Digital Transformation

What is Headless Commerce and Why is it the Future of eCommerce?

Since the start of the global pandemic, the retail e-commerce market has exploded and it shows no signs of stopping. In 2022, global retail e-commerce sales will surpass a whopping $5 trillion for the first time. The rapidly growing market challenges businesses to respond fast and accurately. While traditional commerce can’t keep up with the pace, businesses that use headless commerce are thriving in the industry. 

With an estimated 12 to 24 million eCommerce sites across the globe, it has become incredibly difficult for eCommerce stores to stand out. The brands that actually do stand out are the brands that align with customer expectations, needs, and preferences for ease of use. Headless commerce is the last piece of the puzzle most businesses need in order to realize this.

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce architecture (Source: convertcart.com)

Headless commerce is a structure that separates the front end and back end functions of an ecommerce platform or application. Companies that use this structure become more agile and flexible when it comes to testing and it enables the brand to enrich the customer experience.

Headless commerce focuses more on the back-end processes of your site. The backend does what it is supposed to do and APIs pass data between the frontend and backend. This architecture allows brands to make changes to their webshop without impacting the real-time customer experience.

With the flexibility and agility that headless commerce brings, more and more businesses decide to transform their business. If you are on the edge of deciding if you should use headless commerce or if you want to know more about it, here’s everything you need to know. 

Why is headless commerce the future of e-commerce?

In a constantly evolving market businesses should have the ability to improve constantly. Headless commerce gives businesses the opportunity to do that, but in complete silence. That means they can make any changes without disturbing current processes in the front end or decreasing the customer experience.

Headless commerce has much more potential for the future, here are 3 trends that will skyrocket the potential of headless commerce.

Omnichannel commerce is in need of headless commerce

With the rise of omnichannel commerce, the customer journey has become critical in business. Here are 3 key reasons why omnichannel commerce is something to keep in mind:

A simultaneous implementation of headless commerce and omnichannel commerce will help businesses constantly streamline the backend development process of a seamless user experience. Any potential errors will be monitored in real time and rectified immediately.

Search Engines love headless commerce

Did you know that 63% of all shopping begins online? Even if the purchase itself happens in a store, search engines are one of the main drivers behind people’s buying behavior.

Headless commerce sets your eCommerce SEO efforts up for success on the search engine results page. Since the front end and back end are separated, it’s only the front end that needs to load for site visitors and search engine crawlers to access it.

Freedom to choose any headless content management system

With headless commerce, there is no need to use the same content management system (CMS) as your eCommerce back end. Traditional commerce platforms include a fixed CMS, but with headless commerce, you can choose the headless frontend CMS that’s right for your business. 

With a headless CMS you can publish frontend content updates anywhere you want simultaneously – web, mobile, social, IoT, and even VR. As soon as a business introduces content to its front end, those updates are reflected almost instantly. 

Headless Commerce vs. Traditional Commerce

Traditional commerce platforms don’t need a lot of set-up costs and are relatively easy to deploy. Frameworks, scripts, and templates can be easily applied, but the downside of traditional commerce is that changes are almost impossible to make.

Headless commerce platforms on the other hand tend to be more expensive and complex than traditional commerce. The backend does what it must do and APIs pass data between the front end and back end. This makes it easier for brands to make changes to their webshop, changes that boost the customer experience.

Benefits of changing from traditional to headless commerce

Traditional commerce works if you just started your eCommerce store. However, if you are looking to scale your business to the next level, then headless commerce is the one and only solution because it unlocks endless opportunities for your business, some of which include:

Boost user experience

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) designs are critical when designing a headless application with the end-user in mind. Headless commerce gives businesses the ability to boost the user experience with:

  • The flexibility and adaptability of the designs.
  • The interaction flexibility
  • Customized and personalized customer experience

Increased personalization and flexibility

Did you know that 45% of consumers say they are more likely to shop on an eCommerce site that offers personalization? Businesses that are able to create an unforgettable customer experience increase their chances of converting these customers.

Headless commerce empowers the creation of an unforgettable experience because it is designed for flexibility and personalization, without disturbing other processes. For example, you can A/B test across devices, and personalize the entire customer journey, without impacting or making changes to the backend.

