Why B2B companies should migrate to composable commerce

Why migrating to a composable model sparks joy for B2Bs

Julia Rabkin
Julia Rabkin
Senior B2B Product Expert, commercetools
Published 13 June 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

Chances are, you've likely organized your closet using Marie Kondo's well-known mantra of “keep only what sparks joy.” Similarly, when evaluating your commerce infrastructure, it's important to let go of unnecessary elements and embrace what aligns with your current and future needs. Here’s how B2B companies exploring options to move away from legacy commerce platforms can adopt composable commerce to put their “house” in order — and spark joy. 

Why B2B companies should migrate to composable commerce

The post-pandemic world has shown us that B2B buyers want to purchase across multiple channels, preferably with a B2C-like experience, and don’t necessarily need, or want, to speak to a sales rep every step of the way. Also, consider what experts have predicted: 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur through digital channels by 2025. As B2B digital commerce heats up, how can the manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers that still rely on legacy platforms keep up with today’s customer demands and constant market shifts? 

Here’s the short answer: They can’t. 

Also called a “monolithic” platform, a legacy commerce system is built as an all-in-one solution with all components (frontend and backend) being heavily coupled and included out-of-the-box. Many first-movers in B2B digital commerce still rely on these legacy infrastructures, as those systems have been the paradigm for a long time. However, these outdated technologies continue to experience significant issues for a couple of years (and they tend to get worse as time goes by), such as a lack of flexibility to customize features and innovate, mounting tech debt, low performance and high costs. 

So, is replatforming to composable commerce the right way to go? The short answer is YES. This article gives you an overview of why B2Bs should consider migrating to commercetools and best practices on how to make it happen seamlessly. 

Download now: The Composable Commerce Migration Guide for B2B

7 reasons composable commerce is the perfect fit for B2B requirements

B2Bs embracing digital commerce no longer need to rely on legacy technology to embark on a digital journey. As a modular development approach, composable commerce enables B2B businesses to leverage best-of-breed building blocks such as checkout, cart and search, and combine them according to their needs. This is why composable commerce perfectly fits the needs of B2B companies: 

Reason #1 Buyer behavior has changed 

83% of B2B buyers prefer purchasing online and 73% expect personalized consumer-like experiences. Also, 72% of B2B buyers are eager to purchase across channels. With a composable stack, B2Bs can create personalized and omnichannel experiences for B2B buyers

Reason #2 Complex businesses require more flexibility

It’s common for B2Bs to have complex and unique requirements, such as handling large order volumes, managing multiple pricing tiers and integrating with ERP systems. Addressing these complexities requires a fully flexible, scalable and agile approach — the cornerstones of composability.  

Reason #3 Automation of time-consuming and labor-intensive processes

Composable commerce enables B2Bs to automate and optimize processes like handling complex payment terms and quotes generation, as well as recurring orders. 

Reason #4 Reduce TCO

You don’t have to struggle with upgrading or maintaining old versions as composable commerce is versionless by definition. Also, you can avoid mounting technical debt and hosting fees that bloat your IT budget. Cloud-native infrastructure eliminates the need to pre-provision and manage servers to handle traffic peaks and reduces costs

Reason #5 Boost ROI and GROW

Create customized journeys to differentiate, accelerate innovation to increase market share, and expand to new geographies and even to new business models like D2C, easily. 

Reason #6 Adaptability and incremental innovation are imperative in times of constant change 

Composable commerce is designed for constant change, enabling companies to swap functionalities in and out without friction, as well as reducing time-to-market for new releases.

Reason #7 Build AND Buy 

Due to their business complexity, many B2Bs prefer to build their own commerce engine in-house. However, this approach usually falls short as maintaining a DIY platform internally requires a lot of resources and, over time, tends to accumulate technical debt. 

Composable commerce provides the best combination of the build-and-buy approach: You can build what makes your business unique and buy the components that don’t make sense to build from scratch like catalog or cart (and even extend and customize those “commodity” features with bespoke parameters). 

In short, hundreds of B2B businesses already customized their commerce stacks to deliver unique customer experiences with commercetools Composable Commerce. Next, check out the migration best practices that helped them reap these benefits. 

Migration best practices to tidy up your B2B commerce

There are two migration options to transition from a monolithic platform to a composable stack: 

  • Strangler Pattern (also known as “Phased Migration”): Break your platform into small pieces as microservices and slowly replace those with single components incrementally. Over time, the monolith will start to “suffocate” and eventually disappear. While it’s easier to control every step of the migration process and minimize disruptions, a phased migration process may take longer than the big bang approach.

