Online customer expectations are rapidly changing. To keep pace with them, businesses need a more flexible approach to ecommerce. In this guest article, CX innovators, Sitecore, makes a case for a composable ecommerce future. Read on to discover its benefits.
Triggered and accelerated by the pandemic, online shopping has boomed in the last two years. And enterprises, regardless of size and location, are struggling to reckon with the sheer volume and frequency of online orders. Legacy systems which were found to be sufficient just a few years ago are now bursting at the seams, being unable to handle the strain and rapidity of the change.
Now the question that is rightly being asked by Marketing and IT leaders is whether a whole new approach to ecommerce is needed, rather than building on top of existing systems. The answer is a resounding “yes”. Now is the best time to change. Leading ecommerce giants are already embracing Composable Ecommerce as the way to go. But how is it different? And can it live up to its promises?
The New Era of Buyer Behaviour
When the world had to stay at home, it’s not surprising that people turned to the internet. Whether it was ordering food, visiting the doctor, going back to school shopping, meeting with colleagues, or conducting business, whether it was due to convenience or necessity, everything shifted to digital. According to Statista, in 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and during the same year, e-retail sales surpassed 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide.
Businesses have had to move fast to meet their customers and their employees where they are – at home. Both safety and convenience are now top priorities and the emerging commerce leaders are those who can provide both.
Handcuffed by Legacy Ecommerce Platforms
Drastic changes in buyer behaviour paired with rapid evolution of the way we work has forced businesses to evaluate their current technology stacks. The need for speed and flexibility has surfaced issues and challenges. Many manufacturers, distributors, and retailers alike are struggling to meet the complex and custom needs of their buyers because of the rigidity of their outdated, legacy ecommerce systems.
IT and marketing leaders leading with these legacy systems often find themselves stuck:
- Unable to meet deadlines
- Denying new feature requests
- Missing the mark on revenue goals
- Avoiding customizations, updates, and upgrade
- Passing up on integrations with new and existing technologies
- Unable to automate internal and external workflows
- These setbacks lead to missed revenue opportunities, poor customer experience, and the inability to innovate and keep up with competition.
Businesses serious about delivering the types of digital experiences that customers and employees demand are realising the need to take back control of their ecommerce experience. They realise it’s time to truly own their ecommerce roadmap and to start saying “yes!” to innovation and evolution.
A New Path Forward: Composable Commerce
A modern approach to ecommerce that puts you back in the driver’s seat puts customizations, speed to market, automation and scale at the core.
Gartner predicts that “By 2023, organisations that have adopted a Composable Commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”
A composable commerce approach not only allows you to select best-of-breed commerce components, but it allows you to select the best components for your business. And these can be combined into a custom application that is tailored to both the needs of your business and of your customers.
Traditionally, legacy ecommerce platforms featured more tightly coupled features and services as all-in-one bundles, discouraging integrations with existing systems or other best-of-breed technologies. Today, this approach doesn’t work because no single vendor offers the functionality you need to meet your ecommerce needs.
Moving to composable ecommerce eliminates your risk of buying basic, out-of-the-box capabilities and getting yourself stuck. It gives you more control over the functionality you need today, the capabilities you’ll want to add tomorrow, and the performance of your application as your grow.
By 2023, organisations that have adopted a Composable Commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.
‘Composable Commerce Must Be Adopted for the Future of Applications’ Report
What Does Composable Commerce Look like?
Like we mentioned earlier, composable commerce is an approach to development that allows you to compose, or combine, components or features into an ecommerce application. Each component is a feature or capability of the application – it could be the shopping cart and checkout experience, a promotions engine that allows you to create promotions, or a business user profile.
A composable approach to commerce allows you to go beyond features too, composing applications that combine capabilities of multiple software platforms, integrated via an API. For example, you might want the best-in-class capabilities of a shipping API incorporated into your application. By combining the capabilities of the shipping API with an ecommerce API, you are composing the ecommerce application with capabilities that are best for you.
From a technical standpoint, there are several key characteristics to composable commerce:
When all functionality is exposed via API, it’s possible to take a composable approach to e-commerce development, tying two or more applications or services together.
The decoupled nature of headless applications ensures continuous improvement of the customer interface, allowing you to extend the application to any number of endpoints such as connected devices.
Leveraging full capabilities of the cloud ensures scalability and flexibility across the application. It also makes it easy to take advantage of each part of the application as needed on-demand and allows you to avoid upgrades.
Microservice-based architecture enables the composability of packaged business capabilities (PBCs). This composable nature allows flexible development to be deployed quickly. On the other hand, monolithic applications are too tightly coupled, and capabilities cannot be deployed independently.
Composable commerce allows you to select and deploy best-of-breed, modular applications. You can easily add, replace or remove various capabilities as your ecommerce needs grow and change. The flexibility of the architecture allows businesses to use and develop only the features and functionality necessary to their business. In return, these applications often run faster and scale easier.
Why are businesses choosing composable commerce and what’s in it for you?
There are many associated benefits when choosing composable commerce:
- Modular architecture allows each component of your system to be deployed independently. This means that when demand increases for one component, it won’t hamper another. So, when traffic increases, you can scale efficiently and cost-effectively.
- Deliver an omnichannel approach and provide your customers with a seamless experience across every touchpoint. SAS found that a third of UK customers would stop using a company after just one poor experience. And 90% of customers would move on to competing brands after experiencing up to five poor experiences.
- Choose what is best for you. Composable commerce means selecting the right components for your business. Not only does this allow you to deliver the right experience for your customers, but it’s also cost effective and avoids vendor lock-in.
- Flexibility is key to any business wanting to stay ahead and a composable solution certainly allows for this. Decoupling the front and backend of your architecture enables teams to work on each other independently, without compromising the experience or capabilities of either.
As customer experiences evolve, businesses need to be agile enough to respond quickly to change and meet these new demands.
Sitecore delivers a digital experience platform that empowers the world’s smartest brands to build lifelong relationships with their customers. A highly decorated industry leader, Sitecore is the only company bringing together content, commerce, and data into one connected platform that delivers millions of digital experiences every day. Leading companies including American Express, ASOS, Carnival Cruise Lines, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oréal and Volvo Cars rely on Sitecore to provide more engaging, personalized experiences for their customers. Learn more at Sitecore.com.