The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing the buyer’s patterns. Changing buyer habits proves that the link between content and commerce can no longer be ignored. While legacy eCommerce platforms struggle to keep up, SaaS innovations have helped retailers adapt and prosper without rip and replacing existing business ways.
The most discussed and least understood buzzword is “Headless Commerce” in the eCommerce industry. In this article, you’ll learn how headless commerce architecture allows high-volume brands to operate. In addition, we’ll explore to take full advantage of CMS options and why merchants, and partners need a headless commerce solution.
In the U.S. eCommerce market, many top brands, including Walmart, Nike, Amazon.com, have gone headless and many are in the process. In 2018 Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) offered a cheaper way to deliver websites. They brought this headless approach to the mainstream with three primary benefits: increased ROI, eliminate TCO of maintaining native mobile apps, and freedom from vendor lock-in.
But before discussing why Headless Commerce is vital for eCommerce, let’s see what Headless Commerce is.
What is Headless Commerce?
In a simpler form, Headless commerce’s meaning is that the front end and back end are not connected directly. eCommerce owners separate what users see from what they have in their databases. It enables brands to enrich the customer experience. This headless architecture gives retailers the freedom to upgrade the eCommerce platform without changing the complete website. In the traditional eCommerce model, even a small project turns into massive headaches, and if you require any update in the front end, simultaneously, the backend also has to update.
The main twist in the Headless architecture is the use of APIs, along with tools such as Heroku and Mulesoft, and experienced IT partners in the Headless architecture. If you’re in eCommerce, experiences that engage customers, deliver new functionality and stay ahead of customers’ expectations are a critical part of your innovation strategy.
As mentioned above, headless commerce architecture decouples the functionality layer from the presentation layer of a website. This leverages developers to add plug-ins in the backend that manages all the functionality of the eCommerce website without disturbing the front end, which is delivering the high-quality content experience or vice versa.
What are the Benefits of Headless Commerce?
Headless commerce enables your company to leverage many devices for shopping cart checkout and payment, and for this feature, it is often referred to as ‘anywhere’ commerce. This includes all creative storefronts such as kiosks, smart mirrors, apps, billboards, voice technology, vending machines, and more. By doing so, it offers many advantages for retailers, including:
Improved customer experience: To create seamless storefront experiences, Plug in your tools and system. You won’t need to re-platform your content management system to save time, money, and development resources.
Enhanced control and scaling: You can optimize campaigns on the go by practicing agile marketing and experimenting with A/B testing and also can engage your customers with Headless storefronts
Increased system control: Integrate all your systems, including ERP, CRM, PIM, CMS, and design frameworks, to your front store. You can deliver products, reviews, or recommendations via the storefront API.
Increased speed and efficiency: Your Team can work on front-end and backend code simultaneously, thus reducing time to market. As Headless commerce allows the marketing and development team can work separately, the dependency goes off, so each Team can work faster.
Personalization and flexibility: Headless architecture decouples the front and back ends, encouraging split testing. You can optimize customer experiences regardless of your customers’ devices and increase the conversion rate.
APIs, SDKs, and progressive web apps: To customize the user experience, Headless commerce gives brands the tools. It can massively future-proof your application, as data can easily be repurposed for mobile, smartwatches, and any future technology. All are done by utilizing a large swatch of APIs. You can enjoy omnichannel commerce with duplicate data.
Why Headless is Popular
Decoupling the presentation and functionality layers, a headless approach makes the whole matter easier for businesses to upgrade features like improving shopping cart functionality, adding payment gateway, etc. In amid of COVID 19 pandemic, consumer shopping behavior shifted dramatically from offline to online. This forces many businesses to update more swiftly without risky their main look and feel.
The headless approach makes it easier to deploy new user interfaces by encouraging the separation of the bank end and front end layer using well-defined APIs. This approach enables to modification of core complex customizations quickly.
Headless commerce breaks the barrier of having a brand and commerce site by enabling the brand experience to co-exist with the shopping experience in one sit. This approach allows two ends to work harmoniously by integrating backend technology with front-end experience delivery and putting the customer experience first.
