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Ebook | 13 minute read

Organizational Impacts of Composable Commerce

What to expect for your people, processes, products, and performance

Conversations about Composable Commerce are often about composable technologies. It’s understandable: For so long, brands felt boxed in by legacy commerce platforms. Innovating, delivering differentiated customer experiences – it was costly and time consuming with a one-size-fits-all commerce platform. With a composable architecture, you now have the technological horsepower to assemble a best-of-breed commerce solution – which means that you get to trailblaze new, high-performing commerce experiences.

But adopting a Composable Commerce approach will do more than unlock commerce innovation, please customers, increase conversions, and boost revenue. Composable Commerce will also have clear and strong impacts on your organization – how your team works, the market tests they perform, the bottom-line performance to which they contribute.

You need to know how Composable Commerce will impact your business in order to get the most out of a composable architecture. Just as a monolithic commerce architecture may no longer serve your business needs, a monolithic organizational architecture won’t help you accomplish your Composable Commerce goals.

Learn how Composable Commerce impacts your people, your processes, your products, and your performance. Then, you can adopt and optimize a Composable Commerce solution that fits your brand, your business, and your customers.

1. Organizational Impact #1: People and Team

When your brand adopts a Composable Commerce architecture, it impacts what you expect out of your organization’s people.

The traditional example of how employing Composable Commerce changes your team regards development. In a monolithic architecture, the frontend and backend of your commerce solution is tightly connected. To customize your commerce experience beyond what is built-in to the monolith requires development work. Even retrofitted headless architectures – in which the frontend is customizable but the backend is monolithic – makes for more complex backend customization. For example, if you’re supporting complex promotions, your backend will likely require customization. Over time, your promotions needs could change, and so more customizations are needed. Eventually, you’re left with a highly-customized backend that is costly to maintain and requires dedicated resources.

A truly composable architecture works differently. Composable Commerce uses microservices-based architecture to make both the frontend and backend customizable, and API-first technology to ensure that your frontend and backend communicate. You aren’t working on a monolithic architecture, so less custom development is needed to realize unique, brand-specific commerce visions. For example, if you want to support complex promotions, you can choose a best-of-breed promotions engine that supports all of your requirements and is easy to alter in the future. 

If we choose to add or change a third-party technology, it’s not going to break our entire tech stack. It’s a huge unlock for us!

Donna Quinlan Head of Product, Vivrelle

So, instead of relying largely on development staff with narrow expertise on specific solutions or coding languages, your organization will place a premium on technical generalists who are comfortable working with a broad range of API-based tools.

The impact of Composable Commerce on your organization’s people doesn’t stop at IT or development. Composable Commerce is fundamentally business-centric. This means that it’s business users – not technical types – who have control over the configuration and rules that make up your commerce solution. In the past, your merchandising team may have been stymied by a monolithic architecture. Getting rigid, all-in-one platforms to do exactly what your product and design and content professionals want is difficult and often impossible. With Composable Commerce, your business teams are empowered with the ability to implement direct commerce change. The right tools for your desired commerce experiences are placed in the right hands – those of your merchandising experts.

As you adopt a Composable Commerce approach, your team is redeployed to work with a new set of commerce tools that fits your needs and your desired customer experiences. Over time, your team becomes more productive with these tools and is better able to select commerce vendors, monitor their performance, upskill other employees, and ensure that your individual components are working in concert to deliver ideal commerce experiences.

2. Organizational Impact #2: Processes and Working Style

As a composable approach shifts commerce control to your business team, your organizational processes and the way your team works will adjust and evolve.

An iterative approach to building a spectacular commerce experience

Historically, using a tightly integrated commerce platform meant it was difficult to roll out an updated solution or experience without having other services within your commerce solution impacted.

The API-first, microservices-based nature of Composable Commerce architecture allows instead for frequent updates to your commerce solution. Your organization can pursue changes to one commerce service without having the other impacted. So, instead of implementing a pent-up backlog of commerce ideas in one massive reset, your organization can pursue small improvements and optimizations that over time add up to a high-functioning commerce solution.

Composable Commerce’s surgical, iterative nature has organizational benefits. For one, when members of your team have ideas, you can act fast to put them into place. Similarly, when industry standards or consumer expectations change, you can change, too – without a complete technical overhaul. Finally, you can better track and test the effects of individual changes to your commerce solution. Composable Commerce makes it easier to track and analyze user behavior across different channels and touchpoints and makes the results of commerce A/B tests more accurate. This way, you know what’s working and what isn’t, and can optimize accordingly.

Changed responsibilities, unlocked talent, collaboration

In addition to an iterative work style, Composable Commerce is likely to change aspects of your team’s responsibilities – and possibly even your organizational structure.

In a monolithic architecture, business users are more likely to have to enlist IT to enact the commerce changes they want. In a composable architecture, business users have access to tools that are purpose-built for commerce. When it’s time to optimize your commerce solution, Composable Commerce makes it more likely that business users can make the changes necessary to provide a sterling customer experience.

Don’t worry – your team doesn’t have to learn to code. Business user tooling gives business-side talent the ability to configure logic and rules and alter frontend presentation. Your merchandisers can directly adjust search, manage content, launch a digital pop-up store, or introduce a new promotion strategy.

Elastic Path gives our non-technical users the ability to make changes and update the frontend experience and catalog without relying on our development team and this has allowed us to scale a lot faster.

