For the past four months, we’ve been serving up definitions of the key terms that have risen in importance in the world of modern commerce today. We’ve done our best to make it easy to understand what APIs are and how they work and why GraphQL is the language of choice to write and deliver API queries. We’ve explained extensibility and how it differs from scalability, compared headless commerce to the independent traveler and even provided the phonetic pronunciation for Kubernetes, (koo-br-neh-teez). Today, we present you with the letter M — MACH®, marketplace and microservices. Enjoy!
In 2019, the core commercetools team was brainstorming ideas for a marketing campaign to promote our headless commerce solution. The discussion focused on the benefits it delivered customers — and speed was one of the most critical. Margaret Rea, the company’s Vice President of Brand, noted that commercetools' lightning-fast capabilities, which include an average response time of 23 milliseconds (with the industry acceptable standard at between 200 milliseconds and 1 second), are possible due to the four technologies used to build the product — microservices, APIs, cloud-native and headless. This inspired the campaign message the team ultimately landed on: “Commerce at the speed of MACH.”
As “mach” is a universal term used to describe the speed of a moving object in relation to the speed of sound, it was the perfect choice to promote our architectural approach. Since then, MACH has become ingrained in the language of commercetools, and last year, we received a formal trademark approval on it. Today, the technology principles of MACH are embraced by technology providers across the globe, which led to commercetools co-founding The MACH Alliance — a global non-profit, vendor-neutral community with a mission to advocate for the adoption of MACH. The alliance provides commerce-driven businesses with resources, education and guidance to help navigate digital transformation.
I love, personally, that I can tell when I am browsing a MACH site because it really loads very fast. You can notice that visibly, and the effect that this has on conversion rates is just amazing.
Co-Founder, Chief Strategy and Creative Officer, Netlify; MACH Alliance board member
A marketplace is an eCommerce business model that provides a centralized platform where multiple vendors can sell their products and connect with potential customers. When online shopping first emerged, marketplaces, such as eBay and Amazon, provided sellers with an easy, affordable way to embrace eCommerce.
As a third-party platform, marketplaces require sellers to pay certain fees and relinquish some control over how many processes, such as shipping and returns, are handled. There are benefits to selling on a marketplace as well, such as generating additional revenue without marketing costs and being able to sell internationally. The increasing popularity of marketplaces has led many retailers, such as Walmart and Home Depot, to adopt the business model. To support brands looking to launch SaaS marketplaces, commercetools announced a global partnership with Mirakl, a top provider of online marketplace solutions.
This partnership between Mirakl and commercetools, a true pioneer and leader in headless commerce, offers retail and B2B leaders the microservice-oriented, cloud-native and API-driven technologies that they need to make the most of the marketplace opportunity.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, GROWTH PARTNERSHIPS, MIRAKL
Think of an eCommerce marketplace as a farmer’s market or shopping bazaar. When you arrive you find there are many different sellers set up in individual stalls, each one selling their own products. What’s great about it is that instead of having to go to multiple stores looking for things you want to buy, you have the convenience of finding many different things in one place. Not only does this make the shopping experience more enjoyable for you, but it also makes it easier for the seller because it gives them exposure to a larger base of potential buyers.
With online marketplaces, instead of a physical stall, sellers set up a storefront or profile and, instead of shoppers walking around visiting each stall, they’re using the marketplace search to find the products they want and need quickly and easily.
In a recent blog, Michael Sharp, Chief Product Officer at commercetools, defined microservices as, “a modern software development paradigm in which an application is broken down into a collection of small, independent services.” In simple terms, microservices are individual pieces of a complete software application, such as commercetools Composable Commerce. Each microservice is responsible for a specific task, such as Inventory, which then communicates with other microservices doing other tasks, such as Shopping Cart or Checkout, through well-defined APIs.
Michael also called microservices, “The antithesis of monolithic architectures,” because they provide a flexible, scalable environment rather than the rigid, slow experience you get with the former. The major advantage of microservices is that it enables applications to deliver faster, more reliable responses and allows developers to deploy new applications more frequently.
As an iconic Australian retailer recognized for its service and convenience, Kmart’s combination of headless and microservices will provide it with a significant competitive advantage in the local retail market.
GM OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, KMART
If you take a traditional approach to hosting a big family dinner, you’d probably cook all the dishes yourself from start to finish, which can be both overwhelming and time-consuming. Plus, if one little thing goes wrong — you forget an ingredient or burn a dish — it affects the whole meal.
So, instead of taking that route, you ask each family member to make a specific dish. One person focuses on making the salad, another on cooking the main course, someone else on baking the dessert and so on. With only one dish to prepare, the person assigned can work on it independently and focus on making it perfect.
In this scenario, each family member represents a microservice — they are the small, specialized unit that handles a specific task or function within the overall dinner preparation. And, when it's time to put everything together for the dinner, you act as the coordinator, bringing together the different dishes prepared by each family member to create a complete, and successful, meal.
This is exactly what the software application does with microservices: it coordinates sharing information through APIs to allow the microservices to communicate and work together. As a result, you benefit from faster development, scalability and flexibility since changes or updates can be made to specific microservices without affecting the entire system.
To learn more about how you can start embracing MACH, marketplaces and microservices, download our white paper, Build AND Buy: A Blueprint for a Composable Commerce World.