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Composable Commerce Made Simple

clock-iconJuly 14, 2022

Switching Away from Traditional Commerce Platforms

Traditional commerce platforms offer a one-size-fits-all solution from a single vendor, many complete with the basic capabilities to set up and run an e-commerce site.

This worked well for businesses in the first wave of digital commerce when companies went online for the first time and customers required simple, standardized experiences.

Fast forward to the 21st century and that is no longer the case. Today, there are now many headless commerce platform options competing with, and even surpassing, traditional platforms.

The addition of new digital touchpoints that these original platforms were not built for, the ever-increasing consumer expectations for modern, engaging digital experiences, and the steady rise of e-commerce as the primary channel for most businesses to engage and convert customers have changed all of that.

Keeping Pace with the Changes

In order to keep up with the pace of rapidly changing consumer behaviors and expectations, let alone differentiate and innovate in a saturated market of online businesses, companies are rethinking their tech stack and shifting away from the traditional commerce platforms.

This is where headless commerce platform options and the whole headless eCommerce suite of related technology come in.

No single vendor can offer all of the applications needed to deliver e-commerce experiences that meet the demands of today’s customers. After all, we now have progressive web apps, mobile apps, and other applications that need to be displayed on your online shops or used in conjunction with managing your internet business. Tech needs to adapt and engage customers continuously.

Meanwhile, the need to innovate and evolve marketing and merchandising rapidly means the legacy stacks that require a single code base to be tested and deployed no longer work.

Today, choosing one of these platforms may be fine to start out, but results in trying to “fit” business requirements to the architecture and limits your business's ability to compete.

Take note that the keyword here is "architecture". Yes, that's right - building websites now can be likened to architecture. Not only should the website code be structured in a way that will boost functionality, but also in ways that will support SEO endeavors. Structured content also comes into play and they need to be accessible by a variety of applications and display systems, without giving a headache to commerce managers, business owners, and website developers.

Headless eCommerce platforms can meet all these needs and to better understand why it is best to understand the concept of composable commerce.

Enter the Composable Commerce movement.

What is Composable Commerce?

Composable Commerce allows e-commerce teams to select and assemble best-of-breed commerce solutions and compose them to satisfy their unique business needs.

Instead of using a one-size-fits-all e-commerce functionality to serve business needs, Composable Commerce leverages modern technologies and approaches like MACH (Microservices, API, Cloud, Headless) and JAMstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) to adapt to the ever-changing market dynamics of today and tomorrow. These modern technologies are flexible and are not only useful to the tech guys but to laymen who need to manage a business website as well.

The basic tenets of Composable Commerce are:

  • Business centricity. It empowers business users to make changes to digital strategy, enable new business models and create unique experiences without heavily relying on IT. Imagine a content management system that enables the structuring of content, product data, and other shop information by a handful of people from multiple access points without causing chaos. Can you be sure that traditional eCommerce platforms allow you to do that? No, they don't! 
  • Modular architecture. It supports more agile delivery, faster time to market, and improved experiences across all touchpoints. That means that your customers will be able to view your website or your shop anytime and anywhere, and using different types of devices, without the content or the display being wonky or without those annoying downtimes. 
  • Open ecosystem. It empowers brands to assemble best-of-breed solutions using various accelerators, third-party applications, pre-composed solutions, and best practices.

Gartner defines Composable Commerce as using packaged business capabilities (PBC) to move toward future-proof digital commerce experiences.

By 2023, Gartner predicts that organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.

The message is clear: the future of commerce experiences requires application leaders to adopt a composable approach, and with headless eCommerce platforms in connection. We agree.

How is Composable Commerce Changing Commerce Experiences?

Composable Commerce and any composable commerce strategy are all about using the best-in-class technology from various vendors rather than relying on a single vendor to provide a standard functionality that is supposed to work for everyone.

A typical composable stack, for instance, would include a range of best-in-class services covering various capabilities and might look like the following: TaxJar for tax, ShipStation for the fulfillment, Algolia for search, Sanity for Structured Content and Content Management, NextJS as a front-end React framework, Swell or Medusa for Commerce and Stripe for payment.

Let’s look at the four key tenets of composable commerce:

1. Modular.

Each component of the system — your shopping cart technology, customer relationship management (CRM) system, etc. — can be deployed and interchanged independently. You can manage the content of your product line, enable commerce experiences, and reach your customers via multiple channels without too much hassle.

2. Open.

Applications can be seamlessly integrated with all other applications in the system, with no vendor lock-in.

Imagine the business benefits of this matter. You need not be tied down to anything, which means that your online shop can scale and grow as it should, without limits from third-party applications. Your marketing teams can engage in all sorts of advertising campaigns without being bogged down by the commerce technology you're using.

