eCommerce Microservices Architecture: Everything You Need to Know
Kaya Ismail • 22 February 2023
Monolithic architectures or in other words the traditional approach to eCommerce is slowly becoming obsolete as modern companies find themselves craving more flexibility. With McKinsey highlighting that choosing the wrong technology can hamper attempts to scale, increase costs, and add complexity, it makes sense why many businesses are considering a switch.
Microservices architecture can provide businesses with the flexibility to keep up with new trends and buying habits. This article will explain what you need to know about microservices architecture and how it can impact eCommerce sales.
What Are Ecommerce Microservices?
Microservices architecture is an approach to building software where systems are comprised of independently developed and deployed services. Rather than having all business functionality in a single tightly coupled system, these single-functional applications can be operated on their own and then combined to create the software stack.
If you’ve ever seen how the Power Rangers combine their individual Zords to create one Megazord, microservices architecture works in much the same way. These separate pieces of software become an integrated tech stack and can communicate with each other using APIs.
When the microservices approach is applied to eCommerce, businesses can choose to manage their eCommerce backends using best-of-breed tools rather than be restricted by an all-in-one suite that doesn’t provide the flexibility that companies need today.
Monolithic vs. Microservices Ecommerce Architecture
Microservices-based eCommerce architecture has risen in popularity as businesses have moved away from monolithic systems. However, much of the eCommerce software out there is still monolithic.
Monolithic or legacy eCommerce architecture is an all-in-one suite commerce platform. It provides everything you need to run an eCommerce store, from inventory management to product cataloging, payments, content management, and more. Platforms such as Magento (now Adobe Commerce) and Salesforce typically fall into this category. This all-in-one solution is great for many businesses as they don’t need to concern themselves with sourcing various pieces of software to build an eCommerce stack. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any issues to worry about.
Problems With Legacy Architecture
As eCommerce has evolved, businesses have realized that these monolithic architectures can be clunky and complex. Most of the time, you get more tools than you need or can use, yet you still have to pay for all of them. Plus, the choice of payments or content management software that comes with most legacy eCommerce platforms isn’t necessarily the best.
When you opt for monolithic eCommerce architecture, usually it means choosing to be locked into a single vendor and having difficulty upgrading without their help or integrating other third-party vendors. Problems like these are why more and more eCommerce stores are adopting microservices.
Why Ecommerce Stores Are Adopting Microservices
Ecommerce stores need to be more agile to adapt to market changes, new technologies, and changing customer requirements. Microservices architecture enables them to do just that, along with the bonus of using APIs to connect third-party systems and extend their eCommerce platform. Microservices make scaling an eCommerce store much easier and can yield better performance.
How Microservices Supports Headless Commerce
Headless commerce decouples the backend eCommerce layer from the storefront presentation layer that the customer sees. The appeal of headless commerce comes from the fact that eCommerce stores can deliver content to any channel instead of just a website. Customers can shop from mobile devices, social media applications, tablets, and more.
However, headless commerce is also an example of a microservices approach. Microservices enables organizations to customize and personalize the digital touchpoints where customers interact with stores and quickly implement new ideas.
Through headless commerce, the separated frontend and backend layers are able to communicate using APIs, which allows businesses to build a best-of-breed system. They can continue to use an eCommerce platform to handle inventory management and order processing. They can connect a headless CMS to deliver content experiences to multiple locations, a payment gateway to manage payments using multiple currencies, and a search engine to provide more personalized search options.
For example, eCommerce stores built using Shopify have been known to find difficulty using Shopify templates to build their frontends. Instead, with headless commerce, it's possible to connect another platform to build their storefronts while the eCommerce functionality continues to be handled in the backend using Shopify.
Why Choose Ecommerce Microservices
Ecommerce companies that have felt comfortable relying on legacy systems for some time may wonder why they need to abandon their monolithic platforms in favor of microservices architecture. There are a few advantages to choosing eCommerce microservices:
Best of Breed Flexibility
Microservices architecture gives eCommerce stores the flexibility to add as many third-party services as required. While legacy systems can be rigid as they “seemingly” provide everything you need, they don’t enable businesses to tailor their e-commerce stacks as they see fit. With microservices, that restriction is removed, allowing eCommerce stores to get specific about what exactly they need.
Complexity is one of the drawbacks of having a bulky monolithic eCommerce system. Instead, microservices provide the openness that allows developers to keep things simple and implement new technologies quickly.
Faster Time to Market
The eCommerce industry continues to move quickly to keep pace with customer expectations. With microservices, your business is better positioned to be faster to market than your competitors, allowing you to create the best experiences and delight, customers.
Changes in new technologies don’t disrupt a future-proof architecture like microservices. If a new frontend channel appears next week or a better product cataloging tool launches in a few months, your eCommerce store doesn’t need to worry that it won’t be able to integrate with your current platform.
Microservices make it easier for your developers to extend the services used on the frontend and backend of your eCommerce store without worrying that performance will dip or that the other software in your stack is affected.
Microservices lowers the total cost of ownership compared to monolithic systems. You only pay for the services and tools you choose to include in your tech stack rather than a clunky system which puts a strain on your resources.
How to Move From Monolithic Architecture to Microservices
Microservices enables businesses to provide the omnichannel buying experience that customers want from their favorite brands today. If your eCommerce store is thinking about embracing headless commerce, then moving from a monolithic architecture to microservices is a perfect choice.
Instant Commerce helps you start your headless commerce journey and realize the benefits that microservices offer. We provide a frontend-as-a-service solution that helps eCommerce companies quickly build headless storefronts for their headless commerce stores using a no-code solution. By building your headless storefront with Instant Commerce, you can have faster-site speeds, higher conversion ratios, and remove your developer dependencies.
Want to find out more about headless commerce? Take a look at Headless Commerce With Shopify: The Complete Guide.
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