Let’s Discuss Your Project

Tell us a bit more about what you are working on, and let’s connect.


Request a Quote
 

Headless eCommerce: Frequently Asked Questions

If you've found your way here, then you’re probably curious about Headless eCommerce and want some answers to your questions.

You want to know if it's right for your company, if it's worth the investment, and if there are any underlying risks that no one is talking about. 

While it’s gotten plenty of hype, it’s not a concept that most people can grasp head on. That’s why we created this post where our end goal is to give you the facts straight up so you can make better, informed decisions.

Let’s get started.

What is headless commerce?

The simplest definition of headless commerce is an ecommerce architecture in which a store's frontend and backend are decoupled or separated. In this case, "head" refers to the front end. So, "headless" in this case refers to an e-commerce store where the frontend and backend are separate from each other. By separating the two, a headless setup allows you to be more flexible with the user interface.

Let's take a closer look at some of these terminologies so we may better understand these principles.

Frontend: Also known as the "presentation layer," this is the front-facing digital storefront that displays products to customers. This can include social media, mobile apps, and devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT includes smart mirrors, kiosks, vending machines, wearables, and even Amazon Alexa.

Backend: These refer to all of the systems, processes, and tools that run in the background.  This technology stack can aid with tasks like merchandising, fulfillment, integrations, data storage, and checkout.

How does headless architecture work?

A headless architecture empowers those who are in charge of the customer experience such as the branding and marketing managers to take the reins and get more creative and innovative. This is done by letting front-end developers iterate and improve the customer experience without depending on or changing the back-end commerce platform.

This enables shorter release cycles, less regression testing, and fewer unforeseen complications. This also means that improvements to back-end commerce operations can be implemented without risk of "breaking" the user experience.

What are APIs?

The API, or application program interface, is the key to headless commerce. An API is a way for the frontend and backend to talk to each other and share information in real time.

A headless architecture is accomplished by introducing APIs that enable any front end to access commerce functionalities. APIs are third-party tools used to connect separate programmes.

These APIs allow front-end developers to provide customer experiences to every screen or connected device, using any technology or customer experience platform they want.

For example, if you are offered the choice of signing in to a program via Facebook, Google, or another software, an API will allow that information exchange to grant you access.

Headless commerce APIs are primarily intended to provide a more flexible front-end, such as customizing the user experience, generating a more dynamic interface, or creating tailored shopping solutions.

Why is headless trending right now?

The rising demands of marketing have long been a challenge for tech teams. Marketing is constantly evolving, and teams are always experimenting with new ideas, looking for new opportunities, and improving their processes. 

Marketing teams often have to be the ones dealing with customers face-on and so need to stay above omnichannel trends and require streamline processes whereas tech teams prefer something stable and secure.

Because of these conflicts, marketing teams want more control over tech builds but usually don't have the capacity to. Headless eCommerce makes it possible. With a headless tech stack, marketers will be able to adapt to rising trends, test quicker and be more creative in delivering customer experiences without having to rely too heavily on a developer team.

Additionally, because of the headless architecture, all channels and consumer experiences can be delivered through a single platform.

What is the difference between traditional & headless eCommerce?

A monolith platform, or traditional eCommerce architecture, was designed for desktops and thus has a strong 'coupling' between the front-end experience and the back-end commerce processes. With a monolith approach, companies can quickly create a web-based or desktop browser experience with a slew of pre-built functionalities. However, as consumer behavior has evolved, organizations are beginning to realize that monolithic systems are restrictive when it comes to adding new channels or changing customer experiences.

A 'decoupled' Headless Commerce model, on the other hand, offers more flexibility in executing front-end changes, adding additional channels, and generating faster release cycles.

How much does it cost to run a headless eCommerce solution?

While the price will vary depending on the operational requirements or your specific business goals, the cost of your basic Headless Commerce software is typically determined by order volume and gross merchandise value.

In addition to the basic Headless Commerce software cost, you must also consider the cost of any third-party software, the cost to develop your front end (that may be done using internal resources at no increased expense), and the cost of integrating all these components. It all comes down to your objectives, timetable, and scope.

In terms of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), however, a Headless Commerce solution should save money in terms of resource allocation and possibly partner implementation.

Does a headless implementation mean I can launch a new platform or websites faster?

Does adopting a headless system imply that I can roll out new platforms or websites more quickly?

Sure. One of the most inherent benefits of a headless implementation is the ability to launch marketing initiatives more quickly and with a greater degree of personalization to your specific market. Decoupled framework allows you to have greater control over what material you offer, as well as how new promotions can be introduced to the system. This means that your marketing team will have greater control over the content and assets that are publicized.

How does headless eCommerce contribute to an omni-channel strategy?

Pandemic-related changes in consumer behavior have driven retailers to build a multi-channel reach and customer support strategy more quickly. Customer behavior has shifted as well. Online channels now serve a greater purpose: they are an essential tool for conducting research, comparing prices, and discovering the best bargains.

Brands can position themselves for success now and in the future with headless architecture for their commerce platform, as omnichannel becomes more sophisticated and customer expectations rise.

For example, a company that wants to try selling things through a smart, connected device can build a frontend experience that leverages APIs to access backend data and conduct a transaction. If successful, it can be produced and tested in this channel without affecting other parts of the platform.

What are the benefits of headless commerce for selling online?  

Headless eCommerce is adaptable. It foresees how eCommerce may rapidly evolve and helps position you to stay on top of commerce and technology changes.

The following are some of the key benefits of headless commerce:

  • Customers will get more individualized service.

When the buying experience is highly individualized, shoppers are 40% more likely to spend more than expected. Going headless gives your company the agility it needs to stay up with shifting consumer acquisition trends.

  • The ability to update systems while preserving user experience

Customer-facing tasks can be done separately without waiting for backend work, and vice versa. It means you can separate copy from code and enable one team to work independently without having to wait for the other to complete.

  • Reduced time to market

When you go headless, you can speed up how you do your tests and tweaks. This solves the age-old problem of developers being unable to work on both frontend and backend systems at the same time.

Will my customers notice a difference?

The majority of consumers probably won't be able to tell the difference between a conventional storefront and a Headless Commerce experience. Instead, this approach enables an organization to reclaim control of their customer experience and radically accelerate trial cycles in order to meet consumer expectations and business strategy. While shoppers may not see a change, they may notice improvements in website performance and an overall improved buying experience.

How can I make the switch to a headless eCommerce solution?

While a full re-platforming to a Headless commerce method often takes months, our team at Webinopoly can help you do it in a matter of weeks rather than months. There are a couple different ways to make the switch. Staggered implementation, where parts will be gradually replaced but business-critical services are maintained, is a common strategy for replacing monolithic solutions.

WRAPPING UP

Choosing to switch to headless eCommerce is a big decision as you will essentially be building your website back from scratch. However, there are benefits to it, especially if your business is steady and making big profits.

If you choose to go for a headless Shopify store, choosing a team to work with can help ease the time and cost spent because you’ll be working with experts.

Who is Webinopoly and what can we do for you?

Webinopoly is an Award-Winning Digital Agency and are experts in Design, Setup, Development, and Marketing. At Webinopoly, we strive to create solutions that help your business grow and give you more out of Shopify.

If you’re ready to get started, contact your Shopify experts at Webinopoly here or view our recent work here.

Share  

Let’s Discuss Your Project

Guides