Component-based: The 2nd core trait of composable commerce

All about the 2nd core trait of composable commerce: Component-based platforms

commercetools speaker image Micheal Scholz
Michael Scholz
VP, Product & Customer Marketing, commercetools
Published 08 September 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

Composable commerce is all about flexibility, adaptability and innovation, encapsulated in three core traits: cloud-native SaaS, component-based and tech-agnostic. In this comprehensive exploration, we'll dive into the second trait, "component-based," and how it empowers businesses to create tailored experiences, upgrade effortlessly and maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Component-based: The 2nd core trait of composable commerce

Have you ever envisioned breaking free from the constraints of conventional eCommerce and creating a truly unique solution tailored precisely to your business needs? Enter the world of composable commerce  — a realm that enables you to innovate with independent, interchangeable components, granting you creative freedom to experiment and adapt.

What's more, this newfound freedom to source components from diverse origins is a distinct advantage. You can develop components in-house, procure them from best-of-breed vendors or strike a balance between the two. At the heart of this flexibility lies APIs, serving as the glue that facilitates seamless communication between different components. Like rearranging pieces of a puzzle, you can effortlessly unplug components that no longer serve your needs and plug in those that do.

The automotive analogy

Picture yourself as an automotive engineer tasked with designing the perfect car for a variety of customers. Your journey commences with the careful selection of components for your vehicle, including the engine, chassis, transmission and tires. However, what if one customer desires an electric vehicle? Far from being a logistical nightmare, it's a seamless transition. You can swap out the conventional engine for an electric powertrain, thanks to components designed for interchangeability. Now, your car is optimized for electric power, meeting the evolving needs of eco-conscious customers without the need for a complete overhaul.

In essence, much like the world of automotive engineering, composable commerce relies on a component-based model. It empowers businesses to choose and adapt core elements without disrupting the entire system, allowing companies to stay agile in the fast-paced landscape of modern commerce, much like an automotive engineer adapting a car to meet changing market demands.

Component-based platforms in composable commerce

At the core of composable commerce lies its component-based approach. It's literally what makes composable commerce “composable.” Built on architecture that provides an open environment, a component-based architecture allows you to build (or buy) individual best-of-breed components, and mix and match them however you want to create customized, upgraded and integrated digital experiences. However, the level of granularity becomes a critical consideration when evaluating a genuine composable commerce platform. Even monolithic systems consist of components, but their tightly integrated nature hinders flexibility. Headless systems provide increased flexibility but still might lack the granularity necessary for ultimate adaptability.

Composable systems take it a step further by leveraging microservices. As the name suggests, microservices are small, autonomous services that can be independently developed, deployed and scaled. When combined, they form components tailored to specific business functions, such as checkout, pricing or product catalogs. By utilizing microservices as the foundation for your component-based, composable system, you unlock the full potential of composable commerce, opening up the highest degree of flexibility and agility so you can rapidly respond to shifting market dynamics and evolving customer expectations.

In the context of composable commerce, a component-based platform refers to a framework built upon independent and interchangeable building blocks encompassing various eCommerce functionalities like product catalogs, search, checkout, promotions and more. The key distinction is that these components aren't rigidly connected; instead, they resemble LEGO bricks that can be assembled, disassembled or swapped with ease.

With component-based systems, businesses enjoy the liberty to select and tailor their eCommerce solutions to meet specific requirements. Consider an online retailer aiming to enhance its product catalog's search functionality. In a traditional, monolithic system, such an upgrade could be arduous, necessitating extensive alterations to the entire platform. Conversely, in a component-based system, the retailer can effortlessly replace the existing search component with a more advanced one, seamlessly enhancing the customer experience without impacting ongoing operations.

The top 4 benefits of component-based tech

So, what advantages do you get when every component in your eCommerce tech stack is pluggable, swappable and replaceable whenever you want?

  1. Best of breed freedom: In composable commerce, everything is a component. Whether it's a shopping cart, product catalog, payment gateway or recommendation engine, each aspect of the eCommerce experience is encapsulated as an independent component. This modularity allows you to create and customize their digital commerce experiences by assembling and reusing these components as needed.

