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TechnologyMar 28, 2011

The Importance of a Unified Architecture for the “New Age” of eCommerce

Jesus Salazar

Over the last several years, we’ve noticed that the eCommerce landscape has continued to grow and evolve, continuously changing the retail marketplace. Companies have realized that the ability to market and sell online has become more and more critical in order to stay in lock step with consumer trends.

For example, Forrester Research (www.forrester.com) has reported that in 2009, roughly 43% of all retail sales within the United States either took place online or were at least influenced by an online experience (online research, comparison shopping, community forums, etc.). Forrester predicts that by the year 2014, over 53% of sales will be influenced online. This means that by 2014 over half of all retail purchases will be made or influenced by the web. Pretty crazy huh!

Furthermore, with the explosion of social networking and emerging mobile and niche smart devices, consumers are becoming more sophisticated and therefore demanding a consistent and interactive experience whether in the store, sitting at a computer, or using their mobile device while waiting in line at the bank. This forces a lot of pressures on today’s businesses:

  • Consistent branding across multiple channels, platforms, and media devices

  • The ability to create stickiness and innovatively drive traffic to your online channels

  • Leveraging social data as much as your proprietary data to drive sales

  • Maximize consumer reach and create a consistent user experience

In the past, solutions with a 2 tier architecture, consisting of a front end web tier and a back end database were all too common in eCommerce platforms. This architecture often required businesses to maintain multiple stacks of a solution to support different applications or channels. 

2 Tiered Architecture

Now a days, a true 3-tier architecture in which the core business components have been decoupled into a true application layer, is CRITICAL in meeting today’s eCommerce needs. This architecture provides many benefits. For instance, since a mobile solution, eCommerce Website, or kiosk at an affiliate are all leveraging the same application layer to sell online, the user experience is seamless and the ability to give them a consistent set of offerings no matter what device they are using becomes much more realistic. 

3 Tiered Architecture