Overcoming the obstacles to tap into the transformational benefits of composable commerce

Negating the obstacles to adopting composable commerce so you can unlock the benefits it delivers and future-proof long-term business success

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools
Published 21 February 2024
Estimated reading time minutes

The complimentary  Gartner® Hype Cycle™ for Digital Commerce 2023 shared insights on 30 technologies including composable commerce. The report gave the emerging approach to building commerce tech stacks a “transformational” benefit ranking, which the analyst firm defines as “a technology that enables new ways organizations do business resulting in major shifts in industry dynamics.” Gartner also presented the benefits, the drivers and the obstacles of adopting composable commerce.

As a market leader in composable commerce, commercetools feels compelled to address each obstacle. Our goal is to share our expertise as well as offer tangible examples that prove to business and tech leaders that these obstacles can and should be overcome and should not become blockers preventing organizations from embracing the power and potential of composibility.

Overcoming the obstacles to tap into the transformational benefits of composable commerce

In its report, Gartner acknowledges why composable commerce is important:

Digital commerce solutions must be flexible and nimble to respond quickly to changing customer expectations. Companies must respond quickly with new products, processes, delivery methods and customer experiences. Composable commerce enables solution changes to be made, deployment to production environments, and achieve scaling more flexibly, whereas a monolithic platform includes many tightly coupled components that are not changed in every release.

As critical as flexibility and speed are to thriving in the continually evolving digital world we live in today.  As per the Gartner report,  it is estimated that the market penetration of composable commerce is at 1% to 5% of the target audience.

With some of the most successful brands in the world, including Audi, Danone and Express, running on commercetools Composable Commerce, we believe that more organizations need to start exploring the benefits of composability. The first step is overcoming the obstacles. We have noted obstacles from the Gartner report below.

Obstacle 1

‘’Confusion abounds in the digital commerce market as vendors use terms like “headless,” “microservices” and “API first.” Many companies struggle to determine if the solutions they are purchasing are as modular and flexible as the vendors claim.’’

Many resources, such as analyst reports, are available are to help commerce leaders gain an understanding of technology lingo and guide them in making the best decisions for their business. In addition, The MACH® Alliance, a non-profit vendor-neutral organization, advocates for microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, headless systems and offers a wide range of support to companies navigating the transition to composable commerce. 

For a technology vendor to become a member of the Alliance, they must be MACH certified, which means they are in full compliance.

I like the idea of being MACH certified, right? Because it’s the combination of all of those technologies. That should be the litmus test to ensure the solution you’re purchasing is meeting that criteria.
Michael Scholz

Vice President of Product and Customer Marketing, commercetools

Companies considering a composable infrastructure should also have the option to try out the vendor’s software and evaluate its API documentation. This hands-on approach is the best way to understand the intricacies of composable architecture. Michael stressed, “You shouldn’t have to struggle to determine if a solution is as modular and flexible as the vendor claims. If a vendor won’t let you take a test drive or review their documentation, they’re probably withholding something.”

Obstacle 2

‘’Companies with smaller development teams or fewer solution integration resources may be more comfortable with a larger commerce suite with a single business user administration console.’’

A large monolithic suite may seem more comfortable and companies with small teams and few resources may see it as the “safe” choice. But the question is: Do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to be competitive?

If you’re not looking to grow your business, then it makes sense to run your commerce on a monolith suite. However, if your company is on a growth trajectory, you’ll soon find the rigid parameters make it difficult to make any kind of change. Adding new features, launching new channels, expanding into new markets — monoliths are simply not designed to support these types of initiatives. 

commercetools has worked with many companies with small development teams and/or few resources that have successfully transitioned to composable commerce. Treedom and ACE Southern are just two of many companies that successfully transformed their businesses by migrating to a composable system — and did it with relatively small tech teams.

We need ways to maximize the resources we have. I think the CFO gets tired of me saying, ‘Hey, when can I have more resources?’ — ’Let’s find a way to succeed with the resources we have’ — That was really the driver for us [to switch to composable commerce].


