Traditional ecommerce platforms vs composable platforms

A traditional ecommerce platform provides a pre-packaged, all-in-one solution with both frontend and backend functionality housed under one roof. A composable platform offers a backend only, which enables businesses to assemble and integrate a separate frontend and specialized services that best suit their unique requirements.

Both traditional ecommerce platforms and composable platforms boast benefits; it comes down to what’s right for your unique business.

 

 

 

platform type pros cons
traditional ecommerce platform
  • Ease of use and relatively quick deployment
  • Comprehensive, out-of-the-box feature set
  • Simplified management and maintenance
  • Lower initial development costs
  • Support and community
  • Vendor lock-in
  • Scalability and future-proofing challenges
  • Upgrades and compatibility with third-party integrations
composable commerce platform
  • Flexibility and customization
  • Scalability and agility
  • Integration and interoperability
  • Cost optimization
  • Innovation and future-proofing
  • Complexity and technical expertise
  • Integration challenges
  • Increased management complexity
  • Higher development and maintenance costs
  • Potential vendor dependency
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Traditional ecommerce platforms comparison

A traditional ecommerce platform lets businesses manage their website, sales, marketing, operations, and more. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and functionalities to create, customize, and optimize digital storefronts for selling products or services online.

A traditional ecommerce platform generally offers the following components:

  • Online store creation
  • Product catalog management
  • Shopping cart and checkout
  • Order and customer management
  • Payment and shipping integration
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Mobile commerce
  • Integration and extensibility

Below, you will find a comparison of traditional ecommerce platforms. Our curated selection is based on the most popular models for mid to large-sized ecommerce businesses.

Source: Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, 2022

 

 

platform headless CMS best for pros cons
Adobe Commerce (Magento) Headless capabilities through GraphQL API Comes with built-in CMS, Pagebuilder
  • Mid to enterprise-level companies that require more control over their digital commerce endeavors
  • B2B ecommerce
  • Customizable or niche marketplaces
  • omnichannel retailers
  • Robust and scalable
  • Flexible and customizable
  • Embedded AI
  • Feature-rich
  • Community support
  • Supports Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)
  • Cross-channel personalization
  • Requires higher technical expertise
  • Higher technical requirements may lead to increased costs
  • Lacks automatic features and version updates
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware) Headless capabilities through its API-first approach Comes with built-in CMS, SiteGenesis
  • Mid to enterprise-level companies
  • B2C retailers
  • D2C brands
  • Global ecommerce operations
  • Offers options for B2B, B2C, and B2B2C businesses
  • Integration with Salesforce Ecosystem
  • Sophisticated AI technology
  • Multisite functionality
  • Shared Lightening services
  • Separate platforms for B2C & B2B (Demandware vs Cloudcraze)
  • Limited customization when compared to other fully headless solutions
  • Outdated infrastructure
SAP Commerce Headless capabilities through its RESTful API Comes with built-in CMS, SmartEdit
  • Large enterprises with complex operations and/or large product catalogs
  • B2B retailers
  • Manufacturing and distribution industries
  • Multichannel and global ecommerce
  • Strong B2B
  • Robust integration capabilities with other SAP solutions and third-party systems
  • Weaker B2C
  • The complexity of the platform may result in longer time-to-market
  • Outdated infrastructure
Shopify Headless capabilities through its Storefront API Comes with built-in CMS, Shopify CMS
  • Small to medium-sized businesses
  • Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands
  • Niche and specialty retailers
  • Subscription-based businesses
  • Easy to use
  • Extensive app store with a vast ecosystem of third-party apps and integrations
  • Support for complex use cases

 

  • Designed for smaller catalogs
  • Limited customization
  • Limited scalability
  • Limited multisite capabilities
  • B2B offering recently launched
Vaimo people on the composable architecture page.

Traditional ecommerce platforms FAQs

A traditional ecommerce platform is a software application or online service that lets you create, manage, and operate their online stores or digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce platform works by providing you with the necessary tools and features to establish and manage your online stores or digital marketplaces.

