The Evolution of eCommerce: Diving Head-first into Headless

If your business has an eCommerce component, you have probably encountered the terms “headless commerce” and “composable commerce.” In fact, it may seem like everyone is talking about it!
While headless technology has many nuances (more on that later,) one thing is for sure: It’s the next step in the evolution of eCommerce to help brands meet fast-shifting market demands and deliver a seamless customer experience (CX) through personalization and automation.

Forrester predicts that headless will become the new default technology choice for complex eCommerce sites. The loose coupling and interoperability enable vendors to innovate faster and deliver more value than a vertically-integrated eCommerce suite.

So what exactly is headless technology, what are the benefits, and how do we set the foundation for a successful implementation? Let’s find out.

First Things First… What Is Headless eCommerce? 

Headless technology is part of a MACH architecture, which stands for microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. MACH architecture is the foundation of composable digital experience platforms (DXPs.) It allows organizations to leverage the latest tools and technologies to respond to changing consumer needs and deliver a modern, omnichannel CX. 

The “head” in headless refers to any customer-facing user interface (UI) or experience. It can be a desktop browser, mobile app, vending machine, kiosk, smartwatch, IoT device, etc. Headless content management systems (CMSs) and eCommerce platforms decouple the frontend user experience (i.e., the head) from the backend business logic. 

Since a headless eCommerce platform doesn’t come with a head, companies can add frontend interactivity with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to create any UI to deliver the desired user experience (UX). 

The front end can be changed independently of the back end to create new experiences for customers. Meanwhile, backend developers can add new features and functionalities without disrupting the front-end UX or causing costly downtime.  

Headless Platforms vs. Monolithic Systems 

Business users experience many frustrations with traditional monolithic systems, such as going through IT whenever they need to implement new content or tactics. IT teams, already stretched thin, have to spend their time tackling last-minute requests instead of developing innovative solutions to support the company’s strategic initiatives. 

The tight coupling of backend functionalities with the frontend experience in monolithic systems makes it challenging to customize the eCommerce platform to meet your user’s needs. If you need to support UX experiences such as kiosks or point of sales systems this can be hard if the monolith system doesn’t natively support them. However, in a MACH composable approach, you are able to select the best-of-breed solutions to meet your need.

The Benefits of Headless eCommerce The Benefits of Headless eCommerce 

What do all these mean when it comes down to dollars and cents? Here are just some reasons why so many brands (including giants like Amazon and Uber) are already on the headless bandwagon:

Implement Best-of-breed Solutions
You can leverage the flexibility of APIs to implement a “best-of-breed” technology strategy to create a tech stack that meets your unique business requirements. You can also switch applications in and out as your requirements and objectives change, so your teams will always have the most effective tools to do their job.

Support New Devices and Channels
You can connect multiple heads to your headless eCommerce platform to deliver a consistent user experience via different devices. Using a shared backend and customer data platform (CDP) allows you to create a seamless omnichannel customer experience, which is key to building trust and driving sales.

Shorten Time to Value
Back-end business logic, functionalities, and performance typically take up to 85% of a software development process. By removing it from the workflow, your team can focus on content and UX to launch new capabilities and experiences much faster and at a lower cost to respond to market changes cost-effectively.

Improve Security and Performance
With one uniform data structure at the backend, you can more easily monitor the system to lower the risk of critical failure. Since the various services are decoupled from each other, a temporary issue with one component is much less likely to impact the performance or security of the entire system — you can fix it in the background without affecting the storefront.

Getting Started with Headless
Headless technology is a game-changer for eCommerce brands — whether you’re selling B2C, B2B, or D2C. Like any technology, you need the right implementation strategy to reap the benefits of headless eCommerce. In part 2 of this series, we’ll look at how you can effectively implement headless technology for long-term success.

Ready to explore headless eCommerce? We help organizations integrate best-in-class customer experience across every channel using the latest marketing automation and personalization technologies. Get in touch to see how we can help.

Architecting the Composable Future: An Easy Guide to Understanding MACH ; Download the Guide:

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