Going headless: the ecommerce model for maximum flexibility

by Dries Vandermeulen
The world of ecommerce is evolving quickly, even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic put it on the fast track. Enterprises have to constantly stay on top of developments in mobile commerce and IoT as well as the dominance of major players like Amazon, plus rising consumer expectations. Legacy ecommerce platforms always seem to lag one step behind, since keeping up with change can mean major investments. The solution: headless commerce. Headless separates the front-end from the back-end to create more flexibility and customization possibilities.

The rise of headless commerce systems

So what is headless commerce exactly? Basically it’s an ecommerce solution that stores and manages content without a front-end delivery layer. The front end, or the “head”, has been removed. Developers use APIs to deliver content and ecommerce functionality to any screen or device. This covers things like pricing, security, and checkout.

Instead of having to cut through multiple layers of coding front to back for every change, any changes to the front-end can be made by a front-end developer using APIs. Rather than being constrained by a pre-defined experience, there is much more room for customization and personalization. Front-end developers can pretty much come up with their own user experience without any worries about modifying back-end databases, and present graphic content using the framework of their choice. Then they plug it into an ecommerce solution for the back-end.

Flexibility to keep up with changes

The main benefit of headless: it all comes down to flexibility. Brands can quickly adapt their customer experience according to consumer demands without high development costs or integration issues. Companies can select the platform that works best behind the scenes for their online store and also choosing the front-end that suits their needs best. Developers can stick with their favorite technology or programming language while upgrading their efficiency.

When it’s time for a change, there’s no need to re-platform on the back-end. This boosts companies’ scalability, because these changes don’t require having to build a new website from scratch in order to upgrade functionality. Brands can also test new technology, like CMS, DXP, or IoT, to create content or customer experience without affecting backend functionality. Companies are able to constantly re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t.

Fast & full omnichannel experience

Since content is housed centrally and delivered via APIs, with headless commerce content is loaded much faster, adding to the customer experience. By focusing on content and experience, brands can also rely more on organic traffic instead of paid advertising. Headless also makes it easier to go fully omnichannel, which is perfectly suited to today’s all-options-on-the-table customers. It leaves merchants free to add channels and experiences, such as a mobile app or an IoT device to sell products. All you need is a buy button!

Choosing the right headless platform

There are plenty of choices, and the market is always evolving. Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a platform:

  • Is the User Interface (UI) attractive and easy to use?

  • Does it offer good tech support and training?

  • Is it easy to integrate with other tools?

  • Does it offer good value in terms of features and capabilities?

Here are a few headless commerce platforms to consider:

  • Magento 2 is one of the largest ecommerce platform in the world, the open-source Magento 2 is very simple to use with endless customization options.

  • Shopify Plus is a cost-effective platform with high API limits allowing you to cohesively integrate multiple apps.

  • Core dna is a digital experience platform (DXP) with eCommerce functionality, web content management functionality, and APIs.

Headless commerce allows companies to lean into the two main strategies for ecommerce success: organic omni-channel content and optimal customer experience. It allows for maximal agility, essential to keep up with constant change. With the back-end and front-end uncoupled, both ends are free to constantly innovate. Consumers, and enterprises, reap the benefits!

Want to talk about ecommerce solutions to optimize your customer experience? Get in touch!

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