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Understanding Modular Commerce, The New Buzzword In Ecommerce

Znode’s Approach to Providing the Flexibility of Composable Without Sacrificing Speed-to-Market.

The B2B ecommerce landscape is always evolving and full of new buzzwords to keep analysts interested and practitioners on their toes. Four years ago, headless commerce was the hot topic. Two years ago, composable was the thing. In 2024, modular ecommerce is the hot new buzzword.

The Lead-Up to Modular Commerce

Modular commerce is a hybrid approach to ecommerce, born from poor experiences with both monolithic platforms that offer limited flexibility and composable platforms that offer limited functionality. This trend has been receiving more attention from analyst groups and was one of the MasterB2B 2024 predictions. Merchants want the flexibility of composable, but not too composable.

Monolithic platforms have been adapting to the headless and composable trends by exposing APIs. While the exposed API layer allows for greater flexibility with the front-end user experience, this strategy does not solve for easy integrations into third-party systems. Quickly accessing and exposing ERP data is a major requirement for B2B ecommerce. Most of these platforms started in retail, where complex ERP integration was not a major requirement.

The composable ecommerce trend was born from the API economy. Rather than having an all-in-one ecommerce solution, the idea was to integrate best-of-breed software, including site search and CMS, with ecommerce platforms. The MACH Alliance was soon birthed, and software vendors were giddy about the prospect of creating ecosystems of software integrations for the sake of selling more licenses.

This all sounded great until mid-market manufacturers and distributors realized they now had to manage more software vendors, license costs, and custom software. At the same time, implementation failures were on the rise. The trade-off between flexibility and cost became a tangible reality.

A 2022 LinkedIn poll by MasterB2B demonstrates the concerns of both approaches.

The MACH marketing machine or macheting (pronounced with a Boston accent) needed a new spin.

Welcome to Modular Commerce

Composable ecommerce platforms needed to shift quickly and also saw a revenue opportunity. Modules were a new way to add functionality while solving the pains of too many software licenses. Modules could also be a way to upsell customers with the argument for simplification and speed to market. This hybrid approach actually makes sense - features and flexibility.

Znode Has Always Been Modular

B2B ecommerce has always been composable. B2B buyers are looking for specific products and solutions, and while that data is displayed in the ecommerce experience, it lives in many systems. Creating a great customer buying experience in B2B without integrating ERP data, shipping software, and more is not a reality.

Znode offers the best of both worlds to address the composability needs of B2B ecommerce. Znode was built with an API-first architecture and native Commerce Connector to integrate with ERPs and third-party systems to exchange data quickly. As a true B2B ecommerce platform, Znode has native B2B functionality that allows data to be configured and personalized for accounts and segments. This is simply configuring traditional B2B contract rules in a digital experience.

Znode’s API-first Approach to Modularity

Znode’s contemporary architecture separates the data layer, service layers, and the API gateway. The service layer is divided into two distinct modules: the traditional Znode B2B ecommerce module and the Commerce Portal module. The latter offers direct ordering functionality along with order status, workflow, and more B2B features for sales, CSRs, and distributor roles. These different experiences, including the administration console, are also modules calling the API gateway.

While Znode offers a robust set of B2B features, including enterprise site search, these features are configurable. If merchants prefer a best-of-breed approach, the API Gateway can simply be pointed to another system, such as a third-party search tool. This architecture and approach offers speed-to-market with rich B2B feature sets and the flexibility of a composable approach.

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