Headless Commerce Guide

Is Headless Commerce the Right Fit For My Business?

Headless commerce is flexible by nature, but some companies are more suited for it than others. In this chapter, we review a few characteristics that may determine whether or not a headless option is right for your business.

When Headless Is the Perfect Fit

There are three primary features driving the value of headless eCommerce. If your business is experiencing challenges in any of these areas, a headless integration might be your answer.

Flexibility and Adaptability

As we’ve discussed, the primary advantage of headless commerce is its flexibility. Decoupling the presentation layer from the inner cogs and gears opens up your eCommerce experience in some interesting new ways.

Typically, we’ve seen eCommerce companies look for more flexibility when they need to add new website functionality, are overdue for a design rework, or have new product lines to launch. It’s no secret that businesses change quickly and customers have more options than ever when it comes to buying online, so providers need to ensure that their eCommerce experience is aligned to their market’s needs.

Another common use case is companies that don’t yet have an eCommerce presence but want to branch into the field. It’s becoming common for companies to start off as “thought leaders,”  focusing more on content generation than sales, and then pivoting to eCommerce later. Headless commerce offers the perfect way for these companies to roll out an enterprise eCommerce system and iterate based on the reactions they receive.

Scalability How does headless commerce handle scaling and business growth?

Naturally, a completely customizable approach to eCommerce is far easier to scale than one bound by strict coding requirements. If your company has grown faster than your current platform’s capabilities can manage, a headless integration might be in your future.

We like to think of headless as the natural extension of traditional eCommerce. When you rely on a single business system (CMS or eCommerce alone) to provide all of the eCommerce and web operations you need, it’s inevitable that one of these systems will stale and fall behind. These are logistic problems that you shouldn’t have to deal with–and through headless commerce, you won’t have to.

Headless takes the best aspects of a full-stack solution and reorients them to make the system faster, easier to use, and more flexible. We fully expect that most companies will transition to headless over the next few years, and the companies that get started early by building the platform into their growth strategy will have an edge over those stuck with legacy platforms.

Complete UX Customization

Somewhat related to our first two benefits, a headless integration is a perfect way to take control over your eCommerce UX.

If you’re using an older legacy platform, we’re willing to bet that you’ve been compromising on features that you’d like to have—specific layouts for product catalogs, navigational elements, new types of content presentation, etc. Unfortunately, the most common trap with eCommerce platforms is that they have all the best UX tools and templating at launch, but the offering can’t keep pace with change.

What works today becomes second-rate tomorrow, and after enough time, your platform is lagging far behind competitors’ who have entered the market more recently. Headless solutions offer a workaround for these issues and let you customize your eCommerce platform with whatever features you want. For UX design and optimizations, there’s nothing better.

When Headless Is a Poor Fit

Of course, headless isn’t the perfect solution for every business. Keep these considerations in mind as you review your options.

Integration Costs

A headless migration isn’t as extensive as full re-platforming, but it’s a significant project all the same. Take into account the costs of the integration as well as any downtime, and keep in mind that the right eCommerce partner will help you minimize these costs.

Transition Timing

Be mindful of when you choose to start your headless implementation. Some companies are more reliant on specific revenue streams than others, and a poorly-timed eCommerce integration can wreak havoc on your financial metrics during key reporting periods. Work with your eCommerce partner to understand timelines and come up with a strategy for your scheduling.

CMS Challenges

A headless eCommerce integration is possible when there is a newer CMS platform in use. For businesses that haven’t migrated to a newer CMS platform, there may be fewer implementation options and as a result, the CMS platform limitations end up holding back the eCommerce platform from accomplishing everything it could do.

Secondly, some businesses feel forced to rely on a CMS platform when they have limited content needs and may be able to leverage the limited CMS capability that exists in their eCommerce platform. For businesses with very limited content requirements, a headless implementation might not be necessary.