Frontend as a Service: What, Why, and How?

Frontend as a Service (FEaaS) is a frontend solution for composable commerce that allows the assembling and customization of an immersive, innovative frontend for your composable commerce website with one tool in one place.

Using a comprehensive FEaaS solution saves you time and money while simultaneously improving your business metrics like conversion rates and revenue. From startups to digitally mature organizations, without exception, all eCommerce businesses can benefit from using a FEaaS solution. 

This article will explain Frontend as a Service, how it came about, and what to expect from your FEaaS solution provider. You will also learn about Vue Storefront’s comprehensive Frontend as a Service solution for the management of your frontend components for composable commerce.

How to supercharge customer experience with your frontend

frontend_drives_customer_experience.png

What is Frontend as a Service (FEaaS)?

FEaaS supplies eCommerce businesses with a one-stop-shop solution for creating performant storefronts from build to launch. It provides eCommerce businesses with an ecosystem of cloud-native, microservices-based, and API-first composable frontend modules that can be combined into a fast-tracked solution focused on serviceability.

A comprehensive FEaaS solution enables eCommerce developers to build, test, and distribute engaging frontend experiences faster, better, and cost-effectively. You can use FEaaS to produce optimized, well-tested, performant, and consumer-centric interfaces without spending months developing a custom-built frontend.

Frontend as a Service is a composable commerce solution that allows developers to use cloud-based modules to develop a fully performant eCommerce frontend. It provides you with ready integrations and *Packaged Business Capabilities, highly performant and customizable UI capabilities, middleware, and hosting. This enables your dev team to construct your entire composable commerce tech stack in a fraction of the time and orchestrate it in one place.

Gartner states, “Cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025 — up from less than 40% in 2021.”

If a developer wants to create a composable commerce site, they require a:

  • Frontend (like Vue Storefront)

  • API orchestration layer (Vue Storefront)

  • eCommerce platform for business logic (commercetools, BigCommerce, Elastic Path, Magento, etc.)

  • Content Management System (CMSs like Bloomreach, Contentstack, Contentful, etc.)

  • Search applications like Algolia, Bloomreach, or Constructor.io.

  • Hosting (Vue Storefront cloud hosting)

  • Various 3-rd party tools like loyalty, payments, and more.In many ways, the structure of FEaaS is similar to that of Software as a Service (SaaS), also known as on-demand software. As with API-centric SaaS services, the developer releases many different modules and APIs, but you add and use only what you need.

*PBCs = Packaged Business Capabilities: This describes a set of readily integrated microservices that delivers specific business functions in your composable eCommerce tech stack.

FEaaS allows the developer to implement all these functions with pre-built modules without developing them from scratch. This cuts out months of repetitive work for your developers and they need only focus on building customizations and personalized customer journeys using the ready code base as a foundation. 

Many enterprise eCommerce businesses have reported that using a FEaaS solution saved them up to USD 500,000 in development costs and up to 8 months in development time to get to market faster.

The path to FEaaS: monolithic vs. composable architecture 

Initially, most websites and online storefronts were constructed as a single unit. We refer to this dated approach as a monolithic framework. While it was a fantastic way to build an online store in the early days of eCommerce, it can’t keep up with modern consumer and web performance demands. 

Some of the problems with this type of framework include:

  • It offers limited customization (one size fits all approach).

  • The frontend UI and backend business logic is built into a single platform, meaning you can't change one without disrupting the other. 

  • Trying to scale any particular site part can slow down the entire website and negatively affect customer experience.

Today's fast-paced commerce capabilities require a different eCommerce solution. The need for complete customization and high-speed infrastructure has brought us to a modular, or composable, commerce world.

Instead of constructing websites as a single large unit, a composable framework allows you to combine several modules to get precisely the functions and appearance you want.

frontend-api-backend.png

How does composable commerce compare to monolithic frameworks? It:

  • Offers comprehensive customization for every part of the website

  • Expedites new feature implementation since different modules run different parts of the website

  • Improves frontend development by allowing you to scale a particular module or function rather than the entire system.

Composable tech stacks for eCommerce

modern-commerce-stack-min.png

When you use a composable technology stack, you entirely pare away the frontend of the website. Instead of a fixed framework with limited design possibilities, the website consists of multiple interacting application programming interfaces (APIs).

In short, you get a high-speed, fully-customized frontend architecture comprising many easily scalable modules.

Why is your eCommerce frontend important?

Super-fast and seamless customer experiences that embrace an omnichannel approach are what eCommerce consumers want in the current marketplace. With FEaaS, a much higher level of attention is placed on optimal web performance and mobile optimization on the part of your site where customers interact with: your frontend.

This gives you an out-of-the-box frontend that is lightning fast for superb UX, customer experience, and SEO.

A modern and performant frontend for composable commerce means that customers can view your content using almost any web-enabled device. Greater omnichannel accessibility translates to more visitors and, ultimately, more sales.

One of the greatest struggles for eCommerce stores is that many sites work better on computers than mobile devices. It's a severe customer pain point that often results in a loss of sales for the business.

