Cutting through Ecommerce Vendors Jargon – Iconographic

Headless, API first, microservices, composable, modular, composable, PBC (packaged business capabilities), head for headless. A mix of technical and business terms, confusing as hell.  And then on top of it, we have the hosting in the cloud to consider – cloud-ready, cloud-based, SaaS, PaaS, … .

I was advising several investment groups recently on the state of the Ecommerce vendors market and was getting questions like:

  • Can you compare headless commerce with monolithic commerce?
  • Are cloud-based systems headless?
  • What’s driving the shift from Monolithic to APIs?

These very intelligent people are asking meaningless questions because, as the industry, we achieved total success in confusing everybody.

So let’s try to explain the industry jargon fog in layperson terms.

The first thing first, there is always more than one dimension to consider. For example, a system can be both headless and monolith, it can have its own pre-integrated head (storefront) and an API to be used as a headless system. A system can be cloud-based and doesn’t offer public API, or a SaaS system can be a monolith. An Ecommerce platform can be both modular and not based on microservices.

Every Ecommerce platform needs to be analyzed separately from three different perspectives:

  1. storefront technology (headless)
  2. modularity
  3. running in a cloud

Let’s get some clarity with the iconographic below. I am simplifying some technical concepts on purpose to make them understandable to a non-technical audience

For a larger iconographic image, download a PDF version.

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