The web storefront is where your shoppers interact with your brand online. It’s where they go to browse, research, review, and of course buy your products.
A traditional web storefront is a part of the ecommerce platform. The two are inextricably linked, and one can’t be changed without impacting the other.
A storefront for headless commerce is a self-contained web storefront that’s completely separate from the ecommerce platform, as well as any other backend application.
What drove the emergence of storefronts for headless commerce?
Back in the day, ecommerce platforms emerged to help businesses operate an ecommerce store. They brought the catalogue shopping experience online and enabled transactions.
As technology evolved, countless different kinds of applications emerged to help shoppers find what they’re looking for (search, personalization), interact with brands online (CMS, AR, custom tooling, UGC), and buy products as easily as possible (payment providers, checkout optimization tools).
The explosion of new technology and functionality set a new bar for customer expectations and drove the emergence of headless commerce, and in turn, the need for a storefront for headless commerce.
A headless approach gives you agility and flexibility, but decoupling the front-end means your storefront can no longer rely on your ecommerce platform for stability. This change is not to be taken lightly as your website generates millions, if not billions of dollars every year.
A productized storefront for headless commerce provides that same stability and reliability that you’ve come to know and trust from your enterprise ecommerce platform – but on the front-end. It gives peace of mind by handling all storefront operations, including hosting, security, scalability, and automated monitoring.
How does the storefront fit into a modern approach to ecommerce?
Let’s zoom out to talk about the storefront within the larger context of a modern ecommerce approach.
With a modern or “headless” approach, all the applications are completely decoupled from the front-end. The web storefront layers on top of the applications, brings together all the functionality, and shows it in a customer-centric way.
Backend applications are designed to enable teams to operate the various aspects of the ecommerce storefront – so they should continue to serve that purpose in a modern architecture. The right headless commerce set-up will enable teams to continue to work within these applications and it won’t change their processes or workflows.
For example, a merchandiser would continue to work within the ecommerce system, search tool, and payment tool to make changes and updates to the customer experience. Just as a marketer would continue to work within the content system, personalization platform, and multivariate testing tool. Changes would be pushed live and automatically exposed on the storefront via the APIs. This helps eliminate interdependencies between teams and increase efficiencies.
Meanwhile, product managers and UX designers focused on the front-end could quickly make changes to the customer experience independent of the data and APIs. This supports operational workflows that are based on the needs of front-end teams and their stakeholders, and allows them to constantly test and optimize the front-end independent of what’s going on in the backend.
CX-focused teams are also set up for future growth and agility. As new functionality and ecommerce tools emerge, they can be easily integrated into the storefront experience using APIs. Migrating a backend system also becomes a lot simpler because you can adjust the front-end with new APIs instead of having to rewrite it entirely.
Aligning to customer needs
A storefront for headless commerce facilitates a modern, customer-centric approach to ecommerce. While using an application on the front-end would limit the experience to what the application could expose, a storefront allows you to build the experience based on your customers’ needs.
This gives your business the flexibility to align and adapt the company’s technology to your customers’ needs and expectations, rather than the other way around.