Composable Commerce: An Evolution in eCommerce

Thought Leadership

By Iñaki Barturen | September 01, 2021
A person browsing an eCommerce website

As more businesses evolve online, the need for agile eCommerce solutions continues to grow. Innovative organizations need tech solutions that offer a high level of flexibility and creativity. As more people are heading online to do work, play, and shop, their expectations around digital experiences are becoming more sophisticated.

Composable commerce is an approach to creating digital experiences that can help you stay on top of these growing trends, and maintain agility in your tech. Let’s look a bit closer at what it is, and the benefits it offers.

What is composable commerce?

Composable commerce refers to using tech tools, architecture, and development methods that enable you to ‘compose’ the components of your site in a modular way. This helps create best-in-class user experiences that are tailored to your target audience, and makes your tech infrastructure highly customizable. Each feature on the front and back end can be selected from a complete ecosystem of providers, with each one integrated as an autonomous piece of your development stack.

Embracing this modular integration approach offers several advantages over traditional monolithic developments that require more static, all-in-one solutions. eCommerce sites and applications developed with the composable commerce approach achieve faster loading times, even if you have thousands of products to load and manage on your online store. 

eCommerce growth trends to watch

eCommerce continues to climb in popularity as a result of the shift to online shopping. This makes it essential for eCommerce brands to ensure their systems are optimized to handle increasing customer orders and demands on application infrastructure. 

According to the eCommerce market research firm Digital Commerce 360, online eCommerce spending in the US grew 14% in 2021 compared to the previous year. And we are seeing even larger growth in countries that are actively working on increasing the population’s internet connectivity. 

For example, during the first quarter of 2021, Colombia experienced a 44% growth in online sales and more than 78% growth in digital transactions. Coupled with Colombia's digitalization plan which aims to connect 70% of the population by 2022, this data shows how important it is for eCommerce businesses to be ready for continuous change.

One of the ways businesses can prepare themselves is by embracing a modern approach to digital experience design. 

In 2020, the concept of composable commerce was coined by Gartner to refer to a model that companies can use to respond to changes in consumer behavior and the market. The concept drives both the Jamstack methodology and the MACH approach to solution design. Meaning your platform is built with decoupled models whose various features are assembled as building blocks of your business. This allows your site to grow and adapt as your company grows.

Rapid deployment with modular sites

When planning for changes in the market or adopting new technologies, it’s helpful to embrace a rapid deployment approach to development. Having the ability to add new integrations or remove problem ones should never jeopardize your site with issues like server misconfiguration or downtime. This usually happens with monolithic platforms.

By taking a 'modular' approach instead, you’re letting go of the idea that there is a single solution or tool for all. To achieve this, at Apply Digital, we operate with the underlying principles of MACH which embraces a modular approach to design, providing the ultimate flexibility and customization. Opting for cloud-based services for features like your search engine, content blocks, and payments, offers businesses agility, development simplicity, and a great user experience on the customer side.

Ecosystems open to innovation

This new way of creating eCommerce platforms is directly promoted by the development community at large, and is reflective of the innovations and new feature sets being released from service providers.

The newly formed MACH Alliance was launched in 2020 and is leading the charge on the approach. Founded by a group of tech companies who wanted more agile solutions to solving complex digital challenges, the alliance advocates for best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystems. Members of the alliance approach the development of eCommerce platforms based on their four underlying principles: 

  • Microservices ("M"), which connect and interact via API calls 

  • APIs ("A"), which connect to cloud-based servers

  • Cloud-based servers ("C"), for each provider

  • All of which is managed from a headless CMS ("H")

Taken together, these principles drive towards the objective of providing greater solution agility, and better quality digital experiences in a microservice or a highly compatible block (HCB).

Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs): Building blocks of composable commerce

PBCs are an important part of a Composable Commerce or MACH-driven approach, as they make up the building blocks of the ecosystem. 

As software components that operate as self-contained and well-defined business features, PBCs allow platforms to perform specific functions within the application while end-users interact with features on the site. A PBC works as a fully functional piece or block, where its integration does not affect other integrations.

For example, think of your favorite online store and imagine buying three products. In your journey to acquire them, you will likely skim through a catalog or browse a gallery comparing prices. You may use a search engine, then select your products to assemble them in a shopping cart, and even enter a discount coupon before payment.

From the cart, the payment system will interact with various PBCs that communicate with each other, and enable your shopping experience to be completely functional. Internally, these blocks are not conditioned; each block is autonomous from the others and bases its communication on API calls to establish a macro-operation (delivering an ideal experience).

Improved agility for eCommerce platforms

As mentioned above, each PBC is autonomous. Its deployment on your site is independent, and each has its own servers. This is why complex enterprises choose this development strategy, as it allows them to plan every component as a modular unit.

Embracing a composable commerce approach provides you with a handful of benefits: 

  • Agility. In deploying features and new integrations at the production level. You have the ability to swap out your blocks, create new experiences, and test new components.

  • Scalability. As each provider is responsible for their service, they are constantly improving their performance and efficiency.

  • Customization. You can create the specific features you need for your business, eliminating any unnecessary infrastructure that you would be beholden to, in a monolithic structure.

At Apply Digital, we are proud to partner with industry-leading businesses and brands looking to create world-class digital experiences and applications. 

If you would like to explore how we could partner with you on the journey of transforming your current tech stack into a more modular approach, please reach out to our team to explore how we can help!