Headless commerce is not a new concept, in fact, it’s been a growing movement over the past five years. At this point, most retailers and brands know they need to move towards a headless approach, but the question is “when?”
You can start to take advantage of new functionality and a diversified digital business by leveraging your APIs now with a decoupled front-end. Layering an API-driven front-end on your existing stack provides a faster path to a headless commerce approach and the 3 benefits listed below.
1. Boost performance by untangling the web of dependencies built into your ecommerce platform.
Studies show that millenials’ attention spans are shrinking, which means your millennial shopper is becoming more selective and it’s harder to grab their attention. Google recognized the importance of speed and its impact on shopper behavior, so they implemented a “Speed Update” that penalizes slow websites. This increased emphasis on performance means a fast, engaging experience is the new baseline to compete with all the noise.
In order to deliver on these shopper expectations, your ecommerce site needs to balance all the functionality and third party tools that deliver speed and features to impress your customers. By streamlining your architecture with headless approach, you’re able to untangle the web of third party tools and dependencies built into your ecommerce platform that intrinsically slow down your site, and connect each one to a decoupled front-end to boost performance.
2. Quickly extend your brand experience to new customer touchpoints via APIs.
Online shopping is beginning to rely less on the traditional ecommerce storefront as customers expect brands to be available wherever they choose to shop – whether it’s marketplaces, social media, chat, voice, or Internet of Things. A headless approach gives you the flexibility to extend your experience out to your customers rather than limiting them to specific channels.
To launch a new touchpoint on a third party marketplace with a traditional architecture, you need to build a custom export or feed to distribute data from your ecommerce platform to the new touchpoint. But with a headless architecture, data and ecommerce functionality can be easily injected into new channels via APIs.
Whether it’s wearables, connected cars, or a marketplace listing, you can build a strong brand experience on any touchpoint because you won’t be limited to the basics like skus and pricing information. You can access any backend functionality or information via APIs and pull on reviews, custom content from your CMS, and coupon codes – just to name a few.
3. Unlock agility to enable frequent, fast changes and a culture of continuous innovation.
Monoliths are so tightly coupled that launching a new locale, site, or even making an off release site change can be difficult to do in a timely fashion. By decoupling your front-end from your ecommerce backend, you unlock front-end agility that gives you the ability to deploy changes frequently, and continuously improve your customer experience.
Changes can be both big and small. For example, it could be something routine like quickly updating site content during a flash sale when inventory sells out quickly. With enterprise CDNs, product cards are cached on a PLP and inventory doesn’t update in real-time. This forces ecommerce teams to balance caching and site performance with accurate inventory counts. A decoupled front-end ensures you don’t have to make a trade-off between performance and accuracy. In terms of the larger scale projects, a headless approach can make something like launching a new site geography as easy as linking your backend APIs to a localized front-end.
The Future is Headless
The future of ecommerce is less about a traditional web storefront, and more about reaching the customer wherever they choose to shop. These shifts in shopper behavior have already started, and a headless approach will give businesses the agility needed to keep up with the changing landscape, as well as the ability to build strong brand experiences across any touchpoint.