There’s a lot of different services you can pick for a new eCommerce site. Those include choosing the best of breed products like PIMs, CRMs, eCommerce platforms, and pricing services. In today’s article, I’d like to discuss the role of the platform as the center of the composable commerce architecture. It’s just a glimpse of what you can find in our just-released eBook, “commercetools – Composable Commerce, Reference Architecture.”

What is composable commerce?

Composable commerce is a commerce system built from packaged business capabilities (PBCs). Each PBC is a software component that represents a well-defined business capability. This way, composable commerce offers every business a selection of best-of-breed commerce components that are all connected or composed into a custom application built for specific business needs.

Each PBC is a feature or capability of the application and is, typically, a third-party software component. A good example of PBC is a checkout or search engine. The composable approach utilizes a whole palette of various vendors who offer dedicated solutions for specific business needs.

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Composable commerce is already here 

We’re seeing a growing number of PBC vendors on the market. It’s already possible to buy or rent capabilities from dedicated vendors to address functions like: 

  • Product catalog
  • Shopping cart
  • Checkout
  • Promotions
  • Loyalty
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Search
  • Product recommendation
  • Content management
  • ID management
  • Analytics
  • Frontend

The list is getting bigger and bigger as the whole composable commerce concept is fueling many new start-ups. In the future, integration among PBCs should be even easier by using a no-code or low-code approach. 

Composable commerce architecture

composable architecture (1)
The full-picture architecture can be a little bit overwhelming at first glance. But no need to worry because we’ll go into the details one aspect at a time in our eBook. 

The role of the eCommerce platform in composable commerce

With the eCommerce architecture we’re currently recommending at Divante, the eCommerce platform is at the center. If you are looking to implement headless commerce solutions, this is the place where you should begin. Its role in the headless setup has changed from just a few years ago, but it hasn’t diminished. 

Still, it’s in charge of the vital aspects of a business’s eCommerce site. That includes checkout, customer management, payments, base API + data barebone/gateway for integrating other systems, etc.

Previously, with all-inclusive monolithic platforms, there was always a temptation to change the platform whenever you needed to improve conversion rates or redesign the site. It was, pretty much, always a blocker. Now, it’s not. If you’re changing the UI, you’re not dealing with the eCommerce platform at all. 

On the other hand, it’s easier to change the platform because it’s, well, “just API.” You can find a replacement service. The motivation, given all the integration work already done, is very small if the platform of your choice is scalable enough and flexible enough.

eCommerce platform
The commerce platform is the core of the architecture. It must be flexible enough to let you integrate and customize all the other services.

That’s why choosing an eCommerce platform, which is now more like the “glue” between all the other architecture puzzle pieces, is more important than ever.

The other deciding factor is how the platform administration tools fit into the existing company processes, such as introducing new products, fulfilling orders, etc. If it fits and you trained the team, you probably won’t change this in the foreseeable future. 

With commercetools, you can customize the admin panel, e.g., Merchant Center, into a kind of micro-frontend where you’re just using the APIs and prepping the custom JS components that are aligned with the MC design system. It’s a pretty unique feature that almost none of the other cloud platforms have to offer.

Three key features of commercetools

Flexibility

You can choose the core API features you like at AWS or Azure. This means you choose the default pricing service, but you integrate with API extensions and domain microservices on your own. I’ve recently written a post on the commercetools extendibility features to showcase it in detail.

You can use the default checkout or you can use your own. If you would like to change the authorization engine, e.g., Auth0, it’s no problem. It’s like an à la carte restaurant. By the way, I’ve discussed this aspect with commercetools’ CPO extensively. Moreover, because of its architecture, the teams working on the separate domain and integration services are not bound to the core platform release and update cycle. Instead, they’re in charge of the individual deployments and roadmaps. It works perfectly well as long as the teams comply with the service contracts.

“commercetools is an answer to the most common problems in today’s eCommerce. Firstly, its API-first approach results in creating microservices, services, and integrations with third-party solutions that make the solution scalable as well as easier and cheaper to maintain. Many companies have come to a point where it is very expensive to add new features to their monolithic architecture or even update the software they are using. With commercetools, you can maintain and update each element of the architecture without the risk of influencing another part. 

You also don’t need to care about commercetools updates itself as it has an SaaS core. No matter how quickly you grow, cloud-hosted solutions allow you to always be ready for the traffic you’ll get. And that means no more Black Friday maintenance issues!”

– Damian Kłaptocz, Business Analyst, Divante

Scalability

commercetools uses GCP and AWS, and manages all scalability transparently and efficiently for the customer. These tools use cloud-native features like serverless, queues, and data gateways, not to mention the CDN services, as well. As the user/developer, you don’t need to maintain this. It’s a multi-tenant environment that is scaling up with the business and where you can use the same “cloud stack” for your custom code too. 

Customization features

With commercetools, you can have your own data model and extend the Merchant Center admin panel with your own UI features with Merchant Center Applications. You’ll be able to finally subscribe to events and extend the API using serverless functions. It’s a great way to build the Integration Microservices by pumping the data in and out to the CRM, ERP, and other systems. As I mentioned above, the platform should be the “glue”  holding the boxed services together with your custom code. commercetools does this perfectly. Sandboxed and serverless deployed features are just dedicated applications. You can deploy them on your own anytime you like without the risk of platform destabilization likes it was with the monolithic-modular architectures.

Why choose commercetools for your new eCommerce platform?

This article is just a small part of the knowledge that is waiting for you in our recent eBook,  “commercetools – Composable Commerce, Reference Architecture.” We go through all the components of composable commerce architecture that you saw in the earlier diagram. That includes CMSs, unified eCommerce frontends, payment and shipping services, utility services, and more.

We simply gathered together everything you should know about deploying eCommerce on one of the best headless platforms. The result? More than 40 pages filled with practical knowledge from the tech-savvy duet of Piotr Karwatka and Bartosz Picho. Download it now!

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