A traditional ecommerce platform generally provides the following features:

  • Online store creation
  • Product catalog management
  • Shopping cart and checkout
  • Order and customer management
  • Payment and shipping integration
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Mobile commerce
  • Integration and extensibility

The benefits of using a traditional ecommerce platform are as follows:

  • Ease of use and relatively quick deployment
  • Comprehensive, out-of-the-box feature set
  • Simplified management and maintenance
  • Lower initial development costs
  • Support and community

Some widely-used traditional ecommerce platforms on the market today are as follows:

  • Adobe Commerce (Magento)
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware)
  • SAP Commerce
  • Shopify

If you’re sure a traditional ecommerce platform is right for your business, consider the following questions when deciding which is best for you:

  • What are my business requirements and how do they align with the ecommerce platform I’m considering?
  • Is ease of use important to me? Does my team possess enough technical knowledge to handle the platform, or will I need to hire additional help?
  • What are competitive brands or retailers in my field using?
  • What is the total cost of the platform, including implementation, licensing, and maintenance?
  • Does the platform provide flexibility and customization options?
  • Does the platform offer mobile-friendly designs?
  • What integration capabilities does the platform offer?
  • Which payment gateways are supported by the platform?
  • What scalability and growth potential does the ecommerce platform provide?
  • What are the customer support, community, and resources provided by the platform?
  • Does the platform provide adequate security measures and adherence to compliance regulations?
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Composable platforms comparison

A composable commerce platform is an approach to building an ecommerce infrastructure that emphasizes flexibility, modularity, and interoperability through the use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). It involves assembling and integrating various independent services, applications, and capabilities to create a tailored ecommerce solution that meets specific business needs. These building blocks can include functionalities such as product catalog management, cart and checkout, inventory management, payment processing, personalization, search, and more.

Composable platforms are headless by design, and therefore, they require you to purchase a separate frontend and CMS. Generally, even if they have a rudimentary frontend or CMS available, they may not fulfill your requirements.

Here’s what to look for when searching for a composable commerce platform:

  • API-first approach
  • Microservices architecture
  • Modular and interchangeable components
  • Flexibility and customization
  • Scalability and agility
  • Vendor neutrality

Below, you will find a comparison of composable platforms. Our curated selection is based on the most popular models for mid to large-sized ecommerce businesses.

Source: Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, 2022

 

 

platform best for pros cons    
Commercetools
  • Enterprise-level businesses
  • Omnichannel retailers
  • Global ecommerce operations
  • Innovative and complex commerce experiences
  • Simplified maintenance, scaling, and adding of features
  • Developer-friendly; provides extensive tools to allow customization
  • MACH influence
  • Free trial available
  • Storefront and page builder
  • Steep learning curve for non-technical users
  • Small ecosystem of partners
  • Requires tech-savvy commerce team to manage integrations
Spryker
  • B2B (Business-to-Business) ecommerce
  • D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) brands
  • Digital marketplaces and platform businesses
  • Complex and industry-specific ecommerce requirements
  • Extensive ecosystem of modules and extension
  • Developer-friendly environment with extensive documentation SDKs, and tools
  • Modular and scalable
  • Steep learning curve for non-technical users
  • May require a higher level of technical expertise due to its modular architecture and advanced features
  • Limited native feature set compared to leaders
  • Limited business UI
Elastic Path
  •  Medium-sized businesses
  • Headless and omnichannel commerce
  • Subscription and recurring revenue businesses
  • Complex product and pricing configurations
  • Strong B2B
  • Robust integration capabilities with other SAP solutions and third-party systems
  • Weaker B2C
  • The complexity of the platform may result in longer time-to-market
BigCommerce
  • Small to medium-sized businesses
  • Fast-growing and scalable businesses
  • Multichannel and omnichannel retailers
  • B2B (Business-to-Business) ecommerce
  • International ecommerce
  • Strong SEO features
  • Robust flexibility
  • Numerous built-in features
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • No transaction fees
  • Vast application ecosystem
  • Smaller app marketplace
  • No subscription features or multilingual options
  • Annual sales threshold
  • No email marketing tools
  • Limited support for large enterprises
Happy older man with an alterative haircut happily shops on his mobile phone, presumably because of the amazing digital experience the ecommerce store offers him.

Composable platforms FAQs

A composable ecommerce platform is a method of building and managing an ecommerce system that involves assembling a solution by combining and integrating modular components or services, rather than relying on a traditional, all-in-one platform. A composable ecommerce platform is an ecommerce engine, or a backend.