  • Big Bang (also known as “Greenfield”): Rebuild the complete commerce architecture and release it entirely in one operation. Your platform remains in place until the new infrastructure can be switched on in a single “big bang” event. While migrating the entire system in one go means developers get a clean slate and don’t have to interface with legacy code, this approach is more risk-prone to unpredictable errors and downtime. In addition, business value/ROI may take longer to realize. 

commercetools’ B2B customers repeatedly chose the strangler pattern over the big bang approach when migrating to composable commerce. This is because the microservices-based, API-first nature of the composable approach enables the incremental migration of components, reducing risk with a virtuous cycle of release-win-learn-iterate. 

While we usually recommend the strangler pattern, the big bang approach may be beneficial when migrating from notoriously difficult systems to break down into smaller pieces, such as Salesforce or SAP Commerce Cloud. If your company falls into this case, we recommend building everything from scratch and then proceeding with the switchover. 

How to start your migration journey?

Here are the main routes to start your migration journey: 

  • Start with the product catalog or PIM (Product Information Management): Your product catalog/PIM on commercetools can connect via APIs with checkout and other functionalities on the monolithic platform without data discrepancies.  

  • Start with buying journeys or customer groups: If you’re having trouble converting first-time customers to contract customers, consider capabilities and site experience which are tailored to that customer base as an initial launch point. 

  • Start with a pilot or MVP: Create minimum viable products (MVPs) to establish a first base for what the rest of your commerce solution will look like — and upgrade over time.

  • Start with the frontend (front-to-back): Decouple the frontend first, then create an API layer and proceed with the backend migration. 

  • Start with Checkout: Starting with checkout capabilities (cart and order APIs) means securing the most critical part of the customer journey and building differentiation across all other customer touchpoints. 

Steps to declutter, organize and migrate to composable commerce

While there is no set-in-stone process across all existing applications — third-party or homegrown — to commercetools, we provide a guideline to help you organize and streamline the cadence of your project. Generally speaking, there are six steps you can take: 

Step 1 — Discovery and gap analysis

Assess the state of your current digital ecosystem, prioritize what functions should be migrated right away, and define your migration method and starting point.  

Step 2 — Build a migration roadmap

Craft a comprehensive plan and roadmap to actualize this vision. This entails charting a strategic course toward your desired future, taking into account the steps required to bridge the gap between the present and the desired state.

Step 3 — Data migration

Identify the data you intend to migrate first. It’s also crucial to clean up your data before loading it into a new system. Then, export product data from your legacy system and import it into commercetools. 

Step 4 —  Complete your best-of-breed ecosystem 

Choose the services that best match your company’s needs. This may include (but is not limited to) an ERP system, Order Management, Sales Tax, Payments, Marketing Automation, Personalization, CMS, Content Delivery Network (CDN), Search and Merchandising. 

In the B2B space, ERP integrations are particularly important. You can integrate commercetools Composable Commerce with your ERP system via third-party middleware, such as iPaaS solutions, facilitated by pre-built integrators. You can also integrate via cloud services (AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure) by building a “point to point” integration flow between commercetools and your cloud service of choice.   

Step 5 — Integrate the user experience layer

Since you’re moving toward a microservices-based, composable architecture, a frontend solution decoupled from monolithic stacks is the logical next step. You can take advantage of commercetools Frontend to sync and orchestrate the data exchange between multiple frontends and backends without missing a beat. Alternatively, explore our Integration Marketplace for an up-to-date list of frontend and CMS vendors with productized integrations to commercetools.

Step 6 —  Test, deploy and improve continuously

Testing is a crucial step you should take while you’re moving the pieces of your commerce infrastructure from a monolith to a composable setup. Once each component is deployed, performance and user monitoring, as well as analytics, kick in. 

Moving forward after your migration, it’s vital to keep open and continuous communication with customers. Constant interactions with customers will help you stay on top of expectations and demands, so your innovations can cater to the people that matter the most in the years to come.

Migrate now to commercetools Composable Commerce and Frontend

As Marie Kondo once said, “Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order.” Your legacy commerce platform served its purpose, but it’s time to reorganize your commerce “home.” B2B leaders like Dawn Foods, Nieuwkoop Europe, Danone and Normet have experienced very positive results after replatforming to commercetools Composable Commerce for B2B. With commercetools' 60-day free trial, it’s also possible to create your MVP with composable commerce. 

To dive deeper into a migration process for B2B companies, download The Composable Commerce Migration Guide for B2B. You can also reach out to our expert team and tell us about your business and your project so we can advise on the next steps. Alternatively, explore our network of implementation partners who can help to plan your replatforming project. 

Julia Rabkin
Julia Rabkin
Senior B2B Product Expert, commercetools

Julia is a Senior B2B Product Expert at commercetools. With over a decade of experience across product and marketing teams in the tech world, she is an expert at creating innovative, customer-first strategies, and excelling in cross-functional growth & GTM initiatives.

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