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Headless Commerce – What Is It, Why Should You Consider It, And Who Should Implement It?

Headless commerce is a relatively new technology that fundamentally changes the way e-commerce websites work. As with most cutting-edge technologies, it has its own unique terminology and methodology. This can make it difficult for merchants to understand the ins and outs of headless commerce. Let us try to simplify things for you before we get into the details of our informative article.

Why should you consider the headless commerce approach to online business? The short is – increased efficiency, increased scalability, and increased ROI.

So, what exactly is headless commerce?

Simply put, headless commerce is a new way of approaching eCommerce that focuses on flexibility and scalability. Instead of using a traditional eCommerce platform that handles all aspects of your customer's journey (the front-end and back-end), headless commerce breaks these two parts up into separate entities. This means that instead of working with a single monolithic platform a company can use any number of different systems and services to provide the best overall experience for their customer.

In its most basic form, headless commerce is a way to sell products and services online without using a traditional eCommerce platform. Instead, it relies on decoupled architecture to separate the back-end components of an eCommerce site from the front-end customer experience.

The result: A more flexible, scalable, and personalized customer experience.


Source: Simicart

The traditional e-commerce architecture consists of an integrated front-end and back-end application. The front-end is the online storefront, and the back-end is a management system that handles order management and product information management (PIM). To put it simply, what you see on the consumer side is exactly what your employees see on the backend.

In headless commerce, however, there is no front-end. The consumer interacts with your brand through applications that are not part of your e-commerce system. This enables you to separate the user interface (UI) from the rest of your business processes.

The headless architecture has many advantages that make it a better solution for companies that want to be more agile and flexible in their operations. Because headless commerce decouples the UI from the backend, it allows you to create different user interfaces for each channel or device type without having to change anything in the back end.

You can manage all your inventory and orders from one central system, but each channel can have its own unique look and feel. This makes it easier for you to update each channel separately with its own products, product descriptions, promotions, etc., depending on what works best for that particular audience.

Why Should You Consider Headless Commerce?

As e-commerce continues to grow exponentially, retailers must focus on improving the customer journey across devices and channels. They also need to ensure their website is fast, secure, mobile responsive, and up-to-date. With headless commerce, retailers can quickly launch new features and functionality that appeal to specific audiences while maintaining a single source of truth for their data.

Reasons Headless Commerce is Better for Online Merchants

  1. Headless commerce enables better customization and personalization

The front-end and back-end are inextricably linked in the monolithic e-commerce architecture. In other words, changing one system changes the other. It is impossible to conduct an experiment on your website that does not interrupt shoppers who are using the search feature.

In this case, it is impossible to update the backend without running a frontend experiment. The same goes for testing a new product suggestion approach that requires a different layout and style from what is presently on your site.

For this experiment, you would have had to completely re-engineer and re-implement your product page template. This wastes time, resources, and money that a headless commerce architecture might have saved. Decoupling the frontend and backend of an application or website eliminates the single point of failure that might cause a system outage.

  1. Headless commerce lets you move and adapt faster

One disadvantage of an all-in-one platform is that it’s not that extendable. In order to make this kind of platform, you may need to hire developers or purchase an extension from a third party; which can be expensive and time-consuming.

In order to extend this kind of platform, you may need to hire developers or buy extensions from third parties, which can be expensive and take a long time to implement. But because APIs do most of the heavy lifting for you, the learning curve is much lower for headless commerce. This means you can get your site up and running much faster, in a way that’s customized to your needs.

APIs (which enable headless commerce architecture) allow you to move considerably faster than a monolithic eCommerce platform. Because the backend and frontend are no longer so closely tied, you can make changes and adapt faster without affecting the eCommerce functionality. This means you can swiftly release new transactional touchpoints as consumer technology evolves without having to rebuild your entire eCommerce infrastructure.

A decoupled architecture allows fast adjustments without disrupting the back-end. Because of the architecture's flexibility, you can quickly add new features and integrations. For example, you can change customer-facing information without having to reboot your system.

  1. Headless commerce is more flexible with languages

Using headless commerce may seem like a debate about which programming language to use. But it's not. That's not the only thing that this decision has to do with. It also has a lot of implications for your business.

To put it another way, headless commerce gives web developers more control over the front-end of one‘s site. This means that they can use any programming language or framework to build it. When it comes to online businesses, this means that they can choose a front-end framework that meets their needs and then use those tools to build their storefront.

The said freedom to choose frameworks is important for the following reasons:

  • Headless commerce makes it easier to work with other platforms and apps.
  • It's easier to scale up when necessary with headless commerce.
  1. Headless commerce is much more cost-efficient

Do you want to save money developing and maintaining your e-commerce website? If so, headless commerce is the key. Because it decouples the front-end from the back end, development and maintenance costs are much lower than for traditional systems like Magento and Shopify. 

