Headless and API Driven eCommerce Applications

Posted / 29 April, 2021

Author / Enginess

Headless and API Driven eCommerce Applications

With a new approach or technology, it’s often hard to bridge the gap between a cool idea, and practical application of that idea. So hard, in fact, that a lot of technology and ideas never make it across.

Headless and API driven tools have, thankfully, managed to enter the mainstream, but there’s still a lot of confusion over what you can actually do with these solutions. 

Today, we’re going to dive into a few common ecommerce applications of this technology, so you can better understand what to do with headless ecommerce and decide if this approach is right for you.

1. Create a Content Single Source of Truth

In a traditional  setup, ecommerce content is siloed, usually by channel or format. For instance, display is kept separate from Instagram content, or web content is stored apart from email content. Inevitably, mistakes happen. With a headless solution, you can centralize all your content into a single source of truth, so there’s one version of every piece, which is then dynamically  sent to the correct channel in the correct format via API. 

2. Responsive Marketing Teams

Your customers are always changing, and it’s a constant challenge for marketing teams to keep up. WