Legacy suites and modern commerce architecture. It’s right there in the names. One term sounds old and outdated, and the other sounds contemporary and fresh. Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what the difference between the two is. But what exactly are legacy suites? And how do they fall short of what a modern commerce architecture – like commercetools – can offer for your business ecosystem?

Legacy suites, also known as monolith suites or all-in-one platforms, claim to do it all. But no matter how many features they allege they pack in, one thing doesn’t change – these longstanding yet outdated software solutions no longer meet the needs of today’s businesses, no matter the size. Even for a smaller business with a web shop that doesn’t need customization or change, an all-in-one eCommerce suite, which may seem like the right way to go due to its out-of-the-box features, is a poor choice for general reliability, security and long-term scalability. For enterprise-level organizations, these packaged solutions often hinder more than help, as they are massively cost- and time-consuming propositions. 

Since consumer behavior and expectations are constantly evolving, it is no longer tenable for digital commerce to be served by legacy suites which were designed for an era that is now over. Customers today are looking for exceptional, omnichannel experiences, as well as seamless shopping and digital shops that can quickly offer new products and promotions – things that only modern commerce architecture can offer and legacy suites simply can’t. 

What is a legacy suite?

Legacy suites are associated with some big names like Oracle, Magento, Salesforce and SAP, which have been providing solutions for decades to many of the biggest enterprises in the world. Their prepackaged commerce solutions are deceptively convenient, but they are also aging and restrictive, unable to keep up with modern day scalability, flexibility and reliability needs in commerce.

Generally speaking, legacy suites have tightly coupled frontend and backend systems. Because of the hardcoded dependency between its parts, legacy suites can be fragile and prone to crashes, especially under high load. This means that legacy suites often fail when businesses need them the most – during peak holiday seasons and sales periods when large traffic spikes tend to bring these systems down and result in sales losses that can literally go up to the millions of dollars (these incidents are frequently brought to light in the news around Black Friday every November).

To update, change or customize legacy suites, developers often find it difficult, if not impossible, to modify the underlying database code. Many of these suites have heavy vendor lock-in and frequently utilize proprietary programming languages and technology – meaning time- and cost-consuming training is often required to work with them. Even then, a lot of code is not exposed for editing (or at all) due to the outdated nature of such software. Any changes that are possible are usually limited, and require careful and extensive testing before going live; then constant monitoring to ensure they don’t break with every update to the software suite or due to incompatibility with another modification or plugin. Simple alterations to a web shop, therefore, become a very time-consuming, complicated and potentially crashable process.

Going hand-in-hand with the proprietary nature of legacy suites, where codebase is closed to the public, licensing fees are usually very high and businesses have to incur expensive upfront costs to cover base fees, integration, updates and more. Further, many legacy suites are typically on-premise, meaning it is physically located within the enterprise where it’s deployed, resulting in maintenance costs and the need for a specialized IT department.

commercetools vs. legacy suites

If you were to try to imagine the complete opposite of a legacy suite, you would probably come up with commercetools. commercetools is an SaaS that uses a headless approach that is based on microservices and APIs. Basically, commercetools represents everything that is modern commerce architecture. 

The key feature of commercetools is its headless nature, meaning the frontend (head) is decoupled from the backend. This opens up a world of flexibility and modular options for your commerce platform since you can now work with backend data once (such as product information, order details, etc.) and deploy everywhere to capture sales in the most comprehensive and modern way possible – whether that’s onto your website or mobile app, or even more unique touchpoints like an in-flight entertainment system or in-store digital signages. Organizations can build personalized customer experiences, gain the freedom to experiment, increase their agility and scale more efficiently. 

Additionally, commercetools is cloud-native and works with any programming language, meaning that you are able to work with the cloud provider of your choice, such as Google Cloud Platform and Amazon Web Services, the tools that your developers are most comfortable with and the technology that best suits your business needs. Our modern SaaS nature means that our pricing is straightforward and there are neither heavy upfront costs nor are there surprise charges for items like upgrades, which are included and continuous, so your commerce platform is always secure and updated. 

Integrating modern commerce into your business

When replacing your legacy suite, you may have to work with several vendors to replace that “all-in-one” solution entirely, which can deter some companies from migrating. But, far from being a negative, being able to select the most optimal services to fit specific business needs is actually a wonderful thing! You can get the best pricing and you have the flexibility of having several different vendors to choose from, so you can choose a third-party that truly excels and perfectly fits your eCommerce vision.  

This means if you’ve chosen a CMS or payment processor you don’t like, you can simply swap it out and pick something else that fits better into your operations. You can add in, subtract and switch any aspect of your eCommerce ecosystem as you see fit and when you do so, the rest of the components are not affected. Plus, best-of-breed vendors like this are often pay-as-you go, so you only purchase the services you need and use.   

Speaking of third-parties, when you partner with commercetools, you are conveniently given access to our Integrations Marketplace, which brings awareness to which of the best  integrations and extensions are already on the market, and best of all, they are all completely vetted by commercetools and compatible with the platform. 

Get a full introduction to what integrations and extensions are, as well as what the commercetools Integration Marketplace is, in part 1 of our series, and learn how to build a business ecosystem that fulfills all of your eCommerce needs via the Integrations Marketplace in part 2 of our series.