5 Things to Know About Composable Commerce

5 Min Read
Sam Bickford

Corra is committed to providing our clients with the best commerce solutions for their business needs. Sometimes that’s a monolithic application platformed on Adobe. Other times it’s a headless Shopify build with a completely custom user experience. Other times, it’s the most modern commerce solution on the market: composable. 

There is no one size fits all solution, but one thing about composable is that it is the solution that will offer the most future-proof functionality. It will also offer the freedom to craft the most unique and specific UX experiences of any commerce architecture. 

Here are five things to know about composable commerce:


Composable commerce is an approach to development where commerce applications are built as a collection of independent, reusable components that can be combined and reconfigured enabling all business-critical functions. These components are designed to work together seamlessly and to be easily integrated with other components to create a larger application or service. 

Each of these individual user-selected, best-of-breed components executes a particular operation.

Because all these components need a good organization to manage their interactions, composable commerce solutions or platforms typically rely on a “supervisor” component (an orchestrator or service mesh layer). 

A composable approach enables agile innovations at previously unavailable velocities. Complex systems are broken into smaller, more manageable pieces, and each is available for orchestration to address needs. Growth-focused organizations, now free from the constraints of a single commerce platform, can focus on rapidly responding to customer needs with a diverse set of product-driven experiences led by independent business units.


Business Benefits

  • Omnichannel Capabilities: Enable commerce experiences on any touchpoint such as CSR apps, social channels, kiosks, autonomous vehicles, etc. 
  • Scalability: Innovate and update shopping experiences quickly
  • Complex Requirements: Create commerce experiences that have complex business requirements

Technical Benefits

  • MACH Principles: Embrace an API-first, headless architecture 
  • Vendor Freedom: No vendor lock-in
  • Best-In-Breed: Ability to engage best-of-breed vendors for each service needed. 
  • Agility: Respond quickly to changing business requirements 
  • Internal Efficiency: Increase efficiency and reduce costs associated with system management and staffing by leveraging modern technology


Though a composable approach consists of independent components, organizing principles still determine whether a system is composable. The MACH Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the development and adoption of composable commerce. The alliance defines microservices, API-first, cloud-nativity,and headless as the necessary attributes of a genuinely composable system. Knowledge around how these principles contribute to a system’s composability is critical in understanding how this approach undergirds modern ecommerce architecture.


While composability is exciting and offers previously impossible capability, it is not a snap-of-the-fingers process. Instead, bringing a solution into composability is difficult, time intensive, and can be expensive. The return on investment is profound, but the investment is not small.

That being said, there is a way to transition to composable without totally replacing the previous architecture. Using something called the Strangler Pattern, microservices can be used to piecemeal transition individual aspects of a commerce solution into a more modern standard. 

The strangler pattern is a process by which an older system is put behind an intermediary facade. Microservices are installed to incrementally take the place of the previous backend architecture without losing system operationality. The strangler pattern allows a modular update of monolithic systems instead of a complete overhaul. The pattern then identifies which parts of the monolithic backend system can be replaced without loss of function and updates those parts systemically. The pattern strangles off the old backend service by integrating new microservices where applicable. 

Once all the legacy backend parts are replaced, the microservices take over the function of the previous backend system allowing for the legacy architecture to be retired. This piecemeal process allows a transition into a more modern solution without ever losing system functionality. 

In the animation below, you see an example of the Strangler Pattern applied to a “house of brands” with multiple websites and multiple different legacy monolithic ecommerce platforms. Over a period of time each brand gets a PWA frontend that is divorced from the backend with a headless architecture. As this orchestration layer extends, eventually the enterprise is fully composable. 


Composable offers merchants tools and capabilities that are almost unbelievable in their scope and utility. That being said, composable isn’t right for every brand. Oftentimes a headless solution can begin the transition to a  modern architecture while offering a more reasonable cost and project timeline. 

Composable is Right for You If—

  • Your organization views technology as an innovation engine rather than a cost center 
  • You need to innovate with consistency to be ahead of the competition
  • You believe technical drive is the catalyst for your business
  • You have multiple teams capable of, or working in, agile 
  • You are a multi-brand enterprise or are likely to acquire additional brands 
  • You want to have best-of-breed microservices for every required functionality without vendor lock-in 

Headless is Right for You If—

  • You want to enjoy improved page speed with a PWA (Also true for composable!)
  • You are already on a monolithic platform provider (Adobe, Shopify, Salesforce, etc). 
  • The vast majority of your business needs are met by a monolithic platform 
  • You want to start long-term planning for composability but realize your organization may not be ready in terms of mindset and/or agile process adoption 

Everyone knows technology is accelerating at a head-spinning rate. It’s not all confusion and anxiety though. But it is this acceleration that makes now the time to consider composable. Between the ubiquitous access to supercomputers and high-speed internet, the availability of public clouds and hyper-scalers, and the rise to prominence of SaaS, a modern commerce solution is more available now than it has ever been before. 

Corra believes that technology evolves. The industry started with on-prem servers and legions of consultants maintaining labyrinthine monolithic systems, and now we have systems built of individualized components.

Composable and the modern solutions that accompany it are not snake oil or hype, instead, they are the fruit of a long evolution. Corra isn’t advocating composable because it’s trendy, but rather because we know that it is the logical evolution of commerce technology. 

Contact us today to speak to an expert about your solution, and how it can be improved. 

Sam Bickford

Corra is a global agency that builds the world’s fastest and most flexible digital storefronts for growing brands. We’re leaders in headless and composable commerce development, backed by gold-standard post-launch support. Through technical expertise, creative vision, and collaborative strategy, we help clients digitally transform to meet the evolving needs of their customers, adding value from day one. With headquarters in New York and hubs in 12 cities across three continents, Corra is uniquely positioned to support clients around the world and around the clock.

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