One golden rule of economics is that price is driven by scarcity. Scarce goods are inevitably bound to be more valuable than other readily available goods or items. Another factor that heavily affects the price is utility; items or goods with multiple applications also tend to be more valuable.
At this point, you are probably wondering what this barebone and unrequested basic economy lesson has to do with composable commerce? Well, as a matter of fact, a lot!. Because it is the main reason why time – a scarce, non-renewable, and with infinite applications resource – is the most valuable item in the world and why understanding how composable commerce truly works, is so vital for any wishing to run a successful B2B business.
Today we will find out the key elements behind composable commerce and its direct link to time management for B2B companies. Let us begin!
What is composable commerce?
The first question we need to unravel is a basic one: what exactly is composable commerce? We could say that a standard industry-wide definition of composable commerce will be something akin to:
“Composable commerce is an e-commerce building architecture that allows companies to use packaged applications and services to add or remove functions or capabilities to their online stores.”
Since a progressive web app is a type of web page or website known as a web app, there is no requirement for developers or users to install web apps through digital distribution systems such as the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Meaning, when we talk about composable commerce we talk about the capability of any e-commerce or online business platform to add, install, or remove packaged functionalities.
This ‘modular’ approach allows any e-commerce to deploy best-of-breed applications that can easily be added, replaced, or removed as the needs arise, without damaging the core architecture of your online business.
An efficient system capable of producing two things: first of all, you are faster in growing or adapting. Because you are working with already existing solutions or packages – thus avoiding the cumbersome development or coding phase – and also at the same time, you are more agile than your competition, because you can choose which services, capabilities or functions you want your e-commerce to have. And not being bound by a platform or e-commerce solution that forces you to use all or none of its capabilities, may whichever those be.
Gartner predicts that “by 2023, organizations that have adopted a Composable Commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of feature implementation.”
Secondly, you have full control of what aspects, functions, or capabilities you want your business to explore, use or remove. And this, although it might not sound like much, is a magnificent scenario to be in because it grants you technological freedom of choice. Something self-contained e-commerce platforms usually lack.
So, you are fast enough to change, adapt, and improve and still free enough to decide in what functions or capabilities you want your company to commit efforts, resources, and at the end of the day: time.
Time, and time again is the key element here. Because it is the only thing that – contrary to popular belief – we can’t save, we can’t store, and can only be spent as it only moves forward. So, spending it wisely is vital.
How ‘composable’ should your commerce be and why?
At first light, it seems having a composable commerce approach is all benefits, is it not? And you might rightfully ask, ‘Well, what about having everything in this fashion? Why not have a fully modular structure in my e-commerce?’
Well, the answer is no, a fully modular structure is not nearly as efficient as a composable approach. That idea of a fully modular structure exists in what we could call a full-blown microservice architecture, and it might be too much for a typical B2B company.
A full-blown microservice architecture brings some dangerous pitfalls:
1. Complexity: With a wide range of options and combinations to choose from, it can be challenging to manage the different products and vendors.
2. Inefficiency: The process of composing and recombining different elements to create customized offerings can be time-consuming and costly for businesses.
3. Lack of standardization: Without standardization in the composable commerce ecosystem, it can be difficult for businesses to integrate and exchange information with other companies, which can limit the system’s potential.
A key advantage of SaaS solutions against full-blown microservices is that you can set up and start selling with a SaaS solution much faster than with a full-blown microservice. A basic e-commerce can be built using a SaaS or PaaS solution in just a few hours, with an almost 100% guarantee that it will perform all of its basic functions.
These three pitfalls are – once again – time-related issues. A highly complex e-commerce system is cumbersome and requires more human resources and more time to be properly managed, and this, in turn, increases the human factor and human error.
Also, being far more inefficient – as it is composed of multiple different elements – this system is not solid. If you have a few different elements, the system is relatively stable, if your entire system is composed of different modular elements, then you might have a problem just around the corner.
That’s why when we talk about composable commerce, we need to specify the correct degree of this ‘composability’, the Goldilocks zone of composable commerce: not too composable, not too monolithic.
This means using solutions that combine the basics of e-commerce platforms with the vital customization and flexibility options of composable commerce. Composable commerce done right is about achieving the correct granularity of the packaged business capabilities.
What are the benefits of packaged business capabilities?
The perfect balance between one big solution – the traditional e-commerce platform approach – and multiple microservices could be already available in the packaged business capabilities (PBCs) approach.
A philosophy that provides companies with the flexibility to compose their commerce solution but still allows them to use as many standard components as possible (ideally provided as SaaS/PaaS). Because, to be honest, B2B companies cannot – and should never – try to reinvent the wheel, and above all, B2B companies – nor anyone – should be wasting time. It is just far too precious.
Precisely to highlight this new approach, Intershop Enterprise Architect Nils Breitmann said recently in an interview the following:
”In the current market, we see two distinct extremes. On the one hand, there is legacy commerce technology with a monolithic architecture but still robust functionality. Customizing this technology, though, is challenging, and it may prevent agility. On the other hand, there are custom-built microservice architectures that offer a lot of flexibility but are also complex to implement. You may be forced to build your user interface, and the result often fails to match even standard commerce features. This approach is called ’DIY‘ – or do it yourself – commerce tech.
At Intershop, our approach is to find the right balance between the two extremes in the market. We fully embrace and adhere to the composable commerce principles while also delivering all essential business capabilities of a commerce solution – preconfigured as software-as-a-service. This includes the front-end, the search and personalization engine, content management, product information management, commerce management, order management, an integration platform, and a data warehouse for BI and AI.”
In summary, what Nils explains is that with Intershop as the ’nucleus,’ companies can hit that precise Goldilocks zone of composable commerce, getting the best of both worlds: the flexibility to adapt to the rapidly changing market and customer needs provided by modular commerce, as well as the stability and scalability to achieve your business goals – in a cost-efficient way with low project risk, that is a fundamental trait of the traditional SaaS or PaaS commerce platform.
This is the packaged business capability approach led by Intershop, the perfect combination to help you use your company time in the most proficient and profitable way possible.
Sounds great? You can read more about PBCs and other spectacular B2B e-commerce trends in our Digital Trends Report!