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Frequently Asked Questions
Four51 OrderCloud is a next generation eCommerce platform designed for businesses who can’t fit into the confines of out-of-the-box eCommerce software. Built as a cloud-based, API-first, headless eCommerce platform, OrderCloud offers nearly limitless customizations and endless freedom for growth.
OrderCloud’s headless, API-first approach separates the front-end design and back-end architecture, giving you the flexibility needed to think far beyond the simple storefront, shopping cart and checkout to:
- B2B2X eCommerce, order management, and omni-market capabilities
- Limitless integrations with existing back-office and best-of-breed software applications
- Infinite buyer interfaces and unlimited connected suppliers
- Easy-to-make customizations and iterations over time
- Automated complex workflows
MACH architecture is a set of technology principles behind new, best-of-breed technology platforms. The acronym stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless:
- Microservices: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed and managed.
- API-first: All functionality is exposed through an API, making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services.
- Cloud-Native SaaS: Software-as-a-Service that leverages the full capabilities of the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling of highly available resources. Functionality is updated manually, eliminating the need for upgrade management.
- Headless: The front-end user experience is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing for complete design freedom in creating the user interface and for connecting to other channels and devices (i.e. existing applications, IoT, A/R, Vending Machines, sensors, etc.).
Headless eCommerce platforms have decoupled, or separated, the frontend user experience from the back-end business logic. This allows developers to use the eCommerce platform’s API to deliver the platform’s business logic (features, functionality, etc.) to whatever user experience they’d like.
If you think about software as a “stack” of components, the top of the stack would be the user interface, or the part that the user interacts with (sometimes this is called the “front-end”). The rest of the stack is where the software derives all of its functionality, like the business logic and the data model (sometimes this is called the “back-end’).
Headless eCommerce platforms focus only on the back-end functionality and let people build their own custom front-end user experiences.
You can think of the head in terms of any kind of user interface or experience. A vending machine can be a head. A desktop browser experience can be a head. A smartwatch can be a head. With headless eCommerce, you can update or change the head(s) without disrupting the backend.
Composable commerce is a development approach of selecting best-of-breed commerce components and combining or ‘composing’ them into a custom application built for specific business needs.
A composable approach utilizes various vendors who offer robust, comprehensive functionality for the one thing they do, rather than relying on one vendor to produce standard functionality as a one-size-fits-all offering.
Moving to composable commerce eliminates your risk of buying basic out-of-the-box capabilities and gaining more control over the functionality and performance of your application.
API-first puts APIs at the foundation of the technology platform so that all of the platform’s functionality is accessible to you through the APIs.
Most software you use today is all cloud based and accessed through your browser as a packaged experience or solution you purchase and use.
Often software companies add APIs on top mainly to help in areas of automation or integration. This allows you to access some of the underlying functionality of the software but not all of it.
API-first flips this paradigm on its head, by putting APIs at the foundation.
B2B eCommerce, short for business-to-business electronic commerce, is the sale of goods or services between businesses via an online sales portal. B2C eCommerce is business-to-consumer electronic commerce, that involves the online sale of a product or service from a business to an end-consumer.
The key differences between B2B eCommerce and a B2C eCommerce are:
- End Buyers: Business buyers are very different from consumer buyers, and they dictate different levels of complexity associated with each buying process. Plus, in B2B, purchasers may have the ability to place orders on behalf of other buyers.
- Purchasing Processes: in B2B there are various levels of decisions makers and therefore approval processes and workflows that need to be managed.
- Payment Methods and Pricing Models: in B2C, consumers are generally buying products set at one price and completing the transaction with one payment method option (credit card). In B2B, price may vary by customer, they may have the option to negotiate special terms, payment methods may vary (credit card, PO, ACH, etc.).
- And more.
If you’re a developer looking to explore the OrderCloud platform, visit OrderCloud.io. Here you’ll get free access to the OrderCloud Developer Portal, documentation, API Reference Guides, as well as our free, public OrderCloud Slack Community. Use the Slack Community to ask questions of other OrderCloud developers.