MACH-Prinzipien im Produktdatenmanagement

The Magic of MACH Principles in Product Data Management

 

Certainly, some of you may be familiar with this scenario in your everyday product data management:

  • Customer A reaches out with the following request: “Could you please send me my assortment with 1,000 products, my prices, a 65-character short description in an ETIM-BMEcat Guideline 4.03 with Finnish extension, and ETIM 9 as classification, along with printable images but only those with clipping paths? And please include only the changes. Can this be done immediately?
  • Customer B calls the next day and wants the data directly integrated into his system and in real-time.
  • Your eCommerce department, on the other hand, requires product data, customer data, and prices via an interface in Shopware 6.

Individual or internal requirements for your product catalogs are increasing and will continue to do so in the future. In turn, this means additional effort for you. After all, your data must be prepared in a customer- and system-specific manner. To meet these rapidly growing demands, it is advisable to rely on flexible and scalable approaches in your product data management, such as the Composable Commerce approach. This can be integrated, among other ways, through the MACH principles or MACH technologies.

What are the MACH principles? What significance do the MACH principles have in product data management? How can Composable Commerce be practically applied using MACH technologies, helping you respond more easily and quickly to various customer requirements? These are all questions we address in our latest article for you.

 

What are the MACH principles?

MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. These principles advocate for the use of small, independent services (Microservices) communicating through APIs (API-first), developed for cloud infrastructures (Cloud-native), and facilitating the use of different frontend technologies by enabling the separation of frontend and backend (Headless).

The MACH principles are closely tied to Composable Commerce. Composable Commerce is an approach where you assemble your e-commerce systems from independent components to achieve more flexibility and agility. The MACH technology forms the foundation for this, allowing you to adapt and expand e-commerce systems as needed, aligning with the principles of Composable Commerce.

 

MACH in Product Data Management

Flexibility and agility are crucial to meet growing customer demands (customized images, real-time data, custom formats) and market dynamics for your product data. Therefore, leveraging the MACH principles in product data management makes sense. We illustrate how this can be achieved using our software solution, CatalogExpress.

Microservices in Product Data Context

Applying MACH principles involves constructing a tailored application from various microservices. Picture this as a large Rubik’s Cube composed of different independent cubes, representing the microservices. You can remove, replace, or add components at any time, resulting in a customized and flexible solution.

The MACH principles follow not only the Composable Commerce approach but also the Best-of-Breed approach. For example, using your PIM and ERP alongside CatalogExpress’s microservices for asset retrieval, mapping, user interface, and workflow, you can create a download portal for customers. This allows customers to self-service and download relevant product images, saving you time and valuable resources.

Another scenario illustrates the situation where MACH software allows you to create a system where employees from different departments can utilize data and interfaces. This is achievable for you with the various microservices offered by CatalogExpress. Your IT department can leverage the APIs of the workflow component, while marketing and sales can access the UI component. Product management, on the other hand, is interested in the reporting component.

In addition to clear task distribution, a crucial advantage of microservices is enhanced scalability. Instead of having one massive application (“monolith”) that needs complete scaling during high demand, you can selectively support individual, computationally intensive microservices (e.g., image transformation). Other services that are less in demand will then use correspondingly fewer computing resources.

API-First Approach in Product Data Management

Microservices typically communicate through an API. The API-First approach involves defining the API first and then programming it. Applications that need to interact with the API can be developed in parallel. When leveraging the MACH principles in product data management, your microservices can thus be interconnected more rapidly.

CatalogExpress is designed with an API-First approach. You can utilize and control mapping processes through the API. Additionally, you can apply the API toward data consumers, such as providing real-time product data on your customers’ systems. This is particularly advantageous when you prefer your customer not to directly access your ERP or PIM system, for instance, due to security or performance reasons.

For connecting with your customers, you create customer-specific REST APIs through CatalogExpress. There, you specify the format in which you want to transmit the data, whether as BMEcat, JSON, or CSV files. The data generated in CatalogExpress is then made available via the customer-specific REST API. With the automatically generated Open API documentation by CatalogExpress, you can empower each customer, for example, to integrate their PIM system with yours. Once they have connected their system, they can retrieve their individual product assortment in real-time within their PIM system.

Cloud-Native

In the cloud, a system exists with minimal requirements and the lowest resource consumption. When your customer requests product data, all available computing capacities are mobilized. This means that necessary capacities in the cloud are only invoked when truly needed. Cloud-native, in turn, implies that you can run applications on any cloud. By implementing the MACH principles in product data management, you stay flexible and can easily switch between cloud providers.

As CatalogExpress is structured based on the MACH principles, it is also cloud-native. When utilizing the SaaS model, our systems share the resources of the cloud. This model is more sustainable and cost-transparent for you.

Headless

In this context, applications can be controlled in a “headless” manner, meaning without an operator concept or user interface.With CatalogExpress, a software developed according to the MACH principles, you have the option to operate catalog generation headlessly, for example, for your customer or dealer portal. You can use platforms like Shopware 6 for this purpose. In a self-service capacity, your customer can independently define the requirements for your product data and the corresponding format (BMEcat ETIM or ECLASS, FAB-DIS, DATANORM, JSON, EXCEL, CSV, etc.) and receive them through the same channel—without obvious use of CatalogExpress but within the shop.

Taking customer A from the initial example, they set the following in your portal:

  • 1000 products
  • 65-character short description
  • ETIM-BMEcat Guideline 4.03 with a Finnish extension
  • ETIM 9 as classification
  • Printable images with clipping path only

CatalogExpress works in the background, retrieves the relevant data from your source systems (e.g., Akeneo, Contentserv, Crossbase, Pimcore, Viamedici EPIM, OMN). Subsequently, the catalog is generated and made available through your customer or dealer portal. CatalogExpress operates headlessly, communicating via the REST API and the Shopware 6 Connector. Your customer or dealer is unaware of this process and receives their product catalog for download.

The result: Your customer is happy because they can quickly assemble their product catalog. You are happy because, thanks to the magic of the MACH principles, you can swiftly and time-effectively respond to individual customer requirements.

 

MACH Principles in Product Data Management with CatalogExpress

Do you aim to implement MACH principles in product data management using CatalogExpress to pursue your Composable Commerce strategy?

Schedule a non-binding consultation with us now.

Wer hat‘s geschrieben?
Julia Neuhäuser
julia.neuhaeuser@nexoma.de

Julia has been part of our marketing team since March 2022. As a Bachelor of Arts in Service Marketing, Julia provides you with content on marketing topics, success stories and the NEXIpedia, among other things.