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The Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Architecture: Types, Pros & Cons, and Tips to Optimize

The eCommerce industry is booming and it’s only going to get bigger. It’s no surprise, then, that so many businesses have jumped on the wagon. From niche to mainstream, eCommerce has become an essential part of selling and customer relationships have become more important than ever.

However, with so many stores popping up, it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled this ultimate guide to eCommerce architecture. It covers everything you need to know if you’re thinking of getting started with your first eCommerce store. From the basics to more advanced topics like hybrid commerce.

But, before choosing an architecture type, it might be worth asking an eCommerce consultant for their opinion, just in case!

What is eCommerce Architecture

Ecommerce website architecture is a form of planning and arrangement of the information that’s presented on the website. It also defines a hierarchy of how the data blocks relate to each other.

In other words, it’s a way to structure the website, so it can perform its intended functions and help businesses to fulfill their business goals.

Advantages of Ecommerce Architecture

Strong eCommerce Architecture helps you scale your business. You should use it if you want to start an online store. So, here are some advantages of eCommerce Architecture.

Customer satisfaction raised to boost revenue

Your eCommerce business should be focused on providing a seamless shopping experience. Customers want to shop online without having to go through any obstacles or complications.

A solid eCommerce architecture is key to creating a great customer experience. Customers want to be able to browse your site quickly and easily, from the homepage to placing an item in their shopping cart.

Improved search engine rankings and indexing

This type of architecture uses a sitemap, which is an XML file that lists every page on your site. It’s used by search engines to crawl your site and determine what content should be indexed. You can use Google Sitemaps to generate a sitemap to help improve rankings and indexing on search engines.

Better scalability

ECommerce architecture allows you to improve the existing site without the need of building a new one. You can, however, only do this if you know exactly which portions and structures of the websites need to be improved.

Third-party applications can be easily integrated

If you know the interconnections and connections in your eCommerce software architecture, you will be able to use solutions from a variety of suppliers to provide a better user experience for your customers.

Traditional vs modern eCommerce architecture

ECommerce platforms should be designed to scale easily. Old, monolithic platforms are hard to upgrade and maintain.

The modern, service-oriented architecture allows you to quickly adapt your platform to new requirements, so you can easily add new features and functionality without having to rebuild everything.

Types of Ecommerce Architecture

There are many different types of eCommerce architecture. Here we’ll focus on the most popular ones. Each type offers unique benefits and drawbacks.

Two-Tier Architecture

At the most basic level, an eCommerce site will have a two-tier architecture. This is what most people think of when they hear the term “eCommerce”.

There are three components to this: 

  • A web server that holds all of your products and information about them in a database
  • A shopping cart page where customers can add products to their cart
  • A checkout page for finalizing purchases

Three Tier Architecture

Three-tier eCommerce architecture is popular for eCommerce stores. It consists of a database, an application server, and a web server.

The database consists of all the information you need to store about your products and customers.

The application server uses this information to serve up dynamic pages (that is, web pages that change when you scroll down them) and store temporary data.

Finally, the web server takes care of serving up static pages (web pages that don’t change), like your homepage or an article page.

The best part? You can scale each tier separately, so adding more processing power in one area will improve the performance of that one area without affecting other areas.

Ecommerce Microservices Architecture

One of the most important parts of an eCommerce architecture is its microservices architecture. Microservices are a way to break down a much larger system into a set of independent, smaller services. 

These services can be anything from payment processing to inventory management or hosting. The benefits of using this type of architecture are that it will help with scalability and allow for easier troubleshooting if one service has issues.

When you have a system made up of multiple, small services, if any one service goes down your whole system isn’t affected.

This way, you don’t have to worry about your entire business coming to a halt when one small service fails. In addition to these benefits, if one part of the microservice is more efficient than another- like say payment processing – you can scale up that service without having to worry about scaling down the other parts because they’re all independently run.

Headless Commerce Architecture

Headless architecture, sometimes referred to as decoupled eCommerce architecture, separates the front-end shopping experience from the back-end fulfillment experience.

When it comes to online shopping, customers want convenience and speed. That’s why headless commerce has become such a popular option for many online stores.

The front-end of your store is fully customizable and optimized for whatever interface your customer wants to use to interact with your store (i.e., desktop, mobile).

Meanwhile, the back-end can be customized for any type of order fulfillment process you need.

The best part about the headless commerce solution? It’s scalable and affordable! Upgrading or customization of a backend can be done at any time without affecting the front-end of the site and it can be a great custom solution.

And since there are only minimal changes to make between each upgrade or change to the backend system, it costs significantly less than other types of architecture such as monolithic eCommerce architecture where changes require extensive modifications to both front-end and back-end systems.

SaaS

SaaS is a type of cloud services that offers software and applications over the internet with continuous integration. The benefits of SaaS are that it’s easy to get started, it is the least costly option (great option for startups), and it makes it easier to scale your business, similar to Magento vs Shopify.

You can outsource some or all of your transactions to a third-party provider. This way, you don’t have to worry about servers or scaling up for a sudden spike in traffic. 

How to Develop a Scalable eCommerce Architecture

Scalable eCommerce is one of the most exciting eCommerce trends of the past few years. But with the dizzying array of eCommerce solutions and services on the market, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Review Your Existing ECommerce Architecture

Before you can scale your eCommerce architecture, the first step is to review your existing eCommerce architecture.

