Technology

Composable Commerce: the new era of digital transformation

Sorana Gheorghiade
Sorana Gheorghiade October 20, 2020
Composable Commerce: the new era of digital transformation

Composable Commerce is the newest and strongest player in the game of digital transformation. Every single online business is unique and there is a big sum of factors behind it that determine its success. To keep up with the pace of change in customer demand, sooner or later, organizations will be compelled to move toward Composable Commerce. Adopting a composable approach in business will help you address the ever-changing customer needs with unprecedented speed and flexibility. Finding a balance between those two is key to future-proofing businesses and improving the digital commerce experience. 

“Delivering platform flexibility can be at odds with speed to market, and achieving an optimal balance of both is needed to succeed.” 

– Gartner: Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications, June 2020

Take your vitamins!

Composable Commerce is the modern approach by which a business is empowered to select and assemble various commerce solutions and use them to satisfy specific commercial requirements. By combining VTEX Commerce Cloud with VTEX IO, customers can have both a composable CMS to build their experiences and a low-code development platform  to connect other data sources. The latter comes in the form of packaged business capabilities, where new applications can be designed, built and implemented with agility and flexibility.

The best way to picture what composable commerce is and what it does to your business is to think about your daily intake of vitamins and nutrients. Imagine every morning you take some multivitamin for your metabolism. Just the basics: Calcium, Magnesium, Omega3, etcetera. After a while, you feel like the resources you have are not enough. So you start taking some extra Iron and Vitamin C for your bones and joints, Lecithin to help you improve your memory, and others that help you more specifically, on top of the basic multivitamins. Soon enough, you see an improvement. 

This is exactly how Composable Commerce works for your business: it doesn’t settle for the basic capabilities your platform has to offer. Instead, it allows you to opt for the best of breed third-party solutions. It’s all about the combination of content, services, and data, on top of a powerful engine, to build experiences that matter. So, beyond integrations and API orchestration, what VTEX actually offers is the right tools to, in a seamless way, create and deploy unique composable experiences to your most specific business needs. 

Off with his head!

Headless commerce is a simple yet flourishing decade-old concept. It provides a bundle of independent services, contouring an API-based platform, where customers can more easily extend a software and tailor it to its needs. The possibilities become endless. The front- and back-end can be used separately by the developer, and the commercial and marketing teams can center its attention on the end-customer, designing the perfect web environment prone to consumerism. 

What Composable has on top of Headless is the usage of different applications and services to combine them into a cohesive experience. With the composable SaaS that VTEX provides, instead of creating all things from scratch, merchants can look for the best of breed: independent parts that are result-oriented and easily combine with the ones that actually must be tailor-made, to deliver a cohesive experience for customers. By becoming a trend, headless paved the way for composable. The latter is a matured approach for the real business need behind all this: easily build the seamless unified experience customers expect. While headless—the ecommerce buzzword of the year—aids businesses by creating a platform-centric approach, composable focuses on customer experience and business outcomes.

If I don’t go ‘headless’, can I still compose?

Yes, of course you can! If your solution isn’t API-first, that does not necessarily mean you can’t compose. VTEX, for instance, offers a CMS non-dependent of its core services, so it doesn’t matter if the core services that your business is built on have APIs or not, VTEX can offer a composed CMS anyway, as it is ‘headless’ by definition. The head (front-end) and the body (back-end) are separate services, both built on VTEX IO. You can remove the head without losing any value from the capabilities of the body. It’s that simple! VTEX has  made headless implementation way easier—you can choose the parts of the experience you will build by yourself while using your own Store Framework and CMSs to speed up implementation for commodities. While ‘headless’ is a vendor-centric term, ‘composable’ gravitates around the customer, one who brings together information from different sources and technologies to build what the market demand wants him to. 

Blurring the line between content and commerce

For online stores, composable commerce is already becoming a reality. VTEX has a plurality of specialized plug and play tools for different parts of the experience. VTEX Intelligent Search, for example, is an advanced search service that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to understand shopper intent and return more relevant search results. An optimized search experience can be crucial in digital commerce. Grupo Exito, a big retailer from Colombia, saw a whopping increase of 22.4% in total revenue after installing the VTEX Intelligent Search. 

VTEX Store Framework is the first auto-updatable and modular storefront on the market. Our commerce expertise is built on a technology that will help you adapt and transform your operation fast (time-to-market) and to find the results even faster (the revenue part of it) because it uses cutting-edge cloud infrastructure and reusable code components. With those capabilities, developers become productive in record time, create stores, and start driving revenue fast.  

But this is just the first step. Besides connecting those specialized tools, merchants need to develop their tailor-made applications and combine all of them to create not only online store experiences (ecommerce) but user interfaces across the entire customer journey. With VTEX IO, the customer can create a new layer on top of the commerce platform that he already has. This new layer can orchestrate the data and capabilities from both VTEX and third-party applications to deliver them contextual experiences across the customer journey. 

“Using the composable application approach, digital experiences are assembled as required, depending on the customer and touchpoint requirements, and delivery of an ‘e-commerce site’ may be just one of these experience types. The focus shifts to a truly customer-centric view, supporting customer journeys as required, and a single PBC [packaged business capability] may support more than one.” 

– Gartner: Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications, June 2020


Is Composable a good idea for your business?

In the challenge of creating amazing experiences and boosting operations, retailers should be looking for tools that reduce complexity. Try to think through the entire life-cycle of developing and managing applications. You need tools to build custom applications that will solve business-specific problems that third-party solutions wouldn’t. Later you would have to integrate the solutions and third-party applications that can solve key parts of the experience. Managing those applications is a meticulous job and the customer’s path to purchase should not be disturbed during this process. 

Digital transformation is not just a game of flexibility. This is a game of speeds. Companies need to adapt and transform internally at a fast pace so that they can validate the ideas that they have, test things, and see if it works. When it doesn’t work, they change their approach, adopt a new focus, and try something new. And this is the main thing. Happiness and success in this industry is all about putting agility and flexibility together. And this is where composable comes into the discussion. 

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