Whether you’re running a small online store or managing the eCommerce operations of a large corporation, composable commerce can help you effectively manage your orders and inventory.
Composability offers retailers a way to develop custom applications by selecting from best-of-breed components, combining them into your existing commerce ecosystem.
Below, we examine how composability specifically facilitates order management by unpacking the following topics:
- What is composable commerce?
- Why is composable commerce a game changer?
- How headless commerce aligns with composability
- The roll of PBCs (packaged business capabilities) in eCommerce order management
What is composable commerce?
Composable commerce uses packaged business capabilities (PBCs) from different vendors to create a custom eCommerce system that’s not tied to one platform or vendor.
The composability approach is possible thanks to headless microservices technology. Microservices enables you to decouple the various business components of your commerce platform from each other, allowing you to assemble these components into unique solutions via APIs.
By breaking away from monolithic or single-vendor commerce architecture, you’re not tied to a single codebase. This single-vendor approach depends on a specific technology stack, which can lead to inflexible systems and longer development cycles.
Composable commerce provides modularity and flexibility. You can leverage composability to create an OMS (order management system) that works for you by breaking down a complete system into individual components. You are able to cherry pick and assemble only those features that make sense for you.
From an order management perspective, features like product information management, inventory, and order orchestration, cart and checkout are all broken down into smaller chunks.
The three tenets of composable commerce
Composability approaches tech functionality from a solutions perspective. You start with a problem and create a custom technology solution built to solve it. For order management, that could mean you need a better inventory management solution to handle global orders or the ability to route orders and distribute inventory based on real-time stock availability.
There are three main tenets of composable commerce architecture which include:
- It’s business centric: It enables non-technical users to add new features and capabilities without overreliance on IT. This lets you focus on building functionality that supports business needs and strategy without being bogged down by the technological limitations of using a single platform or technology.
- It’s modular: You can cherry pick the composable commerce capabilities you need to solve a problem and reuse them elsewhere. This reduces the time it takes to implement new capabilities, allowing business users to be much more agile about solving problems and delivering better experiences.
- It’s open: Anyone can develop composable commerce applications without being tied to a specific vendor or platform.
Why is composable commerce a game changer for order management?
Composability is an extremely flexible way for you to build digital commerce technologies as you undergo digital transformation for your business. This is true whether you’re a retailer or a brand, your focus is B2B, B2C, or both, or whatever your use case is (e.g., eCommerce order management, point of sale, personalization, etc.)
From an order management and fulfillment perspective, the benefits of composability include:
- Flexibility: Easily add or remove OMS components as needed without requiring a complete overhaul to your entire commerce stack.
- Agility/improved time to market: Composable solutions can be quickly implemented and scaled to support changing business needs.
- Cost savings: Only implement the features and functionality that you need when you need them, rather than paying for all-in-one solutions that may include features you don’t use.
- Customization: Composability allows for nearly infinite customization options to create a unique commerce experience for your customers.
- Future-proofing: Add or remove software components as they become available or relevant for your business.
How headless commerce aligns with composability
The flexibility of headless API-first systems means they are a perfect fit for composable commerce. Headless systems allow businesses to decouple the frontend experience from the backend systems that power it.
While many commerce platforms call themselves headless—meaning the frontend experience layer (e.g., your online store) is decoupled from the backend technology layer—not all headless platforms approach order management from a composability perspective.
Here’s the distinction:
- Headless: With headless commerce platforms, you’re still consuming the order management features built into the platform, rather than only using the pieces you need. It’s headless, but it’s still a monolith in that you can use a different frontend system, but the backend technology layer, while separate, remains a monolith.
- Composable: With a composable order management platform, you can quickly implement the order management capabilities you need without being tied to an entire order management platform that’s not customized for your business. This provides agility, reduces implementation time, and prevents vendor lock in.
Composable order management is an approach that provides the best of both worlds – the stability and features of a proven backend system with the flexibility of a modern frontend framework. A monolithic Order Management platform, if it claims to be headless, could take 2-3X longer to implement than a composable OMS platform.
A composable OMS allows you to take just the pieces that are going to solve your business problem. Instead of implementing the entire system, you can get up and running with the piece you need in a few months. This is accomplished by something called pre-packaged business capabilities, or PBCs.
What is the role of pre-packaged business capabilities in eCommerce order management?
Pre-packaged business capabilities, or PBCs, are composable software components that provide a turn-key way to add functionality to your OMS. A PBC is built by grouping a collection of APIs together to solve a business need (we’ll list some specific examples of order management PBCs in a minute).
PBCs are built by eCommerce platform providers, SaaS vendors, system integrators, and other technology providers. They offer a way to quickly add order management capabilities to your existing eCommerce platform without having to start from scratch or rip-and-replace your current system. PBCs differ from microservices in that they’re extremely focused on solving a business problem. Microservices are more granular—they can be grouped together like PBCs but they can also be standalone services.
With PBCs, you can create an order management framework that flexibly accommodates changes in order volume or product mix without requiring a complete overhaul of your core order management platform. It’s an approach that’s incredibly focused on the customer experience, making it easy to add or remove features as needed to improve customer satisfaction.
4 order management problems that PBCs solve:
- Problem: You need a real-time view of inventory across your global retail channels.
Solution: An inventory management PBC that tracks real-time inventory availability in one central location can solve this problem. The PBC can offer features like multi-channel inventory control, inventory mapping, and real-time inventory tracking to give you the visibility you need to make informed decisions about product stocking levels.
- Problem: Your customers want more fulfillment choices than you currently offer (e.g., buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, same day delivery, etc.)
Solution: An order management PBC that offers features like distributed order routing and order splitting can help you offer more fulfillment choices to your customers. By splitting orders and routing them to the nearest fulfillment location, you can offer BOPIS, curbside pickup, and same-day delivery.
- Problem: You want to offer flexible, anytime fulfillment but your current system can’t keep up.
Solution: As with problem #2, an order management PBC that offers distributed order routing can help. Features like order splitting and intelligent order routing can ensure that orders are fulfilled from the nearest location. This will minimize shipping costs and get orders to customers faster.
- Problem: You need to manage customer service issues across multiple channels but have trouble tracking individual cases.
Solution: A customer and order servicing PBC that offers customer care features like centralized customer order profiles, access to inventory so you can make real-time adjustments, and case management can help you keep track of customer service issues across all channels. This will allow you to quickly resolve cases and improve customer satisfaction.
Composable order management in action
PBCs offer a composable approach to order management that addresses very specific business needs and is focused on improving the customer experience. By bundling inventory management, order fulfillment, customer care, and other functions into pre-packaged solutions, PBCs can help you build a custom OMS that’s tailored for your needs.
Kibo Order Management solution is a great example of how order management PBCs help retailers solve common order management problems. Our platform offers modular components that can be assembled to create a unique order management solution for your business.
One of the benefits of Kibo Order Management is that you get the whole platform, but you can also go piece-by-piece with a composable approach. For example, you can start by integrating our order routing system to manage distributed fulfillment. Or you can add our intelligent inventory management feature to give your customers more accurate product availability information.
Whatever your needs, Kibo’s OMS provides a flexible, scalable solution to help you manage and optimize order fulfillment. You can speak with a Kibo sales associate to learn more about Kibo Order Management.