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What is headless eCommerce?

What is headless eCommerce?
Story of AMS
Story of AMS

The world of eCommerce is changing. Customer expectations are sky high and brands need to keep up. What is the best way to extend your eCommerce brand quickly to meet new demands? The answer is headless eCommerce. Its flexible and agile set-up gives brands back the control they need to deliver the eCommerce experience customers expect.

Keep on reading to learn:

  • The definition of headless commerce

  • Most important benefits of headless commerce

  • The drawbacks of headless commerce

  • How a headless solution will impact your customers

What is headless commerce?

An eCommerce website consists of two sides, the ‘frontend’ and the ‘backend’. The frontend side is often referred to as ‘the head. The head includes everything the user can see and interact with, in other words, the user experience. Meaning everything from the way the platform looks to the digital marketplace. The backend includes everything on the developer’s side of the system.

In a nutshell, headless commerce is the separation of the front end and back end of an eCommerce platform. This setup gives brands the freedom to build whatever they want and need. In contrast to traditional commerce platforms, where the head is coupled to the back-end. Meaning they have to deal with a predefined front-end that is coupled to the back-end. Resulting in constraints in every aspect of the platform from the way the platform looks to the delivery across different devices. 

What are the benefits of headless Commerce?

Customization:

With headless eCommerce, there is no predefined frontend. What’s more, there is no frontend at all. Brands can design the front-end, user experience, from scratch. Giving brands full control over the look and feel of our commerce platform, and also control over the user experience for both the customers and the admin users.

Time to market:

With headless commerce, brands can launch new frontend experiences, with the click of a button. If you have managed an omnichannel experience with a traditional eCommerce platform you probably know it’s painfully slow. With a headless solution reacting to new market trends can be done rapidly. 

Reduce costs:

Since the front and backend are decoupled, changes to the frontend can be made in no time. Developers can experiment without the risk of jeopardizing the whole ecosystem because the frontend and backend are decoupled. Resulting in fewer development costs if you want to create multiple landing pages, do A/B tests, or add new functionalities. Furthermore, you also only need a frontend developer if you want to make any changes to the user experience. 

Right tools for the job:

Headless solutions allow brands to couple the right tools for the right job. You are not bound to the out-of-the-box features that come with a traditional commerce setup. You can choose the best headless content management system that fits your needs, like Storyblok. Or couple Algolia to your headless set-up for the optimal search experience.

Omnichannel:

With the traditional eCommerce model, keeping pace with emerging touchpoints and experiences isn’t easy. When you couple a headless content management system you can publish your content anywhere and everywhere. For an eCommerce business that means you can showcase your products, product videos, or blog posts on any emerging channel. So get ready to sell through voice devices like Alexa, progressive web apps, and perhaps in the future through smart refrigerators. 

Agile marketing:

Thanks to the flexibility that a headless commerce system provides, marketing teams can set up new sites in hours instead of days or even months. This way running A/B tests with different landing pages and running continuous tests and optimization cycles is easier than ever before.

The 3 drawbacks of headless commerce:

1. Initial costs

The frontend of your eCommerce platform has to be created from scratch when opting for a headless solution. On the one hand, this is great because it allows you to build a custom frontend that represents your brand and sets you apart from competitors. On the other hand, it does mean more up-front development costs since the front-end needs to be designed and developed from scratch.

2. Running costs

When you separate your front-end from your backend, you now have two separate environments. A headless CMS and a headless commerce engine like Shopify Plus. Both systems cost money so that’s more costs, although a headless CMS doesn’t have to be expensive. The costs of our headless CMS partner Storyblok start at 7 dollars a month and can scale with you as needed. 

3. Complexity

Instead of dealing with one traditional eCommerce platform, you are now dealing with multiple technologies and each technology comes with its own set of bugs, installation, management, and support. This does require a bit more knowledge in-house or partnering with an agency.

How does it impact your customers?

The customer is always right and the modern-day customer expects brands to be everywhere. Customers want things to look nice, run smooth and work quickly. They’re demanding more and more convenience from every device and channel. With headless eCommerce, you can meet these high demands, which explains the rise in popularity. 

Whether you are educating yourself on the subject matter or want to make the move to headless as quickly as possible. Feel free to reach out to us as we would love to hear from you. If you are still educating yourself on the world of headless development for eCommerce, you can check out this article on the top 3 best platforms for headless eCommerce or read the detailed explanation about why we build headless eCommerce solutions with Shopify Plus.

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