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Introduction to composable commerce

Composable commerce has emerged as a strategic approach that not only adapts to change, but thrives on it. Offering a fully modular approach, it enables retailers to suit their specific needs by picking and choosing best of breed options.

Composable commerce makes it possible to construct agile and flexible e-commerce ecosystems, rather than undertaking an entire platform replacement with the associated risks, complexity and sluggish delivery of value.

Rather than embarking on an all-encompassing implementation, businesses can divide the process into manageable increments. Each phase yields immediate business value while setting the stage for subsequent advancements. This incremental strategy enables swift adjustments, allows for continuous learning, and mitigates risks.

What is composable commerce?

Unlike traditional monolithic systems, composable commerce technology allows businesses to build their IT and systems infrastructure with independent and interchangeable components, such as product catalogue management, order processing, customer management, and payment processing. This means businesses can tailor their digital presence to specific business needs and customer expectations.

AI-powered chat bots are starting to transform customer services. There are a growing number of virtual assistants entering the market, pushing the boundaries by handling customer queries and providing real-time assistance, improving response times and enhancing the overall shopping experience. With AI, retailers can offer 24/7 support, reduce human errors, and ensure consistent service across multiple channels.

How does composable commerce work?

Each modular component exposes well-defined APIs (application programming interfaces) that allow seamless communication and integration with other components. These APIs serve as the means for different services to interact, enabling data exchange and functionality sharing.

Businesses can select and integrate the best-of-breed solutions for each specific aspect of their e-commerce operations. For example, a specialised product catalogue management service, a separate payment gateway, and a dedicated order fulfilment service.

Composable commerce provides businesses with the flexibility to change a particular component or service without affecting the entire system, making it easier to adapt to evolving business requirements or to easily scale.

New components can be added, or existing ones can be replaced to accommodate increased transaction volumes, changes in business models or emerging technologies.

Since components are independent, development teams can work on different parts of the system simultaneously, speeding up the overall development process.

Composable commerce employs a microservices architecture, where each modular component operates as a separate microservice. This architecture promotes independence, fault isolation, and the ability to scale individual services independently.

Composable commerce is often associated with "headless" commerce, where the front-end (presentation layer) is decoupled from the back-end. This separation allows for greater flexibility in designing and delivering user experiences across various channels and devices.

What are the key benefits of composable commerce?

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Agility and Flexibility
Composable commerce allows businesses to build and modify their ecommerce systems with modular components. This flexibility enhances agility, enabling quick adaptations to changing market dynamics, consumer preferences, and emerging technologies.

Scalability
Businesses can scale commerce platforms more efficiently with composable architecture. The modular nature enables the addition or replacement of individual components, creating scalability to handle increased traffic, transactions and business growth.

Innovation and Competitive Advantage
The adaptability of composable commerce allows businesses to experiment and implement changes more rapidly, gaining a competitive edge. over slower competitors.

Customisation and Personalisation
Through the selection and integration of specific modules, businesses can create personalised customer journeys, enhancing user satisfaction and building long-term customer loyalty.

Cost-Efficiency
Adopting a composable approach can be more cost-effective in the long run. Instead of investing in a complete platform overhaul, businesses can make incremental changes, optimising budget and resource allocation while benefiting from the latest technologies.

Adaptation to Trends
Composable commerce allows businesses to quickly adapt to new market trends and customer behaviours, to remain relevant and responsive.

Reduced Vendor Lock-In
Composable commerce minimises the risk of vendor lock-in by allowing businesses to choose best-of-breed components from multiple vendors. This flexibility provides greater control over the technology stack and reduces dependence on a single vendor.

Faster Time-to-Market
The modular nature of composable commerce results in faster development cycles, bringing new features and services more rapidly to market, responding promptly to consumer demands, and staying ahead of competitors.

Risk Mitigation
By making gradual adjustments, promoting continuous learning and reducing the likelihood of disruptions, businesses can minimise the risks associated with large-scale implementations.

Composable commerce architecture types

The choice of composable commerce platforms and technologies depends on the specific requirements, preferences, and existing infrastructure of the business implementing composable commerce. The goal is to leverage tools and technologies that enable flexibility, scalability, and ease of integration within the composable architecture.

Microservices Architecture Overview
Microservices are small, independent applications performing specific business functions. Typically they are loosely coupled, independently deployable, and can be developed using different technologies. They enable flexibility, scalability, and ease of maintenance.

API-Centric Communication
APIs serve as the primary means of communication between different microservices. Well-defined APIs allow microservices to interact seamlessly, promoting interoperability and flexibility.

Containerisation and Orchestration
Microservices are often containerised, and container orchestration tools are used to manage and scale these containers. This ensures consistency and portability of microservices across different environments, and it simplifies deployment, scaling, and management of microservices.

Event-Driven Architecture
Events are used to trigger and communicate changes or updates across microservices, and it enables asynchronous communication and helps in building loosely coupled and scalable systems. This supports real-time processing, enhances responsiveness, and allows for greater flexibility in handling business events.

Independent Scaling of Microservices
Microservices can be scaled independently based on demand, which allows for horizontal scaling of individual microservices to handle increased loads. It ensures optimal resource utilisation and responsiveness during varying workloads.

Decentralised Data Management
Data is often distributed across microservices, and each microservice manages its own data. This ensures that each microservice is responsible for its data and reduces dependencies, which enhances fault isolation, improves scalability, and supports polyglot persistence.

CI/CD Pipelines for Microservices
CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous deployment) pipelines automate the testing, integration, and deployment of microservices to ensure rapid and reliable software delivery. It facilitates frequent releases, reduces manual errors, and supports agile development practices.

Conclusion

By embracing modularity, leveraging advanced technologies and adopting various architecture types, organisations can unlock the full potential of composable commerce; ultimately driving innovation, scalability, and customer satisfaction.

Take a look at our composable commerce platform, Graphene, to see how to convert customers with an engaging experience in store.

Crew Clothing Company initially required a mobile trading platform for use in multiple event settings, with their existing POS not able to run on mobile devices. Crew also needed a new payment provider and specified that the new solution needed to be fully mobile, flexible and reliable. Following the successful deployment of the event-based project, Crew asked for the solution to be rapidly scaled and rolled our across the 100+ Crew Clothing retail stores.

PMC delivered a solution in a scalable fashion for Crew Clothing, with composable commerce successfully implemented in their stores through the Graphene platform.

Further Reading

Composable Commerce Insights - source

Composable Commerce Report - source

Composable Commerce Research - source

Composable Commerce Business Case - source


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