Understanding 4 Database Types, for Ecommerce

Understanding 4 Database Types, for Ecommerce

September 5, 2016 3:01 pm

As I wrote in “How Databases Work with Ecommerce Applications,” you’re possible utilizing a database on your ecommerce retailer even in case you don’t realize it.

Ecommerce websites sometimes use databases for:

  • Transaction monitoring;
  • Product catalogs;
  • Non-product content material, reminiscent of weblog posts and “about us” pages.

In this publish, I’ll handle 4 widespread database varieties.

B. Relational Databases

A relational database is just like a set of spreadsheets. Each spreadsheet has columns and rows of knowledge.

Databases are just like spreadsheets, besides the rows and columns are referred to as tables. But, in contrast to spreadsheets, in a relational database the info can, nicely, relate to different knowledge.

For instance, a relational database for an ecommerce retailer can have a desk of consumers and, individually, a desk of orders. In the orders desk, there’s a relationship to clients, so that every order pertains to a single buyer. This relationship is expressed within the type of a easy knowledge factor that factors to the precise buyer row.

In a relational database, you only have to update information in one place instead of multiple locations.

In a relational database, you solely need to replace info in a single place as an alternative of a number of places.

The advantage of that is that when the client knowledge modifications, you solely need to replace one piece of knowledge. For instance, if a buyer obtains a brand new e-mail handle, you solely need to replace the one row within the buyer desk and never all the rows within the orders desk. All orders for that buyer routinely relate to the brand new e-mail handle.

Relational databases work nicely for transactions and non-product content material. They additionally work for many elements of product catalogs, which could be troublesome to design when there are numerous mixtures, comparable to a number of colours and sizes. (Given the recognition of relational databases, nevertheless, they’re not troublesome to make use of, as there are many product-catalog options.)

Common relational databases embrace PostgreSQL, MySQL, and Oracle.

P. Document and Key/Value Databases

Each unique item in a document database is assigned a "key" that is used as an identifier.

Each distinctive merchandise in a doc database is assigned a “key” that’s used as an identifier.

A second sort of database is a doc or key/worth. Document and key/worth databases are technically totally different, however for functions of this text, I’ll group them collectively and name them, merely, “doc databases.”

Document databases are simple. Picture a listing in your pc filled with several types of information. Each file has a singular identify and accommodates distinctive knowledge.

Document databases work on this mannequin. Each piece of knowledge is given a reputation, referred to as a “key.” That secret is used to seek out and retrieve that knowledge. You can outline several types of knowledge, a lot in the identical means your pc has several types of information. A ecommerce retailer, for instance, has order, buyer, and web page varieties.

With doc databases, you possibly can design what kinds of knowledge to incorporate. This makes doc databases versatile and highly effective

This flexibility could be troublesome to handle, although. If it is advisable to change how the info is saved, you would find yourself having to replace each piece of knowledge within the database. Thus, doc databases often require lengthy-time period considering when deciding the best way to construction and retailer the info.

Document databases work nicely for product catalogs and non-product content material, akin to weblog posts and “about us” pages. Ecommerce transactions will not be ideally fitted to doc databases, nevertheless. Relational databases work a lot better for transactional knowledge.

MongoDB, CouchDB, and Redis are examples of doc databases which are utilized by shops.

O. Cloud Databases

Cloud databases are newer. They aren’t a real database sort, however extra of internet hosting course of.

Cloud databases are hosted by a 3rd celebration, sometimes at a really giant scale. This can profit an ecommerce storeowner, as she won’t have to fret about internet hosting or rising the database as the shop grows.

But cloud databases have dangers. For one, a storeowner should be sure that the third social gathering is reliable since it’s holding your organization and buyer knowledge. A storeowner also needs to be sure that the host is a viable enterprise and will probably be round so long as the shop is.

An fascinating factor about cloud databases is that they will combine and match a number of database varieties — pure relational databases, pure doc databases, and options from each to create one thing distinctive. Cloud databases can subsequently work for every type of ecommerce knowledge.

Amazon Web Services, for instance, gives cloud databases. It has a Relational Database Service and, additionally, DynamoDB, a doc database.

A. API Databases

Another sort of database is an software programming interface — API. This is the place your ecommerce site connects to a 3rd-social gathering firm by way of its API to retailer and retrieve knowledge.

Like cloud databases, API databases usually are not actually a separate sort. But relying on the API, they will exchange the necessity for a database completely.

API databases are widespread on SaaS platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, the place retailers can hook up with the API to customise how their retailer features.

A easy instance is utilizing an API to find out which merchandise are greatest sellers after which saving that to a greatest sellers’ web page in your retailer.

The largest limitation of an API database is the API provider. You can solely use and work on knowledge that the provider exposes in its API. If it doesn’t expose order knowledge, you possibly can’t do something with orders.

Database Types Are Not Clearly Defined

In apply, there aren’t clear strains across the totally different database varieties. Sometimes the options of 1 sort are borrowed by one other.

For instance, PostgreSQL is a well-liked relational database system however it additionally works like a doc database. And there are internet hosting suppliers, akin to Amazon Web Services and Heroku, that mix cloud variations of PostgreSQL with further options like automated scaling and net interfaces.

Using Multiple Databases

An ecommerce retailer can concurrently use a number of databases, every for various functions.

For instance, a Shopify service provider may need the next.

  • Shopify’s relational database for the storefront (which retailers can’t entry instantly).
  • A customized app utilizing Shopify’s API that shops knowledge in its personal relational database from Amazon Web Services.
  • A doc database that syncs order knowledge nightly for historic reporting.
  • An API database with the service provider’s cost gateway that holds buyer cost particulars and subscriptions.

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