Composability, as defined by Gartner, means “creating a business made from interchangeable building blocks.” It’s the foundational concept behind any composable technology, including composable commerce. From the perspective of a digital commerce organization, composability allows each function of the business to work autonomously but in sync.
As part of our Talking Shop video series, Kibo’s Alexis Hail, Sr. Dir. Of Product & Content Marketing, interviewed Manish Hirapara, CEO at PeakActivity. PeakActivity is a partner to many brands to help them with growth in eCommerce and innovative technology experiences.
During this five-part series, they covered composable commerce and how companies leverage this architecture to deliver better customer experiences.
Read a summary of the series or watch each interview below.
Why Retailers are Considering a Composable Commerce Approach
Composable commerce allows you to build your tech stack with prebuilt components, giving you the freedom of choice and the ability to create unique customer experiences. While it’s a trendy term in the retail industry, composable commerce has been around for decades. Before monoliths, companies had to build (read: compose) their own tech ecosystems.
Once eCommerce grew in 2008 and 2009, software companies saw an opportunity to build and sell eCommerce platforms, which worked well at the time. “About five or six years ago, cloud really started taking hold, and you had really fast-moving innovative vendors who were getting rooted out,” said Manish. Retailers can now have a modern, agile eCommerce platform and integrate it with best-of-breed technologies to test and implement new experiences.
Using Composable Commerce to Gain a Competitive Advantage
Manish has been in the eCommerce industry for over 20 years and has been able to help several brands during that timeframe to adopt a composable commerce strategy and leverage it to gain a competitive advantage.
PeakActivity partnered with Kibo to transition City Furniture to a composable commerce strategy. They started working with us in 2016 to build a customer experience for an omnichannel furniture shopper. Many of City Furniture’s customers start their shopping journey on their mobile phone but will ultimately complete their purchase on a desktop or in a store.
“You have to drive that experience to be differentiated in home furnishings. Product is everything—I love the aesthetics of a beautiful sofa and see how it fits into my room. Doing that with just a standard out-of-the-box commerce solution doesn’t give you 360-degree views. You’ve got to find a solution for it,” said Manish.
By switching to composable commerce architecture, City Furniture has been to create a seamless omnichannel experience and drive online revenue. With Kibo eCommerce and Order Management on the backend, shoppers can easily narrow down their product choices with Search or Filtering, read detailed product information on the product pages, see accurate delivery dates, and complete their purchase online or go to the nearest store to see the item in-person.
Top Technical Benefits of Composable Commerce
There are several business benefits to composable commerce, but what about the technical benefits?
Many companies still run on one server, only to experience scale issues during high-traffic times. “The ability to be native to the cloud, the ability to scale on-demand—all of the underpinnings of what a marketer or merchandiser doesn’t want to think about,” said Manish.
No marketer wants to worry about running an SMS campaign on Black Friday, only to have the site go down in the middle of the promotion. Composable scales extremely well during high-traffic times and provides a foundation for long-term growth.
Freedom of Control:
Composability gives you the freedom to customize the customer experience based on your target audience and segments. We’ve all been spoiled by the Amazon experience, but it’s no longer the massive retailers that deliver highly customized experiences.
We’re now seeing upstarts and mid-size companies take advantage of composable architecture to build unique experiences that attract customers and drive loyalty — allowing them to leapfrog their bigger, legacy competitors.
What’s the Investment of Composable Commerce?
When thinking about switching to a composable commerce solution from a legacy system, one of the first things retailers consider is the investment. “I’m a huge fan of investment having a return, and the faster you can get a return, the more you can invest into your business and your business growth,” said Manish.
PeakActivity has helped several businesses switch to a composable solution. And based on their experience, you can see a faster return when you switch to composable versus a traditional commerce solution.
However, because you have more control with a composable solution, many retailers fall into the mindset of needing to change the entire system. But the benefit of composability is that you can upgrade specific modules or features one at a time to better manage costs and resources. “It’s a different mindset; you’re not going to get all of your return at once,” said Manish.
Before immediately changing out all of your frontend and backend systems, Manish recommends prioritizing which KPIs you want to increase and creating a roadmap segment-by-segment that will drive those KPIs.
How to Rethink Talent with a Composable Commerce Strategy
Composable commerce benefits teams across the organization, including merchandisers, marketers, and technologists. But when you switch to a new architecture like composability, you must consider what talent you need to effectively maintain and use the solution.
“Everything in success is based on talent,” said Manish. “It doesn’t matter if you’re standing up the most simple canned site, or you’re doing the most complex thing.”
Manish is seeing a shift in how retailers think about talent — it’s less about finding talent that can build and maintain a custom platform and more about finding talent that can deliver better customer experiences. As a result, more companies are taking advantage of off-the-shelf solutions and only building when it’s to the advantage of the customer.
“It’s more about what the customer needs and how they’re going to drive your virtual cash register better. And less about, ‘I’ve got to be in the details and the innards and the areas that are quite frankly more expensive.’”
Manish recommends focusing on experienced, senior level technology talent that can help you scale your business and build game-changing experiences. Buy off-the-shelf solutions to minimize the need for using talent on maintaining customizations, integrations, APIs, etc.
How to Differentiate Between All of the Composable Commerce Solutions on the Market
Vendors define and market composable solutions in several ways, but it’s critical to understand what you want to build vs. buy when evaluating solutions. Some vendors, like Kibo, offer rich out-of-the-box solutions, including prebuilt integrations and APIs, with managed extensibility for those unique customer experiences and business needs. While other vendors require retailers to spend significant resources on building and maintaining their tech stack.
What’s the best way to differentiate the various versions of composable on the market?
“It’s really about being clear on your purpose and your version. If you don’t capture what you’re trying to do, you’re going to fail.” You can’t choose your solution without defining your problem. What’s powerful about composable commerce is that you can integrate it into your legacy systems, such as an ERP, in a way that gives you more control over and more data out of that system.
When choosing a vendor, follow these two recommendations from Manish:
- Be clear on your business purpose beyond your RFP. Do you want a better omnichannel experience? What do you want your shopper to experience? Solve for the bigger picture than only the details in the RFP.
- Choose a vendor with expertise and experience with composability and with companies similar to yours.
Kibo is a composable digital commerce platform for retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers who want to simplify the complexity in their businesses and deliver modern customer experiences. If you’d like to see our composable commerce solutions in action, register for a free 15-minute demo of Kibo Order Management or a demo of Kibo eCommerce and Subscription Commerce.