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What Is Composable Commerce?

The success of an enterprise business hinges on several critical factors, including a superior product or service, a team of skilled professionals, a robust business strategy, and much more. However, one crucial element that can significantly impact your business's success or failure is the ecommerce platform you choose.

Traditionally, many businesses have relied on all-in-one monolithic platforms, but for larger and more complex enterprises, such as those expanding globally or launching multiple websites or brands, these platforms can pose numerous challenges.

Alternatively, a composable or microservices architecture provides a modular approach, enabling businesses to customize their technology stacks by selecting the cutting-edge technologies that cater to their specific business needs.

However, this approach involves extensive development work, which can result in increased costs. Therefore, it's essential to determine which ecommerce platform, monolithic or composable, is best suited for your business.

Traditional Commerce vs Composable Commerce: The Advantages of Modularity and Agility

In the past, e-commerce platforms were built using monolithic architectures, which offered an easy-to-use, all-in-one solution. However, these platforms were often slow and unable to respond to changes without affecting the entire system. That's where Composable Commerce comes in. By adopting a modular approach, businesses can enjoy greater agility, scalability, and customization, which is critical in today's fast-paced digital world.


A modern architecture's backbone is MACH

According to Gartner, the adoption of a composable enterprise strategy for IT and business operations is gaining ground among leaders in the digital transformation of business models and industries. However, it is important to note that a modern e-commerce architecture necessitates certain technological and strategic choices, the most crucial of which are guided by four principles: Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-based, and Headless (MACH). In practice, this means a consolidated IT architecture consisting of the following components based on the MACH principles:

M-for-Mach-Microservices-based: Microservices are small independent services packaged into business capabilities to meet specific business needs. Each core function, or service, is built and deployed independently of other services in the same application or other services. Microservices enable rapid response to new business needs and faster introduction of new features. Different microservices communicate and collaborate with each other using APIs.

A-for-Mach-API-first: APIs use standardized methods and protocols to enable applications to exchange information with each other. APIs serve as the link that allows different applications and IT services to integrate and interoperate seamlessly. APIs benefit users by saving them the trouble of having to enter the same data in two different systems and providing a holistic customer experience. Cloud services commonly use APIs.

C-for-Mach-Cloud-based: True multi-tenant cloud services are easy to scale, accessible to users from anywhere, and avoid significant CapEx in hardware, software licenses, and IT infrastructure. They also avoid risky and expensive upgrade projects because cloud applications are always updated. Companies pay only for what they use (OpEx) since cloud applications are subscription-based.

H-for-Mach-Headless: A headless approach separates the frontend/presentation layer (the digital space where customers view products or services) from the backend business logic layer. A headless approach enables designing a unique digital user experience for each channel and flexibility in leveraging data from ERP systems and other business logic with emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) and with sensors, cash registers, and similar in-store data sources.

How Composable Commerce Works

Composable commerce is a strategy for creating a tailored technology stack by choosing the top-performing solutions from third-party vendors. This approach is designed to keep pace with the rapidly changing market landscape, and it utilizes cutting-edge technologies such as APIs, cloud computing, headless architecture, and JAMstack. This modular approach enables businesses to easily adapt to changing needs while maintaining a high degree of customization.

Composable vs. Monolithic Architecture: The Big Differences

To help you navigate this complex decision, we've put together a comprehensive list of the key benefits and potential roadblocks of each approach. Whether you're weighing the benefits of agility and scalability or the potential drawbacks of maintenance and total cost of ownership, we've got you covered.

Don't make this critical decision blindly - arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make an informed choice. We'll break down the essential differences between these two ecommerce powerhouses, giving you the insight you need to take your business to the next level.


Monolith Composable
Familiar but limited

Monolithic architecture has become a stalwart of the development world, a tried-and-true framework that offers familiarity and a sense of security.
Agility through modularity

In today's fast-paced business environment, agility is key. With composable architecture, businesses can quickly and easily make changes to their technology stack to meet evolving demands, without being bogged down by a monolithic approach.
Low cost in early stages

In the early stages of development, cost considerations can loom large, and the ability to deploy a single unit at a lower cost can be a significant advantage of the monolithic approach.
Modular scalability

Scalability is crucial for businesses that want to stay competitive, and a composable architecture makes it easy to scale specific components as needed to accommodate growth and changing needs.
Simple testing

Testing a complex application can be a daunting task, but monolithic architecture offers the benefit of simplified testing, enabling developers to test the entire application as a cohesive whole.

With a composable approach, businesses can choose the cutting-edge components to suit their unique requirements, creating a highly customized and optimized tech stack that delivers top performance and efficiency.
Easier bug fixes

When it comes to bug fixes, having all source code in one place can be a major boon, providing a clear path to identifying and resolving issues more quickly and efficiently than with other architectures.
Lower total cost of ownership

A composable architecture offers a lower total cost of ownership, allowing businesses to pay only for the components and capabilities they need, without being saddled with the costs of unnecessary features or bloated technology stacks. This enables businesses to maximize their return on investment while minimizing costs over the long term.


Monolith Composable
Lack of agility

The rigidity of monolithic architecture can make it challenging for businesses to keep up with emerging technologies and changing customer expectations, hindering their ability to innovate and remain competitive.
Increased modularity

A composable architecture is made up of a collection of loosely-coupled modules, which can offer greater flexibility and modularity than a monolithic approach.
Lack of scalability

Scaling a specific function within a monolithic structure can have a ripple effect, impacting the entire application and limiting a business's ability to quickly and efficiently respond to growth and changing needs.
Complexity management

Although adding more modules can increase complexity, composable architectures allow businesses to manage this complexity by breaking their system down into manageable pieces.
Expensive maintenance

The cost of maintaining a monolithic system can be prohibitively expensive, as any changes or updates require the deployment of the entire system, leading to inefficiencies and a lack of cost control.
Multi-vendor integration

Composable architectures require integration of multiple vendors and services, which can be challenging, but also offers businesses the opportunity to select the best-of-breed solutions for each function.
Lack of code ownership

The lack of code ownership within a monolithic architecture can lead to a duplication of effort and a lack of reuse across different parts of the application, leading to redundancies and inefficiencies.
Cross-functional collaboration

With each module often handled by a separate team, a composable architecture promotes cross-functional collaboration, driving better communication and teamwork across the organization.
Risky to deploy updates

Deploying updates within a monolithic system can be a risky proposition, as updating a single component has the potential to impact the entire system, leading to downtime and lost revenue.
Infrastructure evolution

A composable architecture often requires the adoption of new tools and infrastructure to support it, leading to an evolution of a company's technology ecosystem and promoting innovation.

To successfully implement a modern e-commerce architecture, it is crucial that the different technologies and solutions integrated into your retail platform operate seamlessly and efficiently. Achieving this requires the assistance of a skilled and experienced technology partner who can offer guidance on both technologies and business strategies. Additionally, they should be capable of implementing the necessary modules and ensuring that each system interconnects smoothly.

In a typical composable commerce technology stack, services are included that cover all the features usually found in a traditional monolithic platform.

The Final Word

Gone are the days when a rigid, monolithic approach could adequately support the ever-evolving needs of modern enterprises. In today's rapidly changing business landscape, flexibility and adaptability are critical to success.

Thankfully, composable commerce provides merchants with the freedom to customize their tech stack with a vast array of best-in-breed technologies. By mixing, matching, and combining these powerful tools, businesses can create a robust and agile infrastructure that can pivot in response to unexpected challenges and opportunities.

Don't settle for a one-size-fits-all approach that hinders your enterprise's innovation and longevity. Choose the flexibility and scalability of composable commerce to take your business to the next level.

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