Ecommerce is an incredibly fast-paced industry. Each missed opportunity to attract, keep and convert customers makes lose the competitive edge.
Relying on best-of-breed microservices is an efficient strategy to keep up with the ever-evolving user expectations and even stay ahead of the curve.
The monolithic solutions typically can’t match the specialized tools in terms of agility, flexibility, and innovation. By bringing together the best microservices, sellers might increase their value on all stages of the customer journey.
This statement is also corroborated by a survey by Elastic Path:
- 95% of ecommerce practitioners believe composable commerce is the best path forward
- 68% believe microservices are worth more than just the underlying technology
- 71% see the benefits from both a tech and business perspective.
What are the benefits of ecommerce microservices?
Microservices are usually developed by independent vendors and proposed as software-as-a-service. This typically presents 2 main advantages for businesses:
Microservices focus on a specific set of business processes, so they master them to perfection. They get frequent updates to keep up with the best practices. Delegation of particular business processes to microservices liberates the internal resources. The economies of scale also often make microservices cheaper than in-house development.
Many businesses are intimidated by the prospect of managing and orchestrating third-party microservices into a seamless experience. However, modern microservices are pluggable, scalable, and replaceable. These principles became the industry standard and are promoted by the non-profit MACH Alliance (short for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless). The MACH Alliance members are “advocates for an open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystem.”
In the ecommerce context, the microservices provide a fast way to the UX best practices.
The best-of-breed microservices are available to cover the following tasks:
- Product Information Management (PIM)
- Business intelligence
- Discounts, promotions, sales, or deals
- Digital asset management (DAM)
- Marketing automation
- Inventory management
- Payments processing
- Fulfillment (shipping and returns)
- Chat, live support, and helpdesk tools many more niche-specific aspects
Best-of-breed eCommerce Microservices to Enhance Your Customer Journey
Carefully chosen microservices could boost the performance across all stages of the customer lifecycle.
Below, we will provide 11 examples of popular best-of-breed eCommerce microservices and illustrate their ROI.
In-website search functionality
Ecommerce stores can have hundreds, if not thousands, of products in their catalogs. A convenient Search module is of prime importance to help users find specific products hassle-free (and without having to contact the support).
While developing simple search functionality in-house might be trivial, straightforward keyword-based search no longer cuts it. At the very least, customers expect advanced filtering tools that help them narrow down their options and see specific product ranges.
Businesses can also deliver more customer value by using AI and ML-powered search. The applications include:
- intelligent recommendations that are uniquely tailored to each search user
- conversational language search
- image and voice search
Algolia is a microservice that can power any website with such search functionalities in no time.
It comes with:
- Omni-channel and multi-platform integrations with a consistent experience
- Various developer-oriented APIs to manage and use data and search functionality
- Pre-built front-end search UIs
- Configurable analytics with built-in testing (A/B, e.g.) capabilities
For instance, Coursera was able to use Algolia to create a powerful search engine with tailored recommendations and automated categorization. Only a minimal work of developers was required.
Visual shop-alike recommendations
In most B2C segments, visuals play the most important role in driving engagement and sales. Syte is a product discovery platform powered by visual AI technology to instantly connect customers with products through visual search journeys.
Syte helps businesses integrate visual selling experiences in a number of ways:
- Image search and inspiration galleries
- Shoppable images with built-in product hotlinks.
- A visual recommendation engine with shop similar, shop social, shop the look/room, and more similar tools.
These visual tools are empowered by back-end AI for personalized recommendations, data-driven marketing tools, and smart tagging. This makes managing and organizing visual eCommerce assets a breeze.
Here is an example of Syte on City Furniture. Customers can upload an image and the engine will automatically detect visual elements, e.g., tables, chairs, or interior decor. Users can then click on the in-image hotlinks and the search engine will find and provide similar items from the product catalog.
- Signet UK
- City Furniture
Responsive images optimization for load speed and visual quality
The importance of appealing visuals for conversions can’t be exaggerated. But high-quality web images usually hurt page load speed - which also has a great impact on user’s propensity to stay on the website. This conflict is particularly pronounced for mobile users, who represent 70 to 80 percent of the traffic for a typical ecommerce.
TwicPics reconciles image quality and load speed. It helps to apply cutting-edge optimizations to responsive images automatically, with just a few lines of code. This includes:
- Tailoring a pixel-perfect version of an image for every device’s screen, on the fly
- Smart cropping by AI to the appropriate aspect ratio
- Lossless compression and conversion to the most appropriate format, according to the browser
- Placeholder generation and lazy-loading management
- Caching and delivery from an image CDN
- SEO optimization of images
The same features are also available for hero section and product videos.
A dynamic French DNVB brand Envie de Fraise chose TwicPics to improve its web performance and get rid of the bottlenecks of the manual image management workflow. The microservice contributed to an increase in business KPIs, allowing to reach a conversion rate of over 3.5% (and up to 10% during the promotional campaigns). It also saves time for the company’s developers and web designers.
- Envie de Fraise
- Yves Rocher
- Burger King
Talone.One is a scalable, flexible, and API-first promotion engine. The engine is built to offer a seamless omnichannel experience. The microservice provides an intuitive system for defining rules that control pricing and promotional behavior across your eCommerce platform. Talon.One uses customer data and runs it through this rule-based logic to automatically come up with personalized and tailored pricing and promotions. The solution is able to gather data from multiple customer touchpoints (CRM, customer data platform, BI, ERP).
The platform also provides tools for running discounts, coupons, loyalty programs, gift cards, digital wallets, referrals, and product bundles. Not to mention easy marketing segmention and geofencing capabilities.