Connecting online marketplaces and social media platforms

Selling through online marketplaces and social media platforms has become the gold standard. Empowered by trending digital marketing techniques such as influencer marketing, more and more customers engage with a brand on social media before they decide to buy a product or service. In many cases, customers no longer visit a webshop to make a purchase. Headless commerce allows e-commerce stores to connect to online marketplaces and social platforms.

3 steps on how to transform from traditional to headless commerce

Now you know exactly what headless commerce is and what benefits it brings to your business, you might want to consider using headless commerce for yourself. If you want to transform your business from traditional commerce to headless commerce, you use the following steps to transform your business:

Step 1: Consider if your business is ready for headless commerce

Headless commerce can help you win in today’s e-commerce atmosphere. That doesn’t mean that headless commerce will work for every business. Here are some challenges you might consider before starting out:

Slow loading website

Did you know that a one-second delay in page load time will drop your conversion rate by 7%? If you want to improve your eCommerce KPIs – site speed included – then headless commerce is a solution for you.

Your brand doesn’t stand out

With traditional commerce platforms, your webshop looks pretty much the same as your competition. This might be easy and cost-effective, but it affects your branding efforts. Implementing headless commerce ignites your personal branding because it gives you the ability to create a distinct and personalized user experience. 

You sell and serve over multiple customer touch points

If you are already selling through multiple channels and devices or want to adopt an omnichannel strategy, headless commerce gives brands the flexibility to design their customer touchpoints.

You sell in multiple countries

Do you sell products in more than just one country? If you do, then you are aware of the fact that content management systems that are included in traditional commerce platforms are not built to handle complex content management needs.

With headless content management, all content is unified in a centralized content hub. You are able to sell in multiple countries and multiple languages from one central place. This architecture boosts your brand consistently and it drastically decreases manual error and room for error.

Step 2: How to choose the headless commerce platform works that resonates the best

Deciding to use a headless CMS is one thing, but knowing what CMS fits your specific needs is quite another. When you start doing research on what CMS platform aligns ideally with your business, here are some considerations:

Determine the scalability and customization of the platform 

In order to find the most suitable platform, seek out a platform that comes with reliable and fast APIs that help automate and customize your store. Save yourself valuable time and resources by making sure the platform has plenty of one-click apps or built-in integrations that connect and update in real-time. This will help you scale seamlessly without hiring additional front-end developers.

Ability to provide an omnichannel experience

Your digital presence across various channels is vital, whether it’s marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy or social media platforms like Instagram or even TikTok.

Choose the platform that offers you centralized channel management, so you manage products and prices across channels from one place.

Ease of use and security

Productivity is one of the major concerns for every team or business. When choosing a headless CMS, pick one that is efficient and easy to use and gets the job done in the shortest amount of time.

One of the critical benefits of headless commerce platforms is the enhanced security it offers. Not every platform provides the same safety. Make sure the back-end systems are compliant with PCI, GDPR, and other regulations as required, like SCA under PSD2 to ensure a secure payment flow.

Step 3: Decide what headless eCommerce platform works for you

Whether you’re looking for B2C or B2B eCommerce, there are a lot of different solutions that can meet your business needs. To simplify the process, here is a list of 10 leading Headless eCommerce platforms

In order to achieve the highest results, make a list of the platforms that are most compatible with your business requirements. Filter till you have two platforms left and try demos before making the final decision. 

Use the future of eCommerce to level up your business

Headless commerce is rapidly changing the eCommerce retail landscape and it is a matter of time before more businesses will follow this trend. In the end, businesses that utilize the headless commerce model remain far more adaptable, flexible, and cost-effective than those that use older, less agile web construction models.

In addition, this industry-revolutionizing model also gives you the added benefit of a more personalized approach and it offers you the opportunity to speak to your customer in a more impactful way. If you’re thinking of making the switch – and your business is ready for it too – then it’s time to make the transition. 

Use the steps and tools given in this article to ignite a digital transformation in your business. If you don’t know where to start and you want to see how your business can benefit the most from this digital transformation. Get in touch with a team of brand and design experts and see for yourself how you can transform your business so you will be ready for the future.

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