The e-commerce world has evolved significantly over the past decade with the introduction of digital solutions such as speed-enhancing tools and infrastructures. MACH architecture is among the most buzzworthy terms in e-commerce, as it has transformed the digital landscape for the better. Endorsed by IT experts and e-commerce gurus alike, MACH architecture is everything a digital commerce platform needs.
As seen in a recent survey, 4 out of 5 (from 500 tech leaders surveyed) consider Mach as the solution to market volatility, citing its scalability and flexibility to be beneficial for adapting to evolving market conditions.
So, what is MACH architecture? And why is it considered the best thing for e-commerce? This blog covers everything you need to know about MACH software architecture, including its benefits and examples.
What is Mach Architecture?
Let’s start with the terminology. MACH is short for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. These are four technology principles used in modern software architecture to enable interoperability, flexibility, and scalable design. These principles collectively form modern, best-in-breed platforms for e-commerce.
Today’s customers are getting more and more used to digitally advanced shopping experiences and lightning-fast transitions between channels. To meet these expectations, companies must be digitally fluent and continuously evolve.
Here’s how MACH architecture allows brands to embrace digital transformation:
The first letter of the acronym that makes up MACH architecture refers to stand-alone components or services that are developed, deployed, and managed independently. Each microservice is designed for a specific functionality, such as product search, checkout, items added to the cart, and more.
These loosely coupled services collectively form integrated applications capable of providing faster responses. Using well-defined APIs to link the backend with the front end, microservices are reliable and frequently deployed to offer a better customer experience.
Speaking of APIs, most modern digital applications have adopted the use of APIs to integrate the best components and build custom applications. Apart from fulfilling their unique business requirements, these APIs facilitate easy communication and data transfers between different applications within the system. This allows the independent components to operate simultaneously, providing a seamless experience to end users.
If you run an ecommerce business, you already understand the importance of cloud-based infrastructure. This is why MACH architecture revolves around using cloud-based services to reduce the costs of on-premises hosting, infrastructure, and security.
E-commerce brands can also leverage the pay-as-you-go model offered by cloud providers, minimizing the cost of hosting and provisions. As a result, businesses of all sizes can offer flexibility to their customers and expand to new locations while reducing unnecessary costs.
Have you ever thought of building your own user interface to suit your e-commerce brand?
That's exactly what headless commerce addresses. It allows you to create captivating shopping experiences by choosing a front end of your choice. MACH architecture makes this possible by decoupling the front end from the backend engine. You can choose whether your front end should be a social media platform, a webshop, or a mobile app.
The independent backend handles the systems, tools, and processes to manage commerce operations. These include managing product information, updating details, tracking inventory, processing checkouts, and more.
The Role of MACH Architecture in E-commerce
Now that we've established that MACH architecture employs a best-of-breed approach to develop e-commerce platforms, let's explore its impact compared to legacy infrastructure. Before MACH gained prominence, e-commerce businesses relied on monolithic infrastructure.
Given the rising customer expectations and the increasing need to future-proof e-commerce businesses, the world sought a more flexible approach. The ideal software architecture in this case would enable companies to grow and scale their e-commerce ecosystem by adapting to market trends.
Sources: Infosys, Mach Alliance, and Zippia’s Cloud Statistics 2023
Why You Should Move On from Monolithic Platforms
Although you might find monolithic platforms suitable for your e-commerce business right now, this won't be the case for long. When compared to MACH architecture, these legacy platforms have significant drawbacks. For starters, you need to consider the costly maintenance and upgrades of monolithic platforms. Additionally, there's the issue of downtime and slower speed to market.
If you've been running an e-commerce platform for a while, you understand how detrimental downtime can be. When a customer has to wait for your system to respond before making a purchase, they're more likely to abandon your brand entirely and seek an alternative. Not only are monolithic systems more susceptible to downtime, but they're also vulnerable to hacking, potentially resulting in financial and data losses.
Lack of Flexibility
Given the evolving e-commerce landscape, constant system upgrades are necessary to stay ahead of the competition. However, this isn't straightforward with legacy systems. These systems aren't designed for flexibility, requiring significant IT resources for upgrades and maintenance. Additionally, creating new platforms from scratch becomes problematic when adding new functionalities.
Time to Market
Another downside of legacy infrastructure is slow time-to-market. A fast and responsive system is essential for success in today's e-commerce landscape. Your online platform must load quickly, support rapid releases of marketing campaigns, and deliver exceptional customer experiences. Unfortunately, legacy systems lack these capabilities. They're usually slow and prevent e-commerce brands from customizing or updating their online stores to meet their needs.
How MACH Architecture is Transforming the E-commerce Industry
Finding suitable business tools today is challenging, as technologies quickly become outdated with the introduction of newer versions. In this context, MACH architecture benefits your e-commerce business with its modular design, enabling you to scale up and stay aligned with emerging market trends.
According to a study, 79% of IT leaders intend to incorporate MACH elements into their systems in the future, with 27% of them planning to adopt MACH within the next 12 months. The study also found that transitioning to MACH architecture improves customer experiences by 60%.
With MACH, you can quickly and easily build and deploy new applications without having to worry about the backend infrastructure. When you consider switching from your legacy infrastructure to a MACH setup, re-platforming should be the least of your worries.
Once you have your system running on MACH architecture, you can mold it to address changing market scenarios and also leverage the best tools to improve your ecosystem. Such flexibility in e-commerce means that you can unlock streamlined growth towards success.
