The future of digital commerce is composable and connected

As we begin to look at the future beyond "the new normal", it's becoming apparent that we are in a brand new era of digital experiences - and the commerce platforms and solutions required will need to evolve to support it.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer

New digital commerce platforms are composable, connected and powered by AI analytics. 

Digital commerce has had an incredible year. Rapid growth, driven by re-thinking of how brands and audiences connect, fusion of online and offline, dramatic pressure to innovate and be agile - the last 18 months had it all. As we begin to look at the future beyond "the new normal", it's becoming apparent that we are in a brand new era of digital experiences - and the commerce platforms and solutions required will need to evolve to support it.

So what is so different and necessary with digital commerce platforms of the future? To better understand the future of digital commerce, I asked Igor Faletski, vice president of products at Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and former co-founder of Mobify, a headless e-commerce company which was acquired by Salesforce in 2020, to share his thoughts on architectural and design innovation in digital commerce. Faletski believes that the future of digital commerce is composable and connected. Faletski is a successful entrepreneur who built a highly successful e-commerce business. Here are more insights from Faletski about the future of digital commerce. 


Igor Faletski, vice president of products at Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Today, the shopping experiences have firmly entrenched themselves outside of the conventional web e-commerce catalogue. Many consumers purchased groceries online for the first time, explored new digital service subscriptions, or ordered something from a live video shopping event. And it's not just consumers; many businesses have had to scramble to move their processes from offline spreadsheets to cloud platforms, launching digital commerce channels for everything from construction materials to vehicles. In Brazil, Volkswagen launched a new series of limited edition cars and sold their entire inventory in seven minutes upon launching. Digital commerce is now truly everywhere and is evolving at breakneck speed, which poses new challenges to marketing, commerce, IT and merchandising teams behind the scenes.

How can the platforms adapt to this Cambrian explosion of digital touchpoints and shopping journeys? For starters, by being open to change and delivering new building blocks required for innovation and interoperability. Gartner defines this as "Composable Enterprise", with composable commerce as the expression of this idea as applied to infrastructure for shopping. Per Gartner, the composable business means creating an organization made from interchangeable building blocks. The idea of composable business operates on four basic principles:

  • More speed through discovery
  • Greater agility through modularity
  • Better leadership through orchestration
  • Resilience through autonomy

According to Gartner, the three building blocks of composable business are:

  1. Composable thinking, which keeps you from losing your creativity. Anything is composable. When you combine the principles of modularity, autonomy, orchestration and discovery with composable thinking, it should guide your approach to conceptualizing what to compose, and when.
  2. Composable business architecture ensures that your organization is built to be flexible and resilient. It's about structure and purpose. These are structural capabilities — giving you mechanisms to use in architecting your business.
  3. Composable technologies are the tools for today and tomorrow. They are the pieces and parts, and what connects them all together. The four principles are product design goals driving the features of technology that support the notions of composability.

Composable business allows for quick action - Gartner

Brands could use the composable approach to improve their site speed and mobile performance by introducing a Progressive Web App, enhancing the commerce experience with store-specific clienteling features or by providing a "buy online, pick-up in store" omnichannel inventory capability. The opportunities are truly limitless!

As with many new trends in technology, developers are the first to embrace it, building with APIs and advancing the concept of headless commerce. Last CyberWeek 2020 alone, Salesforce Commerce Cloud saw over a billion API requests illustrating the breadth of innovation underway. However, over time the trend of composability of enterprise solutions will certainly make its way into hands of business users through low code and no code tools.

But the power of composability does not just stop at providing the building blocks themselves. The secret ingredient of composability is the connective tissue and the end-to-end platform foundation, without which managing a complex architecture over time is about as straightforward as supporting a shaky Jenga tower. There are several connectivity layers required: an API-based approach to application and data connectivity that is scalable across a complex organization; a comprehensive developer platform covering front-end, back-end and middleware (with full flexibility to use third party services where needed); an integrated customer data platform that can connect even the most convoluted shopping journeys and finally, a robust partner ecosystem to enable continuous evolution. Investing in these capabilities will help retailers deliver impactful solutions in the present while paving the road for future innovation.

Delivering a world-class digital commerce experience can feel a bit overwhelming - and for good reason. According to Gartner, many companies struggle with finding the right level of granularity for their digital architectures. A standalone microservice for every small feature is expensive to manage (some call this pattern a "distributed monolith"), yet a loosely coupled architecture is genuinely required for agility and flexibility. Defining and achieving this "techquilibrium" of "just enough technology to get the job done" is the Holy Grail for many organizations investing in digital commerce today. What's more, it's not going to look the same from customer to customer. At Salesforce Commerce and Mulesoft, we are focused on delivering the "techquilibrium" with a full platform solution that is uniquely both flexible and designed for interoperability, with the services and support to truly make it yours. This approach has been proven to more than double innovation velocity while reducing TCO for customers, like Revolution Beauty.

It is tough to predict what the new digital touch points or shopping models that will emerge in the years ahead. But one thing is clear: The digital commerce architecture of the future will be built in a way that is composable and connected. And this will surely be a truly exciting future for brands, developers and shoppers alike.

This article was co-authored by Igor Faletski, vice president of products at Salesforce Commerce Cloud and prior co-founder of Mobify (acquired by Salesforce in 2020).

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