“Building Modern & Scalable Retail & eCommerce Solutions Using Microservices Architecture And Agile Methodology For The Ever Informed Digital Age”.
In this article, we explain everything related to microservices architecture for ecommerce application development. Businesses can either build in-house teams or outsource digital transformation services for building scalable ecommerce solutions. Both in-house and outsourcing ecommerce app development has its pros and cons. Take an informed decision.
We have already published retail tech trends 2021 and highlighted the pandemic triggered acceleration of digitization in the retail sector. We explained why e-commerce app development is a basic and obvious step towards digital transformation of large retail enterprises & store chains.
This is how of the insight is architectured –
- What is microservices architecture?
- Why should enterprises consider microservices architecture for ecommerce app development?
- What are the alternatives of microservices architecture?
- Microservices vs monolithic vs soa vs serverless architecture.
- Microservices Application architecture for ecommerce app development.
These days, tech teams have an overwhelming amount of options to build digital applications. But what’s the best way to build your ecommerce application? Is the best way, best for your company too? Does it fit in the existing tech infrastructure of the company? Is the solution long term, sustainable, scalable, secure? You need years of expertise to answer these questions. You can also consult any experienced digital transformation services company.
Now, let’s understand microservices in detail and explore how it could be useful for ecommerce website development.
What is microservices architecture?
Microservices architecture is a development approach for rapidly building scalable, large scale, complex digital solutions. As the name goes, it is a collection of small (micro) independent services. These micro-services are loosely coupled with each other and can share resources and exchange data using APIs.
With microservices architecture, large complex software systems are decomposed into several smaller components which can be independently designed, developed and deployed. In short, overall business functionality is delivered by cohesively stacking several smaller independent services.
Generally, each microservice is built to deliver a specific business capability and is maintained by very small teams. Because these services are independent of each other, development teams responsible for specific microservices can choose technologies of their choice to build a particular microservice.
This approach also enables businesses to introduce new features and accelerate innovation without bothering the overall application architecture. Microservices by design is suited for agile development. Businesses can continuously develop, test and deploy features. Just like how new features can be added, redundant features & microservices can easily be decoupled from the overall application.
Why should retail enterprises consider microservices architecture for ecommerce app development in the cloud?
It’s not good to be limited by the on-premise server capabilities. Legacy architecture should no longer obstruct innovation & act as a growth ceiling for your retail ecommerce enterprise. With cloud computing – the sky’s the limit.
Autoscaling & Resilient Applications
In 2019, 1.92 Billion people bought goods or services online. The retail e-commerce industry is already as big as $4Tn+ and it will continue to grow in the 202Xs. To cater to such huge demands, your ecommerce architecture must be robust, secure and scalable. During discounted sales and in festive seasons, traffic to large retail ecommerce sites can spike to 10s of millions within seconds. If your ecommerce app slows down or breaks in such a scenario then it translates into losing a lot of profit.
But businesses are to maximize profits. Right?
So, enterprises need solutions that can auto scale-up and scale down to serve customer demands. Microservices architecture for e-commerce applications in the cloud can autoscale specific services on need basis and is highly resilient.
Business Agility & Innovation
Also, the fierce competition in the ecommerce industry requires businesses to continuously innovate and wow customers with convenience and smooth online shopping experience.
Innovation involves constant flirting with new features & strategies. Again, to accelerate innovation businesses need an agile development approach. And because microservices architecture lets you easily add/remove specific services without disturbing the overall application, it is well-suited for ecommerce app development.
Code Reusability & Accelerated Development
In the microservices architecture, each module is independent of other services. These services are loosely coupled together to deliver business functionality. Same microservice can be used/integrated at multiple places.
For example, legacy architectures have product price engines embedded in their main application code. Though, prices can easily be updated in such engines but it is hard to reuse it elsewhere.
For instance, let’s suppose your legacy architectured price engine was developed in PHP and now your enterprise launches an alexa skill developed using python for voice commerce. It would be tough to use the same PHP code and obtain a price for the alexa powered voice commerce application.
In contrast, integrating a price engine using microservices architecture for e-commerce would have been a cakewalk. If the price engine was developed as an independent microservice, irrespective of the technologies involved, it could have been easily stacked up with any other service requiring price.
What are the alternatives of microservices architecture?
Tech industry is always evolving so are application architecture patterns. Though microservices architecture is the biggest buzz of the last decade and still continues to be but there are some other architectural patterns zizzing for its fair share of attention. Serverless architecture is the present sensation among the solution architects. Microkernel, Layered and event-driven architecture are some other popular software design patterns. Often in the solution engineers world, microservices architecture is compared with SOA architecture and Monolithic architecture. Let’s get right there.
Some other resources for you :
Read more on how you can embrace and lead retail digital transformation in your industry.
Microservices vs monolithic vs soa vs serverless architecture
Monolithic architecture Vs Microservices architecture
Monolithic architecture is a legacy software design approach. Where entire software is packaged and deployed as one single service. Modules within a monolithic architecture share databases and other resources. They are highly coupled with each other i.e, modules are interdependent. Some of the filthy successful software companies were built on Monolithic architecture but with time they have moved to microservices for aforementioned advantages. Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Uber are some of the early businesses embracing microservices architecture.
So, What fuels this shift from monolithic architecture to microservices architecture?
Though, comparatively it’s easier to code monolithic applications and in-fact very easy to scale them horizontally by creating server copies & by using load balancers but the developers & operations team starts howling in pain once they have to vertically scale the application.
