A Day in the Life with a Modern Commerce Architecture

Customer expectations are at an all time high. To keep up, retailers and brands are moving away from the traditional monolith to a modern commerce architecture. In other words, a decoupled architecture in which the commerce and content systems are connected via APIs to a separate web storefront. 

This “headless commerce” approach gives you the freedom to innovate the digital customer experience quickly and frequently. 

How would it work?

A decoupled web storefront like Mobify would layer on top of your commerce and content applications with APIs and render the front-end experience. This separates the customer experience from any backend business logic, giving your team the freedom and agility to move much faster. 

A day in the life of a…

This approach is very different than a traditional monolithic one, which means it can change your team’s day-to-day. 

Moving to this new world can cause some anxiety for those who don’t understand exactly what this change would look like, so this blog post provides a glimpse into a day in the life with a modern commerce architecture. We look at the typical tasks and responsibilities for three key roles, and highlight how they would change in this new world. 

Front-end Developer

Digital Marketer / Site Merchandiser

Digital Product Manager

Front-end Developer 

Task: Build and deploy new pages and features.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Build new pages and capabilities in the ecommerce platform. 
  • Use backend programming languages and templates to create new pages or capabilities, and wait for the next release window to test and deploy changes.

New day-to-day: 

  • Build new pages and capabilities in a decoupled web storefront and pull commerce and content functionality from your commerce and content systems via APIs. 
  • Use modern web languages and tools such as JavaScript, React, or WebPack and test and deploy new front-end pages or capabilities via automated continuous integration and continuous deployment best practices.
  • Deploy bundles in minutes instead of hours by updating front-end code without touching underlying business logic or backend integrations, and layer on automation for front-end testing and deployments.

Task: Implement UX changes and measure the impact. 

Old day-to-day: 

  • Make UX changes directly in the ecommerce platform. 
  • Work in a multi-month waterfall model with upstream requirements, create mocks/wireframes, and undergo several UAT cycles. 
  • Queue changes for the next ecommerce platform release window, or after code freeze, and deploy all changes during the early morning to avoid chances of errors impacting users. 
  • Review and QA changes on staging several weeks after code is committed, measure results, and go through another multi-month waterfall cycle to rectify any issues found with analytics. 

New day-to-day: 

  • Make UX changes in a decoupled web storefront independent of the backend systems. 
  • Work in a collaborative agile model where teams all work on user testing, discovery, and continuous iterative enhancements measured via analytics. 
  • Push front-end changes during normal working hours and roll back in 90 seconds if needed. 
  • Review and QA changes immediately with a multi-disciplinary team, and leverage automation built into the build pipeline. 
  • Review impact on analytics and create new stories/experiments on what customer experience enhancements to test next. 

Task: Implement the latest best practices around performance. 

Previous day-to-day: 

  • Optimize for page load times by applying front-end engineering practices, but rely on the backend team to handle holiday-level scaling by scaling data centers and virtual machines/containers. 
  • Participate in annual load testing and holiday period pre-planning, and adhere to code freeze to minimize the negative impact on performance during holidays. 

New day-to-day: 

  • Fully own page load times and front-end scalability as a front-end team. 
  • Monitor and react to changes in real user performance by scaling the front-end independently with auto-scaling for capacity based on serverless techniques. 
  • Iteratively improve and experiment with constantly changing browser enhancements, and measure page load times automatically via continuous integration on a daily basis. 
  • Map performance to business metrics constantly with analytics. 

Digital Marketer / Site Merchandiser

Task: Update content on existing web pages (products, pricing, promotions, etc.).

Old day-to-day: 

  • Coordinate relevant content changes across teams based on a content calendar. 
  • Wait for content deployments to the ecommerce staging site to preview content, and stay up late to adjust any incorrect content to make sure to hit the ecommerce launch window.

New day-to-day: 

  • Update content in headless content management system (CMS) and send a notification to any necessary approvers to review. 
  • Approver reviews the newly published content in-context of the actual front-end user experience and comments, approves, or rejects the submission well ahead of the publication date. 

Task: Update content localization/translation across all channels.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Identify content that needs to be translated when there’s a new locale and manually extract elements based on language tags (if they exist).  
  • Translate content in-house or send to a translation service. 
  • Parse and cut and paste the files into the new locale fields for the new language.
  • QA and test content before publishing. 

New day-to-day: 

  • Tag content in headless CMS when a new locale is established. 
  • Translate the content in-house or with translation service. 
  • Content is automatically imported into the appropriate workspaces for the content owners.
  • Review in a fully rendered preview, make any minor changes in-line, and approve for promotion to production.

Task: Plan and deploy new content for product launches or seasonal campaigns.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Develop a project plan to coordinate multiple departments to provide product information, imagery, pricing, availability, locale-specific information, ad copy, and promotional information. 
  • As each task is completed, add the elements to the online records, test, and mark them as completed. 
  • Ensure extensive cross-team communication to stay in sync on timelines and the compatibility of the assets. 

New day-to-day: 

  • Identify a project template for a new product and/or campaign in the headless CMS to automatically load in and the workflow and required participants. 
  • Set the required go-live date and tasks will be automatically assigned. 
  • As the necessary pieces are completed, the workflow will adjust the schedule to ensure timely assembly and testing for the product or campaign.  

Task: Optimize the site search. 

Old day-to-day: 

  • Examine the search logs periodically for hits and misses, and manually track areas where there are a significant number of misses. 
  • Match the missed search terms to products or content that you’re aware of, and request that IT add new search rules to the indices. 
  • Test new search rules before they go live.

New day-to-day: 

  • Leverage built-in search engine (included with most headless CMS solutions) to generate live dashboards showing search efficiency and trending terms, as well as the conversion or click-through rate related to the search. 

Digital Product Manager

Task: Prioritize and schedule strategic and tactical opportunities.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Spend weeks writing up large market and product requirements docs to drive cost estimates and committee approvals on a quarterly or yearly basis.

New day-to-day: 

  • Work with an empowered multi-discipline agile team that independently owns the backlog of strategies and tactics by autonomously owning the decoupled web storefront separately from any backend teams.

Task: Coordinate multiple roles and teams to drive execution and results.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Drive design requirements and projects up-front with strict schedules and launch plans.

New day-to-day: 

  • Work closely with design, engineering, and analytics throughout the entire lifecycle to adjust design/requirements continuously based on small deployments and short feedback loops via continuous integration and continuous deployment with a decoupled web storefront.

Task: Promote better decision making with constant experimentation.

Old day-to-day: 

  • Draft up ideas, do extensive research and make decisions based on large assumptions. 
  • Verify assumptions based on post launch results.

New day-to-day: 

  • Work closely with design and engineering to design and execute a constant stream of experiments that can be tested with actual users to validate key assumptions with real user data. 
  • Quickly follow-up experiments with many iterations of key features, resulting in maximizing key metrics over time. 

Move Faster Day-to-Day

The unknown can be scary, so we hope the blog provided a glimpse into how a modern commerce architecture would impact your day-to-day. By pairing a headless commerce and content system with a decoupled web storefront, your team gets the agility to move faster and more effectively day-to-day. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the transition to a modern commerce architecture, book a call with one of our ecommerce experts

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It is informative. As a fresher, i gained an understanding between the roles and responsibilities of a front-end developer then and now. Thanks for sharing.

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