In simplified terms, a composable ecommerce platform is a decoupled backend, or an ecommerce engine. A traditional ecommerce platform provides a backend and a frontend.

  • Flexibility and customization
  • Quicker innovation and time to market
  • Future-proofing and adaptability
  • Seamless integration with third-party applications
  • Optimized for enhanced performance and efficiency
  • Scalability and agility
  • Reduced vendor lock-in

Think of a composable ecommerce platform like a set of Legos. You can easily add, subtract, and modify the pieces, unlike a traditional ecommerce platform that comes as a complete set of features and functionality out-of-the-box.

A composable commerce platform uses APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to allow the components to “communicate” with one another. It involves assembling and integrating various independent services, applications, and capabilities to create a tailored ecommerce solution that meets specific business needs.

These building blocks can include functionalities such as product catalog management, cart and checkout, inventory management, payment processing, personalization, search, and more.

The composable approach gives you the freedom to innovate and experiment with new features or functionality. Since the “pieces” of the puzzle can be removed or added, it’s easier to play around with new elements on your storefront.

It’s easier and quicker to push new features or products to market with composable because each team works independently. With a traditional ecommerce platform, teams must work together and rely on each other more, which can cause delays with launches.

 

When choosing a composable platform, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the platform let me easily select, integrate, and customize components to match my needs?
  • Assess the composable platform’s modular architecture and the selection of microservices available. Do they align with your business requirements?
  • Does the platform provide seamless integration with third-party services and tools, like payment gateways, analytics providers, and shipping providers?
  • Can the platform handle scalability and increased performance?
  • Are the development resources, community support, and documentation available for the platform adequate for your needs?
  • Does the platform prioritize security and compliance?
  • Does the platform come with vendor support?
  • What is the total cost, including implementation, licensing fees, and maintenance?
  • Does the platform provide a user experience and ease of use that matches your expectations?
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Content management systems

A content management system (CMS) is a software application that lets you create, manage, and customize digital content. It offers a user-friendly interface and a set of tools that allow you or your teams to easily organize, edit, and publish content on websites or other digital platforms without requiring extensive technical knowledge.

A CMS simplifies the process of content management by decoupling the content from its presentation layer. It lets you focus on the creation and organization of content, while the CMS handles the underlying technical aspects such as formatting, styling, and structuring the content for display.

A CMS usually involves two main components:

  • Content management application: the backend of the CMS where you can create, edit, and manage content
  • Content delivery application: the frontend of the CMS that manages the presentation and delivery of the content to the end users

 

Below, you will find a comparison of content management systems. Our curated selection is based on the most popular models for mid to large-sized ecommerce businesses.

 

Source: Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, 2022

 

 

 

