Even with an unlimited shopping budget, no one would order a complete wardrobe of luxury goods that they would have to wear for the rest of their lives. Styles change, personal preferences evolve and some clothing and accessories wear out and need to be replaced. Instead, we assemble our wardrobes and bring new pieces in and out as required – similar to the way MACH architecture is changing how brands are starting to look at the tech stack powering their eCommerce capabilities.
A few years ago, marketing research firm Gartner described this as a shift to a composable enterprise, where organizations would adopt technology like a series of interchangeable building blocks. This would lead to greater speed, flexibility, and resilience, its analysts said.
Achieving composability as a business may sound like a lofty goal, which is why the MACH architecture brings together all the principles that you can keep in mind to ensure you’re choosing the right solutions along the way.
What is MACH architecture?
As a MACH architecture backgrounder on TechTarget noted, MACH is more of a concept that businesses should use to develop a strategy rather than a one-size-fits-all blueprint.
The four principles include:
No one wants to encounter the “domino effect” in software, where you touch one piece of an application and it affects every other part. Microservices avoids this by treating each application function on an individual basis. That makes it easier to update, enhance or remove specific services more readily than you could with monolithic applications.
For a long time, internal development teams within organizations or those within vendor companies would begin writing code and even launch applications, then realize their work wasn’t done. They might need to integrate with other tools or add some kind of enhancements. This often leads to a search for the right application programming interface (API). An API-first approach puts the horse before the cart, understanding that starting with APIs will give them more options later on.
Similarly, many applications that were initially developed to be installed on a company’s own premises have been revamped over the past number of years to run in the cloud. This includes many CRM systems, ERPs, and marketing software tools. Today, the advantages of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model have led to a cloud-native approach, where applications take full advantage of the elasticity, scale, and resilience of public, private, and hybrid cloud environments.
When many brands set up their first eCommerce sites, they were limited by content management systems that forced them to stick with the user interface (UI) that came with it. Today they have more options, thanks to headless commerce tools that decouple components like the UI from the back end where product data and other information are stored. This has eased the path for rendering content across mobile devices, wearables, and even “smart mirrors” in their store locations.
MACH architecture example
Several well-known brands are already demonstrating compelling MACH architecture example use cases. As Diginomica reported, pet food giant Mars Inc., furniture retailer Ikea, and Interflora are all moving to MACH solutions to improve the way they operate.
The article also profiled footwear brand ASICS, which sees MACH as a way of providing richer product data, such as details on how many of its running shoes have information about heel drops. Focusing on MACH principles is allowing the company to deploy solutions that will surface more of what customers want to know amid omnichannel shopping experiences.
MACH architecture pros and cons
Companies don’t change the way they adopt IT very often, and there can be an understandable reluctance to upgrade or migrate to solutions that aren’t fully mature. Deciding on whether MACH architecture is right for you will come down to weighing the following:
Having an application crash or lag can have a detrimental impact on the business, particularly when you’re trying to sell to customers online. MACH solutions can help avoid this scenario because microservices, for instance, allow for greater fault isolation. That means pieces of an application can be remedied before a problem cascades to the rest. A brand’s digital presence can have higher availability as a result.
Brands may often be interested in bringing on new tools to assist with their sales, marketing, and online orders, but need to check first that solutions will mesh with what they already have in place. The composable nature of MACH solutions provides a more streamlined and accelerated path to integrating with a greater variety of applications and tools. This in turn could help brands gain a competitive advantage or speed up the time to market with features that customers want from a digital experience.
More customers, more orders, a greater mix of inventory – nothing should get in the way of brands increasing the rate at which they achieve their business goals. When IT can’t deal with large volumes of data or creates other impediments, it’s obviously not going to provide the expected return on investment. Opting for MACH solutions could provide peace of mind that they can grow at an exponential level without significant risk their IT will fail to keep up.
Lack of expertise
Many brands may not employ enough (or any) in-house developers who can create their own bespoke MACH architecture. This can be mitigated by working with trusted technology partners that have already developed their solutions based on MACH principles
MACH solutions that are developed or deployed internally may require additional tools to monitor and manage their performance. In other cases, however, SaaS tools will have measurement and reporting capabilities built into the core product
Moving to MACH solutions could involve retiring older, monolithic applications that have been in place for some time. Rather than seeing this as a project calling for a complete revamp of your entire tech stack, look for specific areas where deploying a MACH solution will bring business value while putting you on the road to composability.
Selecting MACH Solutions
The criteria for what you need in a MACH architecture will depend on your business and its needs, but aim to cover these bases:
- Purpose-built: You want best-of-breed building blocks that were designed with specific business outcomes in mind versus more generic, all-purpose solutions
- Pre-built integrations: APIs and webhooks should make it easy to bring on applications and tools without causing significant business disruption
- Strong SLAs: The most trusted SaaS solutions include service-level agreements that let you move forward with confidence
- Continuous delivery model: Automatic updates eliminate the risk of solutions becoming out of date or creating vulnerabilities
- Access to expertise: Look beyond the solution itself and establish that you’re working with a company whose team can guide your shift towards a MACH architecture
MACH solutions for eCommerce
For areas such as product feed management, marketplace integration, and local inventory ads, Highstreet.io offers an example of MACH architecture in action. This includes a cloud-native development path and sophisticated use of APIs, as well as pre-built integrations that make it easy to connect product listing to leading platforms such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Moving to a MACH architecture doesn’t have to be a headache. Connect with our team to learn more about how to know if you’re investing in solutions that will turn your brand into a composable business.