A Case for Packaged CDPs - Specifically Segment

Composable CDPs are all the rage. But frequently, "Packaged CDPs" provide better time to value. This is especially true for eCommerce when leveraging Fueled's Shopify Integration for Segment.

What's the Difference Between "Composable" & "Packaged CDPs"?

First, A Little History

3 years ago, all CDPs (Segment, mParticle, Tealium, Simon Data, and so forth) were packaged. "Composable" vs "Packaged" weren't yet terms in the customer data platform space.

Around that time, many leading customer data platforms began to release integrations with data warehouses. In my opinion, Segment and Simon Data really led this charge:

First, you could leverage CPDs to push 1st-party event data into a data warehouse for analysis. Then, you could query data warehouses to enrich customer profiles in your CDP with offline data. (Segment refers to this functionality as "SQL Traits").

As SQL Traits and similar "data warehouse"-powered enrichment strategies for CDP customer profiles became more and more popular, a new breed of CDP products launched, called Reverse ETLs.

Reverse ETLs posit that data warehouses, not CDPs should be a company's source of truth with respect to customer data, customer identity resolution, and data activation. Reverse ETLs don't typically provide solutions for capturing customer data and getting it into the warehouse. They leave that to dedicated event collection tools (like Fueled or Snowplow Analytics).

Leading Reverse ETLs include Census and Hightouch.

Of course, in response to these dedicated reverse ETL platforms, Segment and other enterprise CDPs released their own reverse ETL functionality.

But as a differentiation (largely in terms of marketing), CDPs that began as reverse ETLs coined the term "Composable CDP", staked the claim of being more flexible and modular than traditional CDPs, and began revering to those traditional CDPs as "Packaged."

So, Wait. What's The Difference Again?

In theory, composable CDPs like Census and Hightouch are more modular than traditional, "packaged" CDPs. They don't force you into using their javascript libraries and APIs to get data into your data warehouse before you can activate it. In theory, this is more flexible and can help companies reduce costs.

In theory, packaged CDPs provide more complete solutions out of the box. In theory, packaged CDPs require less setup and less vendor management.

In practice, the lines between composable and packaged CDPs are shrinking. Hightouch, for example, argued vehemently for years that companies benefit from using different tools for 1st-party data collection vs. activation. They argued too that streaming events in real time between applications connected with a CDP wasn't important. However, to gain marketshare in competing with packaged CDPs, they released both of these features this year — arguably hurting their claim of "composability" and significant differentiation from Packaged CDPs.

Pros & Cons of Composable CDPs


  • Allow for easier separation between 1st-party data collection, identity resolution, customer profile enrichment, and data activation.
  • In theory, less expensive than most Packaged CDPs.
  • In theory, more flexible than Packaged CDPs, especially if you have a strong data practice centered around data warehousing.


  • Require a data warehouse as your source of truth, which many organizations might not yet be ready for.
  • Often require more vendor management, because the component pieces of your CDP are moduled and often best served by multiple vendors.
  • Ironically, for larger companies/users, the data collection for composable CDPs is powered by the very packaged CDPs they aim to replace.

Pros & Cons of Packaged CDPs


  • Tried and true: Packaged CDPs like Segment, mParticle, and Tealium have massive marketshare and the lion's share of the entrerprise market.
  • One throat to choke: Customers can get almost all of the functionality they need from a single vendor.
  • More robust in terms of streaming data between applications in real time. As mentioned, composable CDPs are starting to offer this functionality, but it's been the core of packaged CDPs for over a decade.


  • SQL Traits and reverse ETL functionality provided by major CDPs like Segment isn't quite a strong as it is for dedicated reverse ETL products like Census.
  • It can get confusing managing your "source of truth" for customer data between a warehouse and CDP customer profiles.

Why We Released a Shopify Connector for Segment

Fueled is a 1st-party data collection tool for eCommerce. For the last two years, we've had a commercially-available date warehouse integration — allowing eCommerce merchants to collect data with Fueled, and then stream it to their data warehosue (Google BigQuery, Amazon RedShift, and Snowflake).

Fueled's data warehouse integration is leveraged by a large number of brands interested in activating warehouse data with reverse ETLs like Census and Hightouch.

Recently, we've launched a self-service integration for Segment that's available through the Shopify App Store.

You can learn more about it at: https://learn.fueled.io/integrations/destinations/segment.com.

Ironically, Fueled began as a digital agency, helping eCommerce brands integrate Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento with Segment. We've used our Shopify and BigCommerce marketplace apps to integration with Segment for years. But it was only this November that we made this feature available for self-service.


We released our Segment integration for Shopify because we believe that the next phase of eCommerce excellence will be driven by 1st-party data. The brands that can collect, understand, and operationalize 1st-party customer data will have a huge advantage over brands that rely on built-in platform integrations, like Shopify's out-of-the-box Facebook Conversion API integration or its vanilla marketing automation integrations (Klaviyo, Omnisend, etc.)

1st-party customer data is a brand's strongest asset.

But currently, capturing this data and using it for ad targeting, ad optimization, and marketing automations is quite difficult. Segment makes this much easier, and unlocks thousands of new platform integrations for merchants on Shopify and BigCommerce. However, it's still quite difficult to launch a robust Segment integration for either platform.

As an enterprise CDP, Segment is just too flexible and too unopinionated. It can take merchants month to plan and code their Segment integration for Shopify or BigCommerce.

Fueled streamlines this entire process.

With Fueled, Shopify and BigCommerce brands can implement Segment in minutes — not weeks. Fueled ensures best practices with their setup, including a combination of client-side and server-side event tracking for more robust data collection.

Especially for eCommerce brands with annual revenues above $10M, the combination of Shopify/BigCommerce and Segment (powered by Fueled), can be activated quickly for significant return on investment.


Fueled's Shopify integration for Segment is packed with the features we know, from experience, that merchants need:

  • Client-side and server-side event collection.
  • Out-of-the-box tracking of Segment's full eCommerce specification.
  • Recipes for integrating with Segment Functions.
  • Out-of-the-box domain proxying, to prevent ad blockers from wrecking signal and to extend cookie lifespans for major browsers.
  • and more!

Let’s Chat!

Interested in learning more about Fueled's Shopify Source Integration for Segment? Interested in an attribution tracking audit? Get in touch!

Fueled is a 1st-Party Data Platform, designed specifically for eCommerce. We help brands unlock the power of 1st-party customer data for analysis and campaign activation. We help brands improve return on ad spend by up to 25%.

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