Adam Ferrari is the executive vice president (EVP) of engineering at Salsify. Ferrari was an early employee and chief technology officer (CTO) at Endeca and, subsequently, at Oracle and Crisply, where his research in data analytics has resulted in nine patents.

Shopify is one of the technology innovators that’s always in my field of view. From its massive market share and disruptive innovation in the U.S. ecommerce market to its technological innovation — including driving fundamental advancement in technologies that we use in the Salsify stack, such as Ruby — Shopify is a lighthouse in the ecommerce space.

As a top ecommerce player, Shopify has made a statement by choosing to move upmarket with new offerings targeted at enterprise organizations. Shopify’s Commerce Components announcement comes at a time when brands and retailers are looking to balance the need for innovation around innovative buying experiences for their customers with the need to rationalize their technology costs. 

The promise of this new, modular, headless commerce stack is that companies have the flexibility to work with their choice of best-of-breed vendors while using Shopify Commerce Components for capabilities such as:

  • Storefront
  • Cart
  • Checkout
  • Data and compliance
  • Shipping and logistics
  • Point of sale (POS)
  • Etc.

As a Shopify partner since 2017, Salsify is excited to see this move up market. Hundreds of our mutual customers — including COTY, Spanx, and Mattel — use our solutions together to deliver effective product experiences and direct buying online in a flexible and scalable way.

Salsify Joins Shopify Plus Certified App Program

Learn more about the partnership between Salsify and Shopify.

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What Is Composable Commerce? 

Composable commerce software is hosted in the cloud and uses a microservices architecture so that each component of the technology stack is independent and isolated from other parts of the system. This allows platform capabilities to be consumed a la carte and integrated with existing or net new third-party services.

An architecture like this is both commercially appealing — as you procure exactly what you need — but also technically appealing since it allows for agile evolution of services and integrations without disruption or risk in other areas of the stack.

This kind of modularity allows software developers to innovate quickly and work easily with complementary solutions built on the same principles. Organizations wanting to balance the pressures of innovation and efficiency can choose from various services and providers, composing a tech stack with category leaders or vendors that best meet their specific use-case requirements.

This model of a modular, composable, services-oriented stack is closely related to a number of critical technical trends, including headless commerce, application programming interface (API)-first architecture, and microservices.

These trends all address the same core opportunity: the drive to build on more reusable and best-of-breed capabilities while not needing to be tied into one monolithic architecture or vendor relationship.

Everyone benefits when the customer can compose a stack that is exactly optimal for their needs. It’s worth noting that these are exactly the same ideas behind the MACH foundation. It’s an exciting moment of technological advancement in ecommerce, which is clearly driving towards a next wave of innovation for brands, retailers, and consumers.

Benefits of Composable Commerce for Enterprise Brands and Retailers

Choosing microservices, API-first, and cloud-native technology can help address the “innovate or consolidate” debate within some large (previously mentioned) companies.

Composable commerce solutions enable brands and retailers to work with the best-in-class service providers without making the large technical commitments that on-premise or custom-built solutions require. Companies often still need some in-house development to implement, monitor, and maintain the commerce stack they choose.

A significant portion of the market has already adopted the principles of composable commerce — Salsify included — because of the benefits this approach brings. 

Composable commerce allows brands and retailers to move fast and stay agile with the following benefits.

Speed To Address Changing Business Needs

Microservices make it easy to test a new market strategy or localize within a region without excessive development. 

Scale for Your Omnichannel Ecommerce Experiences

Headless technology means executing across multiple different touch points doesn’t require extensive implementation.

Flexibility To Select the Best Components

Without compromising what’s already built on your core backend platform, you’re able to choose new components and add the customization and personalization you desire.

A Composable Commerce Approach Still Requires Strategic Choices

While the benefits above are quite real, it’s important also to take a sober and rational approach to designing an advanced ecommerce architecture. A composable commerce approach isn’t a magic wand that allows you to mix and match components of your stack on a whim.

Integrating disparate services from separate providers, with their own specific domain models, API conventions, etc., takes real design and development to get right.

Your choices will influence what you can build in the future and how composable your stack remains.

A poorly considered combination of services, even built on solid principles of microservices and standards-based APIs, can end up inhibiting innovation and increasing costs due to the integration costs of bridging impedance mismatches across platforms.

Within the Salsify Product Experience Management (PXM) platform, an ecommerce-native product information management (PIM) solution with omnichannel capabilities, you’ll find microservices architecture. Our customers could choose to use Salsify as a PIM-only or syndication-only solution, but the true value comes when unifying these two offerings that were built to interoperate to manage product data for the digital shelf.

We built our solution with both business and IT users in mind, allowing for several unique benefits, including:

  • Build the data model that best suits your organization and the channels you serve with our de-coupled data architecture; 
  • Centrally manage, automate, and govern essential go-to-market tasks, all while streamlining operations to ensure data accuracy with integrated workflows; and
  • Maintain the ability to monitor and enforce the quality of your data before it gets published.

Salsify was built to support brands — whether they sell through retailers or direct-to-consumer (DTC). When selling directly through our connection to Shopify, brands control every aspect of the buying journey. The ability to enforce data quality standards can play an important role in the success of the brand’s ecommerce site.

There is no doubt that a PXM platform is a crucial part of the digital experience tech stack. In fact, Salsify has been a part of many of our customers’ composable commerce strategies. This often includes some form of ecommerce platform, a digital experience platform (DXP), or a content management system (CMS) solution — and from there, you can add and plug in customized solutions to round out the overall experience.

The Value of PXM and Composable Commerce

Uniting a solid source of truth for product information with a flexible set of commerce solutions can help brands and retailers go to market with a winning product experience, direct to consumers in innovative and meaningful ways.

Posted by Contributor