Voice Search & GraphQL: OrderCloud in Action at the 2021 MACHathon

February 3, 2021

Last week, the MACH Alliance, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advocating for an open, best-of-breed technology ecosystem for enterprise ecommerce solutions, hosted its first MACHathon

The virtual event gave enterprises an opportunity to showcase ground-breaking and innovative ideas powered by MACH technology and composable architectures. Following the theme of ‘getting unstuck”, teams had one week to create and present a project that pushes the envelope of what MACH technology can do. 

Four51 had two teams that aimed to innovate on the capabilities of OrderCloud when coupled with other MACH technologies. Each team focused on a different noteworthy trend in the B2B eCommerce industry: Voice Search and GraphQL. 

Team One: Voice Search

Project Summary: Easily and quickly get information from Ordercloud Voice Assistant. Using Four51 OrderCloud and the voice integration available in Amazon Alexa, store owners can ask the voice assistance about key performance metrics like weekly sales or as a shopper to get order information such as order status. 

Because of the open nature of the OrderCloud platform, the team was able to easily integrate with the Amazon Alexa voice API. The OrderCloud platform is interconnectable and can extend these capabilities to any voice assistant API and add this functionality to any user experience easily. 

Impact of Voice Search on B2B eCommerce: Voice search is one of the more well known innovations that is changing the landscape of B2B eCommerce. B2B buyer demographics are continuing to evolve and include more tech-savvy generations, and as such, the B2B eCommerce space must meet their needs in new ways. A forecast by Juniper Research shows that voice commerce will grow to reach more than $80 billion per year by 2023. 

End users can use voice search to do things like check on order status, place repeat orders, and confirm account balance. On the other hand, B2B businesses can get updates on sales, manage inventory, and approve orders. As the line between B2B and B2C commerce blurs, the benefit of a commerce platform that can quickly and easily integrate with common voice search technologies grows. With a platform like OrderCloud, you can forever extend your use of the platform into new technologies, may it be voice, mobile or whatever else your customers may need in the years to come. 

Team Two: GraphQL

Project Summary: Using one GraphQL API, developers can query commerce data from Four51 Ordercloud and marketing content from Contentful. The team implemented the Apollo platform and started by connecting OrderCloud Products to Contentful images with possibly other data entities afterwards. 

The project showcased the use of new technology, like GraphQL, to make it easy for developers and businesses to interact over multiple, headless platforms with ease.  In this case, both OrderCloud and Contentful were used together to seamlessly customize a branded, catalog experience.

Because OrderCloud is a composable technology, the GraphQL language can be easily used to speed up the development process of any front end. Coupling OrderCloud and GraphQL with other headless platforms, you have a central place to orchestrate and manage data and capabilities from multiple platforms at once with much greater control; richly enhancing your ability to offer customized experiences to multiple channels. 

Impact of GraphQL on B2B eCommerce: GraphQL is a query language and server-side runtime for APIs that prioritizes giving clients exactly the data they request and no more. GraphQL gives API maintainers the flexibility to add or deprecate fields without impacting existing queries. Developers can build APIs with whatever methods they prefer, and the GraphQL specification will ensure they function in predictable ways to clients.

GraphQL allows businesses to build unique user experiences due as the front end only retrieves the data that it needs. The language simplifies the front-end development process while also improving performance and decreases the amount of code to maintain. 

The MACHathon hosted by the MACH alliance showcased the flexibility and extensibility of modern API-first technologies like OrderCloud. Because of its composable nature, OrderCloud is able to continuously innovate – using new languages and rolling out new features quickly and easily. For more information about the OrderCloud platform and architecture, you can download the Four51 OrderCloud Feature Guide below.

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