The road to a headless commerce architecture is often driven by a need for flexibility and scale as organizations are looking to reach customers at an increasing number of touchpoints. Business and development teams are finding that a tightly coupled approach isn’t compatible with the necessity to be agile, and IT leaders are seeking ways to future-proof their technology investments so they’re not stuck in an endless loop of replatforming.
When organizations decide that a headless environment is the key to gaining this long-term flexibility, an equally important decision still remains: “Who’s implementing and maintaining the storefront in a headless environment?” a.k.a. “Where’s my website?”
Enter the age-old debate of build vs. buy. A big portion of the decision will be influenced by collective team expertise and how your organization plans to allocate resources in the long run. Either way, there are key roles any organization going headless will need to fill to successfully build, run, and evolve a headless commerce storefront.
6 key roles to build and maintain a storefront for headless
Titles and skillset will vary organization to organization, but generally, the roles required to successfully deploy and operate a storefront for headless commerce will need to cover the following:
This role brings your headless implementation plan to life by crafting the blueprint of how the business challenge will be addressed — in this case, how your many applications will fit together with your storefront in a headless commerce environment. They evaluate technical requirements and translate them into solutions that can be used to address those needs.
The software developer’s role is to deliver the functional product requirements laid out by the solutions architect. There will likely be a mix of front-end, back-end, and full stack developers to execute on the requirements of building the headless presentation layer. Front-end developers build the user interface, while back-end developers deliver the API client leveraged from the UI. We’ve seen organizations have anywhere from two to ten developers maintaining a storefront for headless commerce.
As the architect designs your storefront and the software developers construct it, you’ll want to ensure that all that hard work is protected from malicious attacks — after all, millions of dollars will be running through your website. The security engineer protects the network and applications from any security breaches. They develop security protocols, investigate security-related incidents, and oversee security-related tests such as penetration testing and vulnerability scans.
Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)
The site reliability engineer maintains health and performance of your application stack. They build systems to maintain application reliability and performance. Capacity planning, emergency response, and network latency are some of the responsibilities of an SRE. When you walk out of Black Friday glitch free, your SRE takes pride in another big win.
Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
The QA engineer validates the quality of the application stack, ensuring functionality, performance, and resilience. They design and execute test suites to check against any functional regressions that have been introduced with the new code.
The DevOps engineer bridges the gap between development and operations. They assist with quicker and more reliable code deployments, which usually involves automation and CI/CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery) skills.
Build vs. buy: Who does what?
Now that we’ve explored the essential roles for building and maintaining a storefront for headless commerce, organizations need to evaluate what makes sense to take on in-house and what is better outsourced to specialized vendors. Here’s how the essential roles will be split in each scenario: building a headless front-end from scratch in-house vs. using the Mobify storefront.
|In-house Front-End||The Mobify Storefront|
|Solutions Architect||Resourced In-House|
You will need a subject matter expert who will design the technical solution of your custom front-end. This person may already have been managing your ecommerce architecture and is familiar with a headless environment. They will guide your development team in the overall execution of this project.
|Outsourced & In-house|
You will get a dedicated solutions architect from Mobify who will create a custom Solutions Architecture document that will act as the blueprint for your new architecture. You will also be assigned a Technical Architect from Mobify to support the implementation and evolution of your Mobify storefront. Mobify’s solutions architect will guide the front-end solution, while your internal solutions architect (or one from your system integration partner) will design your backend integrations.
|Software Developer||Resourced In-House|
Your developers will be responsible for building and maintaining your home-grown headless front-end, ensuring your storefront leverages a CDN, has a highly performant caching mechanism, and can scale with heavy traffic. They will need to understand the intricacies of deploying a PWA framework in a headless environment to create a modern customer experience.
|Outsourced & In-house|
Mobify has a network of experienced system integrators (SIs) specializing in headless implementations. Your development team will work with your chosen SI to build the Progressive Web App (PWA) that is deployed on the Mobify storefront, which has a CDN, highly performant caching mechanism, and serverless auto-scaling built right in. By outsourcing dev resources to handle spikes in project demands and leveraging the platform’s operational infrastructure, you’ll need fewer in-house team members for the ongoing maintenance and iteration of your headless storefront.
You will be responsible for securing your front-end presentation layer during the build phase and beyond. You’ll need to ensure your storefront is protected from malicious attacks and any security breaches throughout the evolution of your front-end.
Mobify has automated monitoring to mitigate DDoS attacks built into the storefront. On top of that, Mobify ensures physical data center and hardware security, manages environment security, and provides security updates to address critical vulnerabilities. You may still want to involve a security expert during the build that your developers can leverage for questions.
|Site Reliability Engineer (SRE)||In-House|
Your team will manage the overall health and performance of your headless stack, and handle the scalability, performance, and disaster response of your site all year round.
Mobify acts as your SRE. We handle operational monitoring, incident management, and 24/7 infrastructure support. We will work with your software developers for guidance on any custom application code that will be deployed on the Mobify storefront.
|Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer||In-House|
Your QA team will check that your in-house front-end is functional, performant, and resilient. They define test suites and execute against them.
|Outsourced & In-House|
Mobify guarantees that the platform works as intended on supported devices, OS, and browsers via the Mobify SDKs. We perform ongoing load testing to ensure the platform can service requests in a timely manner to all end users. You ensure your deployed applications behave as expected without bugs and are built defensively.
Your DevOps engineer will work with your software developers and SRE to get code deployed quickly and reliably. They will develop automated deployment steps, ensure code quality, and use CI/CD principles to support agile development.
Mobify’s Application Delivery Network is updated and maintained on a regular basis. We maintain and update network and OS firewalls, and network configurations. Our deployment infrastructure facilitates modern web app deployment best practices, getting your deployed code up quickly and reliably.
Weighing your options
Understanding the roles required to build, run, and evolve your storefront in a headless environment will help guide how you want to approach a strategic move to headless — and it’s one you’ll want to figure out early in the process.
For large, fully-resourced development teams that are experienced with implementing headless commerce solutions and modern PWA react-based experiences, a home-grown front-end could be a good fit.
With customer expectations evolving faster than ever before, both IT and business leaders are searching for increased agility and flexibility. They look for solutions that enable faster time-to-market, offer quicker integrations using pre-built connectors, and offload the heavy lifting of hosting, maintaining, and scaling a storefront. Using the Mobify storefront with an experienced system integrator is a good fit for organizations that want to focus in-house resources on doing what they do best — differentiating on their customer experience.
To learn more about the modern web storefronts for headless architectures, download the Enterprise Guide to Storefronts for Headless Commerce.