With continuously shifting customer expectations and market needs, organizations must create unique, multichannel experiences—and do so quickly.
Headless commerce is a very appealing alternative for companies that want to spread their brand and meet customers across different channels and touchpoints.
In its most basic form, headless commerce separates the front-end and back-end experiences, allowing businesses to simply update (and experiment with) the customer-facing components of their store.
In this section, we'll look at how headless commerce may help organizations, the distinctions between headless and traditional ecommerce, and how businesses can use a headless commerce approach to build performant storefronts that provide a genuinely omnichannel experience.
Table of contents
Headless commerce is an ecommerce architecture that separates the front-end presentation layer (storefront templates or themes) from the back-end infrastructure (database with pricing, inventory management, and so on) that enables a store's commerce operations.
Headless commerce enables teams to make changes to the front-end without affecting the back-end. Brands have more freedom to provide rich content experiences across touchpoints and channels because it allows teams to design what they want, using whatever framework and tools they want, all supported by a single platform.
The way the front-end and back-end of an online business are connected differs between headless commerce and conventional ecommerce platforms.
The all-in-one monolithic architecture, which provides customers with end-to-end business capabilities in a self-embedded system, is the most prevalent example of a legacy ecommerce platform. That is, the front-end and back-end are so tightly interwoven that changing one necessitates changing the other.
While these all-in-one platforms are ideal for organizations with simple technological requirements and a preference for convenience and ease of use, they can put creative limits on complicated brands, multi-brand businesses, and any business that has to offer content-rich experiences.
Decoupling the front-end and back-end allows brands to focus on the consumer engagement without affecting the data or logic that supports it. This allows for increased design and functionality freedom, as well as more options for integrations that can deliver unique consumer experiences.
The front-end connects with the back-end using application programming interfaces (APIs) in a headless commerce architecture.
Retailers can provide a dynamic consumer experience with headless commerce since front-end changes such as product catalogs, prices, discounts, photos, and other templates are updated and synced in real-time across all web platforms, assuring a uniform user experience across the board.
One of the primary advantages of headless commerce is that it is technology neutral, which means you can develop your front-end website with whichever tools or languages you want while leveraging a commerce platform for your underlying infrastructure and back-office operations.
It's worth noting that the lack of a head isn't the point. The true benefits of a headless commerce architecture are that it allows for omnichannel execution without being restrictive on specific technologies or tied-in legacy.
There are six major advantages to headless commerce:
Adopting a headless commerce architecture enables organizations to create new inventive and digital channels to improve the customer experience. The headless design enables a more exploratory shopping experience by allowing consumers to purchase things via interactive shopping channels developed by AR/VR and social media, engaging user experiences without affecting the back-end technologies.
Headless commerce enables brands to create additional consumer touchpoints that are supported by the API layer, ensuring data consistency and functionality. Brands, for example, can turn their Instagram accounts into mobile stores by including the Shop Now option in their posts.
Retailers can create and execute ecommerce websites that provide personalized content to customers in multiple geo locations based on the user's previous purchases, the targeted ad campaign, and other factors using centralized customer information.
Because developers can design the front-end of an ecommerce site using any programming language or technology stack they wish, headless commerce offers for greater flexibility.
Separation of issues, in particular, is a significant benefit. When the front-end and back-end of an online store are separated, the development process becomes more modular. This means that front-end and back-end teams can work independently without interfering with each other's work.
By separating the front-end and back-end, development teams may work on both independently and concurrently. This results in shorter development periods for new features and updates, a more efficient workflow, and a quicker time to market.
Furthermore, teams can reuse data for any number of channels (mobile applications, smart watches, voice apps, and so on), effectively "future-proofing" their content: developers simply need to create a new front-end interface for each new interface, allowing numerous websites to be maintained using a single back-end. This is perfect for firms with multiple brands.
Enterprise merchants have several heads, each with their own set of delivery criteria. They require a flexible and extensible data model that spans channels, a robust API that allows them to retrieve and manipulate it, and a cohesive ecosystem of apps and integrations that allows them to move rapidly and with a high degree of flexibility. Headless commerce makes this possible.
Businesses may quickly interface with critical third-party technologies like as chatbots, voice assistants, and artificial intelligence, resulting in a more personalized consumer experience and better alignment with the brand's identity.
Changes to the front-end can be changed without compromising the back-end commerce functions, allowing for more scalable solutions. As a result, organizations can scale their ecommerce site as needed without interrupting their core commerce processes.
In terms of performance, headless commerce can significantly improve page load times, which is critical for firms with content-rich shops.
A headless commerce solution has several advantages over legacy commerce platforms, including the ability to use flexible front-end and back-end technologies, scalability to handle unexpected traffic spikes or increases in sales, better performance with faster page load times, and the ability to create a fully customized and personalized experience for customers, as well as easy integration with other technologies.
A headless commerce platform can provide individualized user experiences, a unified experience across different channels, simple interaction with other technologies, faster page load times, and a mobile-friendly experience for customers, all of which can lead to improved engagement and loyalty.