3. Flexible.

With your unique stack, you can create totally unique commerce experiences tailored exactly to what your customers want. Be able to meet complex business requirements and deliver highly differentiated commerce experiences. With a traditional eCommerce model, you won't be able to do this.

However, a composable commerce strategy executed via a well-developed headless commerce solution will give you the flexibility you need.

Evolution of Composable Commerce

Until relatively recently, enterprise and midmarket businesses built their eCommerce platforms on a monolith architecture by default. Using this monolith framework, all of the necessary pieces of the platform are tied together. The front-end interface that customers interact with is tied to the back-end that controls everything behind the scenes.

Composable commerce is the latest in a series of steps away from the traditional, all-in-one software monolith. These platforms can be rich in features and functionality, but they are not nimble, and they tend to slow business innovation rather than enable it.

This is also where headless eCommerce platforms come in handy. Headless eCommerce makes full use of headless CMS, which can also be called decoupled CMS. What that means is that the backend and frontend of a headless eCommerce platform are not helplessly tied together. Different from a monolithic traditional eCommerce platform, a headless solution to your business is simply more flexible and more profitable.

1. The problem with monoliths.

While it might seem like an all-in-one platform would be easier to use, many brands find that, as they grow, the challenges of working within a monolith grow, too.

Monoliths, by definition, feature a tightly coupled front- and back-end system. Any customizations to the code can make the system more complex over time, particularly as business capabilities increase and technologies evolve.

That same complexity means that the business can’t respond as quickly. Monolithic systems don’t provide the agility to implement meaningful changes quickly without the risk of unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences are often the result of dependencies. In monolithic platforms where parts are tightly coupled, making changes can be like playing a game of Jenga — one wrong move can impact the whole system.

2. Headless commerce.

How composable are you? The various technological approaches to delivering composable commerce exist on a spectrum of complexity. One such approach, which has been much buzzed about in the eCommerce community, is headless commerce.

Headless commerce refers to the decoupling of the front-end presentation layer from the back-end eCommerce engine. The front-end (or ‘head’) of many simple eCommerce websites is the theme or template that controls what customers see.

Headless enables more flexibility in delivery because you can connect a content management system (CMS), digital experience platform (DXP), and progressive web app (PWA). You can then swap out and make changes to/customize the front-end without affecting essential eCommerce components like checkout and payment security.

Headless commerce platforms are easier to scale than monoliths; front-end traffic does not impact the back-end because they are operating separately. Decoupling also helps to increase speed and flexibility because one team can make updates to the user interface while another team tests the back-end. Additionally, multiple front-ends can connect to one back-end, so you can experiment with different front-end options.

3. MACH architecture.

With a headless commerce system, some of the parts of the system are decoupled — but in a true microservices architecture, the platform and service-oriented architecture are fully decoupled.

This means that the content management system side is independent from the design, look, and feel side of the website. This is helpful because whatever changes you make to the content and backend part, they will still be pulled directly to the frontend without disrupting the frontend side.

No need to keep asking your web developers and designers for assistance whenever you change some content.

As such, microservices enable businesses to combine the best individual services to suit their business. These pieces communicate via APIs to create complex business transactions. However, they can also operate independently — meaning one piece of the puzzle can be swapped out without impacting any other pieces of the system.

In 2020 a community of developers called the MACH Alliance was formed to help enterprises navigate the modern technology landscape, advocating for open technology ecosystems.

Their community perspective on building these open environments has four key elements:

  • Microservices: Microservices are the building blocks. A microservices architecture offers a decentralized, decoupled approach. Instead of one solution that does everything, it separates different business requirements into different services which then communicate with each other. This means even as the business and its needs grow more complex, microservices can offer speed and flexibility.
  • API-first: Taking an API-first approach is what enables an integrated, best-in-breed solution. This provides the flexibility to assemble a tech stack based on your exact business requirements without needing to rely on standardized, pre-built plugins fully.
  • Cloud: Cloud-native architecture provides the scalability you need to deliver fast, reliable shopping experiences to your customers, wherever they are. The platform will scale automatically based on your needs and assure speed, performance, and security.
  • Headless: Headless refers to decoupling the presentation layer from back-end management. This flexibility can enable commerce at a wide range of touchpoints to ensure a seamless cross-channel customer experience.

Advantages of Adopting Composable Commerce

As technology continues to evolve and retail finds new ways to innovate, businesses must be poised to react quickly to — and even anticipate — changing customer expectations.

What’s more, particularly after COVID-related brick-and-mortar shut-downs in 2020, digital commerce competition is higher than ever. Customer acquisition, then, is a continuing challenge and, often, a growing expense.

