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May 1, 2024 | 5 minute read

Demystifying Commerce Performance: Get a Report That Speaks Everyone’s Language

written by Sam Blacklock

In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at how, at Elastic Path, we’re building tools to empower engineers to develop more successful composable commerce implementations, by making it easier for non-technical stakeholders to understand the benefits of a composable architecture.

The challenge: Making the business case for composability

Elastic Path’s APIs make composable commerce a reality. Through our experience of working with customers and partners on their eCommerce problems, we know that composable commerce is ideally suited for tackling the unique and often complex use cases they have. Throughout the diverse array of problems and use cases we encounter, there is a commonly asked question: how can composable commerce improve the performance of my store?

Developers are often the biggest advocates of composability, so they typically understand that composability will help site performance intuitively. But what about the rest of the team? Recently, we introduced a new tool called Storefront Grader™ to help anyone better understand the performance benefits of composability.

The solution: A comprehensive storefront health check useful for a technical team and consumable for business leaders

Storefront Grader aims to provide a comprehensive health check for your eCommerce store. We’ve split the report into logical sections to make it more consumable for business and technical teams:

First up is your report card. This is aimed at giving you a high level overview of how your store is performing in four key areas: performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO. We’ll grade you F to A+. Why do we give you grades, rather than diving straight into the numbers? So that Storefront Grader is more accessible to all levels of users. If you’re scoring F, it’s obvious to business counterparts that there’s work to be done. If you’re scoring “0.4”, business-side decision makers aren't immediately going to know if things are going well or not.

Moving down the report, we’ll break out that performance score in full for you.

As a developer, you’ll want to know these numbers. Your non-technical stakeholders will want to know why they should care. With that in mind we’ve included concise explanations for each metric, as well as stressing the correlation between high performance and business outcomes.

Next up is the Composable Benchmark and our analysis of your tech stack. For this benchmark, we rank your storefront’s performance against a portfolio of top, composable sites.

Coupled with the tech stack analysis, we provide concrete guidance on how, why, and what parts of your commerce architecture are holding back (or enabling) your composable commerce experiences. We also provide you with some practical next steps to address any shortcomings we’ve found.

How we pull results and help you bridge the business-technical commerce gap

Storefront Grader is a Next.js app, running on Vercel infrastructure. We’ve had great experiences with Vercel so far, and aim to take advantage of as much of the ecosystem as we can. Using Next 14’s App Router, we’re leveraging Server Actions to handle form submissions and compile your Storefront Grader reports. We also backed the app with a Vercel Storage which made persisting reports super easy, and allowed us to get the first prototype of Storefront Grader up and running in just a few days. We’ve driven most of the UI with building blocks from Tailwind UI as it allows us to get-to-value and iterate on it quickly.

For most of the reports, we’re leveraging the Google PageSpeed Insights API. I know what you may be thinking: “why should I use Storefront Grader if I could just generate a Lighthouse report, or use instead?”

PageSpeed is a fantastic resource, but it’s developer focused, highly detailed, and not well-suited to a wider audience of business-side talent. In the most interesting and rigorous composable commerce implementations we deal with, we aren’t just talking to developers - the business user is vital, too. With Storefront Grader, business users can also evaluate site performance. When you give your boss (or boss’s boss) a Storefront Grader report, they have the context to make the same judgments and analysis as you.

Also, unlike other site performance graders, Storefront Grader is tailored for commerce. With the Composability Benchmark and a BuiltWith-powered tech stack analysis, we connect composability directly to commerce business value, and explain in practical terms the precise parts of your site infrastructure that are holding back business growth.

What’s next

This is only the first version of Storefront Grader. In the short term, we’re working on upgrading the home page so the value of the report is clear to anyone who accesses the tool. Longer term, we’re considering features like direct storefront comparisons, and the ability to track changes in your reports over time.

What would you like to see in Storefront Grader?

We’d love to hear from you; get in touch with the dev team here.

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