e-commerce architecture

How to Build a Scalable E-Commerce Architecture

Today, flexibility and the ability to adjust to ever-changing market conditions are critical for any e-commerce business that aims to grow while remaining effective and competitive. From the technological perspective, success depends on whether you can quickly innovate, scale up your computing powers, and leverage new content delivery channels. In other words, to do all things that are impossible without a scalable e-commerce architecture.

In this article, we will dive into the benefits of a scalable e-commerce architecture and give tips on how to build one.

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Why is scalability essential

In short, by having a scalable e-commerce architecture, retailers can quickly expand their websites, mobile apps, or entire digital infrastructures horizontally and vertically. In practice, scalability can provide you with these and other business advantages.

Enhanced performance

As traffic and workloads increase, your business website or app can start to perform slower, which can make customers switch to faster competitors. In the meantime, with a scalable architecture, you can quickly scale up and get the computing power to handle these increasing workloads.

Improved customer experience

Customers expect merchants to provide outstanding experiences, which is impossible without features like smart search, multiple payment options, customer reviews and so on. Working with a scalable e-commerce architecture, developers can quickly implement this and other functionality, thereby helping to deliver quality customer experience.

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Faster upgrades and modernizations

Upgrading software based on a legacy architecture may be too expensive and challenging since it often implies a complete re-platforming to avoid compatibility issues. Adopting a scalable e-commerce architecture helps retailers overcome this challenge, enabling them to easily update any software components.

3 steps to build a scalable e-commerce architecture

Now, after discussing the main advantages of developing a more scalable architecture, let’s proceed to how to implement it.

Analyzing the existing e-commerce architecture

Before developing a new program, you should analyze your existing one. This is necessary for understanding whether this software development project is worth initiating, as well as clearing out specific business scalability aspects.

Essentially, at this point, you need to decide if the existing structure can scale and evolve in line with your business needs. To clarify this point, decision-makers can arrange a series of meetings with their IT departments to discuss the following questions:

  • Is the existing e-commerce architecture able to support our growth strategy? Will this software architecture remain relevant within a year or two?
  • Can our e-commerce architecture handle the growth of website or mobile users? What if there is a sudden spike in traffic?
  • Will we be able to update our software ecosystem continuously? Can the maintenance of legacy architecture grow too expensive and complicated?

As we’ve mentioned before, answering these questions will help you understand whether it is worth investing in a more scalable architecture. In addition, this information may become handy later, when it comes to defining business requirements.

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Choosing relevant technologies

Typically, a scalable e-commerce architecture is built using these technological concepts:

  • Microservices

Unlike a monolithic architecture, which represents a single entity where all elements are tightly coupled, a microservices architecture consists of several independent software components that are connected via APIs. From a practical point of view, the microservices architecture enables developers to quickly and easily modify any system element or add a new one, which makes such an architecture much more flexible than monolithic ones.

  • Headless

The headless architecture, which is one of the most common variations on the microservices concept, allows developers to separate any software system into external and internal layers connected to each other via APIs. Choosing a headless architecture may be the best option for merchants that want to be able to launch new content delivery channels and distribute content across all of them.

  • Cloud

Migrating to a public or private cloud is another way to make software systems more scalable. This way, an enterprise can grow necessary computing resources on demand, thus accelerating innovation and avoiding performance bottlenecks.

  • MACH

MACH (the term stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud, and Headless) is one of the innovative technological concepts that suit merchants that are looking for an all-out transformation. Due to combining the aforementioned technologies, MACH may be the most future-proof e-commerce architecture, allowing developers to continuously deploy, scale and replace any software components, thereby helping businesses meet their evolving needs.

Defining the right development approach

Once you’ve reviewed the existing architecture and determined which approach to use to build a new scalable one, it is time to decide how to approach the software development. For example, at this stage, you can determine whether the skills of your internal IT department are sufficient to develop, support and maintain new software architecture.

In particular, such considerations can help determine whether an enterprise should perform the development themselves or turn to third-party software developers. For example, if you decide to develop a microservices architecture, but your IT department does not know how to work with JavaScript and React and Vue frameworks, the project is unlikely to succeed without outside help.

Final thoughts

Today, software flexibility and scalability are the only keys to survival in the e-commerce industry. Only those businesses that can quickly scale their operations, functionalities and computing powers can be flexible enough to grow, evolve and meet ever-changing customer requirements.

From the technology perspective, having a scalable and future-proof e-commerce architecture is necessary for handling growth while providing high-quality customer service and avoiding downtime. Fortunately, a business can develop scalable e-commerce architecture if they approach this task properly by analyzing its existing architectures, then defining the set of relevant technologies, and finally choosing a suitable development approach.

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