Let me start with a word of caution: a full-blown composable commerce architecture is not for everyone. Setting up and managing multiple services, their integrations and the resulting shopping experiences is not a journey that should be taken with light understanding of business value.
On the other hand, the overall value proposition of composable commerce is much more than just faster storefronts or performant backends.
BIG BUZZ OVER NOTHING NEW?
Composable commerce refers to an ecommerce architecture composed of multiple services which are typically capsulated to fulfill specific business capabilities. In contrast to ecommerce platforms – the Shopify's and Magento's of today – where a single solution provides all ecommerce capabilities such as the storefront, products, shopping cart, and order management, these capabilities can be built as separate custom microservices or bought as a best-of-breed solution.
The technical benefits of a composable commerce approach are well articulated: modularity, flexibility, interoperability of different systems and scalability. For many composable commerce is nothing new. It is just the way scalable digital solutions has been built for a while now, the micro-service architecture. The novel things are mainly that now you also have pre-packaged solutions for commerce as well, that are built on the MACH-principles.
SETTING A BUSINESS VISION FOR COMPOSABLE COMMERCE
The technical side of the discussion is secondary as all solutions are ultimately a means to an end in the world of business. Just because it works better and is nicer to develop with, does not mean it automatically sells better.
To address the gap and ambiguity of composable commerce for business people, I want to address the following: setting a vision how composable commerce helps businesses to…
Let’s put our dreamer hats on for a minute and dive into the possibilities of composable commerce – from a business perspective.
1. SELL ANYWHERE: UTILIZE COMMERCE capabilities for MULTIPLE CHANNELS
Reaching your target customers is more than a game of digital marketing strategies. Instead of trying to get visitors to the ecommerce channel you are currently supporting, why not enable your potential customers to buy in the channels they prefer and trust.
How might that look like? You will likely start with your own channels: integrating the commerce capabilities to a brand website, and its content management, and integrating the same capabilities to sell in a mobile application.
Next you might expand to various 3rd party channels: marketplaces, partner-owned channels, and social media platforms. You bring the same shopping experience to physical engagements, such as brick and mortar stores in B2C, or, in B2B, provide specialised internal sales tools such as configurators and promotion tools to use in client engagements.
Who knows, maybe you start to unbundle your business and spin out a new brand with a specific focus. Utilizing the centralized capabilities that scale, enables you to take orders in from any channel and still efficiently process and fulfil the orders.
Key questions to get started:
→ Where in your existing channels is potential for monetization?
→ Where are your customers making purchase decisions in general?
→ Where are you engaging your customers but not having capabilities for purchasing?
2. Sell anything: multiple business models together
Let’s say you start by selling physical products and realize the potential of pairing the products with a service. You first sell the service as a “product” in your catalog, but not without obvious painpoints. It’s might not be intuitive for potential customers to buy services that way, and the product structure prevents bundling together meaningful sets of products, services and maybe even software subscriptions.
Composable commerce could mean taking steps toward supporting various business models under the same channels and digital experiences. It enables you to rethink how you formulate the offering and new bundles from the perspective of customer needs and expectations. Selling products, services, digital products, and SaaS subscriptions – all under the same channels and augmented into the relevant purchase journeys.
Key questions to get started:
→ What existing services or products you already deliver, could be sold online?
→ What new services or products could be productised for digital?
→ What goods and services would you bundle, up-sell and cross-sell in an unified purchase experience?
3. Sell better: personalization within and across channels
Increasing the amount of channels and offerings is a lot to manage. How can we sell the relevant things next to the customer, at a right time and maybe even at the right price?
Selling products and services in unified purchase journeys can still be relatively simple, but managing journeys across channels is more complex. It brings forth requirements to have closer customer connection and identifying the customer in whatever channels they prefer.
The question personalisation in composable commerce is about getting beyond that basic "product recommendation" level that is relatively simple to achieve even in traditional ecommerce setups. Besides product recommendations, composable commerce is about personalising full journeys of content, pricing and timing of the offerings.
Personalisation is a difficult topic, because for different businesses it means different things. At the same time, not all companies can start to build their own personalisation micro-service. Without going much deeper, there are new technological categories that try to fill the blank of where the "brain" of composable setups lives. Digital eXperience Composition (DXC) and Orchestration (DXO) tools are still emerging. With the new possibilities of those technological categories in combination with the rest of the stack, it makes sense to start thinking the business vision of personalisation now.
Key questions to get started:
→ How would personalisation look like in an ideal world for your customers?
→ How would personalised shopping experiences realize in concrete business value?
You need a clear vision of what you want to actually unlock for your business. Then get on with formulating specific use cases. Starting with a bit of dreaming can always help to get the process started.
Composable commerce is ultimately a complex business effort – deciding and evaluating what you want to do and what is actually worth it. The message from the composable tech community is clear: many more things are possible compared to the status quo of inflexible ecommerce setups of the past.
Want to figure out what could be some actual use cases for your business? Reach out to us, we are happy to help.
Co-founder and a digital commerce consultant who drives growth with strong analytical skills. Antton writes about how great commercial success is unlocked with the right combination of business and technology capabilities.