Amar Bhatia Senior Product Manager,

Overall, Composable Commerce is about a business-centric approach to commerce. The best tools, purpose-built for commerce, are put into the hands of your business users. Your team is more agile when it isn’t reliant on IT and when control rests with the strategic, business-savvy merchandisers in your organization. Your developers have more time to innovate – which is what developers love to do. Your business talent has direct access to your commerce solution and can create a highly-customized, user-based commerce experience that drives sales and revenue and success.

Of course, as your people’s responsibilities change, so could your organization’s structure. To implement a Composable Commerce solution, it may be necessary to build commerce integrations, which sometimes requires technical expertise. In this case, it may make sense to maintain business-focused teams that have access to contract or in-house developers.

The narrow and specific purviews of traditional business departments may also be less practical in a Composable Commerce framework. After all, division and red tape between business departments becomes less acceptable when your organization is regularly trying to push out changes to how you sell online. New solutions are less valuable if they can only be implemented after months and years of back-and-forth. Hybrid departmental structures may help keep your marketing, product, design, IT, and other professionals working together fluidly and collaboratively on a daily basis, which raises the odds that you select the best possible commerce vendors and reduces the time necessary to implement, customize, and optimize their solutions.

3. Organizational Impact #3: Products and Commerce Experiences

The point of Composable Commerce is to envision and execute a commerce experience that will wow your customers. So, improved customer experiences are probably an expected impact of Composable Commerce. Less obvious is that a Composable Commerce architecture will likely impact the actual products your company offers.

When it comes to creating custom, first-class commerce experiences, Composable Commerce is a cut above. The API-first nature of composable technology means that you can create, deploy, test, and optimize custom experiences across different markets, channels, and platforms, and market products for a defined target audience or selected geography.

Composable Commerce’s level of flexibility makes it possible to select and swap and refine components so that you offer customers the best experience across all elements of your commerce operation. DTC or B2B, desktop or mobile, the U.S. or Europe or elsewhere – it doesn’t matter. Customers will get the best, most relevant experience across all elements of your digital commerce operation.

Over time, the ability to offer personalized commerce experiences allows for more ambitious product design and delivery.

Consider Vivrelle, a members-only club providing access to luxury designer handbags and accessories. Vivrelle has a circular business model, in which members exchange luxury accessories on a rotating basis. Standard commerce solutions are built to disincentivize returns; for Vivrelle, returns are baked into the business model.

Adopting Composable Commerce has allowed Vivrelle to work with top-tier vendors while pursuing an unconventional and innovative commerce approach. It’s allowed for continued innovation, better products, and a luxury experience for customers.

Composable Commerce can have a similar impact on your brand. Maybe it’s the ability to offer specific products to consumers in certain geographies or using certain platforms. Maybe it’s offering increased product customization, as making changes to your catalog doesn’t require a total development overhaul. Maybe it’s offering new, additional business models to offer tailored product options to a new set of buyers.

Ultimately, Composable Commerce is a solution that allows you to offer not just improved commerce experiences but also better, more specific, more innovative products to customers old and new.

4. Organizational Impact #4: Performance and Company Bottom-Line

The fourth and final organizational impact of Composable Commerce is what the C-suite wants to hear about: company performance.

Again, Composable Commerce is a business-centric solution. Done right, a composable solution will help you move faster to deliver commerce experiences that drive revenue.

In particular, Composable Commerce bolsters your organization’s bottom-line through:

  • Faster time to market: Updating features, listing products, making commerce happen – it’s all faster with a composable approach. Getting products to market faster means selling faster – and that makes for a healthier business.
  • Future-proof: Composable Commerce offers a solution that evolves over time. You’re not just adopting the best commerce solution for today – you’re securing a commerce solution that will be up-to-date tomorrow.
  • Scalability: Experiencing a surge in demand? Agile architecture means that scaling successful Composable Commerce components is quick and easy.
  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO): Building your own commerce solution or switching to another monolithic vendor is expensive. Over time, the TCO of Composable Commerce is nearly 4X lower than other approaches, as your commerce solution can scale and shift through the identification of specific, low-cost solutions that fit your business needs. And the shift from developers with specific skills to technical generalists who work on a range of API tools delivers substantial cost savings. 

Overall, delivering on business objectives and increasing revenue in the digital age is about continuous innovation. Gartner has predicted that by 2026, the speed of digital innovation will improve by 60%, relative to 2022, for organizations that have established mechanisms to reuse composable digital commerce modules.

Having a composable solution offers you flexibility and the possibility to scale. We don’t want to have a roof over our heads, we want to go as high as we can.

George Petraru Digital Architect, Teilor

In other words, Composable Commerce is a way to turbocharge your organization’s innovation. Innovation leads to happy customers, and happy customers lead to revenue, making Composable Commerce a strong boost for your business performance.

Learn More About How Composable Commerce Helps Your Business and Tech Teams Deliver Innovative Commerce Experiences

The impacts and benefits of a Composable Commerce approach on your organization are distinct. Now, your team may be wondering: How do we implement a functional Composable Commerce architecture?

Delivering on the promise of Composable Commerce requires strong business and technical implementation. Read our Composable Commerce Architecture Guide to learn how to adopt a Composable Commerce architecture and how we can help.

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