Product information management (PIM)
PIM refers to the process of handling all the data, content, and other material related to your products. This includes information like product SKUs, descriptions (with translations), media, specifications, etc. A PIM stores, manages, and transforms this data for use in various endpoints, like eCommerce platforms, marketplaces, comparison engines, brand portals, and product sheets.
Plytix is a leading PIM solution that serves as a single source-of-truth for all your product information. It’s packaged in a unified and collaborative dashboard that automatically ingests data from sources like files or ERPs and allows you to create product feeds for your various sales channels.
The whole team can then collaborate to edit and optimize the product listings. Using the API, finalized product listings can then be pushed to your various marketing and sales endpoints.
For example, Tunturi Fitness is a supplier of fitness equipment, like treadmills and weight-lifting machines. Using Pytix, they can ensure that all their product data is accurate and updated in real-time. This allows them to instantly respond to customer queries as well as share on-demand content with their partners and dealers.
- Telco Accessories
Headless commerce APIs and inventory management
CommerceLayer is a headless commerce platform and order management system. Built specifically for use in composable commerce ecosystems, it provides capabilities and APIs that span every aspect of a full-fledged eCommerce platform.
CommerceLayer offers a huge amount of functionalities and developer tools: from adding shopping cart functionality to developing mobile and wearable apps. The API features over 400 API endpoints, 100 webhooks or trigger events, and is virtually universally compatible with third-party integrations.
A remarkable example of ROI of migration to composable commerce is presented by Chilly’s. As this company kept growing internationally, it came to the limits of Shopify plus. It was particularly unhandy to manage multiple base currencies and languages. (The only workaround was maintaining duplicate store instances and using dedicated apps for translations, with a clumsy workflow for each update).
The company picked CommerceLayer to provide the eCommerce functionalities in their overhauled website. (The new stack includes Vercel, Vue.js and Nuxt.js). After the transition, Chilly’s was able to achieve +24% mobile conversions, +18% overall conversions, and -41% checkout abandon rates, as well as important operational economies.
Marketing automation platform
Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform. They aim to help businesses increase revenue by sending highly personalized marketing emails and SMS.
Its core feature is a powerful rule-based system to define automated behaviors. Think of sending special offers to customers on their birthday, for example. Klaviyo also offers convenient tools to track the entire customer lifecycle and tailor communications appropriately. The marketers appreciate the timeline view of when the product was first viewed, purchased, and fulfilled as well as when the customer submits a review and earns loyalty points.
Yotpo offers a suite of microservice solutions for client reviews, loyalty and referrals.
It gained popularity for its smart review system that helps generate authentic, yet maximally impactful user reviews.
For example, you can generate SMS prompts that ask customers to submit a review as soon as they receive their purchase. The tool will provide users with smart prompts suggesting certain relevant high-conversion and impactful words. You can also attach custom questions to reviews to get better customer feedback as well as request photos or videos. It’s even possible to incorporate community Q&As.
Yotpo review widget can be easily embedded on any website page, as well as a Facebook or Instagram shop. (So that you can test displaying customer reviews on the checkout page, or any other important moment in the buyer journey). Last but not least, Yopto helps ensure the best reviews shine with tools that automatically filter and highlight the most relevant testimonials.
- Steve Madden
Chat and live support
Chatfuel automates customer support and sales service with AI conversational chatbots. It could help increase revenue in three main ways:
Attract customers by interacting with them at key moments in the buyer journey. Streamline engagement through the use of chatbots to handle the majority of user interactions. Live customer support is made easier thanks to on-demand sales intelligence. Send automated “re-engagement” messages to stay in touch with customers and potentially bring them back for additional sales. Users can define their own triggers for message sequences.
Chatfuel provides ready-made templates for common chatbot interactions (with the ability to modify or create a custom sequence from scratch). By analyzing keywords in customer messages, Chatfuel can automatically respond with relevant answers and kick-off certain conversation paths.
Shipping and returns
nShift is a global parcel delivery management and shipping solution. With a full range of delivery options, nShift aims to help merchants improve customer satisfaction, create new revenue opportunities, and develop sustainable delivery mechanisms.
Customers mainly benefit from leveraging nShift’s vast digital infrastructure and network of partners. This includes over 450 business integrations and 1,000 carriers.
nShift provides ecommerce tools for the later stages of customer journey: from the moment of checkout through fulfillment and even post-sales customer interactions. An important aspect of the latter are product returns. nShift comes with tools to maximize their conversions into exchanges instead of reimbursements. The platform can also manage click-and-collect sales in brick-and-mortar stores and retail chains.
Most eCommerce businesses, particularly new and growing ones, simply can’t spare the time, effort, and resources to achieve this kind of maturity by themselves.
- Harvey Nichols
Business intelligence for eCommerce
Glew is a Business Intelligence platform that helps the eCommerce take the data-driven decisions.
Glew collects and serves data related to over 200 KPIs, like revenue, profit, AOV, LTV, conversion rate, and more. It comes with advanced reporting and analytics tools to help businesses identify their most valuable customers and the most performant ways to approach and convert them. Popular use cases include managing the marketing spending and ROI by combining data from all marketing channels in one place, or generation of insights on pricing and stock policy.
Like on any worthwhile BI platform, users can set up alerts or generate custom reports. Performance can be segmented and analyzed independently for key business areas, like sales, marketing, inventory, subscriptions, and customer engagement.
- Harvey Nichols
By now, the offer of the ecommerce microservices ecosystem is incredibly rich. By leveraging top microservices from specialized vendors, any ecommerce can enjoy cutting-edge performance with minimal hassle.