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What is Frontend as a Service (FaaS)? Benefits and challenges for your digital business

Frontend as a Service (FaaS) is revolutionizing the world of B2B ecommerce. Essentially, it enables digital businesses to outsource their frontend to a specialized provider. This means companies can focus on their core business while the provider takes care of design, functionality, and user experience on their ecommerce site.

Implementing a complete Frontend as a Service solution saves time and money while improving business metrics like conversion rates and revenue. Its versatility allows startups and digitally mature organizations alike to adopt the solution.

In this article, we will explain what the Frontend as a Service model is, its key benefits, and the initial steps to start implementing it. Our goal is to help you better understand how it can add value to your ecommerce business.

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What is Frontend as a Service (FaaS)?

The Frontend as a Service (FaaS) model offers ecommerce businesses a comprehensive solution for building high-performance online stores, from construction to launch. It provides companies with an ecosystem of cloud-native, microservices-based, API-first composable frontend modules that can be combined into a streamlined solution focused on serviceability.

A comprehensive FaaS solution empowers ecommerce developers to build, test, and distribute engaging frontend experiences faster, with higher quality and cost-effectiveness. FaaS allows for the creation of optimized, well-tested, high-performance, consumer-centric interfaces without spending months developing a custom frontend.

Moreover, Frontend as a Service is a composable solution that enables developers to utilize cloud-based modules to build a fully performant ecommerce frontend. It offers ready integrations and highly productive, customizable UI capabilities, middleware, and hosting. This allows your development team to construct your entire composable commerce tech stack in a fraction of the time and orchestrate it in one place.

According to Gartner, "Cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025, compared to less than 40% in 2021."Las plataformas nativas de la nube servirán como base para más del 95 % de las nuevas iniciativas digitales para 2025, frente a menos del 40 % en 2021".

On the other hand, many ecommerce companies have reported saving up to $500,000 in development costs and up to 8 months in development time by using an FaaS solution to bring their products to market faster. Sounds good, doesn't it?

frontend as a service

FaaS: Monolithic Architecture vs Composable

In the early days of the ecommerce era, most websites and online storefronts were built as a single unit. This old technological approach is commonly referred to as a monolithic framework. While it was a fantastic way to build an online store at the time, with the web performance demands of modern consumers, it becomes challenging to keep it up to date.

Some of the problems with monolithic frameworks include:

  • Limited customization (one-size-fits-all approach).
  • The frontend user interface and backend business logic are tightly integrated into a single platform. This means that you cannot change one without disrupting the other.
  • The need to scale any specific area of ecommerce can slow down the entire website and negatively impact the customer experience.

That's why today's accelerated commerce capabilities require an ecommerce solution under a different strategic approach. The need for full customization and high-speed infrastructure has brought us into the world of modular or composable commerce.

Now, instead of building websites as a single giant unit, a composable framework makes it easy to combine various modules to precisely obtain the required functionality and appearance based on business rules.

What does composable commerce do versus monolithic frameworks?

  • They offer comprehensive customization for every part of the website.
  • Dramatically speeds up the implementation of new features as different modules handle different parts of the website.
  • Improves frontend development by allowing easy scaling of a particular module or function instead of the entire system.

When you use a composable technology stack, you completely eliminate the website's monolithic interface. Instead of a rigid framework with limited design possibilities, the website consists of multiple application programming interfaces (APIs) that interact.

In simple terms, you get a fully customized and high-speed frontend architecture, consisting of many easily scalable modules.

The main benefits of Frontend as a Service (FaaS)

The Frontend as a Service (FaaS) model can help ecommerce managers to have truly optimized and modern commerce websites, at low costs and with excellent time-to-market. These are the main benefits:

  1. Cost reduction: Outsourcing the frontend to a FaaS provider can be cheaper than building and maintaining an in-house development team. Additionally, FaaS provides a set of ready-to-use solutions that eliminate the need to build each component from scratch.
  2. Time to Market Acceleration: FaaS offers pre-built modules and a turnkey solution that enables ecommerce managers to speed up time to market for their websites. This means that companies can launch new products and services faster and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  3. Improved user experience: FaaS allows companies to offer a high-quality and personalized user experience on their website. Frontend as a service provider can provide design and functionality modules that allow businesses to create a seamless and consistent user experience across the entire website.
  4. Software and security updates: A FaaS provider takes care of software updates and website security, which can reduce the risk of security bugs and technical issues. This also improves the stability and reliability of the website.
  5. Greater scalability: The FaaS infrastructure is scalable, meaning you can handle an increase in website traffic without needing to build expensive internal infrastructure. Ecommerce managers can add or remove frontend modules as needed to accommodate ever-evolving business needs.

Ecommerce platforms that use Frontend as a Service (FaaS) to help companies develop their B2B businesses.

If you will, FaaS is a relatively new industry. Even the big tech companies in the sector have only been providing these types of services for a few years. But, more and more startups are releasing novel features and functionality that hope to transform this space.

Here are four B2B ecommerce platforms that offer the FaaS model for building modern online stores.

1. B2BStore – Headless B2B ecommerce Platform

B2BStore es una solución especialmente diseñada para fabricantes y productores de todos los tamaños. Facilita a los minoristas y fabricantes B2B (de cualquier industria) no solo vender online, sino también: implementar las mejores tecnologías de comercio electrónico de su clase, crear funciones personalizadas que les ayuden a lograr objetivos comerciales y salir al mercado rápidamente con un proceso de montar una tienda fácil y con bajo coste de desarrollo. Una gran solución para la digitalización e internacionalización de las PyMES.

