More than a year into the pandemic, it’s no longer a question of “if” – it’s a question of “when.” With two thirds of agencies developing headless websites for clients, your competitors are bound to join the party.
Headless commerce – a site architecture that separates the customer-facing front end of an ecommerce site, from the backend business logic and commerce functionality for greater business flexibility and deeper customer experiences – has trended for a while, but the pandemic has scaled its adoption, alongside the massive growth in online shopping.
Today, let’s dig into what headless commerce architecture means and how going headless can give you a competitive advantage.
Enjoy simultaneous scalability and stability
Here’s how headless commerce sets a strong foundation for long term thriving.
1) Headless commerce makes it easy to add features and scale
Your ecommerce storefront and the services that power it are never at rest. In fact, your team should expect to be continually editing, tweaking, and modifying your storefronts and the backend services that support it.
What that means, of course, is that you need to continually integrate new services into your existing platform. With APIs, you can quickly connect a wide range of partners to your headless commerce architecture instead of building more front ends from scratch, making feature expansion easier.
By going headless, you enhance your technology and reduce the number of platform upgrades, while innovating faster and more efficiently.
And it gets better.
2) Ensuring stability
When you go headless, you reduce development costs, because you use better technology. Your development energy is more focused, you build instead of hack, and there are fewer workarounds to deal with.
That, in turn, increases ROI, which leaves more budget in your corporate pocket for additional strategic growth – and/or, you know, pivoting during global pandemics.
Which makes your company more stable. After all, the only constant in this industry is change.
Gain the flexibility to make the best choice at the best time
Headless commerce makes your infrastructure more adaptable to change. For example:
3) You’re no longer locked into a single platform
Let’s say you integrate with an on-site search company. It’s nice to have it on your site when someone needs advanced search capabilities. But what happens when the software becomes outdated or irrelevant to your audience?
When you leverage headless commerce, you tap into a wealth of APIs that you easily plug in and out. Therefore, you’re not tying your company’s destiny to one piece of software that could become outdated.
4) Swapping out your ecommerce stack becomes easy
Just like Elsa in “Frozen,” sometimes you need to let something go.
- If certain pieces of your ecommerce stack no longer serve you
- If a more efficient technology gets developed
- If there are better ways to serve your customers
You can easily swap them out and strengthen your backend engine.
Moreover, you can be specific in what you swap out instead of changing entire systems, since the front and backend are detached from one another.
For example: Let’s say you sell manufacturing equipment. Customers love the white paper and case study sections on your site but must call to place an order. To make it easier, you add an ecommerce element. Let them buy machine parts, employee training or extra maintenance services online. Instead of transitioning your entire website to an ecommerce platform, you just swap up the backend and keep your content as is.
It’s a better experience for you, your to-do list, and your customers.
Provide a better customer experience
From Harvard Business School and Bain & Company in 1990 to Temkin Group in 2016 and beyond, study after study proves customer experience is the number one differentiator for increased retention and advocacy.
Headless commerce removes obstacles, simplifying the ways to increase customer satisfaction.
5) Serving customers’ rapidly changing demands
Ever organize your desk and suddenly feel like anything is possible? The same can be said for customer. Sometimes a change in one area that matters makes a bigger impact than redesigning their entire experience.
But that area can change fast:
- A new industry trend begins
- Something that worked for your specific customers stops working
- New customer behaviours emerge from your sales data
Is it a temporary shift? A technical glitch? Or does it indicate a deeper shift in customer needs?
With headless commerce, you can:
- Change one part of one channel (or launch a new channel for testing)
- Test it on its own
- Get real answers on how to move forward
Then, you can make changes quickly, while keeping all channels running smoothly.
6) Designing a holistic omnichannel experience
“Six in 10 internet users start shopping on one device, but continue or finish on a different one,” reports Think with Google. They have computers, mobile devices, voice devices and IoT. Even when they stick to one device, they hop between channels – your website, your app, social media, third party sites, you name it.
But often, their experience is different on each touchpoint.
- They see different prices and discounts
- Have different search, filtering and support capabilities
- Feel different levels of payment ease
Headless commerce makes it simpler for you to connect your backend data and predictive engines to a wide range of touchpoints with APIs, whether or not your ecommerce platform or content system supports them.
You have freedom to tailor your tech stack in whatever way supports your customers best. You can have a single product catalog and sell a different combination of these products on different channels, to different customers, at different times.
7) Creating unique, differentiated experiences
According to a study by Google and BCG, “when the shopping experience was highly personalized, customers… were 110% more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40% more likely to spend more than they had planned,” reports BCG.
As explained above, headless commerce lets you unify your backend data across touchpoints. You won’t need to configure each touchpoint from scratch, because it will all be connected, headless, and ready to be plugged in.
No matter where customers are shopping, a single customer database with all its history and configuration can be connected to any of your storefronts. Therefore, it will be able to suggest the best experiences for them – whether it’s recommending the best type of product or serving them in their native language.
Deliver freedom and ease of use for both marketers and developers
The best headless commerce architectures deliver features and services that make life better (and easier) for both business and technical teams. Let’s explore how it helps key employee segments in your ecommerce operations.
8) For marketers
With headless commerce, marketers have the freedom to execute their strategy in the way that supports the business.
No longer needing to rely on developers for each change they want to make, they can get exactly the design they want, have more options to create promotions and do merchandising. With the right headless commerce platform, they can deliver new storefronts and multichannel experiences faster, then easily connect to the ecommerce data for analysis.
They can move faster, filling up that pipeline, running tests, and generating increasing revenue.
9) For developers
Developers gain freedom too. They gain easy access to what they need for customizations and enhancements. That means they can focus on building amazing front ends that provide value for end users, and they can do it efficiently - with fewer workarounds and hacks along the way.
When they go headless, developers can focus on the part that matters for their current strategy instead of revamping the entire code each time. In fact, in many cases, developer teams can replace the commerce platform without completely redesigning the front end. If the team likes the design - keep it!
10) The backend does the heavy lifting
With a complete, modern headless commerce solution like Slatwall Commerce, the backend does the heavy lifting, so both teams are set up for success. You see, with headless commerce, your tech stack serves you, not the other way around.
This article is brought to you in collaboration with Slatwall Commerce, a modern ecommerce platform that combines enterprise features with headless commerce flexibility, securely in the cloud. A complete ecommerce platform with open-source roots, Slatwall Commerce is available as a SaaS solution providing a full suite of tools and functionality for business and marketing teams while being developer-friendly.
Brad Gustavesen is CMO and partner of Slatwall Commerce, located in Worcester, Massachusetts. Brad is responsible for building awareness of the Slatwall Commerce platform as well as working directly with agency partners, technology partners, and other services in the ecommerce ecosystem. Brad’s experience as an ecommerce manager and developer gives him a unique perspective on building and creating successful ecommerce operations.