MACH, which stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless, is a modern approach to building enterprise software. In this article, we’ll break down how each of these principles benefits system integrations:


Imagine a system as a series of building blocks, each handling a smaller, specific task. For Returns Management at Optoro, we break out tasks like generating return labels, processing returned units, or updating catalog information. These independent “microservices” communicate with each other seamlessly through APIs, offering several advantages:

  • Flexibility: You can easily add, remove, or modify individual microservices without affecting the entire system. Need a new feature like automated in-store dispositioning? Simply integrate a new microservice.
  • Scalability: Individual microservices can be scaled up or down based on demand, ensuring optimal performance during peak return seasons.
  • Resilience: If one microservice encounters an issue, it doesn’t bring down the entire system. Other functionalities remain unaffected, ensuring business continuity.


APIs act as the glue that connects everything together. With a robust API layer, you can seamlessly exchange data between your ERP, order management system (OMS), ecommerce platform, loyalty programs, and accounting software. This enables:

  • Real-time data synchronization: Inventory levels, customer information, and return data are automatically updated across all systems, eliminating manual data entry and discrepancies.
  • Enhanced customer experience: Customers can easily initiate returns, track their progress, and receive timely updates through the ecommerce platform, thanks to the smooth flow of information between systems.
  • Simplified integrations: Connecting new systems becomes easier as you primarily deal with standardized APIs, reducing reliance on custom integration projects.


Another tenant of the MACH mentality and architecture encourages building systems specifically for the cloud, and even more specifically, cloud-native. This means repurposing or reworking technology that was built on-premise doesn’t always give you the same benefits of being designed for the cloud. Cloud-native returns software provides:

  • Accessibility: Access your returns management system and data from anywhere, anytime, with internet connectivity.
  • Cost-efficiency: Leverage the scalability of the cloud to pay only for the resources you use, eliminating the need for expensive on-premise infrastructure.
  • Automatic updates: Benefit from continuous updates and improvements without the hassle of manual software installations.


While a seemingly grotesque phrase without context, there are many technological benefits of  separating the front-end presentation layer from the back-end logic, especially with returns software. For example, if a retailer already has a trusted returns portal, they can easily connect with back-end processing software. Or if they have a portal, via headless architecture they can still take advantage of robust returns method options like doorstep pickup. A headless architecture provides:

  • Omnichannel consistency: Deliver a consistent returns experience across all customer touchpoints, whether it’s your website, mobile app, or in-store kiosk.
  • Customization freedom: Design your user interfaces without limitations, tailoring them to your specific brand and workflow requirements.
  • Future-proof technology: Easily adapt to new technologies and customer expectations as the front-end and back-end evolve independently.

When it comes to building a modern technology stack, architecture is critical to providing the flexibility and extensibility retailers and 3PLs need to keep up with the speed of their customers’ expectations. At Optoro, MACH architecture empowers us to build a flexible, scalable, and efficient returns management platform that integrates easily with a retailer’s ecosystem. By embracing microservices, APIs, cloud-native technologies, and a headless approach within your organization, you can untangle the complexities of integration and provide a seamless returns experience for both your customers and your team.

Todd McAnally

Chief Technology Officer

Todd is a seasoned technology leader with over 25 years of experience in software engineering, product development, and platform operations. Currently, Todd leads a team at Optoro responsible for developing, maintaining, securing, and operating both IT and SaaS products. His diverse background spans various companies, including Lenovo, National Geographic, K12, and Compuware, and extends to start-up ventures.