MACH architecture: components, benefits, and implementation tips

MACH architecture: components, benefits, and implementation tips

May 13, 2023


Each component of the MACH architecture and their combinations help developers modify software quicker and easier. Applied in ecommerce, it allows retailers to grow their software vertically and horizontally and quickly evolve its elements.

Why now

The MACH principles were formulated by commercetools in 2018, which makes it a fairly new concept. Therefore, enterprises adopting the MACH architecture today can tap into its benefits faster than competitors, get a unique business advantage, and keep up with leaders in the ecommerce field.

Why Itransition

Our experts can cover the full range of software development services to implement MACH technology and architecture. We rely on the best practices provided by our Ecommerce Center of Excellence to build powerful and easy-to-use solutions.

MACH in figures and stats

of decision-makers believe MACH helps improve customer experience

The MACH Alliance

of decision-makers say MACH can help respond to changes in the market faster

The MACH Alliance

of business leaders plan to adopt MACH technology in their front-office architecture

The MACH Alliance

The main MACH components

Here are the four main MACH technologies explained.


Using the MACH software development concept, engineers build digital solutions consisting of interrelated components, or microservices. Each microservice works independently, so developers can change and improve separate software elements with minimal disruption to the entire system.

In MACH-based software, individual components interact through business-function-driven APIs. By taking an API-first approach, developers can easily add new features and technologies and quickly connect new digital channels, streamlining marketing and sales processes.

Adopting MACH, retailers can fully benefit from a cloud infrastructure. Cloud hosting makes ecommerce solutions scalable and allows companies to request resource usage in line with changing business needs.

In MACH-based solutions, the front-end and back-end layers are separated, which allows online retailers to be particularly flexible. For instance, with headless commerce design, a company can adopt any custom front-end tool for content delivery and connect it to a back-end system via an API.

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Monolithic architecture vs MACH

Choosing between traditional monolithic architecture and MACH, companies should consider the following critical differences.

Monolithic architecture

BusinesslogicDataaccesslayerUserinterfaceData base

Microservice architecture

Micro-servicesUserinterfaceMicro-servicesMicro-servicesData baseMicro-servicesData baseMicro-servicesData baseMicro-servicesData base

Monolithic architecture

MACH architecture

Component dependency

Monolithic architecture

MACH architecture

Tight coupling

In a monolithic architecture, all elements are closely connected and interrelated. Tight coupling is one of the main reasons why developers of monolithic solutions can’t easily enhance it with new technology or migrate it to other hosting platforms.

Loose coupling

In contrast, the MACH architecture enables developers to divide modules and services into smaller independent microservices. These components utilize API to communicate with each other and deliver content to customers.

Data management

Monolithic architecture

MACH architecture

Centralized solutions

The monolithic software development model implies a single-tier solution where the components share the same database and form a single software system.

API networks

Each microservice has its own database, which helps developers quickly reconfigure microservices to perform different business functions or integrate them into the brand's processes via API.

Deployment model

Monolithic architecture

MACH architecture

Large components

Traditionally, businesses rely on large-scale components with most of their data stored  in expensive enterprise solutions. Due to additional expenses and upfront planning, the cost of extending and maintaining the whole environment in the long term becomes high.

Smaller distributed components

With MACH architecture, most corporate and client data fit perfectly into various cloud-based services that are scalable and cost-efficient. Cloud hosting is even more beneficial due to its ability to automate tasks such as deployment and configuration management.

MACH architecture examples

Here are several retail enterprises that have already started to leverage the advantages of the MACH architecture.

    Puma, a multinational retail brand, has implemented micro-services into its tech stack, gaining an ability to expand the functionality of its apps faster. The retailer can now cover customer needs more rapidly by deploying new custom interfaces and APIs as the need arises. In addition, Puma used specific elements of the MACH architecture, such as microservices, to revamp its data management software. After conducting loading tests, the retailer noted that the modernized microservices-based system can support 300% - 400% more users compared to the legacy software solution.

      eBay, a US-based multinational retailer, has been using monolithic applications for many years, starting in 1995, when the enterprise was still called AuctionWeb. However, over time, the monolithic software development approach started to limit business growth, prompting the retailer to initiate a migration to the MACH architecture. Today, the retailer manages over a thousand microservices, many written in different programming languages. Each of these services has its own independent development team, leading to decreased time-to-market when adding new features and upgrades, and quality user experience across all enterprise domains.

        Promod, a French women's clothing retailer, is another example of an enterprise that has mainly relied on a monolithic architecture throughout its history. However, when 60% of Promod's sales started to happen online, generating 8% of the business's turnover, the retailer realized that legacy technology could no longer meet its ever-growing business needs. Today, instead of the monolithic legacy system, Promod manages a complex ecosystem of microservices and APIs that provide the necessary scalability and flexibility and ensure a better mobile shopping experience. In addition, the retailer notes that its new MACH-based commerce platform is more stable and workload-resistant.

          Costa Coffee is a British coffee shop chain with more than 2,800 stores and 12,000 Express machines across the UK and Ireland. In recent years, the enterprise has been growing rapidly, so it required a flexible technology that would be able to deliver many types of content in several languages to different audience segments. The MACH architecture enabled the retailer to achieve this goal, helping Costa Coffee quickly scale up and enter the Indian market. Now, if needed, the enterprise can quickly expand its business to other regions. Costa Coffee claims that with MACH, they can deploy new websites in 15 minutes instead of several months.