This will help you identify what you’re missing and what opportunities are available to you. You may need to upgrade your platform or optimize your site before scaling. It may also be necessary for you to work with a specialist, like a web developer or a UX designer.

Build eCommerce Microservices

When it comes to eCommerce, this same idea can be applied to your website. The goal is to create separate microservice programs for different areas of your site so that if one area becomes overwhelming or goes down, those problems won’t affect the rest of the site.

For instance, if your product pages all rely on a single API database and it goes down, then all of the product pages on your site will be offline too. With a microservices architecture, that problem is avoided as every page and feature doesn’t rely on any other page or feature.  When you’re designing your website’s infrastructure, think about separating products and inventory into their microservice.

Buy eCommerce Microservices

If you’re looking for a scalable eCommerce business architecture, it starts with the right mix of eCommerce microservices. To get started, you need to think about what your needs are and how much you expect to grow in the future.

A good way to start is by buying eCommerce microservices that come pre-configured with the necessary integrations and support.

This is a great choice because you can buy all the necessary components in one place and save yourself time since you don’t have to find them separately on different websites and set them up yourself.

Deconstruct Your Monolithic Architecture

One of the most important early steps in scaling your eCommerce architecture is to deconstruct your monolithic architecture. This will allow you to add elements and features as you need them, rather than at a predetermined point in the future.

Monolithic systems are also notoriously difficult to maintain. Every change requires substantial modifications, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

By deconstructing your monolithic architecture into separate, independent modules that interact with each other without any dependencies, you can avoid these issues.

Get Support For The New Architecture

The final step is to get support for the new architecture. This is important because your eCommerce site won’t be scalable if your hosting infrastructure isn’t capable of supporting it. You need to use a hosting provider that can handle scaling and high traffic volume.

How to Best Optimize eCommerce Architecture

Sometimes simply having the architecture dubbed ‘the best’ will not guarantee it to be the best for you if it is not optimized. But here are the things you need to do to optimize your eCommerce architecture.

  • Identify keywords that are relevant to your business – Keywords are important when you’re trying to rank high on search engines. You should take into account both the quantity and quality of keywords used by other websites.
  • Categorize your keywords – Keywords should be organized by category and product name. This makes finding the right keywords much easier.
  • Determine the structure of your website – Plan out your website’s architecture before beginning to build it out. You’ll be able to envision your site and its components rather than launching into the process without a plan in place.

The key pages should be included so that you can have a good idea of how your plan will look. 

Map out the linkages between each page, including the automatic links on your product pages. Having a complete picture of your website’s user experience, from the moment they land on it to when they leave, should be your ultimate goal.

  • Add relevant keywords to page & navigation links – Keywords should be placed strategically throughout your site. You can use dashes in between words to create links. Don’t make your links too long or complicated, as this could harm your rankings.

Additionally, integrate keywords into your navigation menu. Create keyword-rich links for each product page. High-value pages contain many internal links. Pages with many internal links hold higher SEO values.

  • Use internal linking to your advantage – Internal linking helps search engines understand what your pages are about. You should use keywords in the anchor text of your links.

Internal linking helps you to discover more about your products or services. It also helps you to rank higher in SERPs. Don’t abuse it to not be labeled as a spammy website by Google.

  • Take advantage of canonical tags – By adding a canonical tag to each page, you can make sure that search engines know that this is the source of the content, and not duplicate content, which is penalized by Google.

Pros & Cons of Main Approaches to eCommerce Architecture

Traditional e-commerce has a lot going for it. It’s been around for nearly two decades, proven itself time and again, and has been the go-to solution for brick-and-mortar retailers looking to get more eyeballs on their products. But there are also significant limitations to the traditional e-commerce architecture that many companies are unaware of.

Pros of a Traditional E-commerce Architecture

Traditional eCommerce architectures are the most popular, as they are easy to operate, offer a lower cost of ownership, integrate well with other enterprise systems, and are scalable.

Cons of a Traditional E-commerce Architecture

You may not be able to customize the way your products are displayed on the site. This means that some customers may not purchase from your business because they have difficulty navigating the website.

Another downside is that it doesn’t always provide the tools needed for an effective customer journey and conversion funnel. For example, if you want to track user behavior before purchasing or using personalized and dynamic content, you will need to find additional tools on your own.

Modern Alternatives to the Traditional E-Commerce Architecture

There are three main approaches to eCommerce architecture. The first approach is traditional, which is a monolithic design. In this design, the entire website is a single system, with all content in one place.

The second approach is a more modern, microservice-based design. In this design, the website will be broken up into different parts or sections (i.e., storefront, blog page). These sections are located on different servers and interact with each other via API to share data and work together to complete tasks.

Finally, there’s a decoupled design that separates content from presentation and logic; it has no ties between them at all (i.e., they can be hosted on different platforms).

Hybrid eCommerce Architecture

One of the most popular eCommerce architecture approaches is the hybrid approach. With this type of architecture, on-site and off-site content is combined to create a seamless experience for customers.

Advantages:

  • The company can create a fully customized user experience, which increases customer engagement.
  • It’s easier to integrate with third-party vendors.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s more difficult to optimize content for search engines.
  • There are many steps involved in maintaining this type of architecture, which means you need an experienced team to manage it.

Wrapping Up

Effective eCommerce website architecture is essential for delivering the highest level of service to your clients. You’ll also see a rise in search engine ranks as a result of this strategy.

If you’re still not sure about it, Request a Free eCommerce Architecture Consultation TODAY.

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