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headless commerce

How headless commerce is driving change in online business


For over a decade, retailers and grocers alike continue to adapt to a more modern, online experience. With the availability of new communication channels and e-commerce integration platforms, consumer shopping habits are changing faster than ever before. 

The global online retail market is predicted to be worth $7.65 trillion by 2028. While this growth is good news for businesses who are capable of expanding online, third-party websites and e-commerce platforms continue to claim the online market and highlight the challenges of independent retailers.  

Embracing technologies that meet modern consumer demands without compromising a brand’s identity is imperative. Technologies such as headless commerce allow e-commerce platforms to compete effectively in a digital world, enabling a company’s ability to be agile as trends shift. 

Here's how headless commerce works and provides solutions for the future well beyond the year 2021.  

How does headless commerce work?  

The key attributes required by a modern e-commerce solution are agility and flexibility. Agility, so that online retailers can make changes rapidly and stay one step ahead of the competition, and flexibility, so that online retailers can deploy a range of different tools and applications, continually innovating and engaging with their customers.

Rather than an all-encompassing system, headless commerce splits the back-end e-commerce systems from the various front-end services and applications. Each of these elements becomes separate touch-points.

Features of a headless commerce approach include the following:

  • A headless commerce approach is driven by agile microservices and connected by APIs 
  • API’s can be used to integrate with multiple devices (smart technologies, TVs, wearable tech, etc) 
  • An inventory system tracks products, allowing businesses to connect with local warehouses to ease communication flow and costs
  • The integration of databases track customer behavior and buying patterns 
  • API’s function to data to move freely between both front-end and back-end systems, giving business owners the freedom to operate their platforms with efficiency instead of relying on developers to make any changes 

A separately designed and managed website or native mobile app might function as a single digital storefront for a group of physical stores. In the separated back-end, a ‘microservice’ might manage the online basket and checkout processes. Each microservice stores its own data but is able to share information via Application Programming Interfaces (API), meaning they can all function together as a complete e-commerce system.

Why should businesses use headless commerce?

Traditional e-commerce solutions with a monolithic structure were originally built to support desktop computers in the early phases of digitalization. Now, we live in a mobile-driven era where smartphones are at the core of consumer behavior. 

Retailers who embraced the monolithic structure early- on are now facing challenges as they pivot to make their platforms more mobile-friendly. The monolithic structure of these platforms can be highly complex, which means, any changes to an e-commerce platform can become very complicated and time-consuming. 

Headless commerce is a  promising solution for businesses that hope to integrate both the front-end and back-office systems with ease while leaving room for future improvements. From making a change to a customer database or improving an online check-out process, headless commerce allows business owners to own the entire shopping experience, ultimately saving time and costs in the long run. 

Is headless commerce the future? 

By implementing a headless infrastructure, e-commerce retailers have the ability to reach customers at every touch-point. As the future of retail becomes more digital and mobile-friendly, headless commerce will only continue to compliment the smart device shopping experience. 

Retail will inevitably evolve as customers retain greater flexibility and opportunities for instant gratification. Headless commerce architecture provides the agility for retailers to respond to changes within their industry as they happen, without the pain of waiting for a third party to create a new feature or deliver content,  saving time and money in the long run.

Are headless commerce solutions the future of e-commerce? As we head into a new decade, retailers are certain to be under greater pressure to adapt their online presence than ever before. Engaging and creative e-commerce websites with sophisticated mobile functionality are no longer a nice-to-have – they are essential. New methods and channels for interacting with customers are emerging all the time and those with monolithic e-commerce infrastructure will face problems keeping up. 

A headless commerce approach, driven by agile microservices and connected by APIs, provides a way to remove constraints posed by traditional platforms and remain competitive, flexible, and ready for future advancement.

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