commercetools blog post 2023 Go composable or go bust
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Why “Go Composable or Go Bust” is the #1 takeaway from Modern Commerce Day 2022

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
January 2023

With 10 sessions, 12 speakers and two guest moderators, the fourth Modern Commerce Day exceeded expectations, delivering countless memorable moments throughout the day that resonated with the attendees. From digital transformation success stories, technology lessons learned, and insights into current consumer trends to persuasive arguments in support of modern commerce solutions and predictions for the future — every discussion offered valuable takeaways.

In an effort to share as much of the learnings as possible, every week for the next six weeks, we’ll publish a blog focused on the presentations and the learnings from the event. If you want to hear more on any specific topic or from any particular speaker, we encourage you to explore the individual  session videos. Enjoy!

commercetools blog post 2023 Go composable or go bust

What a difference a year makes! If there was one overarching message that came out of  Modern Commerce Day 2022, it was that composable is the future of digital commerce. What’s interesting is that the concept of “composable commerce” was not even part of the conversation at the previous Modern Commerce Day in 2021. Perhaps, this is because it wasn’t until June 2020 that Gartner® boldly predicted that by 2023, organizations that adopt a composable commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80%.

There’s also the fact that the approach represents a dramatic shift from the monolithic suite system brands have utilized to enable eCommerce since the inception of online shopping. To adopt a composable commerce approach, brands must partner with a new breed of eCommerce-specific, SaaS-based technology vendors whose products embrace the technologies behind MACH™ architecture — microservices, APIs, cloud-native and headless. These startup companies focus on building individual commerce capabilities, now commonly known as packaged business capabilities (PBCs), which spurred the birth of composable commerce. 

Thankfully, many visionary brands already took a leap of faith, transitioning from monolith to modern commerce, and have discovered how much easier it is to meet the quickly evolving expectations of customers when you have an open environment and best-in-class components. This combination of factors has helped drive the rapid rise in relevance for “composable commerce.” 

So, what exactly is composable commerce?

Coined by Gartner® in 2020, composable commerce is a development approach that enables businesses to “leverage packaged business capabilities (PBCs) to move toward future-proof commerce.” PBCs serve as the building blocks to allow businesses to "compose" a modern commerce solution that fits their exact needs and provides flexibility as those needs change.

To embrace a composable commerce approach, businesses must have a technology infrastructure that enables PBCs to be integrated easily and without risk. This is accomplished through MACH architecture, which establishes the flexible, agnostic development environment needed. And that's how, and why, the two approaches — composable commerce and MACH architecture — are intrinsically connected.

At this year’s Modern Commerce Day, almost every speaker sang accolades for the benefits composable commerce delivers and offered up examples of how the approach solidifies their ability to deliver digital experiences that translate into dollars on their bottom line.

Composable commerce advocates include:

“The ability to not just slightly adjust the direction but completely change the direction…is a critical part of our business. That’s why we embraced the approach of composable architecture — 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 for the business. That was and still is the philosophy behind the business.” — Andrei Rebrov, Chief Technology Officer, Scentbird

“We felt like the composable, MACH, headless model gave us the right amount of flexibility while still giving us a stable core of things that need to work — like cart and checkout that just need to work. They’re not really rocket science, they’re plug and play.” Alex Shiferman,  Chief Technology Officer, Nuts.com

“Composable commerce and MACH architecture really allows us to be flexible [and] enables speed to implement where needed and where required [in accordance with] any local regulations or legal requirements.”Jozef Stawarz, Head of Engineering, International, Alcon

“As we dove deep into what the business benefits would be if we went the route of composable commerce, we knew that we would be able to deliver a much more differentiated commerce experience that really stood out. We didn't want to just be the next Shopify store or the next Commerce Cloud store. We really wanted to be able to offer a unique brand experience, not only with M&Ms but across the Mars umbrella.” Kyle Barz, Global Direct to Consumer Product Owner, Mars Wrigley

“I think it was 2020, 12% of enterprises said they would go composable if they were building out a new digital experience platform...and that number is 75% this year…which is just unheard of growth. I think at Forrester, [the report shows] more than a 50% increase to these areas around composability and MACH. Even at Netlify where we are building an early enablement platform for developers to build web apps and sites that tie together MACH components into solutions.” Chris Bach, Co-founder, Chief Strategy and Creative Officer, Nelify; MACH Alliance board member

The two speakers who participated in the online pure-play panel, aptly titled, Agility and adaptability: Addressing a changing business climate and customer expectations,” reinforced the idea that the composable commerce approach can, and should be, embraced by every organization, regardless of digital maturity level or business model.

Alex Shiferman, CTO of Nuts.com along with Andrei Rebrov, CTO of Scentbird discussed their composable journeys with Piyush Patel, Chief Strategic Business Development Officer at Algolia, a best-in-class SaaS search engine vendor and partner of commercetools. While both brands are pure-play online retailers selling products to fanatical target audiences — snacks and scents — the two companies couldn’t be more different. 

Nuts.com is a family business that opened in 1929 with a single brick-and-mortar location. Originally a B2C business, the company eventually added B2B sales. After launching a website, created by the owner’s grandson in 1999, the "local" provider has grown into a national distributor generating over 100 million USD in annual revenue. 

Scentbird, on the other hand, is a digital native startup founded in 2014 by a group of entrepreneurs as a subscription perfume service — an eCommerce business model less than 10 years old. Currently, the company has over 400K subscribers who receive Scentbird boxes on a monthly basis.

At the same time that Scentbird was busy building its online site, Nuts.com was looking at modernizing its commerce technology. Despite the lack of similarities, both companies determined that composable commerce was the only path to a secure digital future.

After gaining insights from both speakers and asking additional questions, Piyush summarized the three main reasons composable commerce is the right choice for eCommerce right now.


1. Agility

“Whether it's related to your own core business, the macroeconomic factors all of us are facing now [or] just that your business needs to be able to make different decisions…you don't want to be locked in by the capabilities of a large platform.”


2. Scalability

“As your business grows, you want the ability to move pieces around and into more scalable infrastructures…whether it's geographic or just in size and scale.”


3. Flexibility

“You don't want to be locked in from a vendor roadmap perspective…you want your own freedom and timeline of when you want to innovate.”


To put it simply, brands across all business models and industries are finding that taking a composable commerce approach — not only with your technology systems but across your entire organization — truly goes beyond delivering the "benefits"  businesses look for when implementing strategic improvements. According to Gartner, organizations who embrace using interchangeable building blocks to “compose” their operations can handle “global industry-wide volatility” at any time, because they can “rearrange and reorient as needed depending on external (or internal) factors like a shift in customer values or sudden change in supply chain or materials.” 

In a world where businesses are supposed to be able to adapt to the unexpected as well as the expected, this ability to pivot on a dime, may ultimately prove to be the difference between a brand thriving and just barely surviving.

To learn more about how to sell your peers on the power of composable commerce to propel their business forward, read our white paper, “The Composable Commerce Cheat Sheet.”

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
January 2023

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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