The digital consumer experience is the foundation of retail success in the current commerce landscape. E-commerce business owners are expected to carefully create and curate online experiences that attract visitors and convert them into customers. Way back in 1998 Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said he wanted to get personal with e-commerce by guessing what a customer would want long before they took steps towards a purchase; today, headless commerce is making such a personalized experience possible.
In an age where modern buyers seek instant satisfaction and seamless digital experiences, capturing and capitalizing data is crucial. The average person stays on a website for just 15 seconds, scanning the page for quick clues that offer easy insight into what they’re seeking. With competition more fierce than ever, any point of friction or distraction in the buyer’s journey can cause online shoppers to move on to the next best retailer.
Moreover, modern consumers want full control over the channels and devices they can use to consume content or make purchases. In other words, retailers are dealing with shoppers who have embraced the IoT experience and want to interact with brands with zero or minimal effort. More often than ever, customers are turning to progressive web apps or voice-controlled IoT devices before buying desktop computers.
Simply put, IoT allows brands to meet their customers wherever they are, and this is the fundamental foundation of everything from Amazon’s Alexa device to universal remote controls to Google (News - Alert) Home. These devices are able to connect to the Internet, interact with other smart devices, and grant users remote access to manage those devices and perform tasks on their behalf.
Keeping up with the customer’s continuously changing expectations has become a challenge to most legacy eCommerce platforms. However, brands that are embracing the IoT era and offering a flexible, seamless digital experience to customers are reaping the benefits. Headless commerce is one such strategy being used to achieve this.
The integration between content and commerce is more vital than ever, and the age-old adage “Content is king” still reigns true, even with design playing a more integral role. Forward-thinking marketers know that content-led strategies yield organic traffic in a commerce landscape where paid traffic barriers are becoming more commonplace.
Ultimately, headless commerce is a solution that bridges the gap between content and the sales funnel by increasing the potential ways that customers can make a purchase and interact with brands.
What is Headless Commerce?
Headless commerce is a solution that separates the front-end presentation layer (usually visible to the online shoppers) of a website from the backend functionality, enabling them to work independently. The back-end functionality contains eCommerce data such as promotions, customer reviews, product catalogs, descriptions, and prices.
With a separated system, front-end developers can make changes and determine the best way to deliver high-quality content experiences without depending on the backend. The changes and customizations developers make on the front-end don’t affect the processes and operations that are pooled in the backend. An architecture like this allows developers to make changes to the back or front end without causing a code domino effect to either.
Amazon is one of the best examples of a headless commerce infrastructure. Amazon Dash buttons and Amazon Alexa commands feed through Amazon Prime, separate from their traditional website. Anyone can request information about or purchase a product through those features, which wouldn’t be possible without IoT or headless e-commerce.
How Does Headless Commerce Work?
A headless eCommerce system works by bringing two concepts together—the utility application programming interface (APIs) as the delivery mechanism to the customer’s touchpoint (mobile app or website) and a backend functionality as the eCommerce data-source. A product or content is delivered from the data source to a customer touchpoint through API calls.
For example, when a shopper clicks a "Add to Cart" button on a mobile app, the front-end presentation layer sends an API call to the back-end application layer for implementation (order processing). It doesn’t stop there. The application layer sends feedback, through an API call, to the front-end presentation layer to show the shopper their order has successfully been added to the cart.
Headless commerce is an experience-led and content-led strategy that allows brands to find sales opportunities on different platforms and devices, enabling them to respond more effectively and quickly to new customer demands.
Business owners should consider headless commerce if:
? They’re an experience-focused or content-driven brand looking to implement AR, AI, or personalization capabilities for their site
? They’re looking to merge their eCommerce website with their content site (if they are separate)
? They want to add commerce to the CMS they’re already using
? They’re looking to provide visitors with seamless digital experiences across various channels, touchpoints, and devices
? They’re a brand with multiple sites powered by the same backend.
Headless commerce is essential to the survival of eCommerce brands in the IoT era. Adopting this infrastructure can mean the difference between surviving and falling behind the technological curve.
Moving forward, headless commerce will become critical in a business’s ability to create more personal and consistent customer experiences. As mentioned, customer needs and expectations are continuously changing.
Moreover, online shoppers are looking for instant satisfaction and want consistent digital experiences across all channels and devices. With a headless commerce system, business owners can provide visitors high-quality content experiences across all touchpoints and devices. The backend functionality already has valuable data about the customer. This data can be leveraged to understand customers’ needs and personalize their experiences across all channels.
Headless commerce also offers better conversion optimization. The fact that business owners can vary the frontend presentation layer without altering the backend functionality means they can run continuous optimization cycles to better understand their customers and behaviors. For instance, a brand could be running the same front-end search while testing a different search template in the backend.
Allows for Seamless Integrations
Retailers require a system that allows them to seamlessly tailor their e-commerce architecture to meet marketing goals and fulfill business circumstances. A headless eCommerce system utilizes an API, which makes it easier to integrate an e-commerce platform to any new device. This means they can more easily expand their opportunities while outreaching to prospective customers.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Headless commerce presents business owners with an opportunity to separate the technical aspects of a business from its visual aspects, allowing them the flexibility necessary to adopt and implement test projects and innovations. Whether retailers want to add a new field to a user account or implement a custom checkout flow, they can make customizations without having to edit multiple layers of coding as it’s the case with traditional comers.
Lower Customer Acquisition Costs
Lastly, one of the challenges many e-commerce businesses are facing is increasing customer acquisition costs. To combat this, retailers can reduce their acquisition costs by improving the digital experience and providing users with valuable, engaging, and easy-to-find content on their own channels. Headless e-commerce can effectively lower those costs by ensuring dynamic and seamless customer experiences which, eventually, increase conversion rates.