Monolithic, Headless & Composable Commerce: What’s the difference?
In the world of IT, buzzwords abound, but some have a greater impact than others. That’s particularly true for retailers seeking to implement the best e-commerce architecture to facilitate effective communication among all application components and optimise the browsing experience for customers. If this describes you, then chances are you’ve already heard of monolithic, headless and composable commerce. But do you know precisely what lies behind each of these terms? With help from our CTO and CPO, OneStock sheds some light on the subject.
What is monolithic architecture?
The monolithic approach is characterised by all-in-one solutions that offer an inseparable front-end and back-end. This inability to separate the two environments highlights several significant disadvantages:
- The inability for retailers to respond quickly and effectively to increasing demands on their e-commerce site.
- More complex and heavier updates that involve the entire front and back-end environments.
- Greater maintenance efforts and costs.
Based on this, many e-commerce players have replaced their monolithic architecture with a headless architecture, which is much more modular and adaptable.
What is headless architecture?
The headless approach has become essential for omnichannel retailers as it extends the desire to simplify information exchanges between different systems (front and back-end) and different channels (retail and e-commerce).
Headless commerce allows for more agility by enabling retailers to compose their e-commerce site with different application components that communicate with each other and to choose directly from applications that are considered best-of-breed in their market.
To achieve this, headless commerce is an architecture that separates the front-end (display) from the back-end (data management). The front and back-end are thus managed, maintained and updated independently. Information is transmitted from one system to another via APIs. This allows an e-commerce retailer, for example, to connect their marketplace to a PIM or completely rethink their online journeys without impacting their entire IT system.
Now, let’s talk composable commerce
Composable commerce goes even further, allowing retailers to have an e-commerce site based on high-performing, recognised technology components that integrate easily with each other.
At the heart of the composable commerce concept is MACH architecture:
- Microservices: each service has a very specific function, technically and functionally limited, and can be deployed individually.
- API-First: each service (or solution) provides its own APIs and also uses those exposed by other services in the retailer’s IT landscape.
- Cloud-native: each service can be natively deployed in the cloud.
- Headless: an architecture in which the front-end (display) is separated from the back-end (data).
OneStock was designed on this model from its first version and is a “native” MACH solution. Joining the MACH Alliance was a natural progression for us to enable our clients to adapt to current and future e-commerce changes.