On-premise, Cloud, SaaS, headless, best-of-breed, composable & unified commerce, microservices – how about something that fits it all?
Over the last few years, software vendors have chased each other, inventing new trends in building state-of-the-art eCommerce. Some are very creative; some just name the already well-known patterns with some fancy buzzwords and throw a ton of money into marketing to make its path to the market. On the other hand, eCommerce has changed so much over the past decade or two and has catalyzed even more during the pandemic. The digital is no longer a nice-to-have but rather a must for those who want to thrive and evolve in the current reality. At the current moment, this statement is true both for B2C and B2B-oriented businesses. Those already present in this space or have ambitions to do so in the short term are probably mixing the initially described approach on various levels.
Nowadays, a successfully operating eCommerce business is backed by many solutions handled by multiple roles on different levels. No matter which combination of software vendors you pick. Usually, a well-designed eCommerce combines parts like PIM, CMS, ERP, CRM, and last but not least – eCommerce operates on multiple customer touchpoints, so-called channels.
After this long intro, the question that pops into my head is the following: if eCommerce is a central entry point for them all and every single one is different – what approach should be taken to handle it?
The short answer (and a different one than “it depends”) is – one that is flexible enough to rule them all. At this point, you might see where I am going with the idea of an eCommerce framework. In my opinion, what the world needs nowadays is not another complex architectural idea for a system that aggregates data through various other ones. The world needs something that is easy to plug into the infrastructure with no overhead, has great user and developer experience and handles those most innovative and complex combinations in various scenarios.
In my opinion, Sylius is a perfect choice for that. But do not take my word for it – read on and see for yourself.
eCommerce nowadays, eCommerce back in the day
As mentioned, eCommerce has changed a lot. In order to provide a working, value-driven setup, different things should be considered for B2C and B2B segments. It gets even more complex while picking the operation business model – marketplaces, multi-tenants, and omnichannel are only a few to name. While every software vendor focused on providing a solution for each niche, Sylius picked a different approach. Following the 80/20 rule, the vendor developed a solution that delivers 80% of common eCommerce problems in an easy-to-extend or replaces way, making it easy to deliver the remaining 20% that makes the difference. Instead of guessing what every customer will need, they focused on perfecting what is already well-known and standardized and making it agile to tailor to a specific case.
Result? Something that is easy to plug into every possible infrastructure using any type of architecture pattern, being able to change or replace any moving parts over time. The last thing is crucial for those who are not attached to everything and react agilely to what is happening on the market. At the same time, the vendor provides many features out of the box that, for some, would be enough to start with. For instance, Sylius has a great promotion module that is highly flexible, and to many, it will be enough to handle most, if not all, promotion campaigns there are. But if one wants to implement a complex promotion strategy, it could be easily connected to 3rd party software, like loyalty platforms, that could participate in the final cart calculation process. That is only one example, but you can follow the same pattern with anything Sylius is made of – customer/content/product management, mailing system, shop UI, etc.
Developer Experience for the win
Everyone is talking about User Experience. No doubt, it is important, and there are various ways of achieving it. As a business owner, when I started, I probably heard one of the wisest pieces of advice ever – keep your employees happy first, so will be your customers eventually. While it is easy to agree with this statement, too few companies think about making it easier for employees to build a proper customer experience. This is why I think why developer experience is so crucial, and it is fundamental to pick software that allows devs to build innovative, customer-oriented ways in a technical debt-free environment that is easy to predict, start with and scale over time. Sylius was developed using PHP, which drives 80% of the web. It also uses the full potential of the Symfony framework, which currently is shaping how the PHP language looks and is the top-of-mind framework associated with the language. This gives a great advantage of using a huge talent market and PHP is easy to learn, making it quicker and more predictable to develop new iterations in a blink of an eye.
