Is composable commerce architecture the future?

Dan Hibbins
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Shopper behaviors are changing faster than you can say ‘click and collect’.  

They’re hungry for new digital experiences that will make shopping smoother, faster, and more exciting, both in-store and online. If you can’t change your technology stack to offer this to shoppers, you’ll lose the edge to a competitor who can.   

There’s only one way to keep up. And retailers looking for a competitive edge are starting to tap into it already. 

It’s called composable commerce architecture.  

Composable commerce architecture: a recap 

Despite its complex-sounding name, composable commerce architecture is quite simple.  

It’s a modular approach to digital commerce where you get to pick and mix, or compose, the best technology for your retailer’s needs and plug them into your stack. As those needs evolve, you can quickly add new components or remove ones you don’t need. And it won’t cause issues or break anything elsewhere in your stack.  

Read the 4-step marketer's guide to retail data analytics. Discover how to  transform your data into targeted marketing. 

Why the future of retail technology is composable

Traditionally, retail ecommerce platforms have been built on monolithic architecture. This is an all-in-one approach where everything on the platform, front-end and back-end, is tied together. The problem is that monoliths create dependencies in the platform that make adding new features tricky and complex, like adding blocks to an increasingly wobbly Jenga tower. One small change could impact the rest of the system. 

If you use monolithic architecture, then you’re shackled to a technology stack that you can’t scale or customize quickly or easily. In a rapidly changing retail landscape, that’s bad news.  

This is why composable commerce architecture will define the future of retail. It means you can be much more flexible to adapt as customer behaviors change and retail solutions evolve.  

“By 2023, organizations that have adopted a composable commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.” 

- Gartner  

Take personalization, for example. Today’s shoppers want their buying journey to feel unique to them. 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands when they offer personalized experiences. Composable architecture lets you integrate coupon marketing software into your stack and start delivering personalized receipts that feature highly targeted offers.   

Or what about analytics? When customer behavior changes so fast, you need the ability to stream, track, and analyze data in real-time. With composable architecture, you can plug in a retail marketing analytics solution that will update you on changes to buying habits and patterns as they happen.    

When it’s this easy to add or remove solutions at will, the world’s your oyster. Build the perfect mix of technologies for your business, and then modify them when you need to.

How retail marketing software can help you

Choosing the right retail marketing software is the secret weapon to achieving composable commerce architecture. Look for these factors when choosing one:

  • Best-in-class offer and reward engine
    Does your chosen retail marketing software have a track record of providing best-in-class functionality? This evidence makes it easier for CIOs and CMOs to position a solution in their marketing technology ecosystem. 
  • Cloud-based SaaS solution
    A cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution is easy to set up in your organization, not matter how large or complex your retailer is. And the right solution will provide on-going support, too.
  • API-led
    Are your chosen retail marketing solution's APIs documented and defined? This makes it easier to integrate into your IT estate. Does the provider have proven integration with leading CRMs and eCommerce platforms, such as Salesforce?

You'll also benefit from a MACH approach

A Microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, headless (MACH) approach is key to a composable architecture. By implementing a MACH strategy at your retailer, your CIO has the flexibility to continuously improve and scale your IT estate. 

MACH at a glance:

  • Microservices-based: Business functionality is independently developed, deployed, and managed
  • API-first: All functionality is run through APIs
  • Cloud-native: Technology leverages the cloud to include greater scalability and automation
  • Headless architecture: Front-end presentation is decoupled from back-end logic and channel, programming language, and is framework agnostic

Where could composable commerce architecture take you? 

No one can predict the future with total accuracy. Ironically, it’s that very fact that’s shaping the future of retail technology.  

Composable architecture gives retailers the agility to adapt fast to sudden, disruptive market changes, like the COVID-19 pandemic. But it offers more than a means of survival. Retailers embracing the composable approach now have the advantage of being able to:  

  • Adopt exciting new applications faster  
  • Shed solutions they don’t need  
  • Build platforms around their vision to get a competitive edge   

The future of retail is flexible. Are you ready?  

The 4-step marketer's guide to retail data analytics


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