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Composable Commerce: What it Is, How Does it Work and Is it for You in 2024?

Composable Commerce: What it Is, How Does it Work and Is it for You in 2024?

Composable commerce is a business strategy that enables an organization to rapidly adapt to market changes using modular, best-of-breed technology components.

Composable Commerce: What it Is, How Does it Work and Is it for You in 2024?

Composable Commerce represents a paradigm shift in eCommerce architecture, fundamentally redefining how businesses approach their online shopping experiences.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, organizations that have taken to the composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.

Monolith, headless, microservices, Jamstack, MACH, composable… just when you thought you’d caught up, a new tech term popped up on the market. Distinguishing what they mean for you and your business is as hard as understanding their subtle differences, so let’s unwrap them today.

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable Commerce is a modular approach to the commerce architecture (composable architecture), where teams can select and combine (compose) commerce services (functions) that best fit specific business needs.

It is about assembling a commerce solution from various independent, interoperable components. Each component or module is designed to perform a specific function: managing inventory, processing payments, or handling customer service interactions.

Think of it this way: You can use your mobile phone to record your voice, take videos and pictures, and make a decent promo video. On the other hand, get a DSLR or RED camera, a high-quality microphone, and speakers, and you’ll reach another level of filmmaking.

That right there is the premise of composable commerce. It means you rely on a modular architecture that allows you to select best-in-breed components around your core commerce service with business-centric logic.

Kind of like headless commerce and MACH and Jamstack, right? Yes, they are very similar and sometimes overlap, but they are not exactly the same.

What Is the Difference Between Headless and Composable Commerce?

Composable commerce goes beyond headless commerce. While both entail decoupling the front-end and back-end, composable lets you choose each commerce service/feature to fit your business needs.

Composable means going beyond the tech stack and looking at the needs from the business perspective.

With a composable approach, each component is independent and brought together in a curated, best-of-breed system, allowing businesses to choose the best part of their digital services to match the needs of their specific business model.

What Is the Difference Between Composable Commerce and MACH?

Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless (MACH) and Jamstack architectures both came as new approaches to building software stacks, powerful enablers of composable architecture if you will. Both, in a way, focus on microservices and APIs.

The most significant difference between these and composable commerce is the difference between microservices and packaged business capabilities (PCB) composable commerce building blocks.

What are packaged business capabilities?

While microservices represent the breaking down of an application into small functionalities, PCBs are intentionally grouped sets of functions and features. To some extent, microservices are the basis on which PCBs were developed. In fact, PCB could even be defined as grouped sets of microservices.

Microservices and packaged business capabilities (PCB).

Moreover, microservices have an explicit size, while PCBs come in the size you need, whether that includes micro or macro capabilities.

Because these PCB sets are grouped around a specific business function (e.g., the payment process), we can say that PCBs solve particular business problems. As Gartner defined them, PCBs are software components representing a well-defined business capability.

As we already said, composable means going beyond the tech and looking at the needs from the business perspective.

What Is the Difference Between Composable and Traditional Commerce?

We should also mention the difference between composable commerce and traditional commerce. Traditional commerce is a one-size-fits-all solution, while composable commerce is a do-it-yourself best-of-breed solution.

Traditional commerce is monolithic, with all functionalities and components combined in a single platform, all interdependent. On the other hand, PCBs in composable commerce are autonomous. They can stand independently and be combined in any way that suits your business.

Composable vs. Traditional Commerce

While traditional commerce is convenient because you have everything ready from the get-go, it should be noted that this type of architecture typically tends to produce heavier, worse-performing commerce platforms. Because everything is co-dependent, development is slow, and your performance will likely be weighed down by features you may not even be using. Finally, upgrading or scaling is highly complex because you’d need to upgrade the whole system instead of just one functionality.

Composable commerce solves these issues.

🤔Crystallize and Composable Commerce Approach.

Crystallize was purpose-built to allow you to manage your products, rich marketing content, and capture orders from a single place.

Targeted towards frontend developers with fast and easy-to-use APIs and editorial users with a beautiful and efficient editorial UI to manage your products and marketing content. We were set up to reimagine eCommerce and provide clients with polished compatibility with industry-leading microservices and expert consultation.

To do that successfully, we’ve built a fast GraphQL Service API that would act as a middleware service and allow you to connect your microservices easily. To pick and choose (and remove) services depending on your needs. Little did we know that it was a composable way of thinking.