Because Shopify and Magento are monolithic platforms, it can be frustrating to work with. For example, if you want to change the color of your navigation bar from gray to blue, you might find dozens of CSS files that need to be changed. These older platforms require constant upkeep since their monolithic stacks contain highly intertwined code — making changes to one element of your business often has a ripple effect across the rest of the site or app.

Headless commerce, which many retailers are recognizing as a valuable solution to their eCommerce needs, goes beyond a customizable site experience. It provides money-saving opportunities that are often overlooked. 

You also save money on development time. By removing the integration between a front-end eCommerce solution and backend ERP/Warehouse Management System (WMS), you are able to reduce development time and in turn, save money as well. 

  1. Headless commerce provides seamless integrations

If you run a restaurant, you probably have a website and an app where customers can look at your menu and place orders. You might even let people place orders through your Facebook page. Maybe you even added an Alexa Skill so can they order via Amazon's Alexa.

Suppose the next big thing comes along. In this case, you'd have to start the whole process over again.

The best thing about headless commerce is that you can use it with any system you want. Your business can grow and reach more customers at the same time by adding your brand to any new device. As a bonus, it won't take you months to connect your commerce platform to a new device. It will only take a few hours to do.

  1. Headless commerce improves your website’s performance

The headless approach allows you to create your front end as needed, optimizing it for speed. This is because it no longer relies on a backend that delivers its own code base, which could conflict with what you're trying to do with your front end. Instead, you can pull only the data you need and render it yourself on the server side. This makes it much easier to optimize your SEO strategy by creating pages that load quickly and provide a great user experience.

With headless commerce, you can use a framework that offers better performance. This is because it allows you to develop the front-end using lightweight and fast programming languages like React.

By doing so, you will be able to build a front-end that only requires the consumer information that needs to be shown on the page they are visiting. This means that your website will use less processing power and can load faster.

This is because it won’t need to constantly fetch data from your eCommerce solution, process it, and then display it on the page. Instead, you can create lightweight pages and also incorporate various performance optimization techniques. These include caching and code minification which can further improve the performance of your website.

In this way, by using a headless eCommerce platform for your online store, you will be able to provide a much better user experience for your customers, who will have access to pages that load in seconds rather than minutes or even longer.

Who should implement headless commerce?

The benefits of headless commerce may be clear, but there are still some obstacles to implementing it.

There are plenty of reasons to consider headless commerce for your business, but if you aren’t a developer yourself or don’t have one at the ready, headless commerce might be out of reach. After all, not every street corner in town has a developer standing on it looking for work.

eCommerce platforms

One approach could be to go for an eCommerce platform that has a headless approach. Here are 2 names to consider, offering APIs that support a headless or decoupled approach to eCommerce:

Shopify Plus

You can't afford to lose Shopify's robust eCommerce features (payments processing, inventory, PCI compliance, and so on), but you may also want to embrace technology that substantially improves the performance of your site, or just want to break free from your theme's constraints and create a truly unique site experience.

Thankfully, using headless commerce with an existing Shopify site is simple and easy. Shopify Plus users can utilize APIs to provide product information to third-party platforms. However, a CMS will be required to manage additional content.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce has extensive documentation and sophisticated REST and GraphQL API endpoints, allowing developers to create headless storefronts for specific use cases. Developers and business users may work together to make managing headless storefronts as simple as possible using the BigCommerce control panel. Their API-driven infrastructure is capable of synchronizing enormous volumes of data quickly and has a 99.99 percent uptime guarantee.

Partnering with a developer team

Integrating a headless commerce platform is a big job. It's going to take time and resources and be difficult before it gets easy. So you might want to consider making sure you have the manpower you need to take on this kind of project.

By collaborating with Webinopoly, one of the industry's leading providers of Headless Commerce services and frontend-as-a-service technologies, you can eliminate the stress, uncertainty, and guesswork of rebuilding your eCommerce architecture. You will have a high-converting, blazing-fast, and on-brand shopping experience by installing a headless commerce solution — with Webinopoly as your partner — that will act as a competitive edge for boosting revenue.

WebInopoly is a dynamic eCommerce team with a thorough grasp of eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce, providing your company the competitive edge it requires to succeed. We can build strategies and tailor solutions that match your individual company demands since we have years of expertise with marketing and development accounts.

Need eCommerce Solutions?

If you need an eCommerce website built on BigCommerce and Shopify, or any eCommerce solutions developed, please contact us at 713-805-5888, email us at [email protected], or leave us a message here.

With over 400 clients served, Webinopoly is a leading web development agency with an experienced team of designers, developers and marketers. Webinopoly combines a deep understanding of the eCommerce industry and its latest trends with proven success in building attractive and successful online stores. We specialize in custom BigCommerce and Shopify theme design, website development, marketing and SEO.

If you’d like to learn more about what we can do or view our portfolio, please click on the links below:

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