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Composable Commerce: The Future of Retail

Improve CX. Be more agile. Thanks to composable commerce.

Get the details on this retail buzzword.

By Fluent Commerce Marketing

Nov 9, 2023

You’ve probably been hearing whispers (or shouts) about the evolution of retail. And the buzzword that has everyone talking is composable retail commerce. But what is this concept, and why should you care? As the name suggests, composable retail commerce is all about building a better customer experience. Let’s take a closer look.

What is composable retail commerce?

Composable commerce is like playing with your favorite building blocks. Remember those colorful Lego pieces or Lincoln Logs you played with as a kid? Composable commerce is the grown-up version—but for business. It’s about piecing together the best combination of ecommerce tech possible to meet your company’s specific needs.

Composable commerce recognizes that the same tech stack won’t work for every business. That’s what makes it unique from monolithic, one-size-fits-all solutions. Composable commerce takes headless functionality to the next level.

All composable commerce assets are cloud-native. This means you won’t have to manage anything on-site. Talk about easy. Instead, you can use powerful cloud integrations to modernize the digital commerce experience for your customers.

Let’s cover the basics before we get into how composable commerce works. The four core tenets of composable commerce in retail are:

  1. Flexibility: Composable commerce allows you to adapt to market changes and embrace best-of-breed tech. You can upgrade parts—or all—of your tech stack to deliver true omnichannel experiences.
  2. Business-centricity: The composable commerce approach puts your business first. Build what make sense for you.
  3. Modular Architecture: Composable commerce architecture uses a modular approach, allowing you to hand-pick the components of your tec stack.
  4. Open Ecosystem: An open ecosystem means you aren’t locked into a particular system. If you want to use separate front-end and back-end systems, you can do so.

Composable commerce is sounding pretty great right about now, huh? We think so, too. Now, let’s explore how it works.

How does composable commerce for retail work?

Imagine you are craving a fresh pizza but don’t have time to hit up your favorite local shop. Instead, you stop at the nearest convenience store that sells pizza.

There’s just one problem. All their pizzas are pre-made and only available in two flavor options: cheese or pepperoni. This is kind of like old-school commerce platforms. The choices at the convenience store might fill you up, but they’re far from ideal.

To continue the analogy, suppose that you find out that your schedule has unexpectedly opened up, giving you time to visit your go-to pizza shop. Like any great pizzeria, they have plenty of options for building your own pizza. You can pick your crust, cheese blend, and toppings to make the pizza your own. That’s composable commerce.

Composable commerce hands you a blank slate and allows you to select the pieces that best meet your specific business needs. You can then fit them together in a way that makes sense for you to build a frictionless customer journey. In the past, one-size-fits-all options were all that was available. Today, composable commerce systems represent a better path. Why not embrace it?

Composable commerce vs. headless commerce

Even if you haven’t heard of composable commerce, you might be aware of the concept of headless commerce. And if you’re thinking the two ideas seem similar in concept, you’d be right. However, there are some traits that differentiate the two.

Headless commerce refers specifically to the separation of the front end (what your customers see) and the back end (all the technical stuff). It provides flexibility in how you present your retail storefront.

Headless commerce provides some great benefits. With a headless approach, you can:

  • Change the look easily: Want to change the front-end presentation? Simply swap out the head and give your store a refresh.
  • Works everywhere: Headless commerce works everywhere, allowing your customers to browse products and make purchases from any device.

Composable commerce provides these benefits and more due to its unique architecture.

If headless commerce and composable commerce still sound pretty similar, that’s understandable. So exactly what is the difference? Let’s explore how they stack up in a few key areas.

Building your store

Let’s start with what you care about most: building a great digital storefront. Headless commerce has many parts. But let’s focus on the two main components: the front end and the back end.

Think of headless commerce like playing with a toy robot with a swappable head. You can change the head (front-end tech) to give it a fresh new look. This will change what your customers see when they visit your store.

But if you want to implement some interesting new features, you’ll have to manipulate the back end. Since the ecosystem is headless, these changes won’t negatively impact the storefront. However, adding the new features can be a bit more time-consuming than they would be with the composable store.

In contrast, composable commerce is like playing with a big block set. You can swap out just about any software component at any time. This enables you to make changes fast, give customers the features they want, and create a great user experience.

Flexibility

Both headless and approachable stores are way more flexible than traditional commerce setups. But composable commerce provides the best of flexibility. Change, add, or remove pieces as you wish.

Tech stuff

You don’t need to know all the complex technical aspects of headless and composable commerce. But you should have a general idea of how they compare.

Headless commerce is all about decoupling. You don’t have to use an all-in-one front- and back-end system. Instead, you can mix and match the front and back-end tech to suit your needs.

In a headless solution, only your front-end and back-end are decoupled. A composable approach can further divide your front-end and back-end systems into separate packaged business capabilities (PBCs). You can think of each PBC as a toolbox with related modules and apps.

With composable commerce, all the coolest tech tools are at your fingertips. Do you want to add a new commerce functionality? Go for it. Have your business requirements changed? Find some tech tools to help you adapt and plug them in.

What about MACH?

Composable retail commerce is often confused with MACH. But these concepts are not one and the same. MACH is just one way to implement composable retail commerce.