platform best for pros cons    
Contentful
  • Mid-sized and enterprise retailers
  • International and multi-channel businesses
  • developer-centric
  • Rapidly iterating businesses
  • Flexible and customizable
  • Headless architecture
  • Strong API capabilities
  • Extensive third-party integrations
  • Multi-language support
  • May be costly for larger projects
Storyblok
  • Content-driven ecommerce
  • Multi-channel and global
  • Developer-centric
  • Rapidly scaling ecommerce startups
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Multi-channel content delivery
  • Strong internationalization support
  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Limited customization options
  • May require additional development for complex requirements
Graph CMS
  • Custom ecommerce solutions
  • PWAs
  • Multi-channel ecommerce
  • International ecommerce
  • GraphQL-based
  • Intuitive content modeling
  • User-friendly interface
  • Flexible APIs
  • Multi-environment support
  • Modern modular-based CMS
  • Limited community and third-party integrations
  • May require technical expertise for advanced customization
Optimizely (Episerver)
  • Mid-sized and enterprise retailers
  • Multichannel and global ecommerce
  • B2B
  • Robust content management capabilities
  • Digital marketing tools
  • Personalization features
  • Strong ecommerce integration
  • Includes traditional CMS, more template-based, full feature set
  • Steeper learning curve
  • Enterprise-focused pricing
  • May be less suited for smaller projects
Adobe Experience Manager
  • Businesses looking to connect to the vast Adobe ecosystem
  • Large-scale Retailers
  • Omnichannel and global businesses
  • Powerful and feature-rich
  • Robust digital marketing capabilities
  • Highly scalable for enterprise-level projects
  • Extensive integrations with other Adobe products
  • Higher cost
  • Complex setup and implementation
  • May require specialized technical expertise
Prismic
  • Content-focused and storytelling businesses
  • Headless and decoupled ecommerce
  • API-based
  • Flexible content modeling
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Affordable pricing
  • Limited out-of-box features
  • Less suitable for complex enterprise projects
CraftCMS
  • Small to medium-sized businesses
  • Customizable and design-centric businesses
  • User-friendly interface
  • Strong content editing capabilities
  • Flexible templating
  • Robust developer tools
  • Active community
  • Limited pre-built features
  • May require more development effort for advanced functionality
Sanity
  • Businesses with tech-savvy teams looking for a modern, developer-focused solutions
  • Headless and decoupled ecommerce
  • Customization and developer-centric approach
  • Flexible and customizable
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Includes GraphQL API
  • Strong developer tools
  • Works well for content-heavy projects
  • Less user-friendly for non-technical users
  • Limited out-of-box functionality
Drupal
  • Content-driven ecommerce businesses
  • Robust and flexible
  • Works well for simple and small-scale projects
  • Extensive module ecosystem
  • Good community support
  • Steeper learning curve
  • May require technical expertise
  • May require additional resources
Bloomreach
  • Businesses looking for a customer experience suite with a CMS included
  • Large-scale enterprise retailers
  • Personalized and targeted ecommerce experiences
  • Multichannel and international ecommerce
  • B2B ecommerce
  • AI-driven customization
  • Robust search and merchandising capabilities
  • Ecommerce-focused
  • Scalable for enterprise-level projects
  • Outdated architecture (Hippo CMS)
  • Higher pricing
  • Complex implementation
  • May require specialized expertise
  • Includes full customer experience suite, not just a CMS
Serene office setting.

Content management systems FAQs

A content management system (CMS) is a software application that lets you create, manage, and customize digital content.

A CMS works by decoupling the content creation and management process from the technical aspects of website development and design.

Yes, you can use a CMS with a traditional ecommerce platform, but usually, ecommerce platforms come with robust CMS systems. Be sure to evaluate whether the CMS included with a potential ecommerce platform meets your expectations.

  • Easy content organization and workflow management
  • User-friendly content creation and management
  • Design flexibility with a diverse range of themes, templates, and design possibilities
  • Content reuse and version control features
  • SEO-friendly plugins
  • Scalability to accommodate growing content volume and traffic
  • Content creation and editing functionality
  • Content management and organization
  • User management
  • Version control and revision history
  • Content publishing and scheduling
  • Media management
  • Templates and themes
  • SEO optimization
  • Search and navigation for content discovery
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Extensions and plugins to extend the functionality of the CMS
  • Multilingual support for content in several languages

When choosing a CMS, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of content do you intend to publish, and what functionality do you need to achieve that?
  • Is the CMS easy to use, and does it align with your team’s technical proficiency?
  • Does the CMS provide scalability and flexibility to grow with your company?
  • Does the CMS provide the necessary tools for your team to efficiently manage and organize your content?
  • Do the themes and templates align with your website’s desired look and feel?
  • Does the CMS support your SEO and marketing objectives?
  • Are the CMS’s community and support resources satisfactory?
  • Are the CMS’s security features adequate, and does the CMS regularly release security patches?
  • How much does the CMS cost, including licensing fees hosting requirements, and additional expenses, such as plugins?
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A better experience with platforms

As the digital market matures, it’s not getting any easier to build an optimum tech stack. In fact, it’s getting more challenging, more expensive, and more complicated by the day. As digital businesses grow in complexity, we’re seeing best-of-breed players emerge on the market that raise the standards of customer experiences.

Successful brands and retailers realize that their number one marketing channel is digital. They know that when people think of a brand or retailer, the first thing they do is pull out their phone and Google it. Make your first impression count.

The right platform will help you deliver stunning customer experiences and support your growth.

The right agency will ensure you choose the right platform for your business.

Vaimo’s a perfect fit for you if this describes you:

  • You’ve got a mid to enterprise-level business
  • You’re looking to rebuild your customer experience
  • You’re looking for an agency that will help you end-to-end

Talk to us today.

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