Monolithic vs. Microservices Architecture: Which
Works Better for an E-Commerce App

ecommerce app development company

November 7, 2023

Reading time about 6 minutes

E-commerce isn’t a trend anymore; it’s the way consumers shop and businesses work. This major shift has picked up the pace in the past two decades, with more customers penetrating this space and choosing convenience over traditional ways of shopping. With evolving technology and mobile e-commerce application development, businesses are achieving a competitive edge and earning greater revenues.
In the second quarter alone, the estimated retail e-commerce sales totaled $269.5 billion, an increase of 6.6 percent (±0.9%) from the first quarter of 2023. Having an online presence isn’t enough for e-commerce success. A deep understanding of the digital retail landscape is necessary to top your competitors. It’s the strategic vision that puts a business in the driver’s seat.
The technological anatomy of your e-commerce platform is one such strategic aspect that needs consideration. When developing an e-commerce application, choosing the right architecture approach makes all the difference. Monolithic or microservices architecture? This crossroads often leaves businesses wondering.
This blog will discuss the key differences between monolithic and microservice architectures and which should be your ideal choice.

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Monolithic vs. Microservices Architecture: An Overview

Whether you are an established business with a well-defined e-commerce strategy or a new business about to enter the e-commerce space, there are a few questions that always hog your mental space.
Is my e-commerce app ready for a business upscale?
Are maintenance costs too high?
Is my e-commerce app succeeding in engaging leads and providing the best user experience?
Answers to these questions are hidden in how applications are built, scaled, and maintained.

Also Read: Get Progressive with Your ROI with a PWA App for Your E-commerce Brand

Monolithic Architecture

Take monolithic architecture as a traditional department store where all sections are under one roof. In a monolithic architecture, just like a department store, distinct parts of the application, such as the product catalog, shopping cart, user profiles, and payment processing, are tightly integrated and share resources. Navigating through the aisles (sections), a buyer adds their desired products to the cart.
Imagine the cash counter of a department store during peak hours. It’s mostly crowded. The same is the case with monolithic architecture. If there’s high traffic on the website, the app can experience bottlenecks at the time of checkout. In monolithic architecture, all the components and functionalities of an e-commerce app are tightly integrated into a single, unified codebase.
That means the front end, back end, and database are all bundled together within the same application.

Microservices Architecture

However, microservices architecture can be seen as individual boutiques in a shopping mall. Each service within the e-commerce app handles a specific function. Just like stores can be added or removed from the mall, microservices can be developed, deployed, and updated individually without affecting the other services.
This allows businesses to upscale or downscale per the traffic without their users facing any bottlenecks. Services in a microservices architecture are loosely coupled, offering more flexibility while making updates.

Monolithic Vs Microservices Architecture: Key Differences

Here’re the key difference between these two architectures.

1.  Fault Impact

As all components in a monolithic architecture are tightly integrated, any fault or misbehavior in one component can affect the entire application. For example, there’s a surge in traffic on your website during the holiday season. When handling many requests, the product catalog part hogs most of the server resources, leaving inadequate resources for other components.
Unresponsive front ends, payment timeouts, and an overall sluggish e-commerce website are the end products. Microservices are independent of each other. If one service faces a fault, it will not affect the other services. For example, a memory leak in one service won’t hamper the functioning of other services.

2.  Technology Dependency

Single-technology stacks make monolithic architectures prone to technology obsolescence. Let’s say the technology used in developing monolithic architecture becomes obsolete; the app must be migrated to an entirely new technology. This is an added cost to the business. Microservices, on the other hand, may use different technologies for different services.
Let’s say you are adding a new service. You can use the latest technology stack without worrying about the existing services.

3. Scalability

Scalability in monolithic architecture can be a costly affair. As there is a single code base across all services, in case a new service is to be added, teams need to work in coordination during development and deployment. This results in more cost and time. With microservices, it is easy to scale the services. Services are developed in separate modules, allowing teams to work independently to save time and money.

4.  Complexity

Monolithic codebases are extensive and complex, usually challenging for the developers. Codebases are large and can slow down the development process and make code management difficult. The microservices codebase is segregated into smaller, manageable components, making it convenient for developers to understand and manage.

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Monolithic and Microservices: What’s More Suitable for E-commerce

Both monolithic and microservices have distinct advantages and disadvantages. What suits the requirements of your business is yet another thing. The selection of the right architecture for an e-commerce app is crucial because it affects the business’s scalability, flexibility, and maintenance. The choice hinges on your project’s scope, resources, and long-term vision.
Monolithic systems suit simplicity, while microservices accommodate scalability and technological diversity. A hybrid approach can also be considered, adapting your architecture as your e-commerce business evolves. The choice between monolithic and microservices architectures for your e-commerce app depends on your specific project requirements, team ability, and future scalability goals.
The cost to create an app using either architecture depends on your project size and needs.
Choose Monolithic If: Your e-commerce app is small to medium-sized, you have limited development resources, and you need a quick and straightforward solution.
Choose Microservices If: You expect the need for rapid scalability, want to leverage a variety of technologies, and are committed to a long-term, complex project.

Also Read: How Metaverse is Transforming the eCommerce Industry?

Final Takeaway

Ultimately, the choice between monolithic and microservices is one of the crucial decisions. Even if you have already developed your e-commerce app on one of these architectures, you can partner with a trusted e-commerce mobile app development service company in USA, like Clavax, to reevaluate your app.
As an evolving business, you can benefit from this consultation and choose the most suitable architecture to provide the best user experience and functionality to your potential customers.

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