“Retail mCommerce sales hit $359.32 billion in 2021, an increase of 15.2% over 2020.”—Insider Intelligence
mobile-gap.png

It's revealing that over 50% of frontend developers currently work in teams of at least 50 people to overcome these challenges. FEaaS could see that change quickly and dramatically as you need a much smaller dev team, and most of the repetitive development work is already done. This leads to noteworthy cost savings and higher ROI—fast. 

One of the most significant benefits of using comprehensive FEaaS solutions is cost and time savings in not only the development phase but also in ongoing maintenance and marketing updates.

What to expect from Frontend as a Service

Frontend_as_a_Service.png

While you should now have a basic idea of what FEaaS is, you don't have a complete idea of what to expect from this site-building solution. Let's take a look at a few of the fundamental elements that make this service worthwhile: 

Performant User Interface - You need a flexible and fully customizable UI eCommerce set for building modern headless commerce online stores

API Orchestration Layer - The best FEaaS offer an API orchestration layer. It takes APIs from different solution providers and turns them into a single unit. You need an easy-to-use, fast, and scalable API Orchestration that will be the “glue” for all your services.

While each module still acts independently, the orchestration layer ensures that all the necessary modules receive the appropriate signal. A single click may require responses from multiple APIs, and this layer ensures that all of them get the required signal. 

Easy collaboration and integrations with eCommerce Platforms - For comprehensive FEaaS solutions providers, partnerships with best-of-breed eCommerce platforms for the business logic are pivotal to their success and product offering.

You need highly performant and tested ready integrations and PBCs with your eCommerce platform of choice. Frontend as a Service features modules that easily connect to eCommerce platforms.

Ready integration with headless CMS - A CMS, as the name implies, is a software program that allows you to create and distribute digital material. A CMS enables you to quickly change your online experiences while also publishing them on the web and other digital platforms.

A headless CMS is a type of content management system that separates the storage location (the "body") from the representation location (the "head"). You may store content in your headless CMS and then broadcast it to any number of locations, which offers you a lot more versatility in how it's displayed.

Ready integrations with 3-rd party solutions - Your FEaaS solution should make it easy for your developers to add all third-party integrations needed for a comprehensive tech stack. These integrations should include payment solutions like Stripe, PayPal, Adyen, Cybersource, and more.

You should also have a variety of integrations available for searches, like Algolia, Bloomreach, or Constructor.io. They should also have, or enable you to easily integrate loyalty and other services you need to offer optimal customer experience.

Cloud hosting - Most of the proprietary tools offered by FEaaS are cloud-based. Some of the benefits of cloud hosting are:

  • Increased server uptime - it is directly connected to your web performance metrics
  • The latest technologies
  • Scalability of resources
  • Cost-efficiency (cutting DevOps costs)
  • Increased security
  • Location independence
  • Increased group collaboration
  • Backup and disaster recovery

Consistent performance support from your FEaaS provider from build to launch - Your FEaaS journey should include close contact with a Customer Success Manager from the solution provider to support you with code reviews, web performance optimizations, or guidance in terms of the best vendors for your business needs.

You want a consistent partner watching and monitoring your site's performance with every single release. And lastly, you’ll also need developer support to ensure a smooth migration or replatforming process. In a nutshell, your FEaaS solution provider must be as passionate about your site’s success as you are.

Advantages of using Frontend as a Service

There are many advantages to using Frontend as a Service. We've mentioned many of them already, but let's review them one by one. FEaaS offers:

Faster development times & time to market: Since all the core elements for frontend development are already available to your developers, they can create your website or application in significantly less time and focus on customizing pre-built components instead of building from scratch.

Using a comprehensive FEaaS solution can get you to market up to eight months sooner than a custom build, and the prebuilt architecture is already optimized for web performance, with a mobile-first approach. The cost and time savings are significant.

Full flexibility: The prebuilt frontend components are fully customizable, which gives developers full freedom to tailor it to their needs and control the end effect.

No vendor lock-in: One of the significant advantages of using a FEaaS solutionis that it helps futureproof your store by remaining agnostic. The flexibility to change any of the vendors in the tech stack when needed remains with the business owner. This allows for superb customization of your store as and when needed. And finally, ownership of what you create remains with you, not the vendor.

Lower hosting costs: Your FEaaS provider should improve your overall spending by offering a well-managed and comprehensive hosting and infrastructure solution

Improved customer experiences: The best-in-class FEaaS solutions offer optimized web performance and omnichannel microservices. One of the ways they achieve this is by using PWA ( Progressive Web Apps ) technologies to design their frontend microservice. The primary benefit of PWAs is their super-fast and omnichannel performance that meets today’s consumer needs head-on (no pun intended).

Reduced risk of system failure - FEaaS has a headless modular approach that treats each microservice as a separate entity. As a result, your entire system won't fail if a single microservice or module does.

Excellent scalability and serviceability - The modular approach allows you to scale a single function or module without affecting others. This translates to excellent and efficient scalability. You can also modify or service any given part of the website when not scaling. This flexible framework allows increased serviceability.

Easy implementation of new or improved functions - You may realize that your commerce platform requires a new function. The composable approach allows your developer (or your marketers) to add the required features in no time. According to Gartner , companies “that have adopted a composable approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”

Affordability - As with Software as a Service, you only pay for the modules you need. This translates to an affordable website that doesn't leave you paying for unwanted extras. 

