Five Drivers of Headless Commerce

We all know the meaning of the term “headless”, but when we talk about commerce and technology many retailers wonder why we need to chop the “head” (the touchpoint) off the “body” (the backend). So let’s look at the consumer’s behavior to understand the logic behind headless commerce.

Consumers today demand full control over when and how they purchase a product. The days of just either going into a store or onto a website via a desktop computer to purchase a pair of shoes are long gone. Digital experience is the cornerstone of today’s e-commerce success. Every point of friction in the buyer’s journey is a distraction for a customer and will cause them to fall off the site. If a customer’s digital experience is not a seamless one, it can quickly become an obstacle between a brand’s products, content, and customer conversion.

So, how do you control distraction and ensure your customer’s journey is frictionless? How do you deliver a seamless digital experience across all your touchpoints? How do you engage your customers by delivering more personalised and customised contents? In a traditional e-commerce platform, the front end and back end are heavily tied together and any modification is complex and time-consuming. But on the positive side, your IT department has full control of your e-commerce site and data being kept away from the end-users.

So, does it make sense to go headless, and what’s so great about it? In this article, I am going to review the five key drivers and explain the importance of each in regards to our new normal online retail marketplace. Before that, let me describe what headless commerce is all about. Headless commerce means decoupling the frontend of your e-commerce experience from the backend. This unchained architecture allows for more platform flexibility, so it’s easier for you to design a system you want. The commerce logic behind your store, delivered through an e-commerce API, serves as a core body to which you can attach as many heads (touchpoint) as you want.

But wait a minute, wasn’t this supposed to be headless? Well, headless commerce architecture is not really headless. A head is the customer’s touchpoint where the transaction and value exchange takes place. The body is the commerce engine and systems within which the business operates and interacts. This frontend head is cleanly separated from this back end body via your APIs. Separating the frontend (which you control) from the backend (the e-commerce engine) allows you to decouple development and solely focus on customer interaction without worrying about the impact on critical backend systems.

Now let’s review the five key drivers.

  • Site customization and personalization

In a traditional e-commerce platform, you are restricted to templates and themes for the frontend. It’s OK to use templates if you do not need to change the website often. However, if you want to have a custom experience that includes your own brand’s look-and-feel, a headless solution makes it much easier to build those creative visions of your designer without finding yourself hitting technical restrictions. Personalization contributes to increased brand engagement through more touchpoints. These innovative customer experiences create new opportunities to convert. This will lead to delighted customers and ultimately to an increase in the bottom line.

  • Flexibility, and development cost saving

Going headless gives you the flexibility to use commercial CMS like WordPress or Drupal without breaking the bank. Unlike some traditional e-commerce platforms that impose a specific programming language, headless commerce allows your developer to build using any language or framework they are familiar with. This cuts down the learning curve to picking up and using a headless solution and empowers your developers to be more confident in their ability to build exactly what you envision for your digital experience.

  • Marketing effectiveness and innovation

The secret recipe for growing e-commerce revenue month-over-month is innovation, new experiences, and rapid experimentation. The e-commerce marketing team needs to be able to design and set up a marketing campaign quickly, and then double down on what is working and get rid of what isn’t.  A headless commerce platform can make this easy for your team. Working within a familiar CMS speeds up productivity while maintaining the security, inventory syncing, and product data maintenance needed for a larger brand organization.

  • Speed to market for international brands

As your backend and frontend are no longer so tightly connected, and you only have to worry about updating the frontend, you’re able to make rapid changes and enter a new geographic market quickly without impacting the e-commerce platform. This means that as soon as your target market changes, you can keep up with demand and replicate new localized touchpoints quickly without having to redeploy your entire e-commerce platform.

  • Conversion rates and lower customer acquisition costs

Customer acquisition costs are rising for many businesses due to an increase in paid advertising. Besides, most legacy brands were built for traditional e-commerce, not content, leaving a gap between the content that drives traffic to an online store and the process that converts a visitor into a customer. Headless commerce is an effective way of reducing these costs because your brand can use content or experience-led strategy to draw in organic traffic instead of relying on paid advertising. Dynamic and smooth customer experiences also help increase conversion rates.

In summary, headless commerce helps you to keep your current CMS set up and easy to scale and is API centric. It also brings flexibility to your team and how they manage the content and touchpoint. So, if you care about flexibility, speed, and control, then headless commerce is probably the right fit for your brand.