12th April 2022
E-Commerce Microservices vs Headless Architecture Explained
In fast moving, hyper-competitive sectors like retail and e-commerce, maximising agility to stay ahead of the curve is a no-brainer. But building agility into your backend systems can be easier said than done, especially if you’re operating a monolithic legacy platform. Here’s how an e-commerce microservices architecture can help.
There’s no two ways about it; if your organisation is still using the same monolithic e-commerce platform it implemented five to ten years ago, then you’re most likely hindering your ability to adapt fast and move with the market’s ever-changing requirements.
Whether it’s the rate at which your business rolls out standardised updates, more substantial website changes, or releases new products or services into the market, speed matters. Neglect the ability to be nimble for too long, and your business will get left behind.
In this article, we explain why a microservices architecture approach provides a compelling solution for retail and e-commerce agility, without needing to undergo a complete transformation.
Why choose an e-commerce microservices architecture?
Microservices is an increasingly popular approach to software development which allows organisations to loosely group individual services into an application that’s easy to update, move, scale and deploy.
Unlike a monolithic, off-the-shelf e-commerce platform, an e-commerce microservices architecture can provide your organisation with the extensibility to integrate new, purpose-built tools and APIs fast.
From a delivery and operations perspective, this equates to greater agility, more frequent deployments, and increased scalability—leading to a more seamless customer experience, faster time to market for new products and services, and a distinct competitive advantage.
More specifically, an e-commerce microservices architecture could allow you to:
- Roll out an existing product in a new territory fast to meet growing demand
- Deploy a critical website update to remove friction when checking out
- Launch a new online service in a matter of days/weeks instead of months
The beauty of adopting a microservices approach is that you can continue to use the strengths of your existing proprietary software as you evolve, gradually moving away from vendor lock-in to suit your business’ roadmap.
If you’re tired of waiting for your existing vendor solution to upgrade and add new features, and your business is seeking the flexibility to pivot fast as your customers’ needs evolve, then an e-commerce microservices architecture can help you get there.
View our retail and e-commerce fact sheet now to find out how we’re helping organisations like yours unleash microservices to unlock flexibility and agility.
Bridging the gap with a headless e-commerce engine
Despite the benefits associated with microservices, jumping straight from a monolithic e-commerce solution to a complete e-commerce microservices architecture is a significant undertaking, requiring new infrastructure, tools and teams. While it requires investment, the right approach can yield massive returns in revenue and business growth.
One of the most accessible ways to leverage key microservices architecture elements, without having to drastically change your existing systems, is through a headless e-commerce engine.
With a headless e-commerce platform, your organisation can operate multiple frontends that connect to a single backend system. Like microservices, the software development process is decentralised, meaning updates to one service won’t negatively impact other applications.
A headless approach minimises any organisational disruption associated with going all-in on e-commerce microservices, which can require dedicated teams to develop and maintain. Headless e-commerce is also more cost-effective, allowing your organisation to build up capabilities gradually as needed.
“Moving from a slow, closed, monolithic platform to a fast, open and composable platform equates to greater control, reduced costs, flexibility and purpose-built tools creating strategic differentiation, and an accelerated route to market versus competitors.”
Colin Houlihan, VP of Consulting, NearForm
Headless e-commerce engines provide the best of both worlds: the familiarity of your existing backend system, with the flexibility and agility of a microservices approach built-in. Instead of relying on a monolithic vendor solution, a headless e-commerce solution can help you deliver best-of-breed capabilities to suit your business’ needs—and refine them iteratively as you evolve.
Microservices architecture for e-commerce: Making it work
At NearForm, we help retailers and e-commerce organisations deliver highly responsive customer experiences and decrease the time to market for new features and services—but that’s not all.
With particular expertise in shopping applications, we help our clients move towards more modern and agile ways of working, leveraging a variety of technologies including headless, microservices-based e-commerce architectures to unlock agility.
Making microservices work for your business requires the right people, processes and skills. We can help your organisation embrace a microservices approach to e-commerce and deliver an omnichannel customer experience.
If your retail or e-commerce business is looking to unlock the flexibility and agility to compete, view our dedicated fact sheet now to start your journey.