Introduction: Why Brands Should Leverage Microservices
In today’s competitive commerce market, brands must adapt to rapid change to meet the demands of consumers. Whether you’re a retail brand wanting to implement a promotions strategy using dynamic bundles or a B2B brand wanting to create account-specific pricing for your multi-geo business, deploying these strategies cannot be done at the drop of a hat with monolithic legacy commerce platforms. If you’re trying to use a legacy platform to support these complex product experiences, you’re probably spending lots of time and money on custom workarounds and development work.
You need a complete set of business capabilities that can be deployed rapidly and easily for your unique initiatives. You need technology with an architecture that is flexible enough to pick, choose, and swap without worrying about impacting the entire platform. You need the freedom to create a customized eCommerce platform that leverages the best-of-breed technologies. You need microservices.
Brands who leverage eCommerce microservices are able to adapt to change quickly and power the best-of-breed solutions that take their commerce technology to the next level.
This guide will give you an overview of eCommerce microservices and how to leverage them for optimal success.
Chapter 1: Understanding Microservices for a Composable Commerce Approach
Microservices, or a microservices architecture, are an approach to software development in which an application is split into modular components or services.
Before understanding how microservices can be leveraged in a Composable Commerce approach, it’s important to understand the nature of microservices.
Loosely Coupled Architecture
The eCommerce microservices architecture is loosely coupled. It consists of a multitude of independent services. Each microservice relies on its own data model and is developed, deployed, and operated independently.
Microservices can provide direct business capabilities or serve as a proxy to a 3rd party service. Since no two microservices should be aware of each other, microservices orchestration is another possible task that is executed by microservices. They can be deployed as an individual business capability from a single vendor such as search or a component of a larger solution like Catalog Composer.
Each microservice is responsible for everything happening within its boundaries and does not interfere with what happens inside other microservices bounded context. The size of the microservice is defined during the design phase.
With microservices, businesses have the flexibility to combine their chosen eCommerce microservices across multiple vendors and point solutions such as a content management system (CMS) or order management system (OMS).
If your brand is looking to embrace a Composable Commerce approach, leveraging microservices supports this because they are independently deployed, so brands are empowered to build the solution that meets their own specific needs. This means that every unique business can utilize a different assortment of microservices based on their specific goals, priorities and use cases.
Chapter 2: Identifying Your Business Goals
Utilizing microservices must be done strategically in order to get the most value. To simplify the process of transitioning to microservices-based solutions, we recommend having a holistic overview of your business goals and what you’re trying to accomplish with an eCommerce microservices architecture. This will assist you in the process of choosing the appropriate microservices for your business.
Identifying your business goals starts with having a clear understanding of your business priorities and the strengths and weaknesses of your existing technology stack.
Do you want to optimize your cart and checkout process? Do you have products with complex configurations? Are you looking to optimize your search experience? Questions like these must be considered because they will impact where you start with microservices. Your goals should align with the microservices you start with.
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Chapter 3: Identifying Which Microservices to Start With
Embracing a Composable Commerce approach powered by microservices doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process. Brands should feel empowered to make a gradual transition into microservices-based solutions. As we’ve discussed, your business objectives and strategy should play a significant role in determining which microservices to deploy.
Well, I implore you to take it a step further. Analyze your business to assess where your customers are dropping off in the sales conversion process. When you look at your data are you seeing a high rate of cart abandonment? Do customers complain about not being able to find the products they’re searching for on your website? Are your product catalogs confusing or aesthetically unappealing?
Once you’ve done this analysis, you can proceed with the business capability that is in the most dire need for an upgrade and choose that one. If you’ve done your analysis and you’re still wondering where to begin, a simple approach would be to start with a microservices based CMS, then search, and then tackle cart and checkout.
Starting off with a microservices-based CMS is great because it impacts what customers see first on your website, the look and feel aspect. Once you’re able to edit things like the product page layout, branding colors, or adding promotional banners, you create cohesive branding that is the building blocks to everything else on your eCommerce site.
Following up with a microservices-based search vendor is critical because if your products aren’t easily discovered, customers won’t be able to purchase, which inevitably impacts your revenue. A recent study from our partner Algolia found that 72% of websites completely fail site search expectations. If your brand wants to beat the competition in today’s market, implementing best-of-breed search vendors will help you do that.
Lastly, implementing cart and checkout subsequently ties everything together. Once your products are displayed properly, customers are able to search and find them, you want to be able to have a seamless checkout experience that minimizes cart abandonment.
Chapter 4: Implementing with a Proper Team
The microservices implementation process is only seamless if there is a proper team to support the process. It is so important to be cognizant of the implementation factors that are necessary to deploy these solutions. Do you have an in-house DevOps team? Will you potentially need a system integrator (SI)?
Once you’re ready to begin your microservices-based Composable Commerce journey, it is imperative that you part with a commerce platform with a robust partnership ecosystem to support you with the implementation process. At Elastic Path, we alleviate the challenges of choosing vendors with our thriving partnership ecosystem. We also support implementation with our Integrations Hub, which is a central repository of pre-built integrations accessible within their business user tooling. These are “instant-on”, no code integrations include best-of-breed solutions such as Algolia, Coveo, SendGrid and Elasticsearch. The Integrations Hub can reduce time and costs for implementation by up to 50%.
A Composable Commerce approach gives you the flexibility to leverage multiple eCommerce microservices to meet your specific business goals and needs. Getting started with microservices boils down to having clarity on your business goals and your implementation needs, so you can choose microservices that meet your objectives.
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