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Ebook | 11 minute read

Composable commerce architecture guide

By 2026, Gartner predicts the speed of digital innovation will improve by 60%, relative to 2022, for organizations that have established mechanisms to reuse composable digital commerce modules.

Composable Commerce is an API-first modular digital commerce approach that enables business and tech teams to bring their brands unique digital vision to life by leveraging multiple best-of-breed technologies that deliver against their unique business objectives.

It’s not a secret that customer expectations are continuously rising. In order to meet those demands, you need to powernext-level customer engagement, one-of-a-kind journeys, and product experiences that “wow” your customers. You want to dive into a world where you can implement innovative merchandising strategies like pop-up shops, flash sales, shop-the-room/look. You want to ensure seamless product discovery across digital touchpoints through AI-powered search, product configurators, dynamic bundles and beyond.

Unfortunately, many brands are not able execute any of these big ideas because they are stuck using rigid, legacy commerce platforms. It’s inflexible and dated with pre-integrated functionality that is mediocre at best. When you try  to innovate to meet customers’ expectations, you’re forced to patch together multiple third-party integrations and complete lots of custom development work to deliver a cohesive solution. Not only is this expensive, but the changes take so long that they don’t even feel like innovation by the time you deliver.

That’s where Composable Commerce comes in. This approach gives business and technical teams the agility they need to innovate quickly and decrease time-to-market. 

This guide will give you an overview of a Composable Commerce Architecture and show you how Elastic Path is delivering on the promise of composability

Composable Commerce Architecture

Legacy commerce platforms provide mediocre functionality out-of-the-box in combination with coupled front & backend. This tightly coupled architecture results in poor performance and delayed time-to-market when trying to make changes.  Plus, rigid, “cookie-cutter” functionality requires custom workarounds or hacks to meet unique requirements.

The rigid architecture of these traditional platforms lead to the invention of headless architecture. Headless Commerce brought about a decoupling of the frontend and backend, therefore some control back into the hands of developers (and ultimately business users) to power faster frontend experiences across channels thanks to APIs and JavaScript frameworks. 

They were now able to make changes to the backend of the platform without interrupting the frontend components.  This meant they could innovate and resolve issues faster because each component was no longer tightly coupled with unnecessary bloat.

Microservices and Packaged Business Capabilities

From headless, the concept of microservices was applied to commerce. Microservices are an architectural approach to software development that structures an application as a collection of independently deployed services that are organized around a business domain. They are small applications built around specific business functionality decoupled from other pieces of commerce functionality. Their data independence and dedicated APIs allow them to easily integrate with external services and be scaled, updated, and removed without impacting site performance, the database, or code of your platform. 

Microservices are an architecture that defines how you break down the application into services. Packaged business capabilities are the building blocks for applications or suites. Packaged business capabilities (PBCs) are components representing a defined business capability. An example of a PBC is a virtual shopping cart.  The PBC model informs the composition of the microservices, which in turn breaks down the application into manageable chunks. Microservices and PBCs are key in the execution of a Composable Commerce solution. 

Microservice architecture is what makes true composability possible. Being able to choose what microservices-based PBCsare needed from cart and checkout to order management systems (OMS) brands were finally able to compose independent best-of-breed solutions for their specific use cases.

What is the difference between MACH and Composable Commerce?

While MACH and Composable Commerce are often used interchangeably, composable is an approach to building commerce solutions while MACH is simply a collection of technologies.  Composable Commerce has three tenets, one of them, modular architecture, being MACH technologies. 

The Tenets of Composable Commerce

The tenets of composability include a modular architecture, open ecosystem, and business centric solutions.

Modular Architecture

A modular architecture refers to the ability to create, iterate, and adjust commerce experiences with ease. This also stems from the use of microservices.  With the flexibility to develop independently of the front and back ends there is less risk and quicker implementation. Future upgrades become a la carte, so you iterate faster. Microservices can be large or granular depending on the business functionality you are seeking. For example, you can utilize microservices for a large solution such as a Catalog Composer or more smaller scale functionality like a content management system (CMS).  Modularity allows you to support faster time to market and improved customer experiences across touchpoints.

Open Ecosystem

An open ecosystem refers to the ability to enable interoperability between your best-of-breed commerce components for seamless integration around your core commerce services. An open ecosystem provides an extensibility framework that provides guidance so that developers can quickly add capabilities to both the frontend and back.

Business Centric Solutions

Composable solutions are built with the intention to empower business teams to spin up commerce experiences with ease. They are also catered to utilize the best-of-breed technologies to customize solutions for your brand’s specific needs and use cases.

Composable Commerce Benefits

Implementing a Composable Commerce solution yields better returns than legacy solutions over time. Here are 4 reasons to consider migrating from a legacy solution to a composable one.

