Headless Commerce and Composable Commerce – Where They Meet and Diverge
The digital commerce revolution is scaling new heights with every passing year. In the US alone, holiday sales in the months of November and December of 2022 witnessed nearly USD 211.7 billion in transaction volume across different retail websites. As the numbers go up, retailers are increasingly looking at ways to enable a seamless shopping experience for the incoming traffic.
For this, their underlying commerce solutions have to embrace innovative changes and exhibit punishing levels of resilience, reliability, and fault tolerance. Every second of load time counts as potential customers have tons of alternatives if your website offers a lagging experience. This trend has been observed for the past couple of years. To remain competitive, retailers have realized the need to pay attention to every component of their shopping experience to ensure that it rises to the occasion to fulfill shopper expectations.
As the focus has shifted to the granular component level, enterprises have been keen on breaking down the tightly coupled technical architecture of their digital applications. Using APIs, they’ve begun to simplify large applications into several modular services that can exchange data with one another when needed over an API call. This has led to the prominence of both headless and composable commerce, two of the biggest approaches today for mainstream de-coupled application architecture.
How are They Different?
Let us examine the many ways in which headless commerce and composable commerce are different.
In headless commerce, the approach is pretty straightforward. Applications are split into independent front-end experiences and back-end capabilities, wherein development teams are mostly focused on customizing the customer-facing front-end user interface.
Composable commerce goes one step further by enabling businesses to split each component in their technology ecosystem into further small units or modular independent functions.
For composable commerce, the different functions in the back-end can be selected or built as separate services, like the checkout process from one service provider, a custom application for logistics management, payment processing by another vendor, and so on.
Cost of Operations
One of the biggest advantages that a headless commerce approach brings is that it lowers development costs by allowing for a modular approach while building critical commerce functionality. Composable commerce too offers this cost advantage but it goes one step further by offering businesses the opportunity to only pay for the eCommerce services that their shopping website needs either at the front-end or the back-end. This allows online retailers to gradually scale up their digital stack as the business grows, saving costs and using the savings for core business activities like ordering inventory, etc.
Flexibility in Innovation
The standard headless approach allows merchants to innovate through customization in their front-end user interface. Developers can leverage a wide variety of scripting tools to build unique customer experiences to make the website more engaging and attractive for users. While in the case of composable commerce, this goes a step further as, irrespective of the front-end or back-end, merchants can innovate at every level because each function exists as an independent service and can either be built as a bespoke function or leveraged via APIs from a cloud vendor with further customization options.
In the long run, this freedom to innovate is a key enabler of transformation as customer demands constantly change. Businesses can simply swap an existing service for a new and innovative one without disrupting the end-to-end online retailing experience.
Integration with 3rd Party Services
In the case of composable commerce, retailers have the freedom to pick any 3rd party provider for any specific back-end or front-end service. The application built with composable architecture will be able to easily accommodate integrations with other vendors. Headless commerce as a concept too allows such a flexibility for 3rd party integration, but it is more platform-centric through partnerships.
What Unites Them?
Every composable commerce application follows the principles of headless and applies it at more granular levels to build a truly transformative commerce experience. Both are designed to offer greater performance, flexibility, and control when compared to the traditional fully-coupled eCommerce platform models.
Composable commerce leverages the power of API calls to not just unite front-end and back-end capabilities but also establish a network of independent services that can co-exist with each other as well as with 3rd party service provider offerings.
Building your eCommerce platform with a headless or composable architecture depends on the level of growth, business objectives, and budgets known for such a transformation exercise. However, deciding on the approach requires a highly strategic evaluation of priorities, processes, and tools needed. This is where a trusted partner like Ignitiv can become your biggest asset. Get in touch with us to know more.