Why composable commerce consistently outperforms monolith platforms

4 ways composable commerce outperforms monolith platforms

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools
Published 16 January 2024
Estimated reading time minutes

When a business buys a monolithic platform, the deal is literally, “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.” While this worked when there was one commerce channel, it’s no longer enough in a world where consumers can make purchases on social media as easily as they can in their car or on an app. And, it was also acceptable when there were only a handful of ways a business could differentiate itself online. However, with consumers today able to experiment with lipstick colors and drop furniture options in their homes using augmented reality (AR), and make avatars of themselves to try on clothes with virtual reality (VR), businesses have to step up their game. Composable commerce makes it possible for businesses to do just that. 

Why composable commerce consistently outperforms monolith platforms

With its flexible, agile and scalable design, composable commerce offers a polar opposite experience for businesses, one that proclaims, “Create whatever experiences you want, whenever you want, without any risk!” By replacing the rigid, tightly coupled monolithic platform architecture with an open architecture approach, your technology is no longer a blocker, it’s an enabler. It gives you an empty “house” — one that you can fill with whatever individual, best-of-breed components you need to deliver the commerce experiences you want. 

Here, find four ways composable commerce outperforms monolithic platforms:

#1 Monoliths are rigid, composable is agile and flexible

As the name suggests, monolithic platforms are built as a single atomic system whose components are deeply interconnected. That means changing anything requires adapting/updating the monolithic application in its entirety. Unsurprisingly, this approach isn’t practical for companies that need to adapt to constantly changing customer expectations and market dynamics. 

In contrast, composable architecture, with its open, decoupled design, makes it much easier and faster to turn revenue-generating ideas into reality. Without the rigid parameters inherent in monolith platforms, tasks such as launching custom promotions, adding new shipping options and updating product data or pricing can be accomplished quickly without interrupting other processes. This provides flexibility to allow you to pivot on the fly, so you can respond quickly to new customer needs and capitalize on every opportunity with lightning speed. 

Organizations that adopt a composable approach by 2023 will outpace their competition by 80% in the speed of feature implementation.
"Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications" Gartner® report, June 2020

#2 Monoliths are restrictive, composable gives you freedom

With composable commerce, there are no limitations to building whatever you want. Not only can you choose from a wide range of existing best-in-class flexible components with plug and play capabilities, your developers can extend the capabilities of these components as well as build custom features to fit your exact needs.

This gives you complete control over every aspect of your commerce experience — checkout, payments, promotions, loyalty, etc. — and the ability to add, replace or even drop components at any time. With the freedom to add new features, enable new functionalities and try new vendors without risk, you can deliver the omnichannel journeys and customized, hyper-personalized experiences that customers expect today while future-proofing your business for whatever comes tomorrow. 

Having the ability to not just slightly adjust the direction but completely change direction is a critical part of our business. One day we don’t know we want a referral program and the next day our marketing team wants it. If we can just plug it in easily, obviously, that’s a big win.
Andrei Rebrov, Chief Technology Officer, Scentbird

#3 Monoliths stifle growth, composable scales as your business scales

Composable commerce is cloud-native, which means all of the components are built to live in the cloud. Imagine the following: With cloud-native storage on your mobile device, you never worry about running out of space. You can access your photos no matter where you are, on any device. The same goes with a cloud-native commerce system: No matter how many products you add to your site, how many different sites you have or how many people are browsing or purchasing at the same time, everything runs smoothly, with unlimited scalability, resilience and efficiency. 

So, the days of having to try to work around the restrictions and limitations of servers, pay for more capacity before big events or wait for another data center to be built before expanding are over. With a composable solution, your capacity is continually monitored and the system automatically adapts to changes, scaling up and down as needed. In addition, you no longer have the responsibility of managing software updates, these happen automatically and frictionlessly — without costing you time, money or resources. 

A cloud-native approach goes hand-in-hand with a composable one. Monolithic applications need to be built, tested and deployed as a single unit, but a cloud-native architecture enables you to decompose components into loosely coupled services. This helps enterprises manage complexity and improve the speed, agility and scale of software delivery, enabling businesses to adapt to many new possibilities.
Amy Eschliman, Managing Director of Retail Solutions, Google Cloud

Customer Spotlight: BMW Group

For the BMW Group, the necessity to serve markets worldwide and house a multitude of brands was the catalyst to migrate to a composable commerce solution. In addition to showcasing its enormous catalog of automotive products and accessories, the BMW Group aimed to present complex digital products, such as Connected Drive and bookable services, including routine maintenance checks, oil changes and more, via digital commerce interactions. These requirements perfectly matched the modern commerce approach pioneered by commercetools on Google Cloud.

Previously locked into a monolithic platform, the BMW Group leveraged its newfound cloud-native capabilities to auto-scale capacity across multiple touchpoints, driving up omnichannel sales like never before.

#4 Monoliths limit you, composable enhances creativity and productivity

Monolithic vendors typically build their platforms on proprietary technology that is deliberately incompatible with software from other vendors — this is how businesses get trapped by their technology. The entire platform is programmed in a single language and can only understand that language. So, you’re forced to only hire developers and engineers who have experience specific to that vendor and/or the programming language. In some cases, you can’t make any change or update without requiring vendor assistance or you risk shutting down ongoing operations.

For your business to remain competitive today, continually delivering innovation that differentiates you from the competition is vital — thus limitations like this are unacceptable. By establishing a commerce foundation that is tech-agnostic, composable commerce frees you from the defined parameters of monolithic platforms. You can code in any language, choose any composable component and use any cloud provider. Every decision you make can be based on your business requirements and customer needs rather than on what works with proprietary technology. 

While this enhances your ability to deliver innovation, it also benefits productivity. Your IT team no longer needs to learn specific skills to work on new technology and you’re no longer restricted to hiring talent with specific skills. Not only does this make it easier to find and retain talent, but it also delivers cost savings.

With a monolithic platform, you’re dealing with all of the decisions of all of the engineers in that company — whatever patterns they've implemented in their code. You have to follow all of that. And what we found was to do a simple change, it was taking weeks and the business would go, “Well, why is it taking so long to fix this when we knew this three weeks ago?
Matt Swan, Technical Product Manager, ACE Southern

It’s true that at one time, monolithic platforms were best-in-class. They made it easy for companies to launch an eCommerce business. Then the iPhone debuted, opening up a second digital channel, mobile commerce, and ever since, the evolution of digital commerce has been nonstop. For years, companies struggled to work around the limitations of these one-channel platforms, continually trying to adapt them to work in a multichannel world. Today, there’s composable commerce, which has become established as the modern way to build a tech stack — and the approach consistently outperforms its outdated predecessor.

To learn more about why companies are increasingly choosing composable commerce to engage customers, generate sales and drive business growth, download our white paper, “Why composable commerce will change the way you run your business.”

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools

Anita J. Temple is the Corporate Journalist at commercetools. She was a fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and W Magazine before launching a career as a freelance writer and creative producer. She has written content and worked on a wide range of marketing projects for companies including Dreamworks, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Adidas.

Related Blog Posts