From monolithic to microservices: The roadmap to MACH commerce

Today’s digital commerce industry is driven by perfection from customer experiences to marketing strategies, eCommerce features, omnichannel solutions, and mobile adaptability. Brands believe that if their solution is not magical or perfect enough, customers simply will replace it for a brand that closely aligns with their demands. However, today, monolithic systems have become obsolete, tedious to maintain, and simply too old and rigid. They don’t possess the scalability, flexibility, and agility demanded by modern experience-led enterprises. And this is where MACH commerce comes into play.

MACH commerce

With the increasing touchpoints and the necessity of rendering personalized services every time and everywhere, brands find it increasingly difficult to test new features, integrate new platforms and systems, and implement changes as per the market trends with inefficient, time-consuming, and burdensome monolithic systems. Here we discuss the challenges faced by businesses still reliant on their monolithic structures.

The traditional commerce system of monoliths is no longer promising enough

Unlike MACH commerce, Legacy systems or applications operate on a tightly knit front-end and back-end. That means anytime you want to modify a part of the core system, you will have to run and deploy the entire procedure again, not just the modified component. In addition, it is a challenge for enterprises that must evolve continuously and adapt to the market. As technologies complicate further, businesses will need to support everything that comes their way, which will be complex with outdated systems and architectures.

In addition, monolithic structures pose challenges for developers as well.

  • Lack of agility: In a monolithic architecture, there are separate teams for the front-end, back-end, or database. So, tasks must be shared across different teams whenever a modification request is made, which delays the rolling out of new features or leads to missed business opportunities.
  • Scalability issues: For consistent business growth, scalability is imperative. However, adding more servers or scaling up can only be achieved horizontally with monolithic systems. It creates more issues than solving them.
  • Fragile interdependency: In a monolithic architecture, the system’s components are highly associated and dependent on each other, unlike an headless commerce architecture, resulting in a single point of failure. Even if any system has a minor issue, the entire architecture is compromised. It hampers developer productivity and prevents them from digging deep into the systems for issue solutions in case anything goes wrong, and they have to take responsibility for it.
  • Repeated system testing: As monolithic architecture is one core unit, if a small system segment changes, the entire application must be tested again. It makes comprehensive and repeated testing mandatory, even when it’s unnecessary. Moreover, since the front-end, back-end, and database are internally dependent, the efforts involved in automatic testing and quality assurance protocols rise by a manifold.
  • Complex system: A commerce system should be such that it can constantly evolve and maintain pace with changing customer and market demands. However, all such prospects are challenging to implement and manage, even for versatile developers. Eventually, an enterprise, dependent or unwilling to transform its eCommerce legacy system, finds it hard to offer a personalized experience to its customers and scale as per the growing digital touchpoints, translating to a loss in sales, revenue, and ROI customer service base and reputation.

The microservices architecture solves the inefficiencies of the monolithic systems

Organizations need a flexible, agile, and compartmentalized architecture to quickly fulfill customers’ needs and rapidly scale for the future. That answer is microservices.

The microservices architecture solves the inefficiencies of the monolithic systems
  • A microservices system decouples the front-end and back-end, connected only via data layer/API. All the systems work independently, which means they can be developed, deployed, scaled, and managed independently.
  • In a microservices approach, applications are designed as a set of small services, with each service functioning as a separate unit with its programming language, database, and framework.
  • With easy scalability, flexibility, and agility, the benefits of a microservices architecture are abundant, but modern brands don’t just need an MSA approach; they need a MACH (microservices, API, cloud, and headless) system.
  • With a MACH commerce platform, brands enjoy the capabilities of the cloud, the flexibility of microservices, and the freedom to launch digital stores that rapidly anticipate and fulfill consumer behavior and future trends.
  • Only API-led, cloud-native microservices and headless commerce architectures allow for rapid application development with unified real-time data required by consumer-centric enterprises.

Why does MACH commerce make sense in today’s competitive market?

Once you’ve realized that MACH commerce architecture is the right solution, the next question is, “What next? How should I adopt this system?”

If you’re looking for a MACH commerce platform, in that case, there are only two probabilities: you either work on a monolithic application, or you might have built some existing applications with APIs, but lack the institutional knowledge around how to achieve complete digital transformation. Such modernization is typically centered around the following tracks:

#1. The silver lining of the Cloud-led transformation: Adopting a cloud strategy involves a radical shift in the technical operations, application functionality, and infrastructure costs. However, going to the cloud in digital commerce is more than a lift and shift activity. A cloud-based architecture like MACH commerce empowers your solutions with the following capabilities.

#2. DevOps: Unifying software development (Dev) and software operations (Ops) allow developers to deploy applications in lesser duration and at lower budgets. Modern commerce solutions require frequent modifications and deployment, and DevOps can easily and rapidly fulfill such demands.

#3. Easy scalability during peak traffic: A modern cloud solution should scale up and down as per user requirements to ensure optimal performance at the lowest possible cost. It is one of the most significant benefits of a cloud-based solution. You can scale up your infrastructure during peak traffic times and scale down when needed.

#4. Flexible, rapid, and low-cost development: With SaaS (software-as-a-service) and PaaS (platform-as-a-service) cloud solutions, businesses can focus on coding the applications and configuring them as per their needs instead of leaning their attention toward application deployment, hardware, and software requirements, data storage, and scaling.

