Headless commerce, with its modern approach & technology, is often referred to as the future of e-commerce. Well, the future is here.
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the consumer journey and served as an accelerant for digital commerce. Businesses that weren’t online have had no choice but to invest in a digital store, and those that were already online have had to rethink their digital strategy in order to allow them to meet new needs and scale their online sales channel.
Read on to learn more about Headless commerce: what it is, how it works and everything in between.
Headless commerce made easy
Headless Commerce is an e-commerce architecture where the frontend and backend are separated so they can function independently from one another. They are decoupled. This allows an e-commerce brand to build a custom e-commerce platform that matches its customer and business needs, that can then be updated or evolved without heavy development cycles.
Example of a headless commerce architecture
The red highlights the frontend and the grey represents the backend and associated services.
The Importance of Headless Commerce
Headless commerce encompasses a wide range of topics. So, why exactly is it so valuable and popular? In its most basic form, headless commerce is the separation of an ecommerce application’s frontend and backend. This architecture allows brands to develop whatever they want, whenever they want. Above all, it allows businesses to improve the consumer experience.
The use of APIs, experience managers, as well as the importance of IT partners, are all hallmarks of headless commerce. These resources are an essential component of any company’s innovation strategy, delivering new functionality and experiences that engage customers and keep them ahead of expectations.
With the health-care crisis hastening the pace of change in the corporate world, brands must embrace innovation like never before. Because time-to-market is frequently a factor, every hour of developer time is crucial. Month-long development queues are common for any e-commerce, with eager creative and marketing teams ready to test new designs, text, and templates on the front-end as soon as possible. The headless approach speeds up a retailer’s time to market up to 4 times faster, allowing new demands from creative teams to be taken on board without interrupting the technical roadmap.
If you’re considering switching to headless commerce, these four major advantages are usually worth the effort and can help you grow your organisation.
These are some of the reasons why companies may desire to move away from traditional e-commerce and toward headless commerce. At the same time, businesses looking to improve their user experience should be aware of how becoming headless can help them achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction.
There are many ways in which customers and their brands benefit from headless applications and websites. These include instantaneous changes and optimization; this means, when a company adds new material to its front-end, the changes are nearly immediately reflected. Traditional commerce architecture sites, on the other hand, can take minutes, if not hours, before all users can see a brand’s most recent interface changes.
As well as a richer user experience this means that brands may get more creative with the content they publish on their websites. Experimental design is easier.
Furthermore, headless commerce’s almost universal compatibility ensures that your website operates as intended across all devices and viewing formats. Traditional ecommerce website managers, on the other hand, must care for responsive design to avoid missing elements or an incorrect display on different devices.
Whilst there are many benefits to using headless commerce, there are also disadvantages such as: maintenance hurdles, a complex system, development time for custom features.
Unlike legacy systems, headless platforms are fragmented tech stacks and are therefore not “plug and play”. As with any custom coded system, it requires frequent technical maintenance.
A separate CMS module is necessary for marketing teams to be able to preview and implement new content as there is no built-in WYSIWYG preview and editing functionality. However, being able to choose the best fit CMS is definitely an advantage, and many headless platforms are now proposing a page builder feature.
Applying Headless Commerce
Thanks to the decoupled nature of headless commerce, actions can be executed on the front-end without disturbing or influencing the back-end — and the other way round. This means swifter organizations that are more flexible to make the most of their e-commerce improvements, without a workload or maintenance headache.
Larger companies with larger development and IT teams, as well as a do-it-yourself attitude, are more likely to adopt headless commerce. This makes sense, given that the specific programming necessary to successfully produce and build a distinct front end and back end reliably can take a major investment in terms of development hours.
There are many examples of headless commerce. Koala is an Australian furniture brand positioning themselves as the smartest way to buy furniture.
Launched in 2015, they hit an impressive $13 MILLION in sales within their first 12 months. They had the challenge of being constrained by their own impressive growth. Koala needs a powerful backend infrastructure to support the continuous expansion and scaling up, they also need to be able to deploy tailored experiences and microservices for their customers and have the much-needed flexibility to work on its front-end and back-end simultaneously.
Their solution was to use Shopify Plus’s Headless Commerce. Once Koala was empowered by Shopify Plus, they were able to build a headless progressive web app, or a PWA, which allowed them the flexibility to offer the right experience at the right time to different customer segments across any device. Although decoupled, the progressive web app integrates with the content management system, shopping cart, and other mission-critical systems.