The Rise of Headless Commerce
With the maturity of eCommerce comes the push for optimised websites and lightning-fast performance to deliver unique and memorable web experiences for customers. This has most certainly been one of the main drivers for the recent growth of headless commerce – an approach that is opening up new opportunities for retailers and wholesalers in a market fast realising the benefits of a more agile, adaptable online experience.
The headless approach decouples the front-end (what the customer sees) and combines services from across the web to form a highly performant application. All these services exist for a sole function and are independently maintained by different development teams. This allows headless architecture to empower merchants to partner with ‘best of breed’ platforms that specialise in their field for specific functions of their website, including search and merchandising, reviews, loyalty, UGC, marketing automation, customer service, personalisation and much more.
The Benefits of Headless Commerce
The reality is that there is no out-of-the-box solution that can truly offer all of the applications and functions needed to deliver the exact eCommerce experience a merchant might require. One of the key benefits of going headless is the flexibility offered through stepping away from one-size-fits-all solutions from a single vendor, to many independently maintained systems by individual vendors that are all integrated together via APIs.
By having a frontend that is decoupled from the eCommerce platform, the question of compatibility between the merchants’ website and a third party comes down to API documentation and technical grit, rather than looking for extensions or applications that are compatible with native platform frontends. This versatility allows merchants to have more control and flexibility than ever before, enabling teams to innovate and adapt nimbly to today’s quickly changing consumer demands. With the headless approach, merchants and developers are able to use tools that allow them to adapt to rapidly changing consumer wants and behaviours, and are even able to choose their frontend hosting. This means that, if built the right way, a headless front-end can actually swap and change between eCommerce platforms as they are non-platform specific codebases - reducing vendor lock-in.
How to Know if You’re Ready to Go Headless
Transitioning to headless commerce will demand a lot of digital skill and adaptability from your organisation. Processes will change, requirements will change and even your entire technical stack might change. So before doing so, it is important to have a dialogue internally about what requirements you may have in the future. Below are some key questions you need to consider to get you started…
• Is your company considering omni-channel?
• Does your website require complex interactions and experiences?
• Do your content and publishing requirements exceed what traditional ecommerce platforms can cater for?
• Is speed currently affecting your current website?
• Do you have the right technical team or partner to guide you through going headless?
If you need a hand, the Convert Digital team has an extensive discovery process where we work with merchants to determine whether headless is the right solution for them. If you’re currently in the process of re-platforming or weighing up the option of going headless – please reach out to us: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published in the 2022 Power Retail E-Commerce Leaders' Playbook.
Blake Waldron, Technical Lead (Convert Digital)
Blake Waldron is a Technical Lead at Convert Digital, Australia’s first truly agnostic eCommerce web design and development agency. Blake’s career has spanned work within multiple agencies and companies around Australia and internationally, and also as a founder of multiple startups listed in the iOS App Store’s top charts. Connect with Blake via LinkedIn.