Once you start exploring composable commerce, you’ll quickly see the emphasis on agility, plug-and-play convenience, unlimited flexibility, future-proof technology and scalability. Plus, if you choose commercetools as your vendor, you have access to comprehensive documentation and well-designed APIs, which help make the implementation process much more straightforward.

These characteristics, along with the ability to use the strangler pattern to incrementally build a composable system, enable businesses with smaller development teams or limited solution integration resources to capitalize on the benefits of composability.

Obstacle 3

‘’Adopters of composable commerce need digital maturity: strong architectural, process, integration and API orchestration skills, and governance to be successful.’’

Our experience has shown us time and time again that companies at any stage of digital maturity can adopt composable commerce. The beauty of composable is that you can implement it in stages. Most companies commercetools works with have chosen to take an incremental approach to migration, evolving their technology as the company takes steps to grow its digital maturity in other areas.

Digital maturity is a journey. It's something every company these days should be aspiring for in a digital-first world. I think there's no reason that you can't start on that journey with composable in a more simple way. You can start with a smaller MVP approach and then take incremental steps on your journey to more digital maturity.


commercetools has helped multiple companies with very low digital maturity embrace and benefit from composable commerce. Some of our customers, including Normet, Pret A Manger and Dawn Foods, had no digital presence at all when they decided to launch eCommerce shops with commercetools.

We laid out a five-year goal and said we wanted to be digital-first and have a digital-based model by the end of 2025. We started there and worked our way down to the technology peers.
Gireesh Sahukar

Vice President, Digital, Dawn Foods

Advanced digital maturity is not critical to successfully adopting composable commerce — what is, however, is strong leadership. According to the MIT Press, “Having effective leaders is among the most critical factors associated with effective digital transformation. While it is important that these leaders have strong digital literacy, being forward-looking and change-oriented are far more important characteristics.”

Obstacle 4

‘’Composable commerce is still in the early stages of evolution and adoption. User-friendly integration tools, such as low-code application platforms, will need to emerge before it can become mainstream. Unless standards emerge for specific application areas, vendors will need to work together to ensure interoperability.’’

Composable commerce is still the new kid on the block. However, the principles and technologies that are at the core of the approach are not new. 

The paradigm of integrating products via APIs has been around for decades. The composable APIs (REST and GraphQL) have been standardized for a long time. The application of these into the commerce space has been around for years. Low-code platforms aren't necessary if APIs are well documented and with the advent of Generative AI, they are even less necessary as code integrations can be created easily with AI.
Marc Stracuzza

Director of Portfolio Strategy, commercetools

Additionally, as the demand for composable commerce grows, there is a significant incentive for composable vendors to develop more user-friendly integration tools. commercetools Foundry is a perfect example of an innovative solution that was specifically designed to simplify the transition to composable.

In short, commercetools Foundry, is a pre-composed solution and expert best practices that gives a head start to a commerce project, helping you navigate from A to B with speed and precision from setting up and steering a project from the start to a successful go-live — and beyond.
Mary Rebecca Harakas

Senior Product Marketing Manager, commercetools

In addition, composable vendors have already acknowledged that working together interoperability is critical to driving mainstream adoption of the approach. This is why the MACH Alliance exists. The members represent an ecosystem working together, to drive a future, as its manifesto states,” That is composable, open and best-of-need — microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS and headless. 


The bottom line is that the future of commerce is composable — and the sooner companies recognize that the obstacles holding them back from adopting composable technologies can be overcome, the sooner they will be able to start reaping the benefits.

The composable organization is one with a mindset that encourages and embraces change. Its leaders are able to see opportunity instead of risk, applying the core principles of composability to compose both their teams and their technology.
Kelly Goetsch

Chief Strategy Officer, commercetools

To explore all of the emerging technologies that are part of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Commerce 2023 and read insights on Composable Commerce, download the report today.

GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner and Hype Cycle is a registered trademark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and are used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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.

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