What is MACH Architecture in E-commerce?

We're seeing a growing focus in enterprise commerce on the need to create agile, reusable end-to-end digital experiences. Companies invest in the ability to quickly adapt to changing business requirements and the capacity to repurpose pre-existing code when developing new software applications.

Keep reading to understand why this software development approach is called 'MACH architecture' and why MACH solutions and digital commerce ecosystems are the best alternative for your online retail.

MACH acronym

Let's give a name to a face. MACH architecture is a set of fundamental principles behind the cutting-edge software development process and technology platforms. It's the opposite of a monolithic, legacy infrastructure like enterprise software suites, whose programs are traditionally designed as a single unit.

MACH technology gives users the freedom to plug, scale, replace and continuously improve every component through agile development. Technologies constructed with MACH architecture are the building blocks for digital transformation with a future-proof, scalable setup.

MACH acronym: Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless.

MACH principles


Microservices architecture describes a software design approach where applications are built as a collection of modular, independent components that communicate over application programming interfaces (APIs). Each service has a specific, well-defined responsibility and can be developed, tested and deployed independently.

API-first approach

An API is a set of rules or protocols that enables software applications to communicate with each other to exchange data, features and functionality. API-first approach prioritizes APIs at the beginning of the software development process, positioning them as the building blocks of software and making it possible to tie together multiple applications or services.

Cloud-native SaaS

SaaS allows users to connect to and use cloud-based apps over the Internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. Cloud-native applications leverage full capabilities of the cloud infrastructure, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling and automatic functionality updating.

Headless approach

Headless architecture decouples front-end — the application part with which the user interacts directly — from back-end — the application part that's not directly accessed by the user but typically responsible for processing data. It's a complete freedom in user interface design and connections with other mission-critical channels and devices, like already existing applications.

MACH architecture in the e-commerce space

In the past decade, the e-commerce space entered a phase of digital transformation and rapid growth. Legacy online retail technology became too slow to anticipate and address ever changing consumer expectations. Even when trends were recognized, the existing technology made it difficult to capture them and implement changes in time.

To address this issue, retailers began to separate their back-end operations from their front-end user interfaces. The existing, monolithic technology stacks were too inflexible to meet dynamic market demands, and breaking it down into more adaptable components connected through APIs became the next big thing in e-commerce software architecture.

Enter the buzzwords — MACH architecture, composable commerce, and headless commerce.

MACH vs composable commerce vs headless commerce

To add to the confusion, the e-commerce industry uses the terms MACH and composable commerce as interchangeable things — and then there's headless architecture. Let's cover the basics in a little more detail.

What's the difference between headless commerce and composable commerce?

Headless architecture and composable architecture are often regarded as the same thing, but there are important distinctions between the two.

Headless commerce

In a headless architecture, a previously integrated, all-in-on service decouples front-end from back-end, allowing each to function independently. It's still less flexible and adaptable compared to composable commerce.

Composable commerce

In a composable architecture, every component functions as an independent module, giving retailers the ability to select the best features from third-party vendors and to create a unique, adaptable tech stack for any business objectives.

The difference between monolithic, headless and composable software design.

What's the difference between MACH architecture and composable commerce?

Back to the MACH architecture. Surprisingly, it's not an architecture as such, unlike headless and composable. It's a set of design principles guiding modern enterprise technology towards agility, scalability and resilience amidst changing market trends and business needs.

MACH Alliance logo

What does MACH Alliance certified mean?

Formed in June 2020 to help enterprise organizations navigate the complex modern technology landscape, the MACH Alliance is group of over 80 vendors, partners, startups, systems integrators and other ambassadors.

According to the MACH Alliance, the goal of MACH Certification is to evaluate the MACH architecture technology, references and roadmap of a member, who has proven it meets all the criteria for the Alliance to recommend them as part of a future-proof technology stack:

  • Composable Connectability;
  • Infinite Scalability;
  • Ultimate Swapability;
  • Adaptability;
  • Flexibility & Transparency.

MACH Global Research 2024 among c-suite enterprise executives in the US, UK, Germany and France found that MACH adoption sees stable growth despite economic volatility. Over 90% of IT decision-makers say MACH and composable technology will be instrumental to the success of their organization in the next five years, and 85% see clear evidence of ROI on MACH implementation. In an environment in which customer expectations are ever increasing, organizations recognize that those who do not innovate now will be left behind.

Benefits of MACH architecture principles in e-commerce

Customer expectations

Consumers are tech savvier and more conscious of what they want than ever before. Customer expectations in online shopping and delivery are rising with lightning speed. Old technologies are no longer viable for companies that want to keep up with the emerging demand and stay ahead of the game.

Customer-focused experience

MACH technology gives designers, front-end developers and marketers the autonomy to refine the presentation layer without any back-end development resources. This enables them to quickly introduce changes, run tests and optimize the front-end to adjust it to the ever-changing customer needs and achieve higher sales.


Thanks to the MACH architecture, companies can choose the right technology for each service and develop, test and deploy services independently. Consider the case of e-commerce platforms. While traditional e-commerce models ties the front-end user experience with the back-end logic, headless e-commerce systems decouple these components, allowing for independent updates to one part without affecting the other.


By leveraging cloud-native infrastructure, MACH architecture enables e-commerce applications to scale up or down as needed without any significant infrastructure management. In other words, MACH solutions can handle traffic peaks, such as Black Friday and the holiday season, without downtime and grow as the business expands.

What your new e-commerce tech stack ecosystem can look like


BigCommerce is an open SaaS e-commerce platform that empowers brands and retailers of all sizes to build, innovate and grow their businesses online. A cloud-native API-first solution, BigCommerce builds the commerce layer and frees developers to choose their preferred front-end.


Creativity, agility and efficiency. The native headless e-commerce platform Centra has built-in tools for fashion and lifestyle brands to sell across any markets and scale up fast. Its API-based ecosystem offers more open and flexible data models than a one-size-fits-all solution like Shopify.


Contentful is a composable content platform that scales across the enterprise and accelerates how development and creative teams build great digital experiences. With Contentful, retailers can create content-first, multi-brand, omnichannel experiences on a unified composable content source.


Operating in an omnichannel, customer-focused environment, retailers have become frustrated with traditional content management systems (CMS) that don’t scale, offer limited flexibility, and can be costly to maintain and enhance. Storyblok has addressed this challenge by developing a headless CMS with flexibility for developers and autonomy for content managers with no coding skills.


The Netherlands-based financial technology company Adyen provides end-to-end payment capabilities, data-driven insights and financial products in a single global solution. Adyen believes that unified commerce and omnichannel retail experience in fintech are impossible with legacy technology.


Stripe has evolved from a payment solution to a complete financial infrastructure. It supports new business models like direct-to-consumer, subscriptions, marketplaces and SaaS platforms, optimising cash flow across the entire business.


The delivery experience platform Ingrid connects retailers, carriers and consumers to create a better shopping experience for everyone. The solutions cover the end-to-end experience from online checkout to order tracking and returns, along with related operations, such transport management and in-store fulfillment. 


Bolt is on a mission to perfect the checkout experience for online retailers and make sure nothing gets in the way when shoppers decide to buy. The company powers frictionless experiences for retailers and customers at every step of the shopping journey — from login to checkout.

Don't get stuck in the past

Partially an industry, partially a movement, MACH architecture for now lives in the domain of 'vendor speak', but it's predicted to become a more common concept among enterprises, developers, and consumers alike. By assessing your current systems, processes and goals, you can make an informed decision about whether MACH technology is the right fit for your organization.

Check other Ingrid Glossary e-commerce buzzword explainers:

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