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Your Retail Tech Stack Matters—Now More Than Ever (Part Two)

In Part One of this series, we looked at some of the changes and challenges facing decision makers at enterprise retail and commerce companies. Now we'll describe how Reaction Commerce has designed and built our open commerce system to address these challenges.

Modern commerce demands fundamental changes to commerce systems, both the architecture and the tools.

The Reaction approach

At Reaction Commerce, we’ve made intentional choices about our technology and our architectural philosophy, based on what’s best for our clients and their customers. We believe that your commerce platform should allow you to get to market faster with innovative capabilities, to create unique and authentic brand experiences that are integrated seamlessly into your overall business, and to take back control of your commerce vision from vendors and tech partners.

Because we’re not tied to any legacy platform or system, we’re able to nimbly incorporate the tools and frameworks best suited to commerce applications. And because of our modular, microservice-oriented system design, we can ensure that your platform is adaptable, flexible, and future-ready.

As of today, that means Reaction is built on a strong foundation of:

  1. A real-time event-driven architecture using Apache Kafka
  2. A GraphQL API-based headless system for total customizability
  3. Popular JavaScript frameworks Node.js and React

But what do these choices mean to the success of your commerce enterprise, and how do they help prepare you for what’s coming in the future?

Events-first architecture

Remember that shift to microservices-driven systems described in our earlier post? In order for these services to work independently, and yet interface with other services, we have architected Reaction to be a distributed events-driven system. So services can ‘publish’ their ‘events’ (e.g. the ‘cart’ service can publish events such as ‘item added to cart,’ ‘checkout complete,’ etc.) independently, in real time, without dependency on which other service is consuming these events.

This approach has advantages:

  • Services that work as stand-alone functions can be developed and deployed independently, according to your roadmap and timetable, and without changing other parts of the codebase.
  • Independent microservices have much more flexibility in capacity management and scaling. So during holiday shopping, for example, operators may want to increase capacity for orders, cart, and users, but not necessarily for products or pricing.
  • When event data is captured by default, as it is with Reaction, the possible applications for that data are nearly endless. Operators can now put their shopping data to work by  customizing (deciding which data is important), capturing, and exposing it (publishing for consumption by other system components) as needed.

GraphQL API-driven customization

To thrive in today’s competitive commerce landscape, retailers need more control over the shopper interface and experience, across all devices and channels. That’s why Reaction is built as a truly headless commerce platform, with a GraphQL API as the connection between frontend and backend functions. So how does decoupling the storefront user interface from the backend benefit your business?

  • It provides flexibility to experiment and deliver customized shopper interfaces through any interface—including mobile apps, voice-based systems such as Alexa, and more.
  • It enables unlimited customizations and integrations. Easily integrate your preferred ERP, OMS, PIM, etc; or customize and extend anything, including payment modules, frontend CMS, analytics, and any other feature or functionality.
  • The API-driven approach speeds up development cycles for custom components, reducing overall software development time.

The ability to attract and retain top developer talent can be a big advantage for retailers transitioning into the digital economy.

JavaScript with Node.js & React

Reaction Commerce started with one big idea: Why can’t selling online be as easy—and empowering—as shopping online? That meant starting from scratch to create a system that’s designed to convert better, one that prioritizes simplicity, flexibility, and real-time data.

We also recognized early on that the ability to attract and retain top developer talent can be a big advantage for retailers transitioning into the digital economy. So it was clear that building on JavaScript—specifically, with Node.js and React—was the right choice. Here’s why:

  • JavaScript continues to be the most popular programming language, and Node.js the most popular framework, per StackOverflow’s developer survey results.
  • Node.js is widely adopted by developers and is used to build fast and scalable applications, while React enables interactive user interfaces that are fast, rich and easy to deploy.

So what do developers and engineers think of our stack? The best proof of their approval is Reaction’s popularity on GitHub, where we’ve earned well over 8,000 stars and continue to see growing momentum from a global community of developers who are both contributing to, and building with, Reaction.

Reaction is the modern commerce engine

In summary, modern commerce demands fundamental changes to commerce systems, both the architecture and the tools. It’s becoming less feasible to ‘bolt on’ new features to existing systems and to justify the high cost of development and maintenance. You need a new engine to power your commerce machine—one that was built from the ground up to take advantage of today’s technology, and to be ready for tomorrow’s innovations.


Ready for a change?

If your legacy systems are slowing you down, now might be the perfect time to talk to our team. See if Reaction is the right solution to help drive growth and innovation for your commerce enterprise.

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