Proponents of composable commerce say that this modular approach offers businesses the agility they need to deliver innovative experiences at speed and scale and differentiate themselves from a growing number of competitors.

1. Construct your own personalized end-to-end customer experiences.

In their report, one of the factors Gartner was laser-focused on was the customer journey. Touch points have expanded from “in-store” and “online” to social channels, marketplaces, IoT devices,eCommerce and more. Shoppers are interacting with brands in contexts and mediums never seen before.

“Where customers are spending their time-shifted. Consumers choose to follow a brand, a person, and that's a very different dynamic than having to push ads into a search box,” said Jimmy Duvall, Chief Product Officer at BigCommerce.

“A few years back, almost all ecommerce shopping experiences started in search. Today, they're happening from social; they're happening from direct; they're happening from content, and less and less people are starting from search.”

Constructing a shopper’s journey with all of those factors in mind requires a level of flexibility that just wasn’t necessary or practical in e-commerce in earlier days. But providing this additional level of customization can pay off: As many as 60% of millennials say they’re loyal to brands that offer a unique shopping experience.

2. Respond rapidly to changing business needs.

In March 2020, daily life was upended by COVID-19, and some businesses found themselves more prepared than others to adjust to changing needs and expectations.

Stores that could adjust quickly to offer needed services like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), or curbside pickup to minimize the close contact of in-person shopping were better able to weather some of the pains of the pandemic. In fact, the use of BOPIS increased by 195% year-over-year in May 2020 due to the pandemic.

Accounting for this functionality may not seem difficult, but any change to your system can be complex in a monolithic system. A modular, best-in-breed approach allows you to address only the area of functionality in question without risk of impacting other business capabilities in your ecosystem.

3. Reduce customer acquisition costs.

Increasingly saturated advertising channels and changing consumer perceptions of advertising are two of many factors contributing to a rise in customer acquisition costs. Relying on paid ads alone simply isn’t a sustainable solution.

That’s why many enterprise brands have moved to content- or experience-led commerce, which calls for a more modular approach to the technology stack. In our survey with Retail Dive, 60% of participants identified two strategies as the most important to managing or reducing customer acquisition costs: creating content to publish via their own channels and improving their overall digital experience.

4. Avoid vendor lock-in.

Monolithic software vendors reduce their clients’ flexibility. Discovered a better product from a different company? You’ll have to wait until your contract expires, or be on the hook for a potentially expensive migration. With a modular build, you can swap components in and out when it makes sense for your business.

Disadvantages of Adopting Composable Commerce

There are clearly a number of advantages to a composable commerce approach, which explains why many enterprise-scale businesses are moving in that direction. However, there are some potential roadblocks and challenges you’ll need to consider, particularly if you’re eyeing a full microservices approach versus a headless eCommerce platform.

1. Manage multiple vendors.

If there’s one advantage you can give to the monolith, it’s that you only have to deal with one vendor. Negotiating terms of enterprise subscriptions, reviewing terms and conditions, integrating with the software — it takes a lot longer to do this when you’re talking about upwards of 40–50 vendors versus just a few.

Service level agreements pose another challenge. Resilience to traffic spikes will vary across vendors, and the guarantees they offer in their SLAs will, too.

2. Require high digital maturity levels.

“Think of microservices like Lego blocks without an instruction manual to piece them together to build that creation you had perfectly envisioned,” said Duvall in an article for Forbes last year.

Composable commerce is a complex model that requires a digitally mature organization and deep, cross-functional collaboration among sophisticated developers. “It can be extremely difficult — and potentially expensive — to put all of those Lego pieces together in a way that creates a compelling and manageable customer experience,” Duvall said.

3. Change infrastructure and monitoring tool needs.

Switching to a microservices architecture might change the infrastructure and tools you need to monitor those different microservices. Be aware of what changes will be required and factor them into the total cost of ownership.

4. DIY control panel.

A pure microservices or completely headless experience requires merchants to build a cohesive user interface on top of other components. Because everything lives in different systems, tasks made simple by a more out-of-the-box platform become much more difficult to manage.

How WebriQ can help you overcome the entry barriers of Composable commerce

Managing Multiple vendor's issue

With WebriQ as a service provider for your composable commerce stack, there is no real need to manage multiple vendors because that is essentially WebriQ's job as a service provider.

We have a ton of experience with Front-end storefronts, commerce back-ends, payment gateways, tax and shipment providers, Search, CRM amongst others. The migration to composable commerce does not need to happen in one go.

The main thing is to start with commerce and search, and then integrate your other tools into a datahub, in order to democratize all data available to whoever needs access to that data. It is possible to build an entire composable stack on essentially open source software and on software that has a pay-as-go structure.

