Witnessing growth in your eCommerce business is exciting but challenging. Recognizing when to migrate is crucial for sustaining and continuous growth. Here are eight signs indicating it’s time to migrate from a monolithic platform.

Why should you migrate from a monolithic platform?

  • Increase in traffic and resulting performance challenges
  • Prolonged innovation and feature market release times
  • Need for a broader range of functionality and support
  • Inability to expand into multiple sales channels
  • Inability to form partnerships with marketplaces
  • Disproportionate conversion rates compared to traffic and page views
  • Lack of B2B capabilities due to the platform’s absence of B2B workflows
  • Inability to conduct cross-border sales

These signs clearly indicate that either you have outgrown your platform or your current eCommerce system is evolving more slowly than your business. Either way, an upgrade for your eCommerce store is inevitable. Read on..

In this blog, we will look at the options to migrate to an eCommerce model that will be cost-effective and technically beneficial for your growing business.

eCommerce models to consider migrating to

  1. SaaS
  2. Headless
  3. SaaS + Headless

Why SaaS?

SaaS platforms offer perks that make them ideal for upgrading from a legacy eCommerce system or a monolithic platform to others. Owing to their multi-tenancy model, SaaS eCommerce platforms provide the flexibility to scale on the go. SaaS platforms are often criticized for their lack of customization. However, that’s not the case anymore. Platforms like BigCommerce offer customization capabilities and exclusive suites for B2B and B2C merchants, enabling them to build unique customer experiences.

SaaS architecture

Frontend

If faster time to market is paramount to you, SaaS is the go-to option. SaaS platforms have all of the eCommerce essentials pre-built. For the front end, you can choose from several theme options with interfaces that suit your business workflows. This accelerates the setup process, and you can go live faster.

Backend

At an operational level, SaaS eCommerce platforms relieve you from a lot of responsibilities. SaaS platforms take care of hosting challenges, scalability, security and the upgrades happen automatically, allowing you to focus on what matters the most: sales and marketing.

Customizability

SaaS platforms offer various customizable themes, which allow you to modify colors, fonts, and styling to match your brand’s theme and design philosophy. Custom CS can be used for advanced styling changes.

SaaS platforms are often accused of needing more complete flexibility in terms of code customization. However, SaaS platforms are catching up to close the gap. Platforms like Shopify Plus offer code customization that allows you to customize functionalities and features like never before.

SaaS platforms like BigCommerce provide access to HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, allowing developers to customize more extensively. The platform’s theme engine offers a flexible, modern architecture for custom development.

Total cost of ownership

If you are choosing SaaS eCommerce platforms, subscription cost is the major investment you have to make. The subscription cost will cover the hosting charges, reducing your operational expenses significantly. SaaS platforms often follow a pay-as-you-go model. Based on your growing requirements, the subscription cost might increase. For example, let’s look at the pricing of BigCommerce, one of the most sought-after SaaS eCommerce platforms.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the TCO while choosing a SaaS platform like BigCommerce.

BigCommerce Pricing Plans

Why Headless?

Headless platforms provide limitless freedom in customizing the front end and form the base for a perfect composable commerce approach.

Unlike monolithic architecture, headless separates the frontend from the backend. The storefront and the backend are connected through APIs and web services. The decoupled approach provides better scope for building backend and frontend functionalities separately and bring them to market without disturbing the entire eCommerce system.

Headless architecture

Frontend

Pure headless platforms (like Commercetools) provide frontend-as-a-service (FEaaS). Their sole focus on frontend capabilities enables them to help merchants build unmatched storefront experiences.

With Headless platforms, you can build the front end with minimal effort, go to market faster, minimize development costs, and put customers first. They support PWA, enabling you to deliver highly responsive and fast-loading mobile web pages.

Backend

With advanced API orchestration, you can manage sales across multiple channels, all from a seamlessly connected interface. The advanced checkout options enable merchants to turn any digital touchpoint into shoppable moments.

Headless platforms are ideal for merchants who prefer content-rich and experience-driven stores. Despite all the frontend advancements and customization they offer, your backend will remain more manageable.

Customizability

With pure headless platforms, you can build your store with your hand-picked choices of software, custom code, applications, and third-party systems.

For example, you can opt for separate vendors for operations like fulfillment, order management, payments, customer support, and so on. At the front end, you can build individual blocks of features (search, filters, dynamic ad blocks, checkout) and functionalities as Microservices.

Leveraging APIs and Microservices architecture and the orchestration techniques, you can connect independent systems seamlessly to communicate with each other. You can determine and manage the direction of the data flow and make the entire collection of disparate systems work like a well-oiled engine.

Total cost of ownership

Headless commerce platforms like Commercetools charge annual fees from merchants. As it is a cloud-based platforms, it covers the hosting charges for your store, providing scalability and security. You also get access to its features like catalog management, order management, customer management etc.

The license fee you’ll be paying for Commercetools will be proportional to your annual income. Approximately, Commercetools charges approximately 0.12% of your total annual revenue. The platform provides only the frontend capabilities. The backend development cost and charges to integrate third-party systems have to be managed by eCommerce merchants.

Why SaaS + Headless?

A SaaS and headless commerce combination combines the best of both worlds. While having your backend on SaaS can handle your infrastructure, maintenance, and security, allowing you more time to focus on operations and sales, headless provides complete freedom in creating unique and personalized experiences.

For example, you can have WordPress as your frontend and have a sturdy SaaS platform like BigCommerce to power your backend operations.

In a Headless + SaaS architecture, the separated front and back communicate through a REST API layer. In this model, the performance of the front end will be top-notch as it uses highly scalable server-side rendering concepts. On the other hand, the advantage of the customizable SaaS allows merchants to choose an out-of-the-box CMS or use a third-party CMS of their choice.

SaaS + Headless architecture

Phased headless transition

You can also prefer custom headless development, which allows you to turn specific modules of your front end into headless modules in a phased approach. For example, you can turn header and footer elements into headless and gradually turn PLP and PDP headless.

Maintenance and upgrade

Combining SaaS and headless, you can lower your total cost of ownership as SaaS platforms provide automatic version upgrades. You need not pay eCommerce agencies to perform manual upgrades or security patches.

On the other hand, your headless front end can be updated at will. While your SaaS backend keeps running at its latest version, the headless frontend does not need to be upgraded as the API versions remain the same. Also, since headless APIs are not platform-dependent, it doesn’t matter which SaaS platform your store operates on.

Choosing the right eCommerce model – Business and technical considerations

Final Words

Migrating from a legacy or monolithic system is a crucial step in determining your business’ future growth. We hope this blog serves as a starting point to pick the eCommerce model based on how you plan to expand your business and the functional demands it brings to your table.

If you’d like more help choosing an eCommerce model or need a team to handle your migration to SaaS or Headless, our experts can help. We can build a clear roadmap for your eCommerce transition.