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Today, the buyer's journey is integrated across channels and touchpoints. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you must be flexible enough to create services and user experiences that make the buyer’s journey simple, quick, and inspirational enough to customers. Modern commerce architecture is an architecture based on a more modular approach using microservices.  

Monolithic vs microservices 

Monolithic architecture is one that’s built as a single unit. If you want to make any changes to the system, you must build and roll out an updated version of the server-side application.  

The opposite of this is microservices architecture. This brings together smaller components or ‘services’ to create one larger application. Unlike monolithic architecture where you have to update the entire app to make a change, with microservices, you can update and deploy each component independently. 

What makes up modern commerce architecture? 

There are multiple definitions connected to modern commerce architecture, such as: 

  • MACH – coined by CommerceTools, this abbreviation stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless. It’s based on the belief that businesses need more control and agility to exceed today’s customer demands 
  • Composable Commerce – Gartner’s definition recommends this approach to ‘strangle the monolith’. This incremental approach creates a more modular architecture. Gartner recommends approaching this in three dimensions - customer journey, business capabilities tech stack – to compose your digital experience 
  • Connected Commerce – this approach enables a seamless shopping experience across channels and devices. This has been an aspiration for many companies but now there’s technology to support this strategy 

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Understanding modern commerce architecture 

Here are seven things that will make it easier for you to understand modern commerce architecture. 

1. Drivers

The digital commerce market and landscape shifts incredibly fast. Consumer behaviour can change completely from one day to another. All companies that want to stay relevant need to be prepared to adapt to these changes. 

The coronavirus pandemic has affected this development and increased the importance of online sales channels. 

2. Numbers

According to Gartner, by 2023, companies that have adopted a composable commerce approach will be up to 80% faster in their implementation of new features. 

modern commerce

3. Enablers

Over the past decade, several new technologies have emerged that enable modern commerce architecture. Most important is the rise of cloud and API-technology. 

4. Benefits

Here are some of the top benefits of implementing a modern commerce architecture for your company: 

  • Improved flexibility and ability to respond to market changes 
  • Faster time to market 
  • A better foundation for innovation 
  • Improved total cost ownership (e.g. less spend on upgrades maintenance and more on things that drive sales customer experience) 

5. Best-of-breed vs hybrid 

Just because you’ve chosen a modular architecture doesn’t mean you have to do everything modular and choose best-of-breed platforms for all functionalities. A hybrid approach is probably the way most companies will go.  

Choose best-of-breed solutions for functionalities that:  

  • Makes a difference 
  • Can prove ROI 
  • Choose packaged functionality for more standardisation 

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Always put the customer first - think about their experience. While customers might not care about the complexity of your business systems, you should. And not just because it could lead to process inefficiencies and productivity issues. 

Legacy IT or a complex business organisation can impact customer experience which will also affect  your bottom line. Always take a customer-first approach - truly find out what your customers want to create a world-class experience for them. 

6. Reality

Let’s be honest – all companies have some form of legacy IT to relate to. Most companies already have several e-com/MarTech applications running with multiple integrations. A rip-and-replace approach is rarely conceivable, nor motivated.  

Instead, most companies will have to lay out a road map to successively build towards a more modern commerce architecture. This requires organisations to break down silos and work cross-functionally. 

7. Implementation organisation

Wondering how to build a team to support your digital channels? Some companies have an in-house strategy. This allows them to have full control over the strategy development. 

Other companies outsource everything to digital consultancies. And then there are those in between who adopt a hybrid approach.  

modern commerce

We’d advise you choose the option that can best handle the complexity of  a modern commerce architecture. There are many consultancies out there that can implement a website or a web store – but few of them can implement and evolve a modular e-commerce platform. 

How to futureproof your commerce architecture 

We hope this blog helped you better understand the value of modern commerce architecture and the options available to you. If you’d like to learn more about MACH and composable commerce, we’re holding a four-part webinar series.  

You’ll discover the business opportunities available with composable commerce and why MACH forms the cornerstone for commerce architecture of the future. Click the button below to sign up for the webinar series. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch. 

Join our webinar series


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