As the entire application is packaged into one, with the increase in size increases the complexities of testing the application and maintaining updates. Besides, for even small change, the team has to redeploy the entire application. One critical failure or bug anywhere in the monolithic architecture application can break down the entire service and in today’s cut-throat competition it may lead to catastrophic business results.
Microservices on the other hand operate like a startup or how companies work in general. Like how in startup companies very small teams, often individuals are responsible for one particular business segment, in the same spirit microservices are responsible for one single fully-functional isolated business application service.
Another analogy could be drawn with divide and rule strategy. In microservices architectural approach of building applications responsibilities are divided (distributed) to individual services. These services are stacked together to deliver the overall business service.
To answer what fuels the popularity of microservices architecture, one could say, it kisses away the very pains of monolithic approach.
Microservices architecture Vs SOA (service oriented architecture)
Microservices & SOA has a lot in common and very thin identifiable differences in approach. SOA, like microservices architecture, consists of developing loosely coupled independent services to deliver a particular business function. Obviously, independence translates into agile and rapid iterative development. But then,
What differentiates SOA from Microservices architecture?
To start with, the focus of independent services coded with SOA pattern has enterprise wide scope while microservices are designed to serve only one particular application i.e., modules in microservices architecture have only application-wide scope. What does that mean?
Each module or business specific service developed under SOA architectural pattern is reusable across enterprise by exposing these services via APIs and by eliminating the need to know & comply with data integration implementations. The value here is to reuse the code in several applications across the enterprise and save the developer time, cut costs and go agile.
Another difference is the way services are exposed, SOA services are preferably exposed using synchronous protocols like RESTful APIs while microservices are exposed using asynchronous protocols like pub/sub event sourcing. This is to ensure that microservices are agile and highly resilient. Besides, microservices can have their own communication protocols but because SOA services have enterprise wide scope they need to have enterprise wide common communication protocol referred as Enterprise Service Bus (ESB).
In terms of data integration, SOA applications synchronously deal with common data sources and it is accessible by all the concerned applications across the enterprise. In the microservices world, data duplication and synchronization are the tradeoffs for delivering agility and performance.
Microservices Architecture Vs Serverless Architecture
If microservices is a more modular, independent and agile version of SOA, Serverless is a more granular function specific version of Serverless. To understand serverless in detail read this Serverless in the cloud where we have explained in detail BaaS and FaaS serverless architectural patterns.
The major difference between microservice and serverless is that functions exposed via serverless (say, AWS lambda functions) are event-triggered, short lived and the maintenance of environment in which serverless functions are executed is often automated and managed by the cloud service provider.
Microservices architecture for ecommerce app development
Finally, getting to the meat of this insight. Microservices architecture for ecommerce enables enterprises to effectively implement omnichannel retail approach. Additionally, retailers can complement their ecommerce microservices architecture by using serverless for implementing IoT and beacon technologies and deliver personalized in-store experience to customers.
How is microservices architecture implemented for ecommerce applications?
Microservices architecture is a good fit for cloud-native ecommerce application development. Ecommerce landscape and retail business in general is evolving quickly. New features are continuously introduced for driving engagement, sales and customer loyalty. Plus, in the festive seasons merchants face scalability challenges for exponential traffic spikes. Microservices is a pain-killer for all these challenges, for the omnichannel effective ecommerce strategy exploiting microservices, serverless, beacon, AI and data would be the right approach.
A not so complex multi-vendor ecommerce microservices architecture would consist of independent product catalog and inventory microservices, cart, checkout and transaction microservices, customer profiles microservices, ratings and reviews microservices and Vendor profile microservices. Client-facing UI interface itself could be an independent microservice and can be interfaced with ecommerce backend microservices to dynamically load UI elements and data via restful APIs. Next, we’ll discuss some of the ecommerce specific microservices architecture components. For detailed consultation, feel free to approach our retail digital transformation consultants.
Product Information Management (PIM) Microservices For Ecommerce Applications
Product Catalog Microservices For Ecommerce Application –
For a niche ecommerce application, say boy’s jeans website or protein supplement website, the set of product attributes might be limited in number but for a marketplace ecommerce application, the diversity of products is quite huge and so is the set of product’s characteristic attributes. The set of attributes keeps on growing with the catalog size and product variants. For niche websites, sql databases might work but for an scalable ecommerce application, noSQL databases are a better fit.
PIM would also contain some other microservices like –
Product media & metadata microservices for ecommerce applications
Product ratings and reviews microservices
Product inventory microservices
Customer Relationship Management Microservices For Ecommerce App Development
Customer profile microservices for ecommerce apps –
Ecommerce has a huge market reach and your customers could be coming from unexpected geographical regions. It’s always good to build data around your customers for personalizing their user experience. Customer profile database attributes are generally consistent in nature. So, a relational database as well as document-object database would be suited. Retail enterprises may also consider managed noSQL cloud databases like Google’s Datastore or Amazon’s DynamoDB.
CRM for delivering personalized marketing communication and some other use cases could also incorporate following microservices –
Customer Verification Microservices For Ecommerce
Customer Address Validation Microservices
Customer Payment Details or Card Management Microservices
Other than PIM and CRM, a full-fledged microservices ecommerce architecture would also contain payment gateway & transaction microservices, user activity tracking and analytics microservices, shipping, notifications, search, recommendations, loyalty programs and ads microservices for distributed ecommerce applications.
For any further information, brainstorming or for developing microservices for ecommerce applications get in touch with our retail digital transformation ninjas.