Headless commerce is gaining recognition as one of 2019’s top retail technology trends, but there are still a lot of uncertainties and misconceptions around the concept.
A recent survey conducted with 30 technology, marketing, and ecommerce leaders from global retailers and brands provided some interesting insights on how people interpret the concept, what they see as the key benefits, what their current architectural state is, and who is leading the charge on headless in their organization.
The survey respondents were attendees at a recent event on the “future of headless ecommerce” hosted by Commerce Futures, Mobify, commercetools, and Tacit Knowledge.
What does “headless” mean in your organization?
The majority of respondents associated “headless” with a decoupled CMS. A decoupled CMS is a content system that is integrated into a separate front-end via APIs. While a decoupled CMS is part of a headless architecture, it needs to be paired with the right front-end approach to truly get all the benefits of headless.
For example, using a commerce system as the front-end with a decoupled CMS integrated below would eliminate some of the headless benefits. Why? Because layering a monolithic front-end (the commerce system) onto an agile backend (the decoupled CMS) mitigates the agility and flexibility advantages of headless. This architecture would require a heavy redeploy of the entire commerce system for major front-end changes, and prevent you from moving fast enough to keep up with today’s connected consumer. It will also complicate content workflows and limit you to the tools, frameworks, templates or layouts prescribed by the commerce application. A customer-centric approach to headless requires an agile, decoupled front-end layer that eliminates all these constraints.
What are you hoping the benefits of “headless” will be?
The most frequently cited benefits centered around agility and creating a better customer experience. This is the opposite of what we see with tactical projects where immediate revenue or cost savings are usually the driving forces. Going headless is a strategic play to be more competitive so revenue and cost are not the drivers, but they will ultimately follow as a result of more agility and a better customer experience.
What best describes your current state?
Most organizations are still on their journey to headless commerce. Only 14% of respondents stated they already had a full microservices architecture, while 32% still had a monolith, and 39% were early in their path to headless.
So what’s the biggest barrier in the path to headless? While there are various challenges along the way, one of the biggest is building a new dependable front-end layer.
With a monolithic approach, the front-end is coupled to the commerce or content system, which acts as the stable, predictable layer that ensures the site stays up. Moving away from a stack vendor to microservices means you lose that predictable layer because it’s no longer hosting and rendering the front-end experience. This is where a modern front-end platform like Mobify can come in and become your new predictable layer that you can rely on to provide stability on top, and agility underneath.
Where is the “headless” agenda coming from in your business?
Technology teams have been driving the headless agenda for the most part, but we expect the ecommerce and marketing influence to continue to grow as this transformation will become imperative to stay competitive. At a recent Headless Summit in New York, one Forrester analyst stated that it is how you get the agility you need – and there is no other way.
Are you navigating the path to headless? Our experts are always happy to answer questions or provide guidance so feel free to reach out.