    Let's go back to the analogy of building with LEGO bricks. Each LEGO piece represents a component and you can use these pieces to construct a wide variety of structures. Similarly, in composable commerce, you can assemble different components to build unique eCommerce solutions. If a component needs to be updated or replaced, it can be done independently without affecting the entire system, enhancing scalability and maintainability.

  2. Flexibility and adaptability: Being component-based gives composable commerce the flexibility to adapt to changing business needs and market trends swiftly. Traditional monolithic platforms often require extensive development work to introduce new features or make significant changes. In contrast, composable commerce allows businesses to easily and quickly swap out or add new components to adapt to evolving customer expectations and emerging technologies.

    For instance, if a business wants to implement a chatbot for customer support, they can integrate a chatbot component into their existing composable commerce architecture without overhauling the entire system. In today's fast-paced digital landscape, where innovation and customer demands evolve rapidly, this level of adaptability is crucial 

  3. Ecosystem Integration: Composable commerce encourages the integration of third-party services and APIs as components. This means businesses can leverage the best-in-class solutions available in the market (or in our Integrations Marketplace) without being tied to a single vendor. For example, they can use a specialized payment processing component from one provider, a recommendation engine component from another and a content management component from yet another.

    This integration capability enables businesses to stay competitive by harnessing the power of diverse technologies and services. It also reduces vendor lock-in, so you can pivot or switch providers whenever necessary, ensuring you can always capitalize on the latest and most innovative tools.

  4. Personalization and customer-centricity: Personalization is a cornerstone of modern eCommerce. Customers expect tailored experiences that meet their unique preferences and needs. Composable commerce, with its component-based approach, excels in delivering personalized experiences. By assembling components like customer profiling, recommendation engines and content management, you can create highly personalized shopping journeys for each customer.

    Furthermore, businesses can experiment with different combinations of components to A/B test and continually optimize the customer experience. This data-driven approach enables you to make informed decisions and deliver superior customer-centric solutions.

    Harry Rosen, for example, harnessed composable commerce to revolutionize customer experiences in three ways. Firstly, the company transformed personal style consultations into digital outfit recommendations, resulting in 10% of digital sales and fewer returns. Secondly, it made fashion images shoppable, boosting content page value by 300% and page views by 150%. Lastly, Harry Rosen achieved a seamless online-to-in-store transition by linking eCommerce and in-store systems, prioritizing customer relationships over technology. These strategies are contributing to a predicted 40% increase in digital sales by 2025.

A world of possibilities with component-based eCommerce

In the ever-evolving landscape of commerce, the second trait of composable commerce – component-based systems – emerges as a beacon of innovation and adaptability. With the power to select, swap and integrate components, businesses can orchestrate their unique commerce experiences, unencumbered by rigid structures.

According to the 2022 Gartner® CIO and Technology Executive Survey, only 6% of organizations have high business composability. However, of those, 63% outperformed their peers and competitors in overall business performance, compared to 42% of moderate composability enterprises and 19% of low composability enterprises. As the world transitions towards composable commerce, we anticipate a future where specialized components, diverse integration sources and the strategic use of AI will define business success. Embracing component-based systems is not just about making sure you stay ahead of the curve; it's about redefining what's possible in the world of commerce. 

So, go ahead, be bold, break away from tradition and start exploring the benefits that come with true composability — you’ll quickly see how composing your commerce with individual components is a catalyst to innovation. The sky's the limit!

To learn more about the first core trait of composable commerce, read our blog post What’s cloud-native SaaS and why is it a core trait of composable commerce?

commercetools speaker image Micheal Scholz
Michael Scholz
VP, Product & Customer Marketing, commercetools

Michael Scholz is the VP of Product & Customer Marketing for commercetools. With two decades of experience in retail & software at SAP, Hybris, SuccessFactors and Sift, he has been leading software development, presales, consulting, marketing & strategic alliances.

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