Requirements for the eCommerce API Scalability Architecture

eCommerce platform architecture for API scalability

API (Application Program Interface) is a computing interface that defines interactions between multiple software modules. What does ecommerce API for your scalability mean? It means an API with business logic that supports scaling the required workload and is implemented on scalable services.

The principal purposes of API scaling are optimizing resource utilization and IT costs. These are essential steps to keep expenses under control during uncertain times. Reducing costs and equipment utilization are crucial to ecommerce systems, deployed in the cloud or on-premise. The ability to API scaling also plays a role when the company wants to widen the current points of sale and integrate their products into third party marketplaces.

For instance, during the lockdown period many non-food retailers had to temporarily close offline stores because of authorities’ orders. As a result, the entire customer demand fell back on online commerce.

This reluctant stress testing illustrated the importance of architectural principles and technical solutions in scaling services to satisfy customer demand. An important role in scaling is played by API queries, which on the one hand, must return the most complete information about a product a client requests to the front end, and on the other hand, not overload the communication channels between the front end and back end.

Going further, for successful ecommerce scaling, an API management system must be implemented on a clean architecture level to offer a centrally visible and scalable platform to share APIs within the company and partners. This API management system also controls access and security policy and collects usage statistics.

The list of architecture requirements to support ecommerce API scalability is as follows:

  1. The use of API-driven scalable real time services. The API query has to be addressed to scalable real time services, thanks to which the requests will be scalable as well.

  2. Ready for customization of the business logic layer. The response the application receives from an API query depends on the business logic and in-system rules that developers can change based on ideas from business decision makers.

  3. Same API for all touchpoints (clients). For an external application, the API must be stable, i.e., the same for the application which uses it to access the ecommerce system.

  4. Using GraphQL for API declaring. Invented by Facebook in 2012, GraphQL language enables different databases to be addressed within one query and minimize the data size received back to frontend because of the structure and amount of data determined by the client application. GraphQL declares data structures and methods for obtaining data, which acts as an additional layer between the client and the server.

The scalability of the API also strongly depends on the requirements for minimizing the data transmitted. This is especially true for the front end: at this point, that information goes beyond the data centers’ channels and is already working on the connection with the client [mostly mobile]. At the slightest problem, too excessive waiting time causes a negative user experience.

Compose ecommerce that fits your needs perfectly

The Virto Commerce API scalability through third party solutions

Virto Commerce has a modular API-driven architecture. Each module is responsible for separate business functionality: catalog, authentication, security, payments, marketing, and so on. By the end of 2020, approximately 100 modules will be available, while the platform allows you to quickly connect third-party API-driven solutions and rewrite basic modules for the client's tasks. The entire Virto Commerce code is placed in the public domain on GitHub.

An important architectural essence is the absence of rigid dependencies between the modules. If, for example, an online store has an ERP system integrated with a catalog, it will still be available to customers. This approach allows the business to experiment more boldly, without having to fear that “everything will break down” and customers will go to the competition.

Virto Commerce allows you to seamlessly, step by step, change business processes, connect new functions and in six months or a year, your company reaches a truly new level. For example, in two or three days, you can connect a voice robot to a portal or a BI analytics module. And just as quickly restore everything without consequences if the results of innovations are not satisfactory. Of course, this unprecedented flexibility is possible just because of the scalable APIs.

Conclusion

Even if you are a large offline company with many shops in a number of cities, develop your online activities. This is not just an additional sales channel or a beautiful application through which clients can also buy something (also because competitors are nice in the App Store).

This is an absolute necessity. Not only your technical capacities and infrastructure should be prepared, also your people and the API-driven system architecture. After all, in case of boost of the demand from online shoppers, you can quickly buy memory, space, deploy new instances, and so on in a couple of days. But the ecommerce platform and your team must be prepared for this in advance.

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Oleg Zhuk
Technical Product Owner