Top 10 questions and answers about composable commerce

Answering the top 10 questions about composable commerce

Manuela Tchoe
Manuela Tchoe
Senior Content Writer, commercetools
Published 19 July 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

In a recent on-demand webinar, “How to think through your composable commerce reference architecture,” industry experts delved into the emerging trends, insights, benefits and best practices that support brands and retailers in their digital transformation journey.

Top 10 questions and answers about composable commerce

Composable commerce is now taking center stage in reimagining digital commerce — and it will continue to do so for years to come. This revolutionary approach naturally sparks questions among business and technology leaders about what composable commerce entails, its numerous benefits, how to get started and the role of cloud infrastructure. 

To provide answers to these pressing questions and more, industry experts Mark Stracuzza, Director of Portfolio at commercetools, Rob Eaton, Cloud Partner Engineer at Google Cloud, and David Azoulay, Head of Product Engineering at Orium, shared their expertise in answering the top FAQs about composable commerce. Here are the top 10 questions and answers from their fireside chat.

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1. What makes a composable commerce truly composable?

Digital commerce technology has evolved from legacy monolithic applications to a flexible, scalable, agile architecture: Composable commerce. This term refers to a modular development approach that allows companies to choose the components they need to build and run outstanding shopping experiences. For a system to be considered genuinely composable, its core traits should include the following elements: 

  • Cloud-native SaaS: Businesses gain unprecedented scalability and freedom to pursue various growth strategies with cloud-native SaaS, powered by experts like Google Cloud. 

  • Independent components: Composable commerce embraces best-in-class, independent and interchangeable components. Brands can add, replace or remove components to adapt swiftly to market conditions.

  • Tech-agnostic: Brands can leverage any software development language or cloud infrastructure, so developers are not tied to specific programming languages or proprietary technology. Existing talent can be utilized effectively to build and run the commerce platform.

2. Why is there a shift towards composable commerce now?

Over the past decade, consumer behavior has undergone a significant shift, posing challenges for enterprises that rely on legacy technology to adapt to new shopping preferences and digital channels. To thrive amidst constant change, businesses need technical agility, which older technical architectures struggle to provide. 

Composable commerce places flexibility at the core, allowing businesses to become adaptable and resilient. This is because a composable solution enables brands to create customized solutions using best-of-breed offerings, addressing present needs and being ready for future opportunities, such as generative AI.

3. How can brands move to a composable platform?

Embracing composable commerce doesn’t require a complete overhaul all at once. Brands can start by identifying their most significant pain points and addressing them incrementally. The recommended approach is to begin with the most critical issue and leverage a composable solution to resolve it. Subsequently, brands can resolve pain points one at a time, following the strangler pattern where they replace functional areas individually.

Alternatively, brands can focus on missed opportunities, such as enhancing an unstable checkout flow during high-traffic periods. By targeting specific areas for improvement, brands can achieve tangible results in a shorter time frame while minimizing organizational change management and risk.

4. How can brands effectively transition to the cloud?

Moving from on-premise systems to the cloud can be done incrementally, using a multi-step approach similar to composable commerce. Brands can begin by “lifting and shifting” suitable applications to the cloud and subsequently modernize and re-architect the solution to fully embrace the cloud benefits.

Leveraging Google Cloud’s extensive network infrastructure, brands can access privacy, security and scalability at an unparalleled level for composable commerce. Cloud-native capabilities empower companies to achieve infinite scale, driving revenue growth without increasing internal operations.

5. How does composable commerce make brands more agile and adaptable?

Composable commerce significantly reduces business risk and enhances operational agility through several powerful benefits:

  • Infinite scale: Cloud-native services automatically expand to accommodate increased customer demand, eliminating concerns about peak-time customer loads. The commerce system can autoscale when needed, so it’s possible to pursue any strategy to scale and grow: Run multiple brands, expand internationally and experiment with new business models. 

  • Unlimited flexibility: API connectivity facilitates true modularity, enabling faster release of new features and long-term value building. Brands can easily combine, integrate and extend APIs within their technical stack by swapping components in and out, creating unique shopping experiences.

  • Lower costs: Unlike legacy tech, composable commerce operates on a pay-as-you-use model, reducing unnecessary expenses and lowering TCO (total cost of ownership).

  • Better productivity: Composable commerce solutions boost developer productivity by up to 75% while reducing maintenance costs by 50%. This enables brands to allocate more resources to innovation and differentiation.

6. How can brands effectively prepare their teams to adopt composable commerce?

Composable commerce represents a technological paradigm shift that impacts various internal organizational structures. To ensure a successful transition, obtaining buy-in across the organization and early education of teams become crucial.

Business users, product managers and developers will experience transformed roles with newfound empowerment. Business users can now create and publish content, product managers no longer need to wait for released features to create customer experiences, and developers can focus entirely on building customer experiences instead of working around inflexible platforms.

In addition, vendor selection should involve a combination of business and technical roles to address business pain points and explore suitable technology options.

7. Is it a good time for brands to start a composable commerce journey amid market uncertainty?

Composable commerce allows brands to start small and adapt rapidly to changing market conditions at their own pace. Uncertain times can present opportunities when brands possess the infrastructure to capitalize on them.

Adapting quickly to industry changes empowers businesses to leverage new opportunities, such as generative AI and AI assistants. As volatility persists, now is, in fact, an excellent time to embark on the composable commerce journey.

8. What questions do brands need to ask before deciding to begin the composable journey?

Before committing to composable commerce, brands should ask crucial questions:

  • Is your current commerce tech meeting your company’s present and future goals effectively?

  • What are the pain points in your current solution? 

  • What’s the most significant pain point that demands resolution, and where does it lie?

  • Will your current infrastructure meet future needs five years from now?

If composable commerce proves to be the ideal solution for addressing pain points, as well as fostering agility and adaptability, you can proceed incrementally toward this transformative approach.

9. How will generative AI impact commerce in the future and how can composable commerce help?

Generative AI will initially drive operational improvements, such as streamlining content creation processes through large language models (LLMs). As the scope expands, products will implement these improvements in various ways, such as auto-generating descriptive fields or auto-translating content for different cultures and languages.

Composable commerce’s architecture is perfectly poised to leverage the advancements of generative AI. Brands can seamlessly integrate new AI functionalities as they emerge, leveraging the plug-and-play nature of composable systems.

10. How does composable commerce connect to brick-and-mortar retail success?

A composable architecture seamlessly connects a retailer’s website, mobile applications, in-store kiosks and even customer advocates to a unified commerce backend. This enables an omnichannel approach, in which brands can tailor user experiences for each channel, all connected to a single backend through consistent APIs. Changes made in one channel propagate to all others in real-time, thanks to cloud-native infrastructure.

With the API-first architecture of composable commerce, brands can easily add new touchpoints, such as Apple Eyesight, AR or social commerce, and implement use cases like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) without the complexities associated with legacy tech.

Composable commerce easily paves the way for harmonizing eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail, creating a seamless omnichannel experience for brands and customers alike.

Are you interested in delving deeper into the topic? Watch the on-demand webinar for all details. To get more insights about how to implement composable commerce, read the white paper Composable Commerce Reference Architecture by Orium, commercetools and Google Cloud. If you’re ready to get started with composable commerce, try out commercetools for free. 

Manuela Tchoe
Manuela Tchoe
Senior Content Writer, commercetools

Manuela Marques Tchoe is a Content Writer at commercetools. She was a Content and Product Marketing Director at conversational commerce provider tyntec. She has written content in partnership with Facebook, Rakuten Viber and other social media platforms.

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