#5: Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment: In a monolithic architecture, from ideation to launch, the time taken to introduce applications to the market generally ranged between several months to years. Moreover, this entire cycle must be repeated when a new feature is being deployed or a code block is changed. With the advent of automated technologies, applications can now be changed swiftly with minimal effort leading to several daily deploys.

With CI/CD integration in digital commerce, fixes and updates can now be coded easily and rapidly, moving from the version control to the production stage in minutes instead of months and years with monolithic systems. In a microservices environment, CI/CD includes:

  • A/B testing: It allows developers to test two or more variants of a page for user experience. The variation that performs better and adds value to the business for a given conversion goal is rolled out to the platform.
  • Canary Releases: A software testing technique that incrementally rolls out a version to a small subgroup of users before it is rolled out to the platform. If the version performs well, integrates seamlessly with other platforms, and benefits conversions, it can be enforced on the entire infrastructure.
  • Blue-Green testing : This technique runs two identical production environments: Green- the current version, and Blue- the upgraded version. At any given time, only one production environment is active. You conduct deployment and testing on the blue environment. Once completed, you can switch the router so that all the incoming requests are directed at the blue version, which becomes the current production environment. At any given time, if something goes wrong with your new version, you can immediately roll back to the latest version, i.e., green in this case.

The leading eCommerce platforms for a MACH transformation

Customer experiences across every digital touchpoint drive today’s commerce ecosystem. Brands and retailers can’t do with a subpar or an at-par commerce experience; they must continuously and rapidly drive innovation and omnichannel features.

#1: Adobe Commerce: A leader leading its way to the future of commerce

Adobe Commerce previously known as Magento Commerce, leads the battalion of impeccable customer experiences. This robust, seamless, flexible platform has been fulfilling the needs of business verticals- B2B, B2C, and DTC, you name it. Its headless commerce architecture is a hard-line proposition where merchants explore a mix of services or solutions for their online stores.

Adobe Commerce: A leader leading its way to the future of commerce

Merchants can either construct Progressive Web Application (aka an app that runs as a website) powered by the PWA Studio to create primary site experiences. Merchants can also build custom front ends using PWA Studio for varied breakpoints and web/social/ mobile experiences and/or employ Adobe Experience Manager for a full hybrid deployment. Such competitive flexibility and reduced time-to-market offered by Adobe Commerce’s headless commerce architecture prove its mettle in the dynamic retail landscape.

Adobe Commerce allows for headless deployment using REST APIs and GraphQL APIs. While REST APIs are reliable and powerful, especially during bulk processing, nothing beats the speed, agility, and intuitive developer experience offered by GraphQL APIs.

Learn more about how Adobe Commerce can help you build an immersive digital retail experience.

#2: Salesforce Commerce Cloud: A microservices-led digital commerce revolution

Salesforce Commerce Cloud has fulfilled the commerce goals of several sizable organizations. Known for delivering personalized customer experiences in a developer-friendly way, Salesforce Commerce Cloud uses commerce APIs and other headless deployment options as per merchant goals. Its fast, flexible, and trusted platform comes with a modern development toolset to allow speedy implementations, scaled to the exact needs. So, whether a merchant is building an online storefront, a social store, a web store, or developing a commerce app, Commerce Cloud fulfills all requirements with ease.

With Commerce Cloud’s headless architecture, developer-friendly tools, PWA frontend, AI-powered personalization, and scalable commerce APIs solution, merchants can launch online stores at a reduced time-to-value and total cost of ownership.

Headless commerce storefront runs on managed runtime that allows automatic scaling as business needs grow, even during peak traffic periods. As a fully-managed platform, it allows merchants to run storefront experiences where the backend can be integrated with third-party services like OMS, PIM, and ERP (read about Commerce Cloud and SAP integration) 3X faster via Mulesoft Accelerator.

As an offering from the world’s #1 CRM platform, merchants can integrate Commerce Cloud with Marketing CloudSales CloudService Cloud, and Customer 360 Platform effortlessly and seamlessly to gain a complete 360-degree view of their customers.

Read more about Salesforce Commerce Cloud features.

#3: commercetools: The blueprint of modern commerce

commercetools lays the foundation of a modern commerce platform where you can build, grow and scale. Its microservices-based, API-led, cloud-native, and headless capabilities facilitate connecting your internal legacy systems, external API providers, and the commerce platform. With commercetools architecture, retailers can deliver the best commerce experience across several touchpoints on a large scale.

With every aspect of your commerce platform in complete control through commercetools, enterprises can easily lay the foundation of memorable shopping experiences that quickly scale for the future.

 commercetools: The blueprint of modern commerce

Final Outlook

Modern customers want personalized experiences across every touchpoint- social media, website, app, messenger apps, etc. The increasing breakpoints have created a renewed sense of urgency for merchants to build a unified omnichannel presence wherever the customers are. With rising customer expectations, merchants need a sustainable, scalable, and flexible platform that helps them compete, lead consumer-facing applications, and modify their commerce architecture iteratively and systematically. Building digital stores using the MACH (Microservices, APIs, Composable & Headless) approach allows merchants to stay agile and flexible throughout.

With our expertise in world’s leading platforms you can easily lead this retail shift with technology platforms like Adobe Commerce, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and commercetools.

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