Why B2B Companies Can Build & Buy With a Composable Commerce Approach

Why B2B Companies Can Build & Buy With a Composable Commerce Approach

Why B2B Companies Can Build & Buy With a Composable Commerce Approach 

Modern commerce technology is necessary for B2B companies that want to streamline operations, improve the customer experience, and unify data across the organization. For many years, the only option was to build a platform in-house, requiring significant development resources, maintenance and costs.

Today, B2B companies can buy commerce technology and implement it quickly, cost effectively, and more efficiently than building a platform from scratch. However, the key to attracting and retaining B2B buyers while improving the day-to-day management for business users requires a balance of buying commerce technology and building unique customer experiences.

In this article, we’ll explore the build versus buy argument and discuss why build and buy could be the best option for B2B companies as they go through their digital transformation.

The Challenge of B2B Digital Transformation

Historically, B2B companies were known to be slow adopters, taking a conservative approach to embracing modern technology. But taking a slow approach is no longer an option for B2B companies.

One major challenge is the need for a cultural shift within the organization. Digital transformation often involves changing traditional processes, adopting new technologies, and embracing a digital-first mindset. This can be met with resistance from employees who may be accustomed to working in a certain way. Overcoming this challenge requires effective change management, clear communication, and fostering a culture of innovation and adaptability.

Another challenge is integrating legacy systems and managing data across several platforms. Digital transformation requires a unified approach to data management, ensuring data consistency and accessibility. It may involve implementing new software solutions, establishing data governance policies, and investing in robust integration frameworks.

Lastly, B2B buyers expect a similarly convenient and seamless experience they encounter in their B2C interactions. To meet these expectations, B2B companies need to invest in user-friendly interfaces, relevant content, streamlined purchasing processes, and responsive customer service.
With the right balance of build and buy, B2B companies can overcome these challenges and maximize the benefits of their digital transformation.

Pros and Cons of Building a Commerce Platform

While building a commerce platform comes with some benefits, such as more control over the implementation and the ability to add new functionality when desired, there are numerous considerations with this approach. Here are some of the key considerations when building a commerce platform:

  • Customization and flexibility: Developing an in-house commerce platform allows businesses to tailor the functionality to fit specific business requirements. This customization enables the creation of a unique user interface, design custom workflows, and implement specific features that may not be available in off-the-shelf solutions. However, this also means you need to have the skillsets in-house to maintain and build upon the platform. If you don’t already have a build-centric organization, finding the right talent could add months to your timeline.
  • Integration with existing systems: B2B companies use several systems to run their business, including CRM, ERP, PIM, warehouse management, and more. Building a commerce platform allows seamless integration with inventory management, CRM, ERP, etc. But you are also responsible for maintaining the integrations and ensuring accurate and real-time data flow.
  • Security: By building the platform in-house, you have full control over the security measures implemented. However, this also means you’re required to maintain PCI compliance to reduce the risk of breaches and have practices in place to minimize fraudulent purchases.

When does it make sense to build? There are a few reasons a company may choose the path of building its own platform:

  • The company is in a regulated industry with complex restrictions placed on sales, storage, or shipping of products.
  • The company has the time, talent, and budget to become a technology company.
  • The company sells highly customizable or complex products.

Keep in mind, there’s a reason why even some of the largest B2B companies outsource their commerce capabilities — building a commerce platform requires a significant amount of resources before, during, and after implementation to maintain.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Commerce Platform

B2B companies have multiple options when it comes to buying a commerce platform, allowing them to find a solution that best matches their unique needs. Here are some of the key considerations when buying a commerce platform:

  • Time to market: Buying a commerce platform allows you to take advantage of new capabilities quickly to address immediate needs and market demands. The improved time to market can also help you realize a return on investment (ROI) more quickly since implementation costs are spread overtime, and a faster implementation cycle means a quicker realization of benefits like operational efficiencies and a boost in sales.
  • Reduced infrastructure and maintenance costs: When buying a commerce platform, you can offload the infrastructure and maintenance costs to the vendor. The vendor’s team of specialized developers will support the technology platform, with new functionality being consistently released. This allows you to spend less time and resources on maintaining the platform and more time on business core competencies that differentiate you in the market.
  • Scalability and performance optimization: Leveraging a cloud-based commerce platform allows you to auto-scale capabilities and load balancing to ensure your eCommerce solution can handle an increase in traffic without any disruption to the customer experience.
  • Extending inventory and fulfillment data: If buying a modular, modern commerce platform that can seamlessly integrate with an order management system, you can easily extend inventory and fulfillment data into the frontend customer experience. For example, you can present inventory levels on the search results page, allow buyers to filter products based on location availability, and provide accurate delivery dates on the product detail pages.