Within the new digital economy, by building a flexible infrastructure, it can deliver an outstanding customer experience without tearing up the legacy systems.
API is Bridging Back-End and Front-End Layers
Headless architecture decoupled the front end and backend layers, but they have to give output in a synchronized manner. But what makes it possible. Here API comes into the picture. API works as the missing links between the front end and backend. API plays the role of a user interface for the other software. All the information travels back-and-forth through API from the business process to the presentation Layers. This allows decoupling of the data from the presentation and the functionality. That makes your infrastructure highly flexible and connects a new application quickly by turning every application into a service.
How to get started
To successfully build, deploy, support, and continuously improve a large-scale headless eCommerce solution, along with the change in architecture, a cultural shift is also equally important.
- Some of the responsibility shifts from the eCommerce vendor to the client. You can build an internal team to maintain the experience and service layer.
- Pick a primary framework that meets your requirement and is comfortable for the Team to maintain.
- Next part is how you can use underlying platform capabilities like personalization to surface personalized content in a headless fashion. Feature-rich platforms like Salesforce can help you to maximize your investment.
- To address all the ways you want to present content and data, create a technical roadmap
- With reusable web components, build a UI toolkit.
- By integrating mediation infrastructure with an eCommerce engine’s API, break down the business’s monolithic architecture into available services to enable core commerce functionalities.
- To enable commerce features and experience in an agile manner with minimal time to market, use pre-built Accelerators and connectors from Mulesoft.
- As every service is critical in the eCommerce platforms, design services must be highly resilient and scalable.
- Build your front-end applications in a way that is decoupled from the underlying systems feeding them content through interfaces.
- Using API Gateways like Mulesoft for consumption from agnostic channels, design well documented, discoverable, and secured APIs
- To provide optimal performance to users, design and build a caching layer for the services
- To do thorough code scanning, security, and performance testing builds a CI/CD pipeline with QA automation built into it.
- Additional SEO considerations will be necessary for single-page applications (SPAs). eCommerce single-page applications (SPAs) are like retail pop-up stores for mobile devices. For speed and convenience, they sacrifice many online shopping features but deliver a faster storefront to mobile customers.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud with Headless Commerce
Until a platform or product emerges, the retailer generally builds custom solutions when new needs arise in the eCommerce tech stack. This trend was apparent with eCommerce platforms until solutions like Salesforce Commerce Cloud emerged.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC), renamed from Demandware in early 2016, is a multi-tenant, cloud-based commerce platform that inspires a personalized shopping journey for every customer across all commerce channels: web, mobile, social, store, and more.
To maintain their rapid innovation in the future, they needed to build out capabilities and detect early signs of shifting the retailer industries towards headless commerce. API Community Cloud empowers app developers, partners, and employees with self-service resources and support. Commerce Cloud Developer Center (CCDC) enables developers to discover new Commerce Cloud APIs, software development kits, and toolkits.
Salesforce B2C Commerce enabled headless commerce for their customers by decoupling APIs from the platform and unlocking data. Overall, developers appreciate CCDC as it makes Commerce Cloud a future-proof commerce platform.
Time to go Headless?
In Digital Commerce, we are witnessing a change in customer behavior, customer journeys are increasingly fragmented, and new touchpoints are emerging, which calls for recent shifts in technological strategies. In “headless” commerce solutions, Organizations can build personalized customer experiences, gain the freedom to experiment, increase their agility, and scale more efficiently. Having best-in-class commerce functionalities backed by powerful platforms such as Salesforce provides businesses with maximum flexibility.
About ETG Digital
ETG is a Salesforce Strategic partner. Headquartered in Plano, Texas, ETG is ISO 9001:2015 certified company with a global delivery center in Hyderabad, India. We have a dedicated team serving the business worldwide from multiple locations in the US, Canada, UAE, UK, Australia, and India. Over the last two decades, we have been dedicated to customer success through leveraging emerging technologies. We specialize in providing customized and tailor-made solutions for retailers starting their eCommerce journey.
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