Headless eCommerce may seem like another tech buzzword but it's a site architecture that changes how eCommerce businesses serve the ever-evolving demands of their customers.
Headless eCommerce is the separation of front-end and the back-end platforms that allows for separation of front-end design and back-end programming so:
● that changes within the site architecture are more controlled,
● offers more personalization to your end-users,
● and establishes enough flexibility with your site layout that your end customer can continue to have the same level of experience when browsing your marketplace through their mobile phone to browsing your marketplace through their Wearable Watch.
This way, headless eCommerce enables the same level of personalization for your marketplace customers no matter what device that they are on.
While headless eCommerce is a difficult concept to understand outright, it's best to understand how headless eCommerce works through the following example:
What makes Retail tick?
In a traditional scenario, you walk into a store to purchase something.
The cashier gives it to you.
You then walk out of the store.
If you were doing business with a small business owner who sees you as a regular, they would probably ask you about details about your life.
You may have already told him about a particular problem that you had and on your next visit, you would be able to get offered your preferred suggestion the next time you enter into a door.
While one can remark that it was nice for the small business owner to use personalized details about their regular customers to help them, the scary question is that under a traditional commerce world, it would be completely unscaleable.
For example, for a larger chain like a grocery store, what sequence of events would have to be triggered to allow the event like the one previously described to happen not just to you but to other customers at scale?
That heartwarming example is completely unscaleable.
In this example, your customer visits your marketplace website.
They are recommended the exact toothbrush that they have been looking for through search algorithms.
As long as they are on your website or mobile app, you can always expect that your customer will always get what they need by you have painstakingly engineered that to be the only possibility.
However, the real trouble comes when they try to use your marketplace through a voice assistant or a kiosk that offers your marketplace.
These Internet-connected devices pose a greater threat and inefficiency than the previous example ("traditional example")
● The first disappointing example is that your website is too engineered on one front but not flexible through other interfaces. For example, your marketplace doesn't display your items well through a voice assistant. Your marketplace doesn't communicate well with a Wearable Watch. When you originally built the site, you just had to be mobile-first. However, there are an increasing number of Internet-connected devices that your customers can assess your marketplace through. Therefore, it becomes unscaleable to customize your website to every single upcoming interface in existence.
● The second disappointment is because your marketplace operates as a silo, you can't use an omnichannel approach to stay in contact with your potential customer. The UX suffers because your website wasn't built for a format that it wasn't accustomed to. As a result, your checkout process isn't smooth but much rather rough.
The promise of Headless commerce
With the 2 aforementioned examples stated, headless eCommerce is an approach to address this problem.
Headless commerce separates (individualized) portions of your website to make it easier for your customer to interpret what your marketplace is showcasing through a different interface.
How headless eCommerce functions is that instead of showing an entire page upfront first, it instead rearranges individualized sections of your pages (title; price; reviews; etc) and reorganizes them into a more customer-friendly format so that your end users can easily interpret more clearly through different formats.
Whether you are speaking with a voice assistant or ordering from a kiosk, your customer has a consistent experience with your D2C brand.
This enables you to sell more products and reduce or keep your Cart Abandonment Rates low for your marketplace.
You are also able to offer more to your customers. - at scale as opposed to relying upon both traditional methods of eCommerce.
Why is Headless commerce Needed?
What makes headless eCommerce so incredibly special is the demand behind it: omnichannel marketing.
According to OmniSend, using 3 or more channels raises your purchase rate to be 287% higher versus only relying on 1 channel for their campaign.
Your current customers don't just use 1 channel at a time anymore but multiple channels instead.
This means that you can leverage headless eCommerce as a great way to meet your customers.
● If your customer is at a kiosk, your marketplace is there.
● If your customer prefers to shop by voice, your marketplace is there.
● If your customers are shopping at your marketplace through a Wearable, it means that your marketplace is there.
Leveraging omnichannel marketing is a way to drive traffic to your D2C brand and to be everywhere where your customer is using your eCommerce marketplace: be it from their computer, their mobile phone, tablet, or even a new Internet-connected device - without having to sacrifice customer service in the process.
Why Is it called "Headless"?
The reason why headless eCommerce is called "headless" is that it is separated from the backend processes of your website.
In traditional eCommerce, 2 systems are tightly bound to one another.
First, there is the front-end (the head) that handles:
● the design
● the copy
● the UI/UX
and then, there's the back-end (the site architecture that handles the processes that your customer doesn't see) such as:
● inventory management
● product information
● customer relationships
● cart and checkout information
In traditional eCommerce, modifying either the front-end or the back-end greatly changes the other.
In some cases, it may be an improvement but in most cases, you don't control the experience that your customers have.
This means that you have introduced several factors that you cannot easily account for when it comes to scaling and growing your marketplace.
One great use case for headless eCommerce is that you can modify the back-end properties of your marketplace without modifying the front-end.
This property of headless design enables greater customizability as you can modify how the back-end system functions without changing the front-end.
This means that you have a controlled customer experience.
One of the driving forces for headless eCommerce is Headless APIs.
APIs allow for information to be shown in different interfaces. As a result, this means that information can be broadcasted in a different medium and a format that fits your customer's expectations.
In short, headless eCommerce is necessarily built around customization while ensuring customer-friendliness.
How Headless commerce powers your omni-channel store?
Earlier, we mentioned the rise of omnichannel demand.
According to Marketing Week, the average person only used 2 touch-points when purchasing an item but today, nearly 50% use more than four touch-points.
Omnichannel marketing is a reaction to people using multiple devices to browse the Internet.
Leveraging headless eCommerce is an answer to meet the omnichannel demands of your customers.
How omni-channel is driving growth?
More than 35% of customers expect to contact the same customer service representative on multiple available channels, according to Zendesk.
Omnichannel marketing is shaping demand because customers now expect you to be where they are.
This means that while you can use several conjoined platforms to work with one another, the customer experience can be very clunky at best.
This also hurts your analytics since you need to make sure that you are tracking the same customers throughout their customer journey.
Since personalization is key to keeping your Cart Abandonment rates low, you must do everything you can to ensure that you are providing an overall consistently helpful experience for your customers - no matter what interface they are using.
Headless eCommerce promises to deliver the following:
● consistent customer experience throughout multiple user interfaces from desktop to kiosk to a voice assistant. Your marketplace maintains the same UX throughout multiple interfaces.
● the easier learning curve when adopting headless eCommerce. Headless eCommerce borrows technologies from several different sources; therefore, instead of having to learn an entirely new tech stack, you can implement tech from both Slack and from WordPress to form consistent user experiences throughout different user interfaces.
● that, in turn, means that your eCommerce marketplace has more access to talent who can run and manage these aspects of your marketplace instead of having to pay top-dollar for a professional with a very specific skill set.
● which, in turn, makes it immensely easier to scale and your marketplace outright.
The biggest reason why you should get started with headless eCommerce is because it isn’t some new pointless tech advent trend.
Instead, it’s a response to address that your consumer uses multiple devices and multiple touch-points throughout their buyer journey.
For more information on headless eCommerce, we recommend that you read our ultimate guide to headless eCommerce here.