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Composable Commerce: Understanding MACH Architecture

June 2023 -

Composable commerce represents a new paradigm in e-commerce, offering a flexible, modular approach to building systems that perfectly suit your specific business needs.

This is the first instalment in our blog series demystifying composable commerce.
In this series, we’ll explore the components that underpin composable, delving into its benefits and limitations from both a technological and business perspective.

These posts will provide you with comprehensive guidance, helping businesses navigate this transformative commerce landscape. We aim to equip you with the necessary knowledge to determine whether composable architecture is the right choice for your business.

Welcome to the first chapter in our new blog series

Composable commerce is the seismic shift, a change that lets businesses build a system meticulously designed to match their individual needs. Consider it your tailor-made solution, crafted to precision and future-proofing your business.

At Brave Bison, we're not just riding the wave, we're leading the charge.

For proof, check out our award-winning case study on our partnership with industry heavyweights like MKM Building Supplies, and our comprehensive composable rebuild of their platform designed to cater to complex business rules and provide a local-first online experience. Or turn to our composable solution for Magic Madhouse with enhanced order and inventory management capabilities, streamlining their operations and setting the stage for future growth.

Throughout this series, our commerce team will be your guides, each sharing their unique understanding of this space. We have Ben, our Growth Director, Carole, our Senior Business Analyst, Amal, our Head of Operations, and Ed, our Managing Director, all ready to share their wealth of knowledge, against the backdrop of industry-leading use cases that Brave Bison have delivered for our clients.

As we navigate this disruptive landscape, we'll unravel the complexities of composable commerce and its influence on modern martech use cases; such as omnichannel, personalisation, re-platforming and large upgrades, how the ‘monoliths’ are reacting and adapting, plus many more. We’ll delve into its perks and limitations in terms of tech and business, arming you with the knowledge to determine if it's the right fit for your business.
The Building Blocks of Composable Commerce: Understanding MACH Architecture
Today's rapidly evolving e-commerce landscape demands that businesses adapt quickly to emerging trends, customer preferences, and market demands. Composable commerce has emerged as a powerful and versatile approach to building e-commerce solutions, enabling you to create bespoke experiences tailored to your specific requirements.

At the heart of this paradigm lies MACH architecture, which has become synonymous with modern, agile, and adaptable e-commerce systems.

MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless, which together form the foundation for composable commerce. This architecture allows you to assemble a custom e-commerce ecosystem by leveraging best-of-breed technologies and components.

Microservices refer to the practice of breaking down a system into small, modular components that can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently. This approach enables you to iterate and evolve your system faster while minimising the risk of a single point of failure.

API-first is a design philosophy that prioritises the development of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as the primary communication between components, enabling seamless integration and interoperability. By adopting an API-first approach, you can create a connected, extensible and innovative ecosystem.

Cloud-native refers to the development of applications specifically designed to leverage the full potential of a cloud computing environment. You benefit from increased scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.

Finally, headless commerce decouples the front-end presentation layer (such as websites and mobile apps) from the back-end infrastructure (such as databases and business logic). This allows you the freedom to innovate and experiment with new customer experiences without impacting your system’s core functionality.
Zoom in on microservices
Microservices play a pivotal role in the MACH architecture, driving the modularity and scalability that underpin the flexibility of composable commerce.

By breaking down the monolithic structure of traditional applications, microservices empower you to design tailored solutions that cater to unique requirements while reducing interdependencies.

The key appeals of microservices include:

Modularity: Each microservice is a self-contained, autonomous module encapsulating a specific functionality. The modular design promotes the separation of concerns, enabling developers to focus on specific tasks and reducing the system's complexity.

Scalability: Microservices are designed to scale horizontally, allowing you to allocate resources efficiently and elastically. Because of this, adopting composable represents the last major re-platforming a brand will ever need to do. After that, incremental updates can achieve all the growth that you need.

Resilience: Each service operates independently, ensuring a fault in one area does not cascade or impact other components. This promotes system resilience and reduces downtime.

Boundless technology choices: Microservices enable the use of different programming languages, frameworks, and data storage solutions for individual components, allowing your teams to choose the most appropriate technologies for their specific needs.

In composable commerce, microservices serve as the building blocks that facilitate the creation of tailored solutions. By reducing the interdependencies between components, microservices allow you to mix and match services from different vendors, ensuring a best-of-breed approach.

As a result, you can rapidly develop, test, and deploy new features, accelerating your time-to-market.
Embracing an API-first approach
In the context of MACH architecture, an API-first approach is essential for facilitating the smooth orchestration of microservices and ensuring the adaptability of composable commerce solutions.

Several fundamental principles guide an API-first design approach. First, standardisation is crucial, as adopting standardised API protocols and data formats ensures consistent communication and interoperability between different components, streamlining the integration process.

Additionally, security is a major emphasis within API-first design, as it necessitates proper authentication and authorisation mechanisms to protect sensitive information and maintain the integrity of your overall system.

Applied to composable commerce, an API-first approach plays a crucial role in enabling you to create flexible, modular, and adaptable e-commerce solutions. By prioritising the development of APIs, you can seamlessly integrate components, including third-party services and applications, to create your custom ecosystem.

Most importantly, an API-first approach ensures your system remains flexible and adaptable to future changes.

As new technologies and market demands emerge, you can easily swap out or incorporate additional components without the need for extensive re-engineering or re-development of your entire system.

“You can easily replace any element without disrupting the rest of the ecosystem. The whole composable architecture is the solution to futureproofing your system.”
– Amal Raja, Brave Bison Head of Operations

Leveraging cloud-native and headless technologies

Cloud-native and headless technologies serve as catalysts for creating flexible, agile, and cost-optimised e-commerce solutions that you can readily adapt to ever-changing customer expectations.

Cloud-native architecture empowers composable commerce by fully utilising cloud computing’s potential. This approach allows you to automatically allocate resources in response to varying workloads, ensuring cost-effective and efficient operations.

Moreover, it fosters rapid system recovery and seamless continuity in the event of component failure, keeping your e-commerce system reliable and resilient.

Headless architecture offers unique advantages by detaching the front-end presentation layer from the back-end infrastructure.

This separation enables developers to independently update the user interface, which expedites the deployment of enhancements and alterations. This approach caters to evolving customer preferences, ensuring that your e-commerce system consistently delivers engaging and personalised experiences across multiple digital channels.

When combined, cloud-native and headless technologies significantly bolster composable commerce by encouraging adaptability and fostering continuous improvement. These technologies enable you to nimbly adjust your e-commerce system in response to emerging trends and customer needs, all while maintaining a robust and dependable foundation.

As a result, you can thrive in a competitive e-commerce landscape, consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences that drive growth and success.

“When you’re working with a monolith, you have to know how both the backend and front end work. With composable, you don't have to be an expert on everything, making integrations easier.“
– Maciej Jezierski, Brave Bison Lead Software Developer
Ready to learn more?

MACH architecture represents a robust framework for building composable commerce solutions that can adapt to the dynamic needs of modern businesses.

As you delve deeper into the world of MACH architecture, you'll uncover how these building blocks work in harmony to drive innovation, customer satisfaction, and business growth.

Learn how we leveraged MACH principles to deliver a world-first integration of BigCommerce, Vue Storefront, and Bloomreach for MKM Building Supplies in our latest whitepaper, ‘Composed in the Face of Complexity’.

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