Overall, buying a commerce platform allows you to avoid the complexities and significant investment of maintaining the technology. But what if you need functionality and features that are unique to your business and don’t come out-of-the-box?

The Hybrid Approach: Build and Buy with Composable Commerce

Buying a commerce platform from a proven vendor comes with numerous benefits and gives you the foundation needed to launch a fully capable and secure B2B eCommerce site. However, there may still be cases where you’ll need customized functionality to meet your company’s unique business requirements too.

“The problem is that most successful businesses thrive because they differentiate themselves. This means smart organizations typically need to customize pre-packed solutions to fit their unique business needs,” said Tim Mitrovich, Founder and CEO of Artisan in a recent Forbes article.

Every company needs a ‘secret sauce’ that allows it to stand out against competitors in the market. By taking a composable approach, you can buy the commerce functionality you need, such as cart & checkout, search, and customer account management, and build unique capabilities and features that take your customer experience to the next level.

What is composable commerce?

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.

This gives a B2B company the ability to piece together different software components to create a complete solution that meets their specific needs. From an organizational perspective, composability allows each function of the business to work autonomously but in sync.

From a team perspective, this looks like:

  • Business teams: Daily users like marketers and merchandisers can make changes without IT intervention. That’s because each business function is decoupled from the others, so changes in one area don’t break things in another.
  • Technical/IT teams: Developers and technical users can focus on developing mission critical features instead of managing an inflexible platform. Since the technical delivery is microservices built, API-first, cloud-native, and fully headless, there is no need for a “templating” solution that would traditionally be used to stitch together a presentation layer. The focus can be on what differentiates the business, not on managing an eCommerce platform.
  • C-Suite: Since composability lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) and speeds time-to-market, it’s a major selling point to decision-makers. A composable platform is flexible, future-proof, and gives you the ability to scale. It’s built around the capabilities specific to your business, with the end goal of delivering a seamless customer experience across all channels.

The balance of buying and building will vary from company to company. “Every business is different, has different needs. You need to understand your objectives, what your customers want, and your own capabilities to develop and deploy systems,” said Brian Beck, Managing Partner at Enceiba and author of the book Billion Dollar B2B Ecommerce, in a recent interview with Kibo.

4 Benefits of Composable Commerce in B2B

Taking a composable approach allows you to leverage the strengths of both buying and building commerce technology.

  1. Performance and agility: Composable systems are inherently pluggable and flexible, allowing you to quickly adapt to market changes and business buyer needs. They’re also highly scalable, so you can start small and build/optimize the system using packaged business capabilities (PBCs) tied to business goals.
  2. Integration and innovation: Composable commerce emphasizes the importance of seamless integration between different components. You can integrate various systems, such as ERP, CRM, inventory management, and warehouse management, to create a unified and efficient ecosystem. This integration enables real-time data exchange, improves operational efficiency, and supports data-driven decision-making.
  3. Achieving a balance between customization and cost-effectiveness: Composable commerce allows B2B businesses to integrate components that provide specialized functionalities, such as complex product configurations or industry-specific features. By investing in targeted components, companies optimize costs and resource allocation. This approach provides the flexibility to tailor the solution while achieving cost-effective results.
  4. An open ecosystem: In a composable ecosystem, the best solution wins—not the one that’s proprietary to a specific vendor. An open system means that you’re not locked into a specific vendor, framework, or programming language. It gives your developers and business users more choice and flexibility when it comes to the technologies you use.

Composable commerce is 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.

Example of a B2B Company Taking the Composable Approach

Fortis Life Sciences, a B2B chemical manufacturer, needed a commerce platform that could future-proof its online business. This meant finding a platform that could meet their business requirements, while allowing them to build upon the platform overtime as the market landscape and customer expectations evolved.

By buying the Kibo eCommerce platform, Fortis Life Sciences was able to immediately take advantage of functionality out-of-the-box, such as an efficient cart & checkout, auto-scalability, improved site performance, and a relevant and accurate search experience.

Because of the composable nature of the eCommerce platform, Fortis Life Sciences is able to easily manage and unify data. This streamlines complex product data management and allows them to tie real-time inventory data into the search experience and messaging around product availability.

Andy Wolf Fortis Life Sciences Testimonial



Changes in the way B2B buyers purchase are accelerating, requiring B2B companies to tackle digital transformation in order to meet customer expectations. With the rise of composable commerce, you no longer have to choose between building or buying commerce technology.

Buying a composable commerce solution allows you to buy the functionality and capabilities you need to launch an eCommerce site, while maintaining the flexibility to build components that meet your company’s requirements and buyers’ expectations.

If you’d like to see how Kibo’s composable B2B eCommerce platform can help your company outpace competitors and drive revenue, get in touch with one of our commerce experts.

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