2020 Follow Up: Will Node.js-Based eCommerce Applications Become Magento-Killers?

October 1, 2020 by Paul Byrne

eCommerce Technology Ecommerce Security Business Environment

Four and a half years ago, I responded to a question from Quorum on our blog about Node.js ecommerce applications becoming Magento killers. As predicted, they did not, however they definitely have a place in the greater ecommerce world.


Is Magento Waning in Importance?

This is really a question of how you look at it. Since my initial response, Magento 2 launched, which despite a couple of tough years due to bugs and initial design flaws, is getting better. Magento Commerce (formerly Enterprise Edition) and Magento Open Source (formerly Community Edition) have launched new features like components for headless implementations (PWA Studio, GraphQL) and Multi-Location Inventory (developed by the community).

Additionally, Magento has pushed merchants to their cloud hosting platform, ensuring better stability for many merchants, and created lower pricing tiers of Magento Commerce Cloud to appeal to lower mid-tier merchants.

Adobe has since acquired Magento. [read our article]

This led to what appears to be a shift in strategy - more attention to the enterprise segment of the market and less to the middle and lower tiers.

Filling The Void

While Reaction Commerce claims to be the fastest growing ecommerce platform ever (and is js-based) many other candidates seem to have fallen by the wayside.

programmer typing

Interestingly, platforms like Magento, BigCommerce, and Shopify have really beefed up their APIs at the same time, allowing javascript and front-end developers to leverage them for store administration. BigCommerce, for example, has pursued a GraphQL-centric strategy for a while and is committed to all commerce being headless in the future.

So, in short, the opportunity at which most of the Node.js platform candidates were pointed to was filled with SaaS offerings, thus decreasing the opportunity space for them.

Node’s Role in eCommerce

Saas platforms still have gaps in flexibility and feature sets that require middleware. Many agencies are using Node.js either on a host or via hosted functions (Google’s Firebase or Amazon’s Lambdas) to fill in the gaps.

Nodejs has distinct advantages for middleware developers:

  • Node is the go-to language for millions of developers because many of them start with javascript (Node is essentially javascript for the server).
  • More and more professional developers are starting off in boot camps and it is often the only server-side language taught.
  • The Express framework is well-maintained, lightweight and easy to learn.
  • Node Package Manager (NPM) has thousands and thousands of libraries available and is included with Node.
  • Node is extremely well-suited for efficiently managing datastreams. In fact, one might argue this was the original idea behind the language. In any case, much middleware engages in stream management.
  • Google Cloud, Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure all support hosting functions with Node/Express.

For these reasons, while other languages will continue to be important (like Go, Elixir and PHP), I believe the role of Node in middleware will continue to increase over the next few years.

Subscribe to our newsletter for regular community updates, case studies, and more.