Composable Commerce: Driving Modern Businesses

Thought Leadership

By Felipe Silberstein | June 07, 2022
A laptop shows a product page with icons overlaid over top.

As businesses look for modern solutions to evolve their digital assets, composable architecture models are gaining traction over monolithic solutions as the preferred option for eCommerce.

Until now, monolithic platforms have powered some of the world’s biggest online retailers. With these all-in-one platforms, brands work with a single vendor to conveniently publish and manage content.

In contrast, Composable Commerce operates under a different premise. It empowers brands to assemble, or ‘compose,’ different functions from multiple vendors, integrating them all under one roof. While monolithic structures may offer more simplicity, composable solutions provide more options for brands tackling complex tech needs.

To understand why Composable Commerce is being adopted by more businesses around the globe, let’s take a closer look at how it works and its benefits.

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable Commerce is a modern approach to building digital assets that helps teams assemble technology vendors and functionality in a way that best suits their needs.

It’s a relatively new concept coined by Gartner in 2020 when businesses were clambering to establish a digital presence in the thick of the Covid-19 pandemic. As more businesses realized the potential of composable architecture to improve digital experiences, the term gained a cachet representing the future of digital experience design.

The defining feature of this approach rests on using modular components and tools to facilitate industry-leading omnichannel eCommerce. To do this, system architects leverage PBCs —modular packaged business capabilities — to create unique experiences that are agile and flexible.

This ‘composable’ approach breaks away from the traditional monolithic, out-of-the-box solutions that have underpinned the industry to date. It represents a shift in thinking from a platform-centric view to a customer-experience-centric view. By optimizing for agility and customized solutions, businesses are taking a step forward to future-proofing their operations.

4 principles of Composable Commerce

Gartner outlines four main principles that make up the foundation of this approach. They are:

  • Discovery. Decisions must be led by continuous research and an increased focus on customer-centric digital experiences.

  • Modularity. This is the bedrock of this approach. System design must embrace platforms that enable agility and have the flexibility to plug in different vendor solutions as needs change.

  • Orchestration. All functions, experiences, and tech solutions must be consolidated under one roof. This creates a clear path to creating better customer experiences, as all the composable blocks work in concert.

  • Resilience. System design is centered around having components in place that operate autonomously. This enables fewer service interruptions if one component stops operating or needs maintenance.

Embracing Composable Commerce in your organization is as much about a mindset shift as it is about the tools you use. It provides a path forward for innovative organizations committed to putting customers at the center of all they do.

What features make up a ‘composable’ approach?

The benefits of composable architecture are clear. Modular components create more flexibility for system designers, and ultimately better customer experiences. But what are the capabilities that power these benefits?

Here are a handful of the core capabilities that form the foundation of a composable approach.

APIs enable modular integrations

While APIs already hold a well-established place in eCommerce infrastructure, they take an even more central role in Composable Commerce.

APIs enable you to connect your ‘composable’ blocks to one another, threading together a wide range of tools that make up your tech ecosystem. By using APIs in concert with headless CMS platforms such as Contentful, you can achieve a high degree of modularization and flexibility.

If you are considering a shift away from monolithic platforms to embrace a modular approach, API-driven platforms have the ability to help with the transition between legacy and more modern systems. They often provide better performance when it comes to websites, ultimately improving customer experience.

Digital experiences are a priority

With Composable Commerce, systems are created with digital experiences in mind. It’s this customer-centric approach that created the idea of a DXP, or Digital Experience Platform. Essentially, this means a suite of technologies or platforms that enable highly customized digital experiences for all touchpoints of the customer journey. In addition, the technology should make it easy to manage, deliver, and optimize content across multiple digital channels.

Digital Experience Platforms are rising in popularity across innovative businesses, reflecting the new standard for digital assets. According to market research firm Million Insights, the DXP software market is expected to be valued at $15.80 billion by 2025. This speaks volumes about the demand for experience-oriented services and indicates increased adoption of Composable Commerce in the future.

Continuous improvement drives development

Adopting a composable infrastructure is a progressive process and necessitates a shift in corporate ways of working. Some brands may choose to maintain monolithic platforms (or parts of them), but begin to use APIs to elevate their content and functions.

Gartner’s VP Analyst, Daryl Plummer, speaks to the ever-evolving nature of embracing a composable approach, pointing out that it’s the best fit for companies with progressive practices:

“Composable commerce is a natural ramp-up of the digital business you live in every day. It allows us to offer the resilience and agility that these intriguing times demand".

Forward-looking brands recognize Composable Commerce as a strategic advantage, helping them be more adaptable in growing markets.

At Apply Digital, we have deep expertise in creating composable, modular platforms. We thrive on enhancing digital experiences and optimizing operations for large brands to drive scalability and innovation on their path to growth. Want help exploring how to take your digital strategy to the next level? Reach out to our team to learn more about how we can help.