Contrast that to our current reality, where the internet of things is rapidly shifting from academic to practical, and it becomes clear we need a better way to sell online.
That’s where headless ecommerce comes in. Let’s find out why.
What is Headless E-Commerce?
Let’s get on the same page.
Headless ecommerce is a different architecture for managing an online store.
Traditionally, the front-end and back-end of a website were tightly coupled. This meant that the experience of the customer, the admin / publisher, and developer were all connected. The benefit of this approach was you could make extremely modular experiences. That is, you could build something on the back end, which created a specific experience on the front end, which cascaded down to the customer journey. This could then be duplicated as needed.
Headless ecommerce disconnects frontend and backend development, instead running everything through an API layer. While this gives up the templated, modular approach, it means that you can create any customer experience you want on the front end and simply fire an API call to get the backend data you need.
So why would anyone want this?
Glad you asked.
Headless Simplifies Data Management
As systems become more complex and data becomes more of a differentiator for companies, it becomes more important to unite disparate systems. Take, for instance, a major retailer. They might have a CMS database, a website database tracking user engagement, a CRM, an ERP, and online and in-store inventory systems.
Getting all that connected so you can display the right product to the right person at the right time, with a functional call to action, is a mammoth undertaking if you have to wire them all together.
Headless ecommerce means that you don’t have to integrate those systems with each other. You just have to plug them into an API layer and write simple programming logic for the front end for when to call each one. By going via an API, it massively reduces the integration effort required.
Headless Enables Custom Experiences
Customers can now shop from anywhere, which means ecommerce needs to be everywhere as well. However, it’s a lot easier to build a functional front end experience when you don’t have to worry about back end implications. Headless ecommerce frees up publishers to build the way their customers want, rather than restricting them to a specific module, pre-determined by hard-coded connections between the customer experience and the company database.
Headless E-Commerce is Scalable
With headless ecommerce, you can build dozens of front end experiences that all link to the same back end data. For example, you might have 10 different versions of a web page showing a specific product, spread across apps, in-store kiosks, websites, and social media stores. So long as they all fire the same API call, you only have one version of that product in the back end. This makes maintaining large catalogues much easier over time.
Headless ecommerce also means it’s easier to increase system complexity, either via new front end experiences or back end solutions. you can simply plug in new products to your overall tech stack and pass your new data to the API layer without worrying about cross-integrations.
Companies are dangerously close to writing omni-channel cheques their systems can’t cash. That is, they’re promising the vision of a unified, seamless customer experience while not being capable of scaling their delivery on that promise. Even if traditional ecommerce works for now, it won’t work forever.
Headless ecommerce is a fundamentally different approach, and one that is inherently scalable as IoT takes hold and channels, devices, and experiences proliferate.
Who knows. Maybe tomorrow someone will invent a better way to scale ecommerce solutions. But right now, in our mind, headless is the only viable option.