Technical debt – eCommerce cancer killing the revenue
Technical debt could silently kill the revenue of the business by limiting the tech teams from implementing new strategies due to unpredictable outcomes of software updates. This is exactly why methodologies like Agile-driven software implementation, Test Driven Development (TDD) or Behavior Driven Development (BDD), Continouns Integration (CI)/Continouns Development (CD) exist in the first place. Things go wrong all the time. The last thing you want is for the customer to discover it. Sylius, by design, understands all those things. Hence, what you are going to find out of the box is a well-designed, clean code architecture that is easy to read, understand, extend and replace by developers. It is fairly schematic and compared to other vendors, it provides a ton of learning-by-example patterns both in docs and source code. This is very rare for other popular vendors, especially in the PHP landscape. Most of them provide a ton of code driving crucial features, which is hard to understand by developers and eventually gets called “magic.” No wonder this is part of the composable commerce success – if the code is hard to understand and easy to break, it might be easier to close it in a hermetic environment accessible only via API.
This, however, is not the case with Sylius, which follows most of the basic yet precious principles, such as Dependency Injection and SOLID, backed by rules such as Keep It Stupid Simple (KISS) or You Ain’t Gonna Need It (YAGNI). This makes it easier to understand how the solution works, prevents developers from making mistakes that could cost them a technical debt and sets some ground rules on how the code should be written to do so.
Sylius also provides a set of testing tools such as Behat, Selenium, PHPUnit, or PHPSpec for a better, automated test suite that makes it safe to progress with new releases. On top of that, Sylius uses what is best in the open-source community, making it their priority to use the Symfony framework and popular packages that are widely known to solve specific problems. This makes it easier to learn and is just another example of avoiding another common antipattern little software vendors do – reinventing the wheel.
Open-source freedom no cloud is going to provide
Sylius was developed with a true open-source spirit, and it has been one of its core values since 2011. Sure, every cloud vendor is going to say that open-source makes it harder to host and upgrade, and they might be right, partially. Most open-source vendors are, in fact, hard to upgrade, especially if they do not follow proper upgrade guidelines.
Nevertheless, the same risk comes with API endpoint upgrades – they could also change over time and require at least the same amount of work to adapt over time in custom implementations. As for the hosting – being in charge of storing the data, picking the proper environment, and managing it could become a challenge, but with a lightweight and easy-to-host solution backed by a number of hosting providers for each case and a bunch of automation processes, it is not that bad.
On the other hand, it provides a great advantage that, to many, is worth much more than the effort – independence. Being independent of the commissions, unpredictable license fees and data ownership is something no cloud-based solution is going to offer. To some, it could be a game-changer. To those, Sylius could be a great value – it is easy to host due to its standardized web roots (most hosting providers handle the base Sylius stack pretty well), it is free of charge in the CE edition, it is super secure due to the usage of Symfony framework’s firewall and Doctrine’s Database Access Layer (DBAL) and highly efficient due to being based on the latest version of PHP language, which is perfect for back-end web projects. It is also ready to be used in a headless mode, meaning that with little effort, you could get what many cloud solutions do without the disadvantages or compromises.
Sylius, Symfony and PHP have a well-developed community. This means that if you get a stack, you can always reach a huge talent market, freelance and agency network, or if you have an internal IT team – community channels such as Slacks/Discords, forums, or Stackoverflow. On this scale, it could be much more efficient than waiting for customer support to answer, which is often possible only on a limited level in the most expensive plans of the license.
Sylius is hard to classify in any of the currently existing standards. Hence, it should be called an eCommerce framework. It is easy to plug into any infrastructure and is capable of working in a headless, monolith microservices architecture. Many cases prove that it could be used for any given customer type, such as B2C, B2B (or both simultaneously) in different commerce models – marketplaces, digital asset access, recurring purchase platforms, etc. If you want to learn more about Sylius, check out some of the other blog posts under the Sylius tag. We have been its leading partner since its early release, with over 100 successful projects in our portfolio. If you seriously consider using it, we could be the top implementation provider capable of generating a fair value during the process. Get in touch with us on the contact page.