Spryker: Platform for Future-Proof Commerce

The benefits of Spryker's approach of modularity and composability

July 3, 2023 / Thomas Kühnel, Co-CTO

The world of commerce technology has changed drastically in recent years. Changing technological requirements, a rise in overall complexity, and newer players are transforming the market. One growing contender is Spryker, whose modular Commerce OS has served as the basis for a number of our platform projects. Let’s take an in-depth look at its technological approach, how it can benefit companies’ commerce efforts and why, and what’s in store for the future.

When our teams at Turbine Kreuzberg began working with Spryker in 2015, it was then still a nascent Berlin startup in the Project A Ventures incubator ecosystem. For years before, our development teams had been gathering project experience in the commerce space – and growing increasingly frustrated with the solutions available at the time. The rigid, out-of-the-box commerce suites available made it necessary to bend them to project requirements. Valuable time was often spent painstakingly removing features and services that came in the package, but were not required, or adding new capabilities through custom development.

Along came Spryker with a simple promise: new flexibility in building and scaling applications. How? By offering a modular commerce software platform, which consists of loosely coupled, independent components that could be used as-is, extended or removed as needed and as requirements changed.

Soon after, the chance to put Spryker to use in a first hands-on project presented itself. Swiss giants Swisscom and Coop were joining forces to build a new marketplace and had chosen Spryker as its basis (Disclaimer: Before joining Turbine Kreuzberg, I used to be a developer at Spryker). The project offered our teams two things: the opportunity to test out what building with Spryker would be like, as well as to get in early on the development of an upstart new commerce technology and to help shape its trajectory. Four months later, our team launched the first ever Spryker-based commerce platform in the world.

Making commerce development fun again

And with it, the fun in developing commerce applications had returned. Spryker provided our developers with an excellent example of how modern, modular software should be structured. Its high-quality codebase encourages developers to use best practices in a pragmatic way. The decoupled nature of Spryker's modules made it easy to apply our agile development practices. Spryker comes with a testing setup out of the box, enabling test-driven development, as well as static code analysis tools to maintain high-quality code over the course of a project.

It is mainly this development environment that led Turbine Kreuzberg to become the first Spryker solutions partner, proving our teams’ eagerness to work with the technology ever since. The over twenty platform projects we have implemented with the technology since Spryker’s launch are evidence enough. In addition, our client’s requirements and the solutions we have implemented have helped shape the product itself.

Spryker: A dynamic commerce framework

Let’s take a look at what Spryker offers under the hood. In a nutshell, Spryker Cloud Commerce OS provides a highly modular, customizable commerce stack, which combines lots of out-of-the-box functionality with a high degree of flexibility. You can think of Spryker as a “Lego” model. Its various modules work largely independent of one another and, used as-is, can be implemented, extended or removed as needed and as requirements change.

Spryker uses a collection of loosely coupled components to form the basis for high-performing, maintainable, and readily scalable commercial applications. Spryker’s features are gathered in independent “Packaged Business Capabilities” (PBC), which are each designed to fill a specific need depending on the customer and their use cases. This modularity reduces the effect of specific changes to any part of the system on other parts, preventing errors and time spent on maintenance. Requirements in B2B and B2C are overlapping more and more. Still, every business has its own individual demands, and Spryker is easily adaptable to custom requirements – especially when compared to one-size-fits-all platforms. While Spryker offers numerous conventional shop system features right out-of-the-box, it really shines in its support of agile custom development.

The Glue API

The integration of front-end touchpoints is held together by a an API application called “Glue”, which allows you to create more than one customer experience, depending on the use case at hand – from standardized B2C or B2B online stores, marketplaces, mobile apps, or newer front-end touchpoints such as voice or bot commerce. The platform will be reachable to your customers in any circumstances. As Spryker explains, its Cloud Commerce OS is a “beyond shop – beyond desktop” commerce technology, enabling transactional use cases at every current and future touchpoint.

Moreover, with headless commerce, we see increased flexibility in customization of the storefront, removing limits on development teams in building platforms and also enriching the user experience. We also see significant reductions in time-to-market.

Basis for rapid innovation

The fact that commerce is becoming more and more data-driven is just one reason company requirements are in constant flux, leading to ideas for additional services, which need to be implemented quickly in order to be tested in the market. Companies are also continuously evaluating and expanding their tech stacks, integrating new payment platforms, customer relationship management or CMS tools. Spryker’s modular architecture ensures that new service innovations can be integrated quickly and reliably into production installations, and then evaluated for their success.

Spryker Commerce OS takes this even one step further. Spryker Commerce OS takes this even one step further. The use of machine-generated data for warehousing and production or even blockchain transactions is supported by Spryker’s architecture, allowing the seamless integration of back-end technologies. With increasing automation, IoT-based warehousing and fully automated processing of B2B transactions — “bot commerce” — are not far off. This future can benefit from relying on an open framework like Spryker.

On the other hand, many business models that require only minor changes over the years are becoming more customized and sophisticated in this age of digital transformation. Instead of running the risk of having to start from scratch, Spryker’s foundation enables the development and operation of technical innovations in parallel with the running system. If it then becomes clear that the existing solutions can also be implemented well in Spryker, you can migrate gradually. As a result, companies are no longer faced with the “either/or” question, and can instead benefit from a smooth transition.

Frequent updates and quick response times

When it comes to updates, Spryker’s strategy is much different from other vendors. While other vendors usually release only one major version of their software per year, Spryker relies on continuous update releases of their individual models, which leads to a continuous update process that doesn't require big-bag major version migrations. This ensures up-to-date features and security at all times while easily being able to estimate costs.

Speed is one of the most important factors in commerce. Everyone will agree: slow performing websites are a dealbreaker. Spryker’s approach ensures that the shop will never become the bottleneck for any marketing activities such as TV, newsletter or SEM campaigns. One of the best advantages of a fast application is the ability to run the shop for testing, preparation and production purposes on little and affordable cloud models. If you don’t need to put so much effort in optimization, the hosting perimeter will be much simpler.

By default, Spryker is a cloud solution, meaning you do not have to worry about hosting or heavy, recurring maintenance. Of course, if you feel more comfortable managing everything in an “out-of-the-box”approach, Spryker can attempt to accommodate your request in a flexible, composable commerce approach.

On track for the future of composable commerce

Spryker lives up to its “Commerce OS” product moniker: as a modular system for commerce applications, it meets the challenges of digital transformation by delivering a clean architecture, clear focus on extensibility and systematic separation of front and back-end, instead of your typical, bloated, off-the-shelf solutions. This allows Spryker to respond quickly to requirements, without sacrificing power.

Recently, Spryker has launched its own App Composition Platform allowing businesses to test out a curated suite of third-party apps in an easier and faster way – no code required. The idea is to create a truly “composable” commerce platform, with which customers can easily choose best-of-breed technologies as their requirements change and integrate them quickly. Whether in the future Spryker will be as flexible for developers as it has been in the past remains to be seen, though at least on paper there are clear benefits for customers.

On our journey with Spryker over the past few years, we have made great strides towards the future of commerce. No longer relegated to the outskirts of companies’ systems landscapes, commerce has become the core of many businesses. For me as a developer, it’s exciting to have worked on that commerce future becoming a reality – and much faster than anyone thought.

Thomas Kühnel