APIs and microservices
Using microservices to re-platform your eCommerce site
03 March 2022 • 4 min read
Almost all retailers have an online presence underpinned by an eCommerce platform. There are a multitude of eCommerce services available – from sites like Shopify and Squarespace to industry giants like Magento and Salesforce. These platforms offer a range of different benefits, but they all have one feature in common: they’re relatively simple to integrate when you’re starting out.
But for established companies, eCommerce platforms present a different dilemma:
- You may already have a platform and be looking to move.
- You may have outgrown your current platform or be struggling to scale in line with your pace of growth.
- You may be finding the system difficult to work with as it’s out of support.
Or you could be experiencing a mixture of all these challenges – which was exactly the case with Missguided. Their platform couldn’t keep up with their rapid growth and evolving need for increased flexibility, so the decision was made to re-platform.
To hear first-hand how Missguided responded to their need to scale, join us on March 22nd for our webinar, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy. We’ll be joined by Missguided’s IT Director, John Rigall, who’ll discuss their digital transformation journey with AND Digital. He’ll explain the steps we took, and the pitfalls we overcame, to overhaul their digital infrastructure and develop a market-leading app.
During their technology transformation, Missguided transitioned from one full-functionality platform to a flexible, composable solution. An instrumental part of this journey was microservices.
What are microservices?
Despite being a bit of a buzzword, microservices are a crucial element of system architecture. Microservices refer to a software design architecture that aims to deconstruct an application into a collection of loosely coupled services. Each service is then responsible for a specific feature of the original application. Put simply, microservices separate an application into multiple smaller services that collectively deliver the same functionality as the original.
What are the benefits of microservices?
At a glance, microservices seem like a hassle. Why split up your application into multiple services to deliver the same functionality? There are many reasons why microservices are a great option for many applications – here are three highlights:
1. Increased flexibility
Microservices are loosely coupled, making it much simpler to add, remove and modify your platform’s functionality compared to a monolithic application. This means teams can develop and deploy updates autonomously on independent services – improving efficiency and increasing the speed of progress.
2. Bespoke scalability
Independent services are easier to scale to meet the needs of your business. Instead of updating the entire platform, you can scale the necessary services as you go, resulting in a future-proof system that can adapt and react to your growth.
3. Improved stability
Microservices are robust. As services are loosely coupled, the points of failure are separate. If one of your services fails, the entire platform won’t fail, just the respective service. This independence also makes it far easier to debug and identify points of failure.
How do microservices enable re-platforming?
By implementing microservices, you can move functionality away from your eCommerce platform so it’s more easily replaceable. Although services will still be dependent on the monolith itself, microservices make the architecture more headless in nature, significantly reducing the complexity in replacing the platform with one that meets your needs.
During our project with Missguided, significant functionality was embedded in the monolithic platform, so integrating to a like-for-like platform would have been incredibly costly in time and complexity. By separating functionality into independent microservices – such as authorisation and payments – we were able to reduce dependency on the monolith and use architecture to connect the old and new eCommerce platforms.
Are microservices right for you?
Microservices may seem like a win-win solution, but – as with everything in the complex world of software development – there are many factors to consider before taking this approach.
First, you need to understand your business goals and determine whether re-platforming will help you achieve them. You also need to think about your customers. If your current platform meets their needs, optimising your current system may be a better value solution – microservices could be overkill.
Although simple in concept, migrating to microservices can be highly complex. A microservices architecture requires a significant number of operationally critical APIs to communicate. If the interface fails, so do all the services. It’s therefore important to understand what skills you have in-house to implement each stage of the project.
Finally, cost should always play a role in your decision. To transition to microservices, you’ll need to invest in the right infrastructure to support the architecture, which can be costly. It could be more efficient to stick with your existing system or even start from scratch with a new platform.
Working with AND Digital
At AND Digital, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience in managing large migrations. When you partner with us, we’ll work with you to determine the best plan of action for your project, design the system architecture, and deliver the ideal digital solution to support your long-term goals. We also upskill your staff on the job, equipping them with the expertise and mindset to continue the project when we’re no longer needed. You’ll benefit from a more productive, highly skilled team long after we’re gone.
At Missguided, we supported the segmentation of their functionality into microservices – not only making their re-platforming journey easier and more efficient but upskilling their staff too.
If you’re a business leader looking for honest insights into digital transformation and microservices, join us on March 22nd for our webinar, How Missguided unlocked growth through modernising their digital strategy. We’ll be joined by Missguided who’ll discuss how microservices supported their digital growth, as well as highlight the lessons they learned during the development of their market-leading app.