By Piia Jalonen
- 6 minute read
Composable commerce isn’t something from the future; it’s happening now.
It’s all about delivering seamless, engaging, on-brand experiences, with unparalleled performance and scale. These are not buzzwords; they’re the new standard.
This was the key takeaway of our joint event with Contentful and Commerce Layer, a morning packed with talks and insights into how composable commerce is changing the way we create customer experiences.
Perttu Monthan, Head of E-commerce and Loyalty at DK&A, opened by stating that customer experience is the greatest lever when it comes to creating real business impact and lasting value.
By giving customers a great experience, they’ll buy more, be more loyal, and share their positive experience with friends. If that’s what most companies strive for, why are so many consumers disappointed?
PwC calls it an experience disconnect: companies tout the latest technology or snappy design, but they haven’t focused on — or invested in — the aspects of customer experience that are the most meaningful:
Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness.
People are increasingly loyal to the brands and retailers that consistently provide exceptional value with minimum friction or stress.
The call to action for brands and retailers is to look into new technology with a deliberate purpose of making the experiences feel more human — without creating frustrations for customers, and while empowering employees, like creators, merchants, and shopkeepers.
A sustainable approach
Composable stands for a modular architecture that is sustainable to build and run. Unlike in the traditional one platform to deliver it all approach, it allows brands to have full control of the experience. By looking into the capabilities needed to run their omnichannel businesses, and choosing best-of-need, cloud-based, API-first services to power and deliver those experiences at scale.
As even slight improvements in site performance result in major improvements in key funnel KPIs (i.e. product views, add to cart, and average order value), composable is by design highly performant and easily optimized for low resource usage and carbon footprint.
Composable also unlocks a new level of velocity as focus can be shifted from platform maintenance to delivering value-driving features to customers, launching new initiatives and exploring new business models.
“We believe composable commerce is the enabler for your brand to stay ahead and ensure sustainable growth.”
In the spirit of composable
Jonni Purho, Senior Product Owner from our long-time client Reima, took to the stage next to share their journey to composable.
Reima has seen the world change for over 75 years, and sought a unique position as the only brand with global scale focusing purely on kids’ activewear. And the strategy has been paying off.
With an anything is possible mindset, Reima has been a forerunner in both product and service innovation. This extends to digitalization, as Reima has deliberately been building digital capabilities to become a data-driven company, focusing on best-in-class customer experience and loyalty.
Already in 2021, direct-to-consumer channels represented 38% of total revenue, and 58% of all revenue being digital. Their own e-commerce and Reima App generated approximately 30M€ of revenue.
In order to support their strategic objectives, Reima looked into the composable approach to future-proof its platform.
Best-in-class customer experience means easy and frictionless shopping, and focusing on loyal customers’ experience through exclusive features and benefits that drive loyalty and retention. It also means showcasing Reima’s expertise in childrenswear, highlighting innovations and sustainability as differentiators, supporting the perception of Reima as a premium brand.
Getting to results, fast
Reima’s journey was split into several phases and carried out in just over a year. Following internal planning, a thorough design phase was conducted to shape, validate, and iterate a scalable concept. A technical audit included looking into business objectives, analyzing existing architecture, evaluating technology options with set criteria, and making recommendations – without locking down too many details. The project was managed and owned across the organization through eight work streams.
Development was executed in an incremental approach, where an initial feature scope was defined for each release, and refined as the work progressed. Each release built on the previous one, adding business value and allowing a phased roll-out.
From starting the development work, the first MVP was released after just three months, followed by larger releases over the next months. All online stores were replatformed to the new composable platform within 14 months.
The platform change was more than just a tech upgrade, it was about enabling frictionless experiences for both Reima’s customers and shopkeepers, connecting each part of their online experience with flexible tooling.
The greatest benefits of composable architecture have been optimized user experience, improved sitespeed, and the flexibility to introduce new capabilities faster and look into innovations as they arise.
Key insights from Reima’s transformation have been finding just the right balance of microservices – enough, but not too many – to support and scale their operations without creating too much complexity, and adopting an incremental development approach where MVP releases are planned based on delivering the most business value.
API-first, not API-only
After a quick coffee break, Jonni and our Tech Lead Miro Vilkki demoed a part of Reima’s new tooling in practice, showing how products and CMS content are combined for a smooth, shoppable experience. Pages and product feeds created in Contentful fetch data from the e-commerce platform and microservices to sort collections of topical products into order based on predicted relevance to the customer.
And next, Fabrizio Picca, Head of Solution Engineering at Commerce Layer, shared Non-stop dogwear’s success story with composable. In short, the brand has managed to triple their sales and ship to dozens more countries since implementing their online store with Commerce Layer and a composable stack.
Fabrizio demoed how any webpage can be made shoppable using Commerce Layer’s micro frontend, highlighting the benefits of being API-first, but not API-only. When opting for Commerce Layer, you can choose whichever APIs serve your brand best, but there are plenty of ready-made services available to build your commerce experience without having to start from scratch.
Embrace the complexity
In a final fireside chat, Tomas Krag, CTO of NoA Ignite Denmark and former Director of E-commerce at Bang & Olufsen, pointed out that a business that goes down the composable path must understand, be curious and own their architecture. Even if you’re not part of defining every detail – an experienced partner can do that with you – you need to understand the why behind key decisions and hold your teams and partners accountable for architecture decisions.
Because when you really think about it, the most meaningful difference between composable and monolith architecture is ownership. With a monolith solution, you’re relieved from making many of the decisions related to setting up your chosen architecture, but you also have little control or ownership over that setup. Whereas opting for a composable approach requires many hard decisions and work to connect and orchestrate different services, but you also have full ownership and control over your own architecture over time.
According to Filippo Conforti, Co-founder and CEO of Commerce Layer and former E-commerce Architect at Gucci, composable is the way for a brand to differentiate from competitors today. You’re not re-inventing the wheel or starting from scratch, but rather you’re free to choose the right building blocks that will allow you to create exactly the experience your brand deserves, and make it shoppable.
It’s a given that choosing composable means accepting the complexity that comes with connecting multiple services, but in most cases this is significantly more cost-effective than being stuck with platforms that only partly serve your business’ and teams’ needs. And when you own your own architecture, you have the possibility to change it up as you need to.
Or to use Filippo’s LEGO analogy: glue is the enemy. As with monolith solutions, the greatest risk lies with creating a fixed stack of components that are completely interdependent on each other. In composable, everything should be swappable. Before you integrate a new component, find out what it would take to remove it without breaking your whole setup.
Thanks to our clients and friends at Contentful and Commerce Layer for making this event possible, and to everyone that came out!
Take the next step
When your brand is looking for better e-commerce outcomes, improved velocity and business agility, and empowering your creators and developers, looking into a composable approach becomes a priority.
If this sounds like a step you’re ready to explore, our experts and partners are here to help.Our services