Legacy suites and platforms have reinvented themselves, and a new component-based model has entered the ring. Gone are the days of take-it-or-leave-it, prefab, legacy commerce suites and isolated, minimally integrated platforms. As we’ve seen business models adapt to rapidly shifting customer needs and expectations, retailers’ demands of their commerce technology models have evolved at the same pace.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that choosing between providers is not the same process it used to be. Some retailers struggle to identify whether a commerce suite is flexible enough for them or if a platform is connected deeply enough to other functions. Plus, there’s the question of whether they should ditch the “head” altogether and take a pinch of this plug-in and a dash of that add-on with a component-based model.

In my latest research, “Redefining The Three Commerce Technology Models For Today’s Business Requirements,” my colleagues and I explore three categories of commerce tech solution models and redefine them through the lens of how retailers are using them, rather than what they are:

  • Commerce suites are a family of core components, one of which is a commerce platform. Buying into a suite can be appealing so that there is “one throat to choke,” a single provider of many business systems, and the comfort of a known entity as the partner.
  • Commerce platforms may technically be a part of a family suite or a standalone solution. When engaging with a provider as “just” a platform, retailers are selecting their best fit in commerce technology, regardless of suite association.
  • Commerce components give retailers the ability to build out an entirely “headless” ecosystem of components, though components may be plugged into a primary platform, as well. This offers a highly customizable architecture, with heavy reliance on vendors to provide API-first structure that allows for flexibility in function and integration.

The definitions and categorization of commerce technology providers have shifted away from a focus on providers’ capabilities. Retailers are now looking to vendors that provide a model of engagement that supports the type of partnership customers want. That elasticity also means that the same solution has the potential to play multiple roles, depending on customer priorities, and must therefore develop flexibility in how it approaches and supports its customers.

Find out more about the shifting landscape of these commerce technology models in my full report. What replatforming decisions are you grappling with for 2020? Schedule an inquiry with me! And watch for Forrester Wave™ evaluations and Now Techs on B2C and B2B commerce suites that my colleague Joe Cicman and I are researching and putting together in the coming months.

(Written with Brandon Shaik, research associate)