Another superb benefit of FEaaS is that it allows you to use only best-of-breed applications via APIs for every component of your technology stack with ready integrations to the frontend. Since every microservice functions independently while being connected to all the others, it expedites the site's operation and ultimately improves your all-important web performance and SEO.

Together, the combination of speed and useful function leads to an excellent customer experience.

How does Frontend as a Service work?

Frontend as a Service—in layman’s terms—is relatively straightforward. From a business perspective it operates in a few basic steps:

  1. The FEaaS provides prebuilt modules of performant and mobile-first frontend architecture, and ready integrations with eCommerce platforms, headless CMS, or other 3rd party solutions.

  2. Your website developer uses the appropriate modules to develop a unique and highly customized frontend structure with an excellent user interface for optimal customer experience. 

  3. The API orchestration layer ensures that all the modules connect appropriately. From product display to processing carts or displaying relevant content, this tool coordinates all the pieces to function as a unit.

  4. Your customers use your spectacular omnichannel, mobile-first website to look at products, make purchases, and interact with your business.

In simple terms, FEaaS works like building a fireplace with interlocking clay bricks. The old monolithic approach to frontend construction required you to knead the clay, shape the bricks, and fire them. Then, you still needed to mix the mortar, pack the bricks, and stick them together.

With FEaas, all the bricks are at your disposal in the form of microservices. Not only that, but the producer has already shaped the bricks into likely structural elements (ready integrations and PBCs) that are optimized for excellent web, mobile, and SEO performance. 

Instead of building a fireplace from scratch, you pick one you like and merely paint it to suit your home’s unique design (customize your UI.) On top of all that, the producer has an active community of builders available online 24/7 who are eager to help each other and share advice. No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

The Vue Storefront FEaaS solution 

Homepage-hero-min.png

Now that you better understand Frontend as a Service and its advantages, you probably want to know where to start.

Vue Storefront offers a complete FEaaS solution for composable commerce. It covers every part of the development process, from build to launch.

This eCommerce solution offers multiple stages, namely:

Frontend - Because customer journey happens on the frontend, you need a fast, mobile-first presentation layer to drive conversion and revenue. With an agnostic ecosystem of integrations and API Orchestration Layer, you can easily pull together your whole composable technology stack in one place. Starting with your frontend, you start where the customer experience happens. 

Design - Moving your design from your head to your website can be daunting. With Vue Storefront you have a comprehensive range of design systems and a user interface library . Using these tools, you can create the exact design that you envisioned.

Middleware - Turning the modules and microservices you need into a useful website requires an extra step. The Vue Storefront API orchestration layer ensures that all the pieces come together as a functional whole. There are over 20 different types of integration options, including:

    • eCommerce platform integrations

    • Headless CMS integrations

    • Search integrations

    • Payment integrations

    • Third-party integrations for loyalty programs, and more

Hosting - Beyond the mere construction and design of your headless merchant site, Vue Storefront also offers services in hosting and deployment. You get a cloud that is optimized for speed and for your Vue Storefront technology stack, so there is no further migration needed, and you’re already fully optimized.

Production & support - Finally, the Vue Storefront team assists you with website launches and maintenance to ensure that your frontend stays fast and mobile-friendly to create a superb customer experience resulting in higher conversion rates and revenue.

2021-12-What_is_Vue_Storefront_v2_(3)-min.png

Vue Storefront's ecosystem of tools can help you with the entire process or just one part. Whether you need an independent API or a collaborative system, we're happy to help.

Let’s talk!

About how your eCommerce business can benefit and scale exponentially with our comprehensive FEaaS solution.

FAQ

What is FEaaS?

Frontend as a Service is a composable commerce solution that allows developers to use cloud-based modules to develop a fully performant eCommerce frontend. It provides ready integrations and *PBCs (Packaged Business Capabilities), highly performant and customizable UI capabilities, middleware, and hosting. This enables your dev team to construct your entire composable commerce tech stack in a fraction of the time and orchestrate it in one place.

FEaaS supplies eCommerce businesses with a one-stop-shop solution for creating performant storefronts from build to launch. It provides an ecosystem of cloud-native, microservices -based, and API-first composable frontend modules that can be combined into a fast-tracked solution focused on serviceability.

What products and services does a FEaaS solution offer?

  • Performant and highly customizable API-first and mobile optimized User Interface modules

  • API Orchestration Layer 

  • Easy collaboration and integrations with eCommerce Platforms 

  • Ready integration with headless CMS 

  • Ready integrations with 3-rd party solutions (payment, search, loyalty, and more) 

  • Cloud hosting 

  • Consistent performance support from build to launch 

What are the benefits of FEaaS?

  • Faster time to market

  • No vendor lock-in

  • Lower TCO

  • Lower hosting costs

  • Improved customer experiences

  • Reduced risk of system failure 

  • Excellent scalability and serviceability 

  • Easy implementation of new or improved functions 

  • Affordability 

Ready to dive in? Schedule a demo

CTA-MAIN-IMAGE.png