Unlock eCommerce Success: Mastering Scalability with Modular and Atomic Architecture – NBC US

Every business owner wants e-commerce success and growth for their business. In digital commerce, growth is closely tied to the e-commerce software scalability. The bigger your business is, the more resources it needs. New capabilities, high speed, and convenience of use can significantly increase the customer experience (CX), leading to greater loyalty and more sales in the long run. Achieving the highest scalability is possible with a modular or atomic architecture approach.

The idea of scalability and its meaning for performance

The term “scalability” is related to the ability to get bigger. In the e-commerce world, this can mean many different things — all related to the performance of your e-commerce website. Depending on your business needs, you can scale the number of orders per minute (imagine Black Friday load), the number of SKUs in your catalog (sudden growth is great, but can your e-commerce platform handle it?), and more.

Any change to the bigger leads to a bigger potential revenue stream unless your e-commerce software fails it all. A perfect scalable e-commerce platform must be able to provide more resources to process the new loads without losing the performance level, even when they are unexpected. And the scalability is defined by the modular approach in the system architecture.

Modular architecture is also the path to functional scalability

Why are not all the platforms scalable? At the start of ecommerce software creation, the technology could build a robust, wholesome system that provides the necessary features. Back then, the market was not developing as fast as today, and the companies could successfully use the same features for years. All features and capabilities in the same platform were interdependent, and it seemed normal, as the changes were rarely needed.

Such “independence” of the platform parts is achieved thanks to the modular approach, which means that the system is not built “as a whole” but consists of many small modules. Each module is tailored to provide a particular feature or capability. For example, you can upgrade your catalog module significantly, and it will not affect your customer’s cart. Another example is adding an opportunity to filter products without setting the platform into the “maintenance” mode, as the new feature will not break anything in the current workflow.

Such an approach results in seamless system use by all sides: most likely, your customers will only see the new feature and will not feel the effort you made to install it.

While the modular approach was a breakthrough, it still implies some possible challenges. Sometimes, it is unclear where to start the platform development. It usually happens with those systems that used to be monolith but decided to introduce newly added modular capabilities: the system is not one interdependent piece already, but the separate module still includes a big part of a platform, for example, includes the whole frontend or all the vendor capabilities.

Atomic architecture was built to bring some structure and logic into the modular approach. “Atomic” means that the whole architecture is built like a living organism. Every tiny capability is an atom. Atoms stick together to become a bigger piece of a system and build a molecule. Molecules stick together to build particular features, which can be referred to as “cells” and so on. You can make changes at any level — the system is profoundly modular but highly manageable and transparent.

How do modular and atomic help businesses scale

  1. Saving resources —  when one part of the system needs to grow (e.g., checkout capability needs more resources to process all orders), the business owner doesn’t have to pay for the upgrade of a whole system.
  1. Saving time — Another benefit of the atomic approach lies in the same idea of not engaging with many developers. But now it’s for faster reactions to what’s happening in the market.
  2. Fast innovation delivery to the market— any moment you need a new feature, you don’t have to think about how to embed it into your platform and what it will affect; you just create a new module and add it to the system. And you are ready to go — faster than your competitors are.

Ready-to-use modules for easier system management

Another good point of the atomic approach is that, most likely, the vendor offers ready-to-use modules for different needs (just like OOTB systems offer ready features). But, unlike with the monolithic OOTB, you don’t have to purchase them all in the box.

Here is an example: imagine you need catalog, inventory, and payment processing only at the beginning of your journey. You can start with these three modules only. Once you need SEO and email marketing modules a year later, you can just purchase them and connect through APIs.

Modular ecommerce systems are the key to scalability, and scalability is the key to bigger revenue. The point is to choose the platform wisely — and if you are here, you already know what to do.

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