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Retail has already adopted MACH architecture as best practice. As a result, more and more companies are striving to achieve the new level of agility that MACH provides.
The advantages of using MACH are convincing: it brings retailers flexibility and speed to react immediately to changes in the market. MACH offers technological freedom regarding vendors and empowers the exploration of new channels and sources of revenue. Sounds like a good choice, especially in the current challenging economic state.
However, a big decision like this comes with doubts. Recreating the whole architecture using a new approach is an arduous task that requires significant grounding and careful risk management.
Here are four tips on reducing the risks of implementing MACH architecture brought up at the MACH Haus NY 2023 conference.
Have a transformation strategy
MACH is a complex and multifaceted architecture. Unlike monolith , it offers retailers many customization options and doesn't have particular limits.
However, this freedom and the lack of established unified practices can feel overwhelming for new adepts. A well-defined strategy can help retailers navigate the challenges of MACH implementation and stay on track throughout the project.
We come from the technology side of things. But if the program, the philosophy of focusing on customer experience first and working backward to pull those technologies in are not there, you probably won't get anywhere.
— Tyson Graham, Head of Enterprise Sales (Americas), Vue Storefront
A strategy brings in a clear understanding of business objectives, technological capabilities, and customer needs. Since MACH transformation is not an overnight process, having a clear plan helps conduct the transition gradually, identifying the most valuable parts of the business process and accessing the opportunities.
MACH architecture puts the customer in the spotlight, making the whole transformation customer and user-led. A thorough strategy enables retailers to focus on their initial goal and work towards it in iterations. With strategy, it's easier to perform testing, follow up on feedback, and leverage new channels or sources of revenue.
Leverage an orchestration platform
One common concern when facing MACH architecture is having a lot of moving parts.
Agility is good in theory but might be challenging in practice. MACH implies having separated tech vendors for every business function. Although it provides freedom of choice, it also complicates the system, demanding a holistic overview and total control over a distributed store. So how does a non-tech company that concentrates on retail tackle multilayer IT systems?
There is no risk if you use an orchestration platform. You need a single source of truth and a 360 overview of your business — it's the key to unified commerce.
— Dan Jacobs, Country Manager (UAE/KSA), Actindo AG
An orchestration platform is a tool that enables retailers to manage their distributed microservices and tech solutions through one control center. It improves the store's adaptability and simplifies the everyday interaction with the system for both customers and retailers themselves.
The orchestration platform helps reduce the risk of ballooning costs, too. With such a platform, the companies gain a clear understanding of which LEGO blocks of their system are performing well and which are not. Identifying underperforming parts helps invest in specific functionalities and eliminate the ballast.
Choose certified vendors
Another possible risk in MACH architecture lies in the plane of technology. Since its core idea is flexibility through tech vendor freedom, every company has to hand-pick its own tech stack out of multiple vendors on the market.
All the MACH solutions in the stack communicate through APIs and should be compatible to ensure smooth workflow. If one API misfires, it might bring disruptions in the general workflow, requiring more than just one tech vendor's troubleshooting. That's where organizations like MACH Alliance come in handy.
The level of support in MACH architecture holds us (tech vendors) accountable and forces and encourages us to work very well together.
— Chris McCann, Regional Head of Sales, Contentstack
MACH-certified tech vendors are a part of the international community that advocates best industry practices. The products they present meet an industry baseline. This fact assures retailers who choose a composable journey that this solution is MACH-friendly in all possible ways and has the support of the MACH community backing it up.
Choosing certified tech products for the composable stack reduces the misfiring risk and compatibility issues. This is especially relevant to companies exploring composable commerce for the first time.
MACH vendors work harder on mutual integrations, making them seamless and smooth. Furthermore, since the certified vendors are familiar with each other's products, they can resolve most of the problems occurring in the workflow, even on the border of their technologies.
Many companies are worried that MACH transformation won't bring them the results they're hoping for. As a relatively young concept, MACH doesn't offer guaranteed one-size-fits-all solutions that would suit any retailer. It complicates the transformation as retailers often don't have more or less objective benchmarks and guidelines for their particular cases.
However, the beauty of MACH architecture is its speed and freedom regarding testing. Unlike monolith, MACH allows retailers to gradually test their theories and integrations to tailor the system to their specific business needs.
Always be testing. That's my final message.
— Mark Reisler, Senior Director, Portfolio Management, Pivotree
By testing the individual microservices and components, retailers can identify issues early in the development process before they impact the entire system. Combined with independent solutions and vendor freedom, it allows companies to replace the malfunctioning piece without compromising the rest.
But besides the architecture level, testing also plays a great role in further development. In MACH architecture, it's easy and safe to test and measure any theories and hypotheses to ensure your campaign works as planned.
MACH transformation is a challenging task. However, now that the composable approach is proven to be the market's best practice, it's not a moonshot. With a solid strategy and trusted tech vendors, retailers can benefit from the agility and scalability of MACH solutions without taking on additional risk.
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