B2B companies stand at the crossroads of innovation and necessity. The key to sustained success lies not only in meeting current demands but also in preemptively embracing future challenges. 59% of B2B businesses are prioritizing eCommerce platform and applications investments in 2023 as a way to attract new customers and improve the customer experience. Herein lies the significance of platform architecture—an often underestimated cornerstone that can either propel businesses toward unparalleled growth or relegate them to playing catch-up.
By considering platform architecture, B2B companies can ensure they select an eCommerce platform that aligns with their current and future needs. A well-designed, composable architecture provides the foundation for scalability, customization, integration, performance, security, and adaptability, enabling B2B companies to drive growth, deliver a superior customer experience, and stay ahead in the ever-changing digital landscape.
We’ll explore what to look for in a B2B eCommerce platform architecture to ensure you can successfully transform your digital business and the roles of headless and composable in B2B eCommerce.
5 Key Components to Look for in the System Architecture
When selecting an eCommerce platform, several crucial architectural considerations can pave the way for B2B success.
Cloud Hosted: Cloud hosting promotes scalability and enhances agility. Look for a platform delivered on a secure public cloud platform across multiple regions and deployed on a containerized infrastructure.
Microservices-Based: Microservices are distinct commerce services that can be assembled together to perform a specific eCommerce function. An eCommerce platform with microservices-based architecture will make it easier for future custom development with reusability of the microservices. Look for a platform that provides access to the microservices to be extended and modified without breaking the core code of the platform.
API-First: API-first is an architecture approach in which APIs are built before the business functionality as opposed to building the product first and later adding API layers. API-first promotes productivity, scale, and agility; and is a key component of a “futureproofed” platform. Look for an API-first vendor who prioritizes full coverage of capabilities with their APIs and has publicly available documentation.
Modularity: Modular capabilities are a set of microservices packaged together to perform a certain commerce function. This architecture model greatly limits or abolishes dependencies between services, making it easier to take a phased approach to implementation and make updates or maintain the platform without the risk of breaking the entire solution. Look for a vendor who thoughtfully packages modules with the right level of granularity to balance development flexibility and agility with complexity and costs.
Headless With Storefront Options: Headless architecture separates the backend commerce functions from the frontend presentation layer for agility and modern manageability. Look for a provider who supports headless deployments with pre-packaged storefronts out-of-the-box or pre-built storefront accelerators in popular programming languages like React or Vue.js.
By weaving together cloud hosting for scalability, microservices-based flexibility, API-first principles for productivity, modular capabilities for seamless updates, and the agility of headless architecture, B2B companies can create a transformative digital presence.
Does Headless Have a Home in B2B Commerce?
Headless commerce is the separation between the frontend user interface and the backend commerce functionality, allowing for greater functionality and customization. This type of architecture has been a common topic of discussion in commerce technology for several years now. But very few companies know why they should ‘go headless’ or if it’s even the best decision for their company.
There are several benefits of a headless commerce solution for a B2B company:
Customization and Flexibility: If a B2B company requires a highly customized user interface or needs to integrate with other systems, headless commerce can provide the necessary flexibility to achieve these goals.
Scalability: Headless commerce is beneficial for B2B companies that are scaling their business, as it allows for more rapid deployment of new features and functionalities.
Cost Reduction: Headless commerce can reduce the cost and complexity of managing multiple storefronts for different regions or brands.
However, headless commerce may not be necessary or feasible for all B2B companies. If a business has simpler requirements for their commerce platform or is not prepared to invest in the additional development required for a headless commerce architecture, then a traditional commerce platform may be sufficient.
There is a third option for B2B businesses that want to go headless without the significant development work. Pre-packaged storefronts enable headless architecture and simplify the process of optimizing and launching frontend customer experiences. Pre-packaged solutions typically come with prebuilt integrations, workflows, and processes so you can quickly deploy the storefront and integrate with a best-of-breed content management system (CMS).
B2B Headless Commerce Example:
Fortis Life Sciences, a company that offers B2B customers in the research, diagnostics, and therapeutics markets world-class reagents, tools, and materials, globally. Fortis’ business strategy is to provide its customers with the best-in-class experience and quality products required the company to identify and implement a headless commerce solution.
“I was looking for something that would enable us to build B2B customer experiences rapidly with flexibility,
and have really strong search experiences, have an efficient checkout process, perform well with SEO page speed, and that I was confident with the [platform] scalability and stability,” said Any Wolf, CTO, Fortis Life Sciences. “A lot of competitors or other eCommerce platforms might do little pieces better, but we weren’t able to find a company that we felt as comfortable would meet our needs in the short term and the long term as Kibo.”
By switching to headless, Fortis Life Sciences was able to take advantage of Kibo’s flexible and scalable platform to streamline the customer’s buying process by allowing purchase ordering handling and easy customer registration, seamlessly integrating into their current enterprise systems.
Thinking Ahead: Composable Commerce
A composable commerce platform allows B2B companies to view each component of the commerce framework as a self-contained unit that can be deployed, updated, extended and replaced without disrupting the others. This is particularly attractive to B2B companies because “it’s able to more effectively tie into existing systems, but also in many cases more nimbly launch eCommerce,” said Brian Beck, Managing Partner at Enceiba and author of the book Billion Dollar B2B Ecommerce.
There are several benefits for a B2B company when using a composable commerce platform:
Greater Flexibility: You can add or remove individual components, such as a product information management (PIM) solution or personalization engine, without ripping and replacing the entire platform.
Scalability: A composable commerce platform can scale up or down based on the volume of transactions and traffic, ensuring you never compromise on site performance.
Customization Without Significant Costs: With a composable commerce platform that comes with rich out-of-the-box functionality and 100% API coverage, you can customize the platform without significant development costs.
By thoroughly evaluating platform architecture, B2B enterprises can ensure the selection of an eCommerce framework aligned with their present and future requirements. A thoughtfully designed, flexible architecture functions as the bedrock for scalability, customization, integration, performance, security, and adaptability. This not only empowers B2B companies to fuel growth but also equips them to deliver superlative customer experiences and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-shifting digital expanse.
If you’d like to see Kibo B2B eCommerce in action, register for a quick 15-minute demo.