Today, you might be using Auth0 for authentication, but your future plans involve using Netlify as a hosting platform, so opting out of Netlify Identity is only natural. With a composable setup Crystallize setup, the change is fairly simple.

Crystallize and Composable Commerce Approach

Key Benefits of Composable Commerce

Now that we know what it is, let's talk about the benefits business get going down composable road.

Customization at Its Core

The primary advantage of Composable Commerce lies in its customization capabilities that go beyond aesthetics or branding; it extends to the very functionality of the eCommerce platform.

With it, you can pick and choose the best solutions tailored to your unique business needs. Furthermore, unlike traditional commerce, you have no vendor lock to suffer through. Choose and implement any available solution; it's as simple as that.

Enhanced Scaling, Agility, and Responsiveness

In the fast-paced world of eCommerce, agility is key. Composable Commerce’s modular nature allows businesses to respond quickly to market changes, customer preferences, and emerging trends. New features can be implemented rapidly, and adjustments to existing components can be made efficiently without disrupting the entire system.

Omnichannel Experience

One of the critical advantages of Composable Commerce is its ability to provide omnichannel experiences. In a world where customers interact with brands through multiple channels – from websites and mobile apps to social media and in-store – Composable Commerce enables a cohesive and consistent user experience across all touchpoints. This is achieved by leveraging best-of-breed commerce vendors, ensuring that each component of the e-commerce ecosystem is optimized for performance and integration.

Great User Experience

Because you’re only implementing what you need, at the size you need, your commerce's performance and user experience on all endpoints will be stellar, helping you win over customers.

Risk Mitigation through Modular Architecture

Another benefit of Composable Commerce’s modular design is reducing the risk associated with system failures or updates. In traditional monolithic architectures, a single point of failure can have widespread implications.

In a composable setup, each module operates independently, so issues in one area are less likely to impact the entire system. This compartmentalization enhances system stability and makes troubleshooting and maintenance more manageable.

Challenges and Considerations

While Composable Commerce offers numerous benefits, there are challenges and considerations.

Complexity in Integration and Management

With traditional commerce, everything is combined in one platform, so you only have to manage one vendor. However, the very strength of Composable Commerce—its modular nature—can also be a source of complexity and problems. As the number of PCBs you use grows, management becomes more challenging and time-consuming. This is one of the reasons composable commerce isn’t ideal for small teams.

Skillset and Resource Requirements

Implementing a Composable Commerce architecture often requires a higher level of technical expertise compared to traditional e-commerce platforms. Businesses must ensure they have the right skillset in-house or seek external expertise. This can be resource-intensive, unsuitable for beginners, and requires much reliance on developers.

Long-Term Strategic Planning

Adopting Composable Commerce should be part of a long-term strategic vision. It requires careful planning and consideration of how each component fits into the overall business objectives, both current and future.

Why Composable Commerce and Why Now?

Online retail sales increased 32.4% year over year in 2020 and are up 39% in Q1 2021. This considerable growth in online sales means, in turn, that brands are coming online and investing in their digital commerce platforms. The market and the competition are growing every day, and to stand out and capitalize in such conditions, you’ll have to provide the best shopping experiences and offer it on every channel: website, mobile, app, Instagram, WhatsApp, and wherever your customers spend their time.

When you implement your omnichannel commerce, it’s highly likely that yet another channel will pop up. That’s just the nature of the industry. I mean, Gartner introduced the term composable commerce around three years ago, and it has already become a massive buzzword in the industry. You’ll have to keep up to stay in business.

To do all that, you’ll need composable commerce. This is not to say that it isn’t possible without it, but it’s much easier and more cost-effective. Your business will thank you.

Is Future of Composable Commerce for You?

Composable commerce is poised to become an option and a necessity for businesses seeking to remain competitive and relevant in the digital age. Its adaptable nature makes it ideally suited to embrace emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and augmented reality, which are set to redefine the shopping experience.

As businesses grow and market demands shift, the ability to adapt quickly without overhauling the entire system will be invaluable. Composable Commerce offers a sustainable approach to digital commerce, where businesses can scale up or pivot with minimal disruption and cost.

START building for FREE with Crystallize or schedule a 1-on-1 demo so we can show you how to scale your business effortlessly with the Composable Commerce approach.

Further Reading & Watching

Understanding Composable Commerce -
Packaged business capabilities - 
What is Composable Commerce (and how does MACH compare)? - 
Three Truths (and One Myth) About Composable Commerce -

Follow the Rabbit🐰

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