e-Commerce • 07.03.2022
28 februari 2022
A headless e-commerce platform differs from traditional platforms like Magento, Intershop, WooCommerce and Sitecore Commerce in crucial ways. In the previous section we mentioned the main features of headless commerce. But how do these factors ensure, in practice, that your organization can really distinguish itself from the competition? We can answer this crucial question in many different ways.
The front-end of an e-commerce platform takes care of all contact with your (potential) customers. This is where you inform or inspire them in their journey towards purchase, and ensure that they remain involved with your products and services in between purchases. We call this experience driven commerce. However, consumers are getting used to new technological possibilities faster and faster and are adjusting their expectations ruthlessly. Organizations that are unable to respond to this will inevitably fail.
This also applies to B2B organizations, where a self-service ordering tool, for example, is increasingly becoming a must have. However, the moment you want to add such a tool to the front end of a traditional platform, your developers must also get to work on the back end. After all, this solution also requires the tool to be able to exchange information with the CRM. And what if a customer calls to request additional information about his order? Then you don't want them to have to hang on the line for minutes while an employee searches for the right information.
The obligation to carry out a lot of time-consuming work on the back end of each new service on the front end is a burden. As the platform continues to age, that handicap becomes more and more limiting. A headless e-commerce platform frees your developers from this growing limitation. Because they can work unhindered on the front or back end, the continued development of the platform becomes much easier, and only the time-to-market is reduced.
Because the front end and back end operate separately, a headless e-commerce platform relieves developers of an increasingly limiting handicap.
As a true e-commerce entrepreneur you are constantly thinking about new ways to make your customers happy. Thanks to the rapid technological developments, this is possible in more and more ways. The expanding technological possibilities also mean an important problem: how do you know which new solution best suits specific customer needs? Are customers really waiting for a new chatbot, or is that FAQ page still working to their full satisfaction?
Of course, a well-configured chatbot is capable of much more than relieving your service desk. Thanks to the digital interaction, for example, you can also collect more data about your customers' pain points. And a chatbot, in combination with the right data and recommendation engine, is also very capable of realizing a nice cross- or upsell. Every customer-centric organization should therefore be able to continuously experiment with new touchpoint solutions, tools or other additions to create a versatile and inspiring customer journey towards conversion.
Connect a new application for a headless platform via an API. This also means that it can always be done in the most relevant programming language. For example, a native or hybrid app for both Android and iOS instead of a web app. This makes it possible to continuously experiment with your customer journey using the familiar data-driven formula: test quickly, stop options with insufficient results and scale up proven solutions immediately. This gives your developers optimal freedom to create personalized shop experiences based on the latest trends and insights.
Headless commerce offers the optimal freedom to create personalized shop experiences based on the latest trends and insights.
A traditional e-commerce platform consists of inextricably linked components. This provides the certainty that all components fit together well and that all functionality is accessible through the same interface. After the often laborious and time-consuming implementation, developers can tailor the functionalities of the webshop to the specific needs of the organization. However, this tuning can only take place within certain parameters enforced by the software. New functionalities in the software are only available for use after rolling out an often expensive and complicated upgrade.
Headless commerce means that you can select the different components of a platform yourself. Because front-ends of a headless commerce platform communicate with the commerce platform via APIs, front-end developers do not need specialized knowledge of the package. Experience working with APIs is sufficient. As a result, onboarding is many times faster. Back-end developers do not have to do anything for the installation, configuration and performance of the software. This also makes their work a lot less complex.
Thanks to the specialization of the developer, these components often perform optimally. Headless e-commerce allows flexible experimentation with these separate components, and to keep only those that perform best in your specific environment. So a headless e-commerce environment always consists of the sum of optimally performing components. We call these "best of breed" applications. And because you are also never completely dependent on one supplier or expensive product specialist, this also benefits agility.
Thus, a headless e-commerce environment always consists of the sum of optimally performing "best of breed" components.
