Simply put, headless eCommerce is focused on the concept of flexibility and giving marketing teams options for how they build and launch. Traditional eCommerce platforms expect you to build and deploy within their set structure or methodology. Headless platforms turn that concept around and state “Build what you want and connect it to the platform.”
Headless provides the flexibility that eCommerce providers need to deliver content across any channel their customers prefer. This flexibility will be crucial for future-proofing the eCommerce experience, particularly as sales channels become more data-centric. From Internet-of-things (IoT) devices to progressive web apps to voice data collected from smart devices, modern marketing requires providers to keep a finger on the tech pulse at all times. Headless architecture offers the easiest way to create an eCommerce framework that supports these emerging and evolving channels.
Customer Data Profiles
No matter where they’re shopping, or what device they’re using – your customer is your customer. Multiple touchpoints in a buyer’s journey are a given in today’s eCommerce landscape and a headless approach is an essential component in creating a multichannel strategy.
In the past, creating and managing multiple sales channels meant building and treating them as silos independent from one another. The integration between each channel was spotty or barely functional and the customer data would also become siloed. In fact, the two systems might even conflict with one another. Which system really knows the customer’s email address? Order history? Value?
The architecture of a headless commerce platform solves the challenge of dealing with customer data originating from multiple channels because those channels can be built off a single platform. By its nature, a headless commerce platform expects to be the source of truth AND be able to integrate several sales channels together. As soon as that happens, the opportunity to enhance your marketing efforts and really delve into the latest marketing technologies (see buzzwords like personalization, etc.) becomes possible.
Have you ever encountered a bug in your infrastructure that forced you to update the front and backend codes together? This likely produced plenty of downtime (and expense) you weren’t anticipating. This tight integration is a drawback of traditional eCommerce that’s solved through the headless approach. Through headless, you gain the ability to iterate and upgrade faster when the systems are not reliant on one another for the customer experience and product displays.
- eCommerce platform upgrades won’t bring down the website or require front-end code updates.
- Quickly add additional resources to manage capacity during traffic spikes or increased site activity.
- More flexibility for A/B testing and site optimization.
Integrating new add-ons is a complicated task for traditional eCommerce. At least, it’s complicated relative to headless. With a decoupled backend, it’s simple to integrate external services and applications that make your marketing more agile. Remember, that as a general rule, the headless eCommerce platform expects to be integrated.
As a company grows and builds out new products, marketing initiatives, and services, they’ll need to design their accompanying web assets—landing pages, microsites, and so on. With a tightly coupled architecture, this often means downtime and investing significant resources across each initiative. With a headless eCommerce platform deployment, you could even run those sites on different content management platforms – the option is up to the marketing team.
Headless commerce engines offer a flexible framework to deploy these new initiatives (and to do it quickly)—a key point of differentiation when your competitors deploy similar campaigns.
Across all of your current platforms, systems, and integrations, how much money are you investing in hosting fees? Licensing costs? Maintenance fees? If you’re running a patchwork system of add-ons, we’re willing to bet you have some redundancies and ongoing expenditures eating away at your profitability. Headless reduces costs by streamlining this messy architecture. Intermediary layers connecting your front and backend systems are eliminated along with any other unnecessary applications, creating an eCommerce platform that’s faster, leaner, and more efficient.
To complete the cost picture, keep an inventory of time investment necessary to manage those disparate systems. You’re either employing that staff or outsourcing the management – either way, it’s a time sink and a major distraction to your team. What’s the cost of that distraction?
It’s no secret that patchwork systems of add-ons and integrations are prone to error. From bugs to failed updates to vulnerability loopholes, there’s a lot that can go wrong in an eCommerce enterprise. But by pruning unnecessary integrations and freeing the frontend from the back, headless minimizes these risks with cleaner, more efficient architecture that supports visibility. Companies can overhaul their existing assets and ensure that operations aren’t affected by technical issues.
A common challenge for eCommerce providers is inconsistent growth There are peaks and valleys in traffic, order volume and seasonality to consider. How do you handle the volume that you might get? What happens when you exceed expectations? That’s a good thing, right? Well, maybe the infrastructure can handle it and, if not, can you quickly scale up?
The company outgrows the eCommerce platform, forcing the provider to make compromises in their customer experience. “We would love to do X, but our platform is holding us back” or “Our CMS is great, but the eCommerce plugin is so limiting.”
Headless architecture subverts both of these scenarios by offering a seamless path toward growth and eliminates the need for the marketing team to compromise and accept subpar solutions.
More Focus On What Matters
We love discussing eCommerce platforms, but for most companies, platform management isn’t at the top of the to-do list. IT considerations like how a new add-on will influence the system or how the experience is limited by a tightly-integrated backend shouldn’t be on your mind. Ideally, you’d have an eCommerce platform that can incorporate any business requirements you throw at it without sacrificing the benefits you already have. At the end of the day, headless is the only approach that truly lets your company focus on what matters most: growing your business.
Image: © zenzen – stock.adobe.com
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A closer look from the Ultra perspective on what we really mean when we talk about headless commerce and why it may not be right for every company.