The B2C sector has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade. The advent of smartphones, broadband and pervasive comms means that practically everyone has a pocket-sized computer connected to a vast web of information – and sales opportunities. The ability to order anything from anywhere securely from the comfort of your home is something we all take for granted. And, certainly amid the ongoing pandemic, eCommerce sales have rocketed.
However, the B2B commerce sector hasn’t been quite as quick on the uptake. It is true that the B2B sales cycle is much more complex than B2C with multiple stakeholders, different contracts, pricing variations and approval process all to be taken into account.
Nevertheless, many more traditional businesses still rely on intractable, monolithic, legacy systems for their online presence that don’t deliver the speed, flexibility and scalability we have come to expect as consumers. But things are changing with the advent of new technologies such as SaaS, SOA, containerization and what is known as MACH.
What is B2B MACH?
So what is B2B MACH and why should I be interested? As the pun in the title suggests, it is related to speed and helping your business become more agile and responsive. MACH stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless.
- Microservices-based means individual, independent business-specific applications are developed and deployed with a single function in mind, however, these services can easily be connected with APIs
- API-first: APIs are a simple way for different applications to talk to each other
- Cloud-native means everything lives in the cloud to ensure on-demand scalability and high performance
- Headless refers to the fact that the MACH approach only focuses on the backend, providing a platform on which customized frontend user interfaces can be built
The upshot is the arrival of what is called the composable enterprise where components can be continuously improved without affecting the user experience, which scales effortlessly and is easily reconfigured. What are the benefits for B2B companies?
Top CIO News: Hybrid Monitoring Checkmk Introduces Cloud Edition
What are the benefits of B2B MACH?
The composable enterprise enables a plug and play, best of breed and customizable approach to eCommerce. It enables businesses to adopt and ‘compose’ tools for specific tasks from a variety of different vendors, each of which is dedicated to one particular function. These tools can then be continuously improved and updated or swapped out without fuss.
Thus, rather than being locked into one vast, inflexible, one-vendor platform, where change requires huge amounts of planning, cost and disruption, you enjoy a nimble, highly adaptable and feature-rich platform with predictable costs. There are also zero limitations on how many microservices can be plugged together via APIs while the platform can scale instantly according to demand.
This leads to a dramatically improved time to market for new services. Instead of lengthy internal development cycles and arduous implementation, minimum viable products (MVP) can be developed in agile sprints – without requiring any system downtime.
B2B MACH also allows you to take advantage of the best available tools and services – you’re not tied into one vendor’s feature set but can pick and choose from what the market has to offer. Although, you can also preserve legacy functionality if it works for you. Furthermore, these services will update seamlessly and automatically without disrupting the business.
In practice, what all this means is companies have the ability to select the best app for CRM, ERP, Sales and beyond – essentially every element of the business – and integrate them efficiently into one bespoke package. And this package will constantly upgrade and improve with minimal intervention. Think of the internal cost savings.
Think also of the improved user experience, supported by a true omnichannel, multi-touchpoint approach. The headless architecture means a range of frontend channels and backend services work independently of each other, making interface changes simple.
Why do businesses need B2B MACH?
B2B MACH ensures maximum availability. Consumers expect zero downtime when it comes to eCommerce and don’t tolerate error messages. Businesses will expect the same. Unlike legacy systems where one failure can lead to the entire platform falling over, microservices are siloed so updates can be pushed out and changes made without affecting the broader infrastructure.
By adopting a MACH approach to B2B eCommerce, businesses can put the customer at the heart of each transaction, replicating the same level of convenience and intuitiveness we expect as consumers. That will help them compete in an increasingly competitive market. As the cost of living continues to soar and the world faces supply chain disruption and huge uncertainties, having an edge will make all the difference. MACH provides that edge.