Why We’re Going Composable
All-in-one ecommerce platforms promise speed and ease of use. And for small or local brands, they often deliver. But as we’ve grown our global cycling sportswear brand, we knew we needed a faster, more customizable e-commerce experience that we could tailor to each local market.
Our solution: adopting a composable commerce architecture.
Composable websites use a modular approach, relying on APIs to connect individual components. Because of this, we’ve been able to select best-of-breed solutions to gradually refine our entire e-commerce experience. Below I share three reasons why we’re making the shift:
1. Faster Optimization
Our all-in-one legacy platform tried to be a CMS, CRM, multichannel commerce solution and more — in effect, a jack of all trades and master of none.
What’s more, its monolithic nature made it tough to optimize any individual element. We were limited to one update release every two weeks. If we didn’t get things right on the first try, it was painful to correct mistakes and iterate.
Composable makes optimization easier. With more specialized, API-based building blocks, there’s no limit on the number of releases — we can roll one out every day if needed. And because each API has its own back end, we can test and tweak them individually.
As a largely e-commerce-driven brand, agile testing and optimization are key to serving our customers.
2. More Customization
Every e-commerce site is different, but our legacy platform made customizations difficult. We had to build time-consuming customizations for any functionality the platform didn’t have.
As we transition to composable, we’ve adopted an API-based CRM, CDP, mobile point of sale, and transactional engine. And we’re already seeing huge benefits.
Our composable CRM and CDP have helped us better segment our customers and deliver more personalized marketing communications. For example, e-commerce data might show that a customer buys a new cycling jersey in a specific style every March. If they haven’t bought one by April, we can set up an automated workflow that emails them an offer code. At scale, this is a big boost to conversions.
We’ve also leveraged our composable mobile POS platform to join up the online and offline shopping experiences. When you walk into one of our 23 global clubhouses, the staff can use your email address to get a glimpse of your online shopping habits — and tailor your in-person shopping experience accordingly. The benefit: a more holistic customer experience.
3. Better Localization
As a global brand, one of the biggest advantages of going composable is the power to localize the shopping experience.
With our legacy e-commerce platform, we couldn’t easily mold the experience to each customer’s country and market. One example? For 18 years, we marketed “trousers” — not “pants” — to our U.S. customers.
Since we’ve gone composable, our U.S. team has been able to localize the shopping experience. That means using more regionally specific product language. It also means automatically displaying local currencies, tax, shipping, and customs at checkout. Now, customers can engage with a more personalized shopping experience. As a result, they’re more likely to convert.
Composable is More Than a Site Architecture — it’s a Mindset
We’re still in the process of going composable. However, as we’ve embraced more APIs, we’ve prioritized finding flexible partners that can tailor a migration plan to enable a smooth and gradual transition.
One unexpected benefit? As we’ve onboarded regional staff to each composable tool, we’ve been able to decentralize operations from our London-based headquarters. Put differently, we’re taking a composable approach to the way we think about customer experience and, ultimately, the people executing on that vision.
Ben Bodien is the technology director at Rapha, makers of the world’s finest cycling clothing.
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Ben Bodien is the technology director at Rapha. Rapha makes the world’s finest cycling clothing and since 2004, its products have redefined comfort, performance, and style for cyclists from beginners through to WorldTour professionals. With innovative products designed for all types of terrain and rigorously tested around the world, interwoven with creative content from the world of cycling, Rapha aims to inspire the world to live life by bike.