We have already helped numerous eCommerce brands to take their eCommerce business to the next level with the right composable commerce technology stack. If you want to enable commerce experiences that are in line with modern customer needs, WebriQ is here to help.

Whether it is content management systems, ecommerce functionality, or other technical benefits - WebriQ has got your back.

The high digital maturity level requirement

WebriQ has the required expertise and digital maturity level to get you into the learning curve quickly. As an organization, you can acquire that maturity level over time from your hands-on experience with your composable commerce stack.

Or you can leave it up to WebriQ to advise you on best-of-breed services that can and should be integrated with your stack. We can interface with the business owners, marketers, content managers and users of your composable stack and get you as an organization to the level of digital maturity required to operate the platform on a day-to-day basis.

We can also take a good look at your existing systems and assist you in taking a headless approach. We know that new technologies can be daunting sometimes, but we can help deliver API-driven experiences, in-store interfaces, and other system management services that will definitely meet your business commerce needs.

Monitoring tools needed

Part of the implementation could encompass the integration of monitoring tools into your datahub. The monitoring tools become part of your control panel and you can extract data from those tools as and when needed.

DIY Control Panel issue

  • Composable commerce has by definition a single source of truth and a single UI that manages all your product data, media, pricing, etc.
  • All the other data, whether it is coming from commerce, shipments, tax, or CRM can be integrated into a single control panel with data coming from the datahub, if and when required by your business model and the need to expose that data to other parts of the organization. It is really something that is built for you, based on your business model and needs. It evolves and scales with your organization as it grows in digital commerce.

WebriQ Can get you started in the Headless world without any entry barriers

WebriQ Studio is built on headless CMS principles, but also around the MACH philosophy.

What is MACH?

M: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed.

A: All functionality is exposed through an API.

C: SaaS that leverages the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling and automatically updating.

H: Front-end presentation is decoupled from back-end logic and channel, programming language, and is framework agnostic


MACH technologies support a composable enterprise in which every component is pluggable, scalable, replaceable, and can be continuously improved through agile development to meet evolving business requirements.

WebriQ Studio has four major components:

  • Sanity and Sanity Studio for the headless CMS
  • Nextjs as the production framework
  • Serverless forms and payment forms through AWS
  • Netlify for the entire publishing workflow and Edge functionality

The content schema is prebuilt and serves as the core of the publishing tool and as the only UI that users need to learn and understand. Headless platforms are all about ease of use and offer smooth collaboration for all people involved.

For each page you build, you can choose from 20 different components and each component has 5 different variables, which you can tweak to your satisfaction.

Examples of pre-configured components are Navigation, Header, Footer, Text, Call to action, Testimonial, Portfolio, FAQs, Blog, and more.

Each page with a distinct URL can be populated with one or multiple components. All components can be reused on other pages and all components that are uniquely tagged are updated throughout all pages when content updates are done to that component. All components can be uniquely designed and branded through a Windtail CSS library.

All pages can be previewed before publishing.

SEO settings can be done on all pages separately and there is an SEO preview functionality embedded.

Last but not least, we provide the possibility to publish your WebriQ Studio to any TLD or subdomain of choice and all WebriQ Studios are de facto integrated with WebriQ analytics.

Pricing of WebriQ Studio

WebriQ adopts value-based pricing throughout its entire service portfolio, including WebriQ Studio.

Each customer will receive an unlimited service, for an all-in fixed monthly recurring fee. We use a unit-based approach to make creating unique and customized service packages as easy as possible. Each unit is valued at $1,000. Units can be broken into ½ units, ¼ units, or ⅛ units.

We come to value-based pricing by analyzing and quantifying any or all of the following criteria

  • Expected usage of the product
  • Branding and design of all components
  • Additional Data modeling needed
  • Data migration complexity
  • The complexity of additional features requested
  • Further API integrations needed

Partner with WebriQ

Composable commerce and headless eCommerce platform technologies are the best options for today's online businesses and shops. Legacy eCommerce platforms are becoming a thing of the past. Monolithic commerce platforms will only hinder businesses from their best performance.

With the right composable commerce hub and strategy, your business won't be afraid of reaching its target metrics soon. Pre-composed solutions and all the functionality you need (may they be an excellent-looking online store, a smooth payment gateway, or native mobile apps) can be used and merged superbly via the headless commerce approach.

With WebriQ giving you a helping hand with all these, you can be more sure that you are on the right track. Check out WebriQ studio to see exactly how you can benefit from composable commerce or send us a message and we would be more than happy to discuss with you the details.

WebriQ is a huge supporter of composable commerce and headless eCommerce platforms and we are excited to bring the benefits of headless commerce to more people. Enjoy agile delivery, flexible systems, and well-built eCommerce websites with us!