Composable commerce solutions are just like those sets of children’s building blocks. There are lots of ways to arrange them. That said, it’s still important to know what MACH is and how it fits into the composable retail commerce ecosystem.

The MACH architecture has four core principles:

  1. Microservices
  2. API-first
  3. Cloud-native
  4. Headless architecture

MACH exists between headless commerce and composable commerce. All composable and MACH solutions are headless, but the opposite isn’t always true. Think of headless, MACH, and composable commerce as a series of umbrellas.

Headless is the smallest, MACH is in the middle, and composable commerce is the largest. MACH and headless commerce operate underneath composable commerce.

The advantages of composable commerce in retail

Composable commerce is the next big thing, and it’s going to reshape the customer’s digital experience. Switching to composable solutions is good for your business, too. For instance, the benefits of composable commerce include the following:

Quick deployment

Setting up monolithic ecommerce tech can take months and is expensive. You’ve got to clean your data, configure every component, and navigate a seemingly endless series of steps. And the worst part is the platform isn’t tailored to your needs.

Enter composable commerce. With its plug-and-play nature, you can snap those modules together in no time. It enables you to launch a new store or revamp an existing one in weeks, not months. Your digital storefront can be open for business before you know it.

The quick deployment capabilities of composable commerce tech are especially beneficial if you are light on tech talent. You won’t need a huge team; a few talented IT pros or a responsive third-party vendor can easily get you up and running.

Fast time-to-market

Time-to-market is one of the key differentiators in the retail space. Consumer demands can shift in a blink of an eye, and new trends emerge on a monthly basis. If you don’t get to market fast, you are probably going to miss out on fleeting trends.

With composable commerce, you can roll out new features at lightning speed. Establish yourself as a responsive brand that listens to its customers. The modularity of composable commerce also ensures you can seize any emerging opportunities, no matter how fleeting they may be.

Accelerating your time-to-market also gives you an edge over the competition. Launch new products faster and run timely, relevant campaigns that resonate with your target audience. Before you know it, you’ll be snagging additional market share away from competing brands.

Frictionless integration

Picture this: you’ve bought the latest smartwatch, but it just won’t sync with your smartphone. Frustrating, right? Old-school retail systems can be a lot like that. Integrating a new tool can feel like shoving a square peg into a round hole.

Composable commerce shines with its seamless integrations and API-first approach. All your tools, whether your inventory management app or customer relationship system, work together seamlessly. With the right API, you will have your systems synched in no time.

Integrating your systems provides numerous secondary benefits for everyone. For customers, integrations mean a better ecommerce experience. The presentation layer of your store will be supported by the latest tech tools, all of which work together to deliver for users.

Thanks to integrations, your ecommerce business will be able to consolidate its data. In turn, you can gather insights from social media, your digital store, and every other touchpoint. Then, you’ll be able to use these insights to cut operational costs, set product pricing, and optimize your business model.

Lower total cost of ownership

Now, it’s time to talk about saving money. You might be thinking, “All this extra tech sounds expensive.” In reality, the composable commerce approach might just save you quite a bit. With traditional setups, big upgrades or system changes can lead to equally big bills — not to mention the high costs of maintaining old-school tech.

Headless commerce helps lower your tech costs by decoupling your front-end and back-end systems. You can use this perk to seek modern, easy-to-maintain, and cost-effective solutions. Composable commerce takes this savings opportunity to the next level.

With composable commerce, you can make affordable tweaks and changes to your system over time. This spreads out your IT costs and reduces the need for major system overhauls. It also allows you to only invest in what you need. You don’t have to purchase a behemoth of a platform but can instead put together a mosaic of practical, affordable tech.

Personalized omnichannel customer experiences

Digital shopping is the new normal. But customers still want a personable experience. You can craft a personalized shopping journey for every user by integrating different systems. No matter what device someone is using, you can serve up personal messages, content, and product suggestions.

Getting personal creates feelings of loyalty toward your brand. Loyal customers will keep coming back for more and push you toward your revenue goals.

The ability to sell globally

Are you dreaming of taking your brand global? Composable commerce is your ticket. Its flexibility lets you cater to local shopping habits. You can even handle multiple currencies with ease.

Remember, too, that composable commerce architecture is modular. This means you can add new tech as the need arises. An add-as-you-grow approach keeps your tech costs down while enabling you to serve your new customers.

A future-proof business

Do you know what tomorrow holds for your e\commerce business? You probably have a pretty good guess. But what about next year? That’s where things start to get a bit hazy. You can’t predict what customers will expect from your ecommerce platform a year from now. But you can be ready to adapt using composable commerce.

Composable commerce offers the scalability you need to change with the times. Add new features, adopt AI, and do what you must to remain competitive. Don’t let old tech hold you back. Stay ahead of the curve with composable commerce.

Revamp the way you sell with a composable commerce platform

Speed and flexibility are the name of the game in digital commerce. Do you want to create a more nimble and resilient business? Composable commerce holds the key. Are you unsure how to begin your journey toward a composable ecosystem? Fluent Commerce can help.

Fluent Order Management is the cloud-native, API-first order management system that allows you to quickly adapt to change, provides an accurate view of inventory data and more. . Upgrade your tech with Fluent Commerce. Book a free demo to learn more.

 

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