In this rapidly evolving digital experience landscape, ecommerce businesses are constantly seeking new ways to stay competitive, enhance customer experiences, and improve agility. Composable commerce is emerging as the answer to these challenges, offering the flexibility and scalability required to deliver exceptional digital commerce experiences.

What is composable commerce?

Composable commerce means choosing best-of-breed commerce components and combining or 'composing' them into a custom application tailored to specific business needs. Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs) play a key role. Each PBC is a feature or capability and is typically third-party software components. For example, a PBC could be a shopping cart and checkout, or a personalization engine. Rather than relying on a single vendor, a composable approach utilizes various vendors who offer the most robust, comprehensive functionalities.

How MACH architecture enables composable commerce platforms

By moving toward MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) architecture, ecommerce businesses have the building blocks to take advantage of a composable commerce approach. Here’s how:

  • Microservices: Microservices architecture makes it possible for packaged business capabilities (PBCs) to be composable.
  • API-first: An API-first approach enables a composable approach to ecommerce development by bringing two or more applications or services together.
  • Cloud-native: By leveraging the full capabilities of the cloud, the application becomes flexible, scalable, and allows businesses to avoid upgrades.
  • Headless: Headless architecture separates the front-end (user interface - UI) from the back-end (business logic) layer of the website. By decoupling the front-end and back-end and adopting a headless commerce approach, it’s possible to continuously improve the customer interface and extend to other touchpoints with ease.

Why composable commerce?

Replace your platform with best-of-breed solutions: Traditional monolithic platforms often limit your ability to choose the best solutions for your specific needs. Composable commerce allows you to select and integrate the best-of-breed components for each aspect of your business using modular architecture, from content management and payment gateways to order management, and product recommendations.

Enhance customer experience: Delivering exceptional customer experiences is vital in today's competitive landscape. Composable commerce enables you to customize and optimize every touchpoint along the customer journey, resulting in happier, more engaged customers.

Stay ahead of competitors: To gain a competitive edge, you need the flexibility to adapt quickly to changing market demands. Composable commerce empowers your team to experiment with new features and technologies, giving you the upper hand in the race to meet customer expectations and deliver exceptional ecommerce experiences.

Boost team agility: Traditional development approaches often require extensive coordination between different teams, causing delays and inefficiencies. With a composable approach, back-end developers can focus on developing and optimizing APIs, while front-end developers can concentrate on delivering beautiful storefronts and best-in-class user experiences. Cross-functional teams can work independently on specific components, improving agility and accelerating time to market.

Faster performing websites: Composable commerce architectures are designed for performance. By optimizing each component for its specific task, you can create lightning-fast websites and applications that keep your customers engaged.

Lower total cost of ownership (TCO): One of the traditional selling points of an all-in-one platform is the number of services and features included in the pricing. However, depending on the business, many of these features are never actually used or required. With a SaaS-based composable commerce system, businesses only pay for the features they use, which can significantly lower tech costs.

What's holding you back?

The idea of re-platforming and migrating to composable commerce can seem daunting, especially if you perceive it as a massive, all-encompassing project. However, this perception shouldn't deter you from embracing this transformative approach. Your composable commerce strategy should aim to solve individual business problems, one component at a time, achieving incremental progress.

From “crawl-walk-run" to “run-run-run"

The "crawl-walk-run" approach, once the standard for digital transformation, no longer suffices in today's fast-paced digital-first world. The pandemic accelerated the need for digital innovation and customer-centric strategies. You can no longer afford to take your time.

A composable commerce approach enables you to run with your ideas, innovate rapidly, and future-proof your business by allowing you to adapt to changing circumstances with agility.

How to get started with composable commerce in 5 steps

1. Define business transformation goals

Begin by clearly defining your business transformation goals. What do you want to achieve, and why? Ensure that these objectives align with your broader business strategy and are not merely technology-driven goals.

For example, if you’re a CPG company with multiple brands that constantly releases new products to market, one of your business transformation goals might be to enter the market faster. Flexible, agile ecommerce platforms enable you to improve business processes so that launching new products in new ways across new channels will not be an obstacle to entering a new market.

2. Map your customer journey

Break down your customer journey into phases, focusing on key touchpoints. Back to our CPG example, when launching new products, you know there are phases of each new customers’ journeys for product discovery, the checkout process, and post-purchase engagement. Identifying touchpoints within these phases is also crucial to understanding where composable commerce can make the most significant impact and where you should focus your omnichannel efforts.

3. Define necessary components

Within each phase, identify smaller components or tasks that need attention. These components represent specific functionalities, such as search, product recommendations, category pages, and product landing pages. Define what each component should achieve.

4. Prioritize phases and components

Form cross-functional teams consisting of multiple disciplines, including designers, marketers, developers, and product owners. Assign these teams to address specific phases and the corresponding components. Diversity in skill sets will foster innovation and creativity.

From there, work cross-functionally to prioritize phases and components based on their impact on the customer experience. For example, when launching a new product, the product discovery phase might be the most important to get right first.

5. Launch your first "win"

Start small by selecting a low-risk component within the customer journey to test your implementation approach in a live environment. This allows you to validate technical decisions and gather insights before committing to broader changes. Analyze the results and iterate to improve continually.

For one of your new product launches, you may decide to improve that product discovery experience first. Utilizing composable technology, you can improve that experience within your existing tech stack to create small wins faster, instead of waiting for the “big bang!”

Remember, composable commerce is an iterative process. As you gain confidence and experience, allocate product squads or teams to prioritize and address more components. This flexible approach ensures that you can adapt to evolving business needs and customer expectations, delivering value at every step.

Composable commerce offers a powerful and adaptable solution for businesses looking to transform and innovate in today's digital landscape. By following these five steps and embracing an incremental approach, you can unlock the full benefits of composable commerce and position your business for success in the digital-first era.

Don't wait for the big bang. Find out about Sitecore’s next-level composable commerce solutions and start building your success story today.

Kayla Bryant is Director of Enablement Programs at Sitecore. Connect with her on LinkedIn.