Growing and capturing an online audience for your e-commerce business is more difficult than ever. Competition is fierce and consumers have seemingly unlimited choice. To build a clientele that comes back time and time again, e-commerce sites need to stand out. Visual experiences that delight customers can help do this and take shopping beyond the point and click.
E-commerce has changed dramatically over the past decade. Where static sites and images were once state-of-the-art, consumers now expect much more. They want visual experiences that come to life. Ones that let them interact with products on their phones or tablets and visualize them in their homes. Augmented reality, virtual models, 3D spin sets, and interactive videos — on sites and in apps — are starting to enter the mainstream.
The right visual experiences encourage conversions. They capture shoppers’ fleeting attention and give them the information and confidence they need to make a purchasing decision. They can also provide online experiences that are more personalized to the shopper, just like in a retail store.
MACH Brings Visual Experiences to Life
Creating this superior customer experience requires brands to rethink how they approach technology. Compelling visual experiences aren't built in a day. That’s why brands must develop a tech stack that's flexible enough to deliver what’s possible now and can scale with them as they grow by making it easy to adapt to new technologies and capabilities as they become available. That’s where a MACH architecture can help.
MACH describes a set of modern technologies that are microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. It’s not a product, it’s an approach. One that lets companies build systems in which every component is pluggable, scalable and replaceable, and can be continuously improved to meet evolving business needs. A MACH architecture enables brands to build new visual media concepts today for their existing platforms — and evolve them quickly and seamlessly as new apps, sites and channels appear.
- Microservices let you break up applications and capabilities into smaller parts. So if an application is a shopping mall, each "store" is a microservice that can be added or removed on demand. This lets brands scale and build new functionality as needed — say to share visual content on a new social platform or tackle seasonal needs and demands — without impacting the other parts.
- APIs — or application programming interfaces — are the conduits through which apps interact. They connect microservices together so that they function as a whole. An excellent analogy for APIs is a restaurant’s servers: they act as the go-between between patrons and the kitchen staff, ensuring that orders, modifications and special requests are passed on to the chefs.
- Cloud-native apps operate in, and are designed specifically for, the cloud. They enable e-commerce efforts to scale and adapt more quickly and effortlessly. As businesses grow and adapt to changes, modern cloud-native apps breed innovation and speed up the creation and optimization of microservices, accelerating the development and delivery of new projects.
- Finally, if microservices are about function, a headless approach is about presentation. Going headless let’s you separate the user experience from the back-end technology. This makes it possible to integrate different technologies and microservices into a single, customized, easy-to-manage platform. Brands can house their content and visual experiences in a single place and publish them out to their sites, apps, and more without having to start from scratch every time.
One-of-a-kind visual experiences can bring e-commerce to life. They can delight customers, deliver personalization, and increase conversions. And with the benefits of a MACH architecture, they can be easier to deliver than ever.
Tal Lev-Ami is the co-founder and CTO of Cloudinary, a media experience cloud company.