The key feature of B2BStore is enabling omni channel capabilities through an optimized and consistent customer experience. It can be applied to different ecommerce, e-learning, support, and AI service platforms to maximize sales, generate new business opportunities, and foster customer loyalty.

B2BStore is a Frontend as a Service (FaaS), also available as an open-source asset, that allows the implementation of the new Commerce Composable philosophy by coordinating an ecosystem of collaborative open-source services and products in a subscription-based economy-compatible format. 

Additionally, if you're looking to scale from a B2B model to B2B2C with flexibility and customization, this platform might be your best cost-value option.

2. Vue Storefront

It is a popular FaaS platform built on the Nuxt.js framework, which is based on the Vue JavaScript library. It is also an open-source solution, giving developers the ability to customize the platform to fit their business and technological needs.

Vue Storefront supports out-of-the-box server-side rendering and is hosted on Google Cloud. It also offers a highly customizable design and a set of UI components for developers to start building the online storefront. Vue Storefront is designed to be mobile-first and includes over 50 UI components.

3. Instant Commerce

It is a company based in Amsterdam that was launched in 2022. They offer a no-code solution for businesses that want to adopt a decoupled architecture but may not necessarily have the extensive developer resources to support their technology stack.

Currently, the solution only supports integration with Shopify as the commerce backend and Storyblok as the headless CMS. While Instant Commerce pulls in all the product data for management within the Instant Commerce admin area, Storyblok handles content and assets management.

As a no-code solution, web pages are assembled by organizing "blocks" in an intuitive and user-friendly page builder. While your marketing team can create new experiences using the Instant Commerce page builder, the development team can still make limited customizations by editing the code for each block.

Any customization can be done using React, and the Instant Commerce interface that is generated is also a React application.

4. Shogun Frontend

It is another prominent brand in the FaaS industry. Their first product was a page builder for the Shopify app market. In 2019, they launched an ecommerce interface that quickly gained popularity.

Shogun's interface is built on the well-known JavaScript library, Next.js, on top of React. According to Shogun's documentation, it suggests that Shogun relies on static site generation to build and deploy stores on Fastly, a content delivery network that hosts brands like Buzzfeed and The New York Times.

Shogun provides UI components as part of a responsive mobile design system. Their developers can customize these UI components directly within the admin interface or through a local development environment.

3 practical tips to start implementing FaaS in a B2B business

Now that you know some alternatives, you may be looking to start the B2B project for your ecommerce business. We think the tips below can help you get started. This is what you should do at startup:

  1. Assess business needs: Before you start looking for a Frontend as a Service solution, it is important to assess your business needs and long-term goals. Try to identify which areas need improvement and which features are important in the first place. In this way, you will be able to find FaaS solutions that are specific and suitable for the particularities of your specific business.
  2. Research the different solutions very well: Once you have assessed the business needs, it is important to research the different FaaS solutions available on the market. That certainly today, may not be few. What you cannot miss is to identify solutions that are scalable, flexible and that offer you customization tools. Of course, we invite you to read reviews from other users, compare prices, and evaluate the features of each solution.
  3. Plan the implementation: Once your company has chosen a Frontend as a Service solution, it is important to carefully plan what comes next: the implementation. We highlight as very relevant the fact that you can define specific and measurable objectives, create a detailed schedule and assign tasks and responsibilities to the members of your team. Also make sure they have the proper training and skills to implement the FaaS solution effectively.

Do you think you need assistance in this process? Get in touch with us, we'll be delighted to accompany you on your journey.

The potential challenges and risks associated with implementing FaaS in a B2B business

As a good manager you will know that all projects carry important challenges and no less risks. Now that you are reading about Frontend as a service and you have in mind moving your business towards a B2B model, it seems to be a good time to highlight in this article what those challenges and risks may be, that you may encounter along the way.

These might be:

  • Dependency on third parties: Implementing FaaS involves relying on an external provider for frontend development and maintenance. This can be a risk if the provider experiences technical issues, changes in their business model, or unexpected closures. In such cases, the company may lose access to the Frontend as a Service solution and may require significant time and resources to find and migrate to a new solution. Choose your technology partner wisely!
  • Costs: Although FaaS can be a more cost-effective solution than building a custom frontend from scratch, the costs can add up over time. Solutions in the industry often involve recurring costs. This means that companies must budget adequately to be able to cover them in the long term.
  • Customizations limitations: FaaS solutions can provide a wide range of customization options and tools. However, they may also have limitations in terms of flexibility and adaptability. Companies may find that certain features or functionalities are not available in the FaaS solution, which can restrict their ability to customize the user experience according to their specific needs and goals. Make sure to find the customization that best suits your particular business.

Now is your turn!

As we have discussed throughout this post, Frontend as a Service (FaaS) is a promising solution for ecommerce managers looking to optimize the development and maintenance of their frontend. By utilizing a FaaS solution, companies can accelerate time to market, reduce development costs, and enhance the user experience.

However, implementing frontend as a service also presents challenges and risks that need to be carefully considered before adopting this solution. It is important to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of a solution, analyze limitations and risks, and assess the total cost of ownership in the long run to determine if such a solution is the best fit for your business.

By overcoming the challenges and risks associated with implementation and choosing the right solution for your business, you can confidently maximize the benefits of this technological model and improve the competitiveness of your B2B business, taking it to the next level.

Ready to get started with the best market solution for your B2B project? Contact us here today and let's build something powerful together!