An omnichannel strategy aims to provide consumers with a consistent, high-quality experience across all available channels and touchpoints. To make this possible, an e-commerce platform must meet high standards. For example, you need to be able to make your content available via Instagram or Facebook as well. For a traditional e-commerce platform, this means that you have to repeatedly adapt your already produced product descriptions, blog posts, photos, videos and other content to new channels and solutions.
Because of the complete separation between front and back end, a headless e-commerce platform eliminates all those extra edits. The API layer between front and back transforms the centrally stored content towards each individual channel in the most appropriate template, layer or other form. So you can also use the product video on your website effortlessly in that new blog, ordering tool, Facebook Shop or Instagram Story. And thanks to the speed with which this is possible, you can always respond faster than the competition to the latest trends or preferences of your target group.
An omnichannel strategy also requires that each successive customer interaction seamlessly connects with the previous interaction. For traditional platforms, this is a difficult challenge, as the resulting customer data often ends up in separate silos. With the headless approach, all data generated by the different channels and touchpoints is stored centrally. As a result, there is only one customer profile, for example, which always contains the most current information. Vice versa, each individual channel can also access this centrally stored data effortlessly.
Thanks to the speed and flexibility of a headless platform, you hook into the latest trends and preferences among your target audience faster than the competition.
The need among consumers for personalized communication and services is increasing. More and more consumers want to be recognized and acknowledged, and are willing to give up some privacy if there is a clearly defined benefit in return*. A clever product tip, for example, or a personalized offer for a product that matches their personal preferences, as evidenced by their previous purchase or click behavior. To make that possible, it is crucial that aggregated customer data is collected centrally and can be analyzed in context.
The analysis of this aggregated data provides valuable insights into the needs and motivations of different groups of (potential) customers. Based on those insights, you want to be able to show those groups different content at different points in their customer journey. One group may require an email or Instagram Story that elaborates on the key product benefits for that group. The other group may be ready for an offer that the data suggests will have the most impact: a temporarily reduced price, free accessory or other relevant trigger.
Again, the smart content distribution and centralized data storage of a headless platform gives them a significant edge. On top of this, artificially intelligent applications that translate aggregated customer data into effective personalized communications are currently developing at lightning speed. The most innovative and powerful applications are naturally located in the cloud. The headless architecture makes it possible to add these applications directly to the platform, without the need for laborious rearrangements.
The smart content distribution and centralized data storage of a headless platform gives a real edge in agile marketing and personalization.
Speed is a crucial quality of every website. Increasingly demanding consumers have less and less patience for slow-loading websites. Moreover, loading speed is an important assessment factor for Google. Google continuously monitors how long it takes for a request from the browser to reach the server and how quickly the server is then able to show visitors the correct (HTML) information. The faster this succeeds, the greater the chance that you will appear above your competitors in the search results.
Traditional platforms are developed for a traditional technical infrastructure. Their performance is determined by the capacity and processing power of local servers. Adding more computing power (CPUs), additional servers and optimizing the configuration is laborious, complex and therefore time consuming. This also makes it difficult to respond adequately to rapid growth in the number of orders, peak loads on the site, internationalization or other changing circumstances. As a result, these often lead to a loss of performance.
Modern headless solutions, such as BigCommerce, Commercetools and ShopifyPlus, are built in and for the cloud ('cloud-native'). Capacity, processing power and other resources automatically scale with changing circumstances. The user does not have to do anything for this. To capitalize on the success of headless commerce, many traditional vendors are now offering their existing platforms and tools through the cloud. Unfortunately, these require continuous upgrades and the APIs added at a later stage are often incomplete. Only cloud-native platforms therefore make optimal use of the flexible performance advantages of the cloud.
The decoupling between back end and front end frees the headless platform from numerous dependencies that negatively affect performance.
Curious about the whole story of why the future of e-commerce is headless? Download the bundled document as a whitepaper here for free and without registration.
This document is aimed at digital directors, e-commerce managers and enterprise architects who want to modernize their e-commerce platform. With headless development you are able to professionalize your e-commerce ecosystem and take it to the next level. In this white paper you can read how.