          Benefits of the MACH architecture

          Properly adopted and used, MACH can help ecommerce enterprises reap significant business benefits.

          Enhanced customer experience

          The increased flexibility and composability resulting from MACH adoption allows enterprises to continuously innovate and improve digital experience. For example, marketing specialists can utilize multiple marketing channels across the web and mobile apps, tailor content to different audiences, and easily track key performance metrics, improving conversions and sales.

          Mitigated IT risks

          Updating or modifying MACH-based solutions through development won’t disrupt the whole ecommerce system, introduce errors and bugs, or create potential security vulnerabilities. Also, any potential problem would be localized within a single component and won’t interfere with the system’s work.

          Faster time-to-market

          Using MACH capabilities, developers can build and deploy different software elements in parallel, which can significantly speed up the release of an ecommerce solution. Additionally, faster time-to-market allows ecommerce enterprises to reduce costs associated with traditional software development and management.

          Easier innovation

          Due to the modularity and interchangeability that underlies the MACH concept, retailers can quickly add new tools and technologies, like AI, ML, or IoT, to their ecommerce technology stack. For example, a company can equip its online store with an artificial intelligence engine and gain a competitive advantage.

          Challenges of the MACH architecture

          Despite multiple benefits, MACH is not a one-size-fits-all solution. MACH adoption is a demanding task, often accompanied by the following business challenges.



          Increased development time due to microservices



          Microservices design adds complexity to traditional architecture and requires a lot of time and effort from the development team to build and set up components timely and efficiently. Thus, although the MACH model aims to reduce time-to-market, building a large-scale solution can increase the project’s timeline.

          Companies should deliberately and thoroughly plan their future MACH solution and make sure it fully aligns with their business goals. This way, they won’t spend time and money building very generic or unnecessary components. 

          The growing complexity of operations management



          Constantly supporting a microservices architecture and monitoring a multi-component environment while ensuring a seamless experience can prove challenging for businesses.

          Enterprises should replace their traditional software monitoring tools and approaches with automated solutions that accurately detect any issues and timely call attention to them.

          Absence of a ready-made “basis” of a front-end



          With a headless approach, software solutions, such as CMSs, often don’t have any visual user interface or suitable default templates to start building your solution from.

          An enterprise should entrust developers to build their own interface or integrate a third-party one using technologies and design most suitable for the business goals.

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          Moving to MACH: implementation best practices

          Here are some implementation tips to ease the transition to MACH and increase your project's ROI.

          Assess the technological environment

          Decision-makers should determine the MACH architecture’s suitability for the company’s unique business case and whether they have enough resources to develop such a non-traditional solution. As an option, enterprise executives can conduct a series of meetings with technology, marketing, and customer service professionals to get a shared understanding of the business case. Here are a few questions you should consider:
          • Is our team agile enough?

          MACH is a flexible software architecture allowing frequent updates and revisions, so it works best with the Agile methodology. Incidentally, opting for MACH can be yet another reason for agile transformation. Organizing development as a flexible ongoing process, an enterprise can start seeing results from the very beginning of its project.

          • Do we have relevant programming skills?

          Engineers of the MACH architecture should have both strong backend and frontend skills and be able to build modern and efficient applications. The team should also have a good understanding of how the solution will exchange data between client and server and design it accordingly. Also, implementing a microservices architecture often involves moving monolithic on-premise systems to the cloud, which requires thorough preparation, specific skills, and expertise.

          • How should we monitor our MACH infrastructure?

          To ensure that digital systems work correctly, customers are satisfied, and there are no security issues, enterprises should constantly monitor their environments from technical and business perspectives. An IT team should decide in advance which analytical tools to use to get a complete picture of the enterprise technology ecosystem.

          Choose the right adoption strategy

          A smooth MACH implementation requires long-term planning and careful consideration of each step. A comprehensive long-term strategy, that is built on clear business requirements, can help make your ecommerce solution future-proof and capable of delivering value for years.

          Conduct customer journey mapping

          Besides planning the software architecture, running the development, and choosing the right vendor, a brand should also determine how it will interact with consumers considering the new operating model. To do this, a retailer should take the time to map customer journeys or delegate this task to third-party experts.

          Implement MACH gradually

          A commerce solution doesn’t have to be 100% MACH right away. Instead, the concept of MACH is a combination of approaches and frameworks, so the MACH architecture can be introduced gradually and in parts.

          Turning your brand into a commerce MACHine

          Today's consumers use many different channels to shop and expect a personal experience across all of them. Technical advancements in ecommerce, like MACH architecture, allow retailers to meet these customer expectations.  The accessibility of cloud-native SaaS solutions for ecommerce and the emergence of the headless architecture allows enterprises to orchestrate their marketing, sales, and customer service activities and deliver their messages to audiences across multiple platforms and touchpoints. Software development based on the best-of-breed approach such as MACH can propel the brand toward digital transformation. Itransition experts are ready to help retailers leverage the benefits of MACH architecture and increase their chances of gaining customer loyalty, as well as standing out among their competitors.

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