Software giant SAP is jumping into the composable commerce ring, admittedly later to the game than smaller competitors but pitching it as providing greater flexibility, scalability and maturity than members of the growing MACH Alliance of headless, cloud, API and microservices-based vendors.
This is an interesting development, considering that the MACH players – including several I spoke with at NRF 2023 – bill themselves as the antithesis of monolithic legacy companies (SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, IBM et al) that overburden customers with too much functionality and not enough flexibility.
The composable commerce offering, part of SAP Commerce Cloud, was announced this week at Shoptalk and is scheduled for availability in Q2.
Riad Hijal, global head of marketing and solutions for SAP Commerce, said while the composable commerce solution is coming along well after many others, including those of MACH, the company took the necessary time to get it right. He said the journey was advanced when SAP offered a headless commerce option three years ago, a decoupled storefront with full API coverage.
“It’s not something that is just happening now,” Hijal said. “It’s been steady progress over the last five years. Would I like it to be faster? Of course. Our dilemma is we’re a large vendor supporting over $400 billion of GMV on our platform. A smaller startup doesn’t have that level of complexity, that level of customers to support.”
While there are 120 partners on the SAP Commerce Cloud store, the composable offering comes with curated set of pre-integrated, go-to-market partners. They include Contentful (content creation), Coveo (AI-powered search), Akeneo (experience management), Bolt (one-click checkout), Mirakl (marketplace creation) and Pricefx (price optimization).
Hijal said the company heard its customers loud and clear on their desire for flexibility in terms what they buy and deploy from SAP vs. best-of-breed solutions. It’s a departure from the all-in-one approach of Commerce Cloud, loaded up with functionality across the spectrum, often more than was needed.
A recent 2023 commerce predictions report from Forrester report found 30% of digital projects in the past 12 months have failed, often because companies bit off more than they could chew, sometimes while setting up a composable commerce architecture. Most of them, Hijal said, don’t have “two floors of developers” or the digital maturity of an Amazon.
“Ultimately, they don’t want to have to choose between best-of-breed and best-of-suite,” he said. “The want the former wherever it drives value and differentiation and ROI. They don’t want to have to compose everything from scratch, or have a monolithic vendor, either.”