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12.12.2020
5 min. read
Categories: Business Ecosystem
Why best-of-breed is the best thing that can happen to your mid-market e-commerce?

So what is the best of breed?

Best-of-breed is a phrase that describes a system in which each action is performed by a specific application designed and built to perform that particular function. In contrast, in the monolithic architecture, or the all-in-one approach, all actions are performed by a single structure.

Let’s make a simple example. You just bought your first house, and you need to get all the kitchenware. Imagine, you can buy one multi-functional device that serves as an oven, stove, dishwasher, toaster, and a microwave. It’s costly, but it does everything; also, you would have to deal with only one vendor in case of any failure. 

On the other hand, as they say “jack of all trades, master of none” – it won’t wash dishes as effectively as a dishwasher which is designed solely for that. Moreover, if one of the functions breaks, you won’t be able to use the others. 

Another approach would be to buy separate devices, each that excels in its purpose. They can be fixed and replaced without interfering with each other. Doesn’t it sound better?

Sylius’ take on Best-of-breed

Since the very beginning of Sylius’ existence, our philosophy was to focus on our domain and not reinvent the wheel. That’s why Sylius is  entirely based on Symfony that gave us a solid foundation to build specific e-commerce bundles within the already existing and highly standardized framework.

Following the very same core idea, Sylius never intended to solve problems of other domains. There are wonderful tools in different categories, which allows us to focus on what we know best – the e-commerce domain.

We provide you with tools to craft your own ecommerce experience – clean code, SOLID principles, BDD, test suite, excellent developer experience, and powerful APIs to connect apps from other categories. 

For us, open source means the freedom of choice. That’s why Sylius is constructed with the mentioned bundles that can be implemented standalone in various, even non-commerce, projects. One such example is Monofony, built on SyliusResourceBundle by our core team member Loïc Frémont.

In parallel, thanks to our API Platform-based API, developers can easily connect external modules (ERP, CRM, PIM, etc.) to Sylius. This way, when integrating the best-of-breed applications, Sylius implementations are modular on both levels – inside of the e-commerce platform core, and outside of it.

With this approach, you can make your shop lighter and equipped with the preferred solutions that can simply be replaced if necessary.

Sylius architecture best-of-breed example

The benefits of the best-of-breed approach

Now that we know what is the best-of-breed, let’s summarize its advantages.

  • BEST of breed – you can get access to the best tools on the market built by experts in their respective fields.
  • Better tools for the job = better results – each of the company branches can use the software that works for them best. Sales can have a CRM that fits their needs, while marketing can use their favorite automation and CMS. Don’t forget that having better tools impacts productivity in a very positive way.
  • More agile approach – all tools work separately. Maintenance or updating one of the apps will not affect others. Also, developing just one tool in each category means it’s easier to keep its technology high profile and adapt to the market and customers’ needs.
  • Security – this one is connected to the point above. Regular and minor updates of many separate apps are vital for software security. Also, when one of the pieces is no longer officially supported (EOL), you can replace it. Therefore you don’t need to handle unnecessary dependencies that stop your business from thriving. 
  • Faster ROI – implementing a complex monolithic structure takes a lot of time, and potential roadblocks may stop – or at least slow down – the whole process. While applying a single solution within a best-of-breed system is faster and cheaper because you can only have the features you need. And of course: faster time to market equals a speedier return of investment.

When doesn’t Best-of-breed make sense?

Getting back to the kitchen metaphor – if you have a small house, sometimes a multi-functional device is the only solution that will fit your limited space. And so it is with software architecture. Implementing multiple apps with separate management and license fees doesn’t really make sense for the small stores. What is more, integrating different software to work together can be a challenging task.

There are plenty of ready-to-use SaaS or CMS systems like Shopify, WooCommerce, PrestaShop, etc., that provide all necessary out-of-the-box functionalities to launch your online presences faster and without unnecessary complexity. We usually recommend such platforms for simple e-commerce challenges that don’t expect huge growth.

Stellar examples of best-of-breed approach

Now to the best part – examples. I talked about how best-of-breed can help your project. Now let’s prove it with some case studies.

Polyphoto

The first one is Polyphoto, an official Italian distributor of prestigious brands that made the history of photography like Kodak, Polaroid, Olympus, and Tamron. They wanted to transform from a B2B to a B2C company. In that case, Sylius was used with Contentful CMS and Akeneo PIM. Using a best-of-breed approach helped increase the loading speed, so the users started spending more time on the site. Read the full case study 👉 here.

Artnight

Another case is Artnight, a company that outgrew its running-slow WooCommerce shop. The goal was to create a fast and scalable solution – a perfect situation to apply best-of-breed. Artnight uses Sylius as a headless eCommerce back end, Pimcore as a PIM (Product Information Management), and VueStorefront v2 as the front end, not to mention multiple payment gateways. The case study is 👉 here.

Pielers

Creating a marketplace is always a challenging project. Let’s see how Braune Digital, the agency behind Pielers, handled it. Third-party apps included PayPal, DPD, and DHL (as shipping methods), Google Merchant Center, and MailChimp (for transactional emails). See the case study 👉 here.

Honorable best-of-breed mentions

  • Trobos – the biggest Lithuanian food marketplace made by Adeo Web. Sylius is headless on the back end, with Vue Storefront in the front. Other third party modules used OMS, Oxid, Navision ERP, Mailerlite, Mailgun, OPAY and Sentry. 
  • Di-soric – a group of companies producing high-quality electronic parts. This highly customized B2B shop made by Infolox uses Sylius as a headless checkout in the best-of-breed mix.
  • Nijha – sport & playground equipment provider from the Netherlands, built by Webstores. It uses Sulu, Akeneo, and Adyen as third-party apps.
  • Araco – another example made by Webstores uses the same combination. It’s a wholesale white-label clothes provider from the Netherlands.
  • Planeta Huerto – the largest Spanish online bio-food distributor, based in Alicante with an e-commerce system built by BitBag. Sylius works here with Pimcore, Adyen, and Aplazame as payment providers.

More examples can be found in our showcase: https://sylius.com/case-studies.

That’s it; I hope I convinced you that it’s better to have an eCommerce system tailored for your needs than one made for everyone’s needs. Especially that it’s not only faster but possibly cheaper as well.

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Przemysław Połeć
Solution & Technology Partner Manager at Sylius. Implements onboarding and integration strategy for each new business partner. Continually refines best practices for new integrations consistent with Sylius culture. Sylius office viking and master chef.
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