Today’s businesses are finding themselves at a digital crossroads. For some, an off-the-shelf digital commerce solution will be all they need to provide a basic level of service to their B2C or B2B customers for years to come. But for other businesses - those up against the tough competition or those that want to become technology leaders - the cracks are beginning to show in their legacy platforms, exposing the limitations that lie within. When these businesses look in their rearview mirror, they can see competitors gaining ground quickly and they know that now is the time to hit the accelerator and pull ahead. But what do you do when your car’s already reached its top speed?
If this sounds familiar, your business is one of the thousands primed and ready to embrace a composable commerce solution. Until recently, re-platforming or upgrading from one off-the-shelf solution to the next was the only way for businesses to stay competitive, like purchasing a new car every few years to keep up with your neighbors. It’s expensive, wasteful, and forces you to adapt your driving style suddenly, which can affect your speed and efficiency.
Composable commerce is different. With a composable approach, businesses have the capability to customize their own vehicle, constantly swapping in best-of-breed components to keep it fully serviced, competitive, and ready to compete long into the future. In other words, your business will never need to re-platform again.
In this article, we’ll go into a little more detail about what composable commerce is and how it can give your business a permanent competitive advantage.
A very brief overview of composable commerce
The term ‘composable commerce’ was first coined by Gartner in 2020, referring to a new trend in which businesses took a more modular ‘building blocks’ approach to their digital architecture. This allowed businesses to select best-of-breed services and features and incorporate them into a custom-built solution, rather than deal with the limitations of a static one-size-fits-all platform or ‘monolith’.
As Gartner puts it:
“Using the composable application approach, digital experiences are assembled as required, depending on the customer and touchpoint requirements, and delivery of an e-commerce website may be just one of these experience types.”
This trend toward composable architecture has gathered pace, with Gartner now predicting that come next year (2023), organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace their competition by 80% when it comes to deploying new features and services.
So instead of investing in a new car with a few extra notches on the speed dial, businesses that want to compete are deciding instead to build their own custom vehicles in the form of composable commerce. But how does it help? What are the advantages? And is it right for your business?
Gaining the advantage
Composable commerce is still technically in the ‘early adopter’ stage, but it’s already changing the digital commerce landscape. Whether your business operates in the B2C or B2B space, the needs of your customers are changing too fast for monolithic platforms to keep up. For instance, two-thirds of all customers now prefer digital self-serve tools such as mobile apps with real-time stock updates and personalized recommendations, or live chat functions which allow them to get support without sitting on hold over the phone.
In the B2B space, recurring orders, stock alerts, product suggestions, tailored pricing, and even custom online catalogs are all becoming more commonplace. It just isn’t feasible for a business to re-platform - or hope for a platform update - every time it wants to add one of these features into its service mix.
Competitive businesses need to be able to take control of their own destiny and grow at their own pace, not held back by third-party platform vendors whose solutions are falling into obsolescence.
That’s what composable commerce offers businesses. Instead of waiting for their off-the-shelf platform provider to ‘catch up' with customer trends and build-in new features, businesses with a composable architecture can go out and find the best versions of those features and effectively bolt them onto their current solution.
Is your business ready for composable commerce?
One of the main roadblocks to transitioning to composable architecture is understanding that it’s more than a technology shift. It’s a cultural one too. Businesses ready to embrace composable commerce will most likely already have a strong presence in the cloud and will be utilizing cloud-native technology in their day-to-day operations.
That will mean they’re familiar with an API-first approach to development, which is used to patch together best-of-breed solutions to make a greater, more efficient whole. Having a development team that defaults to an API-first mindset is absolutely essential when it comes to making the most of composable commerce because only an API-first approach makes it possible to connect one application to another without needing to alter its source code.
As an organization’s infrastructure evolves from monolith to composable, the makeup of its IT department and the way it manages its IT estate also changes. There is no more dedicated server infrastructure expert or database specialist, as these positions are simply no longer needed. Instead, development teams will be working together in an agile and flexible way to accomplish short and mid-term goals, positioning the organization in a near-constant state of growth and adaptation.
If this sounds like your business or something you’re actively working towards, tune into the latest webinar with Emporix CSO, Udo Rauch, to learn more about the competitive advantages of using composable commerce architecture.