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Composable commerce: the scalable solution that puts the customer at the heart of eCommerce

We can all agree that eCommerce is a pioneering market when it comes to embracing new technologies and adapting latest innovations. Every quarter, a new buzzword, hype, new feature or integration appear and they create a stir within the industry. 

On the other hand, for many years companies have built their businesses on monolithic and all-inclusive platforms that served their needs until a certain point and, at the same time they have stopped such firms from moving forward. Simply put, if you have ever run a large e-commerce business, marketplace or online store, there’s a high chance that you have been using one of the most leading solutions, such as Adobe (Magento), SAP or Oracle and an even higher chance that you have stuck with it for years.

Do not get me wrong; these solutions are still at the top of the eCommerce game. But as we move fast towards a more and more customer-centric approach, entrepreneurs across all industries are looking for the most bleeding-edge remedies for their client’s rapidly changing pains and demands. 

This blog post will discuss the main differences between the traditional and composable approach to eCommerce and examine solutions such as Spryker or commercetools that continue to change the technological landscape. 

Lego minifigures building a construction from lego bricks

Monolithic platform vs composable commerce solution

The monolithic, traditional architecture, until recently, supported most of the eCommerce platforms available on the market. They have somehow seemed simpler by providing an all-in-one structure from a single vendor and a one-size-fits-all approach. But as time passed, many companies that grew over time encountered difficulties related to:

Customisation 

The tight connection between front-end and back-end leads to the time-consuming implementation of each change, resulting in long-lasting blockage in development and personalisation. Many ecommerce platforms offer WebApi that enables choosing a frontend but if you establish an eCommerce with a default frontend setup, there is a good chance that with developing it over time, you will encounter limitations and difficulties. That can result in hitting a brick wall and having to create an entirely new frontend (and having to modify the backend so that API can be used) or switching to a different platform.               

High dependency

All parts are connected and highly dependent on each other. That carries the risk of bringing down the entire system if one of the main elements of its core is damaged or any other element turns out to be faulty.    

Inadequate response to current customer trends 

The dynamic change of customer trends requires their fast identification and immediate response. It’s essential to provide a delightful customer experience and address customer’s needs on point and at the right time. With monolithic models, every new feature’s implementation takes time; therefore, the update cycle might not correspond to your client’s expectations. 

The whole concept of composable commerce confronts those issues and aims at solving them one step at a time with the help of not just one - but many vendors.  It rejects the one size fits all approach, embraces its users’ uniqueness, and considers the most sophisticated business requirements. It leverages modern practices such as MACH or JamStack (JavaScript, APIs and Markup) architecture. It’s composed of PBCs (Packaged Business Capabilities) usually formed of microservices that address a specific business value to provide “best in breed” functionalities and create a highly customised solution that fits each business perfectly. 

Gartner estimates that by 2023, organisations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.

Mike Lowndes, Senior Analyst at Gartner

MACH Architecture 

MACH stands for Microservices, API - first, Cloud Native and Headless. It’s a modern architecture of creating an eCommerce platform that allows businesses to pick and choose only the necessary components or features and adjust them freely as the business grows. 

Microservices 

Loosely connected components that form PBCs and perform well-defined functions. Each of them can be changed independently, so they can be scaled and upgraded without interfering with the whole system. 

API - first

This approach allows developers to compose different services, build their own commerce stack, and choose the right front-end technology or framework. 

Cloud-Native

All software development and delivery are based in the cloud. Cloud hosting offers a scalable infrastructure, and the vendor automatically updates all technology.

Headless

This approach separates the frontend from the platform’s backend and enables one to create different frontends across all touchpoints that serve unified communication with your customers. 

Spryker and commercetools: the next generation of e-commerce 

Both Spryker and commercetools found themselves included in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce. Both of them can be primarily classified as eCommerce platforms that leverage MACH architecture and represent everything that next-gen commerce is all about. Let me guide you through their main features and their value propositions. 

The Spryker Commerce Operation System (SCOS) is a B2B and B2C eCommerce technology that revolves around two foundations: modular and layered architecture. 

The modular architecture is based on more than 750 modules. Some of them are required for the system’s seamless operation, but plenty of them are voluntary and enable you to create only necessary features for your online business, add them and test them continuously without restraint. 

The layered architecture splits Spryker into four different layers: the presentation layer, the business layer, the communication layer and the persistence layer. This separation provides flexibility in choosing your sales channels and methods, so you can freely select your selling point, product management system, data storage and processing, and allows you to transfer information from business layers to any presentation layer that you might have. In other words, the solution is headless, API-based and enables flexibility and a designed separation of front-end and back-end. 

Thanks to Spryker’s technological partnerships with Akeneo or Amplience, and others, building a "beyond e-commerce" experience becomes hassle-free and provides scalability and performance. 

Spryker supports multiple industries and has clients representing all levels of GMV; it primarily serves clients in manufacturing, retail, wholesale, food & beverage, medical technology and CPG/FMCG.  Their customers include Toyota, Aldi, Fischer and many more. It’s often described as a perfect  E-Commerce system for rapidly growing companies.

Commercetools, on the other hand, is a cloud-native, SaaS microservices-based platform that provides headless, API-based platform for B2C and B2B businesses.

The platform has a built-in PIM tool and an open-source marketplace operations add-on module, but it doesn’t include a “storefront”, therefore requires integration to a presentation layer to provide a delightful customer experience, including native device apps, DXPs and custom front-ends. 

Additionally, it supports different commerce solutions, starting with Webshops, through Mobile Commerce, Marketplace and Social Commerce by integrating with chatbots, IoT and Augmented Reality extensions.  

Commercetools targets mid to large enterprise customers. Its customer base incorporates such business verticals as automotive, electronics, fashion, retail, telecommunications, travel or wholesale, and include among others such companies as Geberit, Carhart and Audi. 

Both of the solutions mentioned above place the customer back at the heart of eCommerce and create a scope of opportunities for future integrations which appears to be a critical factor in choosing the right platform. 

Embracing the landscape of Integrations

It’s safe to say that the golden age of monolithic eCommerce platforms, in a way, is coming to an end. It doesn’t mean that they will suddenly become irrelevant or stop serving their clients. It means that the solution that composable commerce offers to its potential users has become too appealing and innovative not to put it into consideration. And even though the digital transition might seem problematic, the switch to composable commerce architecture, thanks to its low dependency between various components, is a rather pleasant and undisturbed process that naturally adjusts to the speed of your growth. 

At Meetsales, we firmly believe that composable commerce holds the key to the future of eCommerce. That is why since day one, we develop our product applying many features that give our users and us the opportunity for future integrations. 




 


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