a philosophy that is believed to be one of the best ways of building your eCommerce store. It isn’t monolithic, as it isn’t rigid, and you can choose your own modules to build with, and it isn’t headless – or at least it does not have to be – as it doesn’t have to be decoupled between front-end and back-end.
But you can have a composable and headless structure at the same time, you can decouple (headless) and you can further choose compatible modules (composable). Headless, at its core, is actually composable as it starts with two ‘separate’ components, a back-end and a front-end.
In a monolithic world, you would have not been as free to cherry-pick all the things you want to pop together to make an online store.
Now with implementing composable architecture, everything feels a bit more free as you can select a variety of completely independent modules or different modern API first components that can all function as one complete system but that gift you distinct benefits.
It is often referred to as building blocks that all look different and have different colors, but when put together, actually build a solid structure. Or a bit like family I suppose, often very different personalities with very distinct characteristics, but when they are together, they create a sort of perfectly imperfect structure.
The trend is to combine modular components to build a bespoke setup for your business. When it comes to choosing a modular approach for that bespoke set up, there are a lot of options out there for you to choose from. Take a look at the below:
Solution Providers Galore provide packaged business capabilities
With the rise of cloud-based computing and the rise of online users wanting to experience the very best in terms of online shopping, SaaS providers and their cloud native platforms have really had a reason to grow exponentially.
From this, many third-party services have cropped up to offer packaged business capabilities. As there are so many providers out there who provide such niche services, you can merge as many of these providers and their business capabilities as you want to create an online experience that is exciting for your online visitors.
You can combine cloud services and therefore only need to build a few specific independent components on your own. However, with Composable Commerce, you can choose very individual components, but you are limited to what they can do. You still then need to go in and tweak certain areas of your online store if the functionality is not 100% to your satisfaction.
Here is a clever image that shows how you can choose different SaaS solutions for your online store. Choose the ones that best suit your needs and go from there, it’s as easy as that:
5 Big Benefits of composable architecture & Composable Commerce
Improvements for ecommerce platforms
The world is your oyster
With a composable architecture, you gain a whole lot in terms of flexibility. You can choose from a ‘best-for-me’ standpoint or go for best-of-breed-technologies and create a website or online experience that is truly fitting and bespoke. You have freedom when it comes to both your front-end and back-end, and you are able to choose your own tech stack.
This makes sense, with an online store that you can create essentially however you want, you will be able to operate and function in a way that has never been possible before. Increase your business capabilities and expand your existing systems with new solutions that can be merged and easily integrated, for the first time in E-Commerce. All it takes is to integrate third-party services with your existing system, and their packaged capabilities are at your fingertips.
Being able to scale your online business is a factor that is often overlooked. Business owners often get caught up in their online offering at the moment and forget to think about how their website will look and function in years to come. If you go the composable route, you will automatically have an online presence that is scalable and therefore growth will constantly be an option.
Finally, an online store that operates like a business minded person!
Composable architecture breaks barriers and bridges the gap between how the owner of the online store thinks and how the online store actually functions.
Business owners often never understand what on earth their tech team is talking about when it comes to website performance. It’s always ‘code this’ and ‘back-end this’ but never ‘yes customers can easily drop that item into their basket with this nifty solution’ or ‘yes the checkout process is completely unique to your business’.
Well, not until now, that is.
With a website that can be created by merging different components that all specialize in their own service (be it a specific review solution, a checkout solution or an order management solution) regardless of the specialization – the online store will work as closely to how the business owner wants it to work as it uses hand-picked components.
Return on Investment
The better your website functions and the more in line it is with your brand – the more you will make from it. You’ll need to invest financially, but the custom solutions will offer your online visitors an unparalleled experience. With a composable architecture, you will have the tools you need to create your own tech stack that will guide you into the future of your choice.
It is clear that Composable Commerce is something to be extremely excited about. It has given online retailers the option to create an online experience and customer journeys that are their own. The individual set up of having to merge different components together is revolutionary and beneficial to all, and has some key advantages. Like improved efficiency, faster service delivery, and that it fits perfectly into the agile development process that many businesses use today.
Composable Commerce is inclusive and benefits all levels and sizes of businesses. These modern composable technologies allow building software systems – even for small to mid-size companies – using composable components to keep up with their bigger competitors. It gives all businesses a competitive edge and compliments their natural way of wanting an online representation that is their own and unique.
We believe that composable architecture has clear business value and is going to have a big impact on the future of business overall. It will certainly not shut out Headless Commerce, but we do believe that it will give small to mid-sized businesses who cannot afford a headless approach the opportunity of more flexibility and functionality in their business processes.
Should you need any assistance in creating an online store that is composable, please do get in touch with us on email@example.com or via our contact form, here on our website.
List of composable service providers
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Natalie MillerMarketing Manager
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