The rise of the composable commerce approach has changed the digital commerce tool landscape. New-generation digital commerce platforms such as Commercetools and Spryker can help adopt the composable approach to digital sales. At the same time, as the landscape evolves, traditional platforms built on the monolithic approach have developed their offering to provide good alternatives to their cloud-native competitors. Continuing our story around composable commerce, in this blog post, we’ll introduce you to the platforms and tools worth keeping on your radar.
Commercetools is a modern MACH approach (Microservices, API First, Cloud-Native, Headless) SaaS platform and an active promoter of the composable commerce philosophy.
Its strengths are in flexibility and pre-built integrations (accelerators) that speed up the heavy effort of initial implementation. Ever since it acquired Frontastic in 2021, commercetools has also been able to offer a very solid frontend as a service (FeaaS).
Extensions for commercetools can be developed in several languages as there are different SDKs available to suit developers’ preferences.
As commercetools truly represents the composable commerce philosophy, it has even stated that its target is to have customers be able to utilise only some parts of its offerings. This naturally means that some of the features like content management and search might be best to get from other providers. For example, several options in MACH Alliance and commercetools Marketplace can be used.
Being more geared towards serving B2C customers, commercetool’s B2B functionalities still lack maturity compared to some other alternatives. There are several B2B implementations with Commercetools, though, and they are bringing in new APIs for B2B features.
Spryker Cloud Commerce is a modular, cloud-native platform made for composable commerce. Spryker might be considered a newcomer in the field, but since its founding in 2014, it has grown rapidly.
Its strengths are its extensibility and mature B2B features, making it a good choice for complex B2B businesses.
In fact, Spryker’s first customer was a B2B Marketplace, and B2B functionalities have been one of its strong suits ever since. Spryker is equipped to handle, for instance, company accounts, approval limits, punchouts and RFQ processes — functionalities that often need to be separately implemented or purchased were you to use another product. Spryker also excels in its robust and customisable order management system.
Spryker is hosted in multi-tenant SaaS, but separate modules can be provided in a single-tenant PaaS environment for better customisation possibilities, meaning that you don’t need to find hosting for your customisations.
As Spryker is still quite young, the documentation or developer community is not yet as established as they are for Commercetools, let alone for Adobe Commerce, where many questions can be answered with a simple Google search. This also means that it does not have as many third-party connectors or modules available as some competitors, but it does have some pre-built connectors for, for example, PIM systems.
You might wonder how traditional ecommerce platforms like Adobe Commerce (Magento) and Shopify are positioned in the composable commerce field.
In general, both of these have been built on the monolithic approach and, for the most part, serve their purpose well. However, as the industry is moving towards composable, the traditional platforms are also beginning to restructure their architecture. Both Shopify and Adobe Commerce have, for example, been offering headless possibilities for some time.
To take things in a more composable direction, Adobe has already provided live search and product recommendations as SaaS services and has recently added a catalogue service to the list. According to Adobe, this approach provides significant performance improvements. We suspect that there will be more services like this coming up in the future, perhaps gradually replacing its monolithic core.
Shopify has recently launched its Commerce Components approach to promote composability. As it’s fresh from the oven, it remains to be seen how scaleable and decoupled their new take on the architecture is.
In general, we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and there are many paths towards composable architecture. Traditional solutions, as well as more modern ones, can also be used together with select third-party solutions for the most crucial areas of your digital commerce.
Most often, going composable using traditional ecommerce suites means that the platform itself is kept as close to vanilla as possible. This makes it easier to maintain and update. Combining the vanilla commerce engine with best-of-breed third-party or tailor-made solutions can offer you the benefits you’re looking for.
Digital experience composition tools
Taking a fully composable approach places a lot of requirements on architecture and its governance. With multiple different services, integrations and a lot of data, it’s crucial to consider data governance, GDPR, security and license cost management -while simultaneously avoiding breaks and spaghetti architecture.
To help manage all this, Digital Experience Composition (DXC) tools can act as a wrapper or a puzzle frame for all composable components. Tools such as Uniform, or MACH Composer have pre-built integrations to different kinds of SaaS services to speed up getting started.
Focus on your vision, not the tool
As we always say, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for commerce architecture. Each solution mentioned has its unique advantages, but as the field is rapidly developing, the solutions change, and new ones emerge quite quickly. Finding or building the right set of solutions for your company always begins with understanding your data structures, key processes and use cases, as well as your vision for the future. It’s our privilege at Columbia Road to support you in reaching your business objectives at all stages of the journey.