Retailers Tap ‘Composable Commerce’ as Consumer Expectations, eCommerce Complexity, Rise

The interaction between brands and customers at home used to be a static experience.

You got a catalog in the mail. Thumbed through it. Chose among the limited options available over the phone, or via a trip to the store — the blue couch, for example, or the white one.

But modern merchandising demands that retailers take a decidedly digital approach to their efforts to reach consumers, bringing agility to the way they deliver online catalogs, mobile experiences and even checkout. And brands have only a few chances to satisfy the expectations of their consumers, Julie Mall, vice president of global solutions consulting at Elastic Path, told PYMNTS.

After all, a repeatedly poor customer experience will drive nearly half of consumers to a competitor. This, as 15% of customers think checkout experiences take too long.

The “composable commerce” approach, she said, uses a slew of top vendors, “composed together,” to give retailers and brands a range of prepackaged solutions that allow enterprises to craft their own customer experiences. Those capabilities are made available through application programming interfaces (APIs), giving a plug-and-play aspect to crafting the end-to-end customer experience.

That’s a marked change from just a few years ago. Before the pandemic, and the great digital shift, eCommerce was defined as “a rigid approach, defined in terms of how you navigate a catalog and find products,” Mall said.

Meeting the Customer

But now, merchants must meet customers where they are, with the products they want, at the moment of desire. The flexible, easy-to-use online catalog becomes a springboard to sales conversions, where browsing translates into clicking all the way through to purchases.

That’s a challenge for retailers, which must have the right assortment of products on hand to deliver to the consumer in the right context — in real time and at scale. The catalogs themselves must be flexible. No longer are consumers content with just choosing the color scheme of a couch — they also want to choose among different modular options, for example. Handling this expanded set of choices in a curated fashion is the challenge.

In reenvisioning the catalog experience — a decomposed catalog that offers an intuitive journey for consumers — she said, “you can really do anything. You can combine any part of a product with any price and deliver it in any structure any time.” That flexible catalog affords merchants, for example, the ability to test different pricing models with loyal customers to see the different responses that can be generated.

Mall said that merchandising has to be targeted, segmented and personalized. Composable commerce, she said, can help merchants employ checkout solutions that address customer dissatisfaction with checkout.

She predicted that composability will become an ever-greater part of the customer experience.

“We’ll be able to capitalize on the metaverse, injecting commerce right into the point at which we experience content.” she said. “It’s an opportunity for brands to think about where they can inject product experiences and the ability to purchase items in that moment.”

“The pace of change, in retail, is accelerating — and now brands want to be able to move beyond the pandemic and respond, in real time to the needs of the consumer.” As she told PYMNTS, “The end game of composability is to make sure that the experience, wherever the consumer finds it, is going to be a great one.”