Reduced Downtime and Enhanced Customer Experience
Since MACH has independent microservices working simultaneously, you can make changes to a part of your system without affecting the rest of your operations. In e-commerce, this means that your system’s downtime is practically reduced to zero. Additionally, MACH also makes your ecosystem more secure as you can work on independent modules.
With reduced downtime, customers get to browse and shop faster and never face any delays. The best part of MACH architecture is its headless component, which makes the shopping experience equally great on any device. As a result, brands can target the channels frequented by their customers and design their e-commerce stores for those channels to enhance the shopping experience.
Best-in-breed Tools and Unmatched Scalability
If you make the switch to MACH, your e-commerce platform will no longer have to use the same set of tools for an extended period of time. With support for best-in-breed functionality, MACH provides your business the ability to select the best tools from each category. Whether you want to optimize your payment processing, product search, or inventory management, everything can be top-notch.
With that said, any tool would be useless in the coming years if it wasn’t scalable. The same is the case with software architecture. Regardless of the changing market trends and traffic on your e-commerce site, MACH architecture allows you to scale accordingly and provides the flexibility to adjust with each scenario.
By far the most useful aspect of MACH in e-commerce is the ability to upgrade. Unlike legacy systems that render useless whenever a new feature is to be released, MACH-based systems simply allow you to integrate new features and remove older ones that you don’t need. This means that developers can get their work done in less time as they do not need to add features from the beginning. The use of APIs in MACH architecture allows you to add integrations and form connections with new digital channels, hence allowing you to achieve faster time to market.
Bringing together the technologies used to make up MACH architecture is bound to be beneficial wherever it is implemented. Whether you consider the agility, flexibility, or sheer ability to create and deploy any application whenever you want, MACH only brings good news.
Frontend developers can work their charm without having to involve anyone from the backend team. This means that running test apps and tweaking the frontend design for a better customer experience is now easier than ever. Since e-commerce revenue is directly influenced by customer experiences, the ease of designing new frontends is definitely a benefit.
Improved Customer Experience
When it comes to e-commerce, time is literally money. So you can never accept poor web performance as an answer. Here, MACH technologies help you ensure high-speed transitions between multiple online shopping channels and different pages of an online store.
Response to Failure
As if that wasn’t enough, MACH also provides you with better tolerance against unexpected issues. You can overcome downtime by quickly developing and deploying independent applications. Another advantage of using cloud-native infrastructure is the built-in mechanism to counter internal redundancy and failure.
Faster Time to Market
As you are able to build features and microservices as blocks, you can enhance the speed of testing and deployment of resources. Using modular and independent microservices also enables quicker development cycles and the availability of cloud provisions is the cherry on top.
How MACH Principles Work
In the simplest terms, MACH architecture breaks down an application into various smaller microservices that are designed to work best individually. To create a feature-rich application for online shopping, you need a lot of these microservices such as analytical tools, payment options, CRM, product search, and more.
Unlike traditional e-commerce platforms, the microservices in MACH platforms are self-contained and have their own database. In essence, you get to create different individual applications for product management, analytics, and payments.
Microservices in MACH architecture are designed to balance their load and perform different functions simultaneously, such as showing users the items in their cart and capturing their preferences for the service’s own database.
In terms of architecture, MACH systems are made up of:
Containers to ensure consistency throughout development and testing processes.
Service mesh with separate IP addresses
Service discovery for a unique, decentralized architecture
API gateways to connect services with customer touchpoints
Content delivery networks (CDNs)
In order to look for a suitable communication route between components, microservices make use of service discovery. Then, APIs are used to establish communication between each microservice. Upon communicating with each other, microservices send out static content through CDNs to cloud-based services. With all of this, microservices allow the system to be individually scalable as per the business requirements.
When you create new apps within your e-commerce ecosystem, you want them to be consistent across all channels and touchpoints. This is where the cloud-native principle of MACH architecture comes into play. Every time you build and deploy an application, it becomes a part of your entire system.
Finally, the headless API principle of MACH allows you to extract and send data to any application, device, or network. Headless commerce is especially useful in streamlining communications between different components like inventory, payments, and CRM to keep all data consistent and updated.
Examples of MACH Architecture
Yes, the popular cloud-based e-commerce platform Shopify is a successful enough example of MACH architecture. It utilizes the headless, API-first approach to allow developers to build custom e-commerce stores and create memorable shopping journeys. Developers can integrate with third-party services and systems conveniently using the API-first principle of MACH systems.
Speaking of online retail platforms, no one does it better than Amazon. The giant has been using microservices as part of the MACH architecture since 2006. Amazon’s system consists of thousands of microservices working behind the scenes of hundreds of user interfaces. The company leverages the MACH principle of decoupling the frontend and backend services to deploy code every 11.7 seconds without any downtime or interruptions.
MACH architecture examples are not limited to e-commerce platforms. Puma, the well-known multinational retail brand uses MACH’s microservices to speed up and extend the functions of their apps. Customers can now enjoy the shopping experience with quickly deploying customized US and headless APIs. As a result of the MACH implementation, Puma now supports up to 300% to 400% more users than monolithic systems.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that e-commerce businesses greatly benefit from transitioning to MACH architecture and ditching legacy infrastructure. Not only do they get more chances to enhance their omnichannel capabilities but also create memorable customer experiences.
This is the ultimate objective for higher revenue and the ability to scale your business to new markets.
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