Composable Commerce Benefits - Agile Delivery and Faster Time to Market - Build Your Preferred Vendor Commerce Solutions - Keep up with Business Team Requirements - Reduce TCO and Operational Costs

Agile Delivery and Faster Time-To-Market

The modular MACH architecture of Composable Commerce solutions allows brands to quickly iterate and launch new experiences rapidly. This is because developers can quickly make changes to the backend without frontend interference.

Build Your Preferred Multi-Vendor Commerce Solution

Composability is all about bringing your unique business vision to life by replacing generic “out-of-the-box” functionality that is mediocre at best with best-of-breed solutions that fit your complex business requirements.

Keep Up with Business Team Requirements

Customer expectations are constantly changing but the speed to launch these innovations can be slow. The composable architecture allows you to innovate and make changes with speed.

Reduce TCO and Operational Costs

Brands are no longer forced to spend time and money on custom development work to meet market demands with composable solutions. Therefore the cost to innovate is reduced immensely compared to legacy platforms. Elastic Path’s Integration Hub also reduces costs for implementation by 50%.

Check Out How You Can Deliver On The Promise Of Composable Commerce

Elastic Path products coupled with third-party technology gives businesses the flexibility to innovate of Composable Commerce and the operational support of an all-in-one platform.

How to Adopt a Composable Commerce Architecture

So maybe you’re now considering a Composable Commerce solution for your next replatforming endeavor. You understand how this agile approach is simplifying innovation and decreasing time-to-market.  But the thought of implementing this seems daunting with the complexity of integrating and operating a multi-vendor solution, not to mention how expensive and time-consuming replatforming can be. At Elastic Path we’ve filled the gap between legacy all-in-one platforms and composable solutions. We deliver on the promise of Composable Commerce by providing commerce leaders with the tools and support to help de-risk your transition into Composable Commerce.

Flexible, Reinvented Core Commerce Services

All Elastic Path products are designed using a MACH architecture. This means they are modular and can easily be curated to meet a brand’s unique requirements using their preferred third party technology providers.

But what separates Elastic Path from the sea of other “composable” solutions in the market? Our strong conviction that in order to deliver unparalleled customer experiences you must have  robust product and catalog management capabilities.

Our EP Product Experience Manager (PXM) combines Commerce PIM, Product Merchandising, and Catalog Composer capabilities into one central place where merchandisers can design and launch the unique product experiences that drive conversion and revenue without being held back by their legacy platform.

EP PXM empowers teams to create experiences that customers want and expect without having to rely on custom development work or hacks. These experiences include powering dynamic bundles without any custom code, supporting unique  pricing strategies like geo-specific pricing, b2b-account based pricing, merchandising on the variation level for key events, hot swapping catalogs in minutes for flash sales and so much more.

Accelerated Frontend Builds

If you’re transitioning from a legacy platform you’ve never had to worry about building a frontend from scratch. As you’re diving into the world of composability you’re concerned with the complexities of building a frontend.

At Elastic Path we have the answer with Composable Frontend. Composable Frontend automatically and quickly builds a modular, Next.js frontend based on users’ responses to simple configuration questions. With pre-integrated Elastic Path APIs, relevant third party technologies and Next.js framework, Composable Frontend accelerates your time-to-market and reduces frontend build costs, making Composable Commerce more accessible.

Simplified Integrations to Build, Manage and Monitor with Ease

One of the biggest concerns brands have when making the transition into Composable Commerce is managing the complexity of integrations. You may be thinking, who does the integrations? How long will each of them take to build? Who manages and monitors the integrations? How much does it cost? How will long will it take to build?

All of these questions are valid. In fact, we found that backend integrations drive approximately 60% of the cost of an implementation budget. That’s why we built Integration Hub which is a library of instant on, low-code integrations that accelerate time-to-market and reduce the cost of multi-vendor solutions. Integrations Hub  fully manages integrations to reduce devops and cloudops resource on your end. Plus, it provides monitoring and log so you’re always up-to-date on the status of your integrations.

Centralized Support

How do I manage all of the third-party vendors? Who do I call when something goes wrong? With an all-in-one platform brands only need to call one number to troubleshoot issues. But in a composable multi-vendor solution, you’re left trying to figure out what solution is causing the issue and who to contact for support.

At Elastic, Composable Commerce XA™ (experience assurance) provides centralized multi-vendor solution support. This means that when issues arise, you can you can simply call Elastic Path. We’ll work to identify the source using our multi-vendor monitoring and then reach out to the appropriate vendor to resolve the issue.

How to Get Started

The beauty of composability is that each brand has its own unique journey. Maybe you’re the brand that wants to completely overhaul their current system and build a complete Composable Commerce tech stack. But you could also be a commerce leader who is satisfied with the majority of their commerce services but wants to update their payment processing system or their Catalog Composer.

Elastic Path is here to support you with whatever path you’re on, be it the full Composable Commerce solution or starting slow with individual products. Elastic Path can help you navigate what that may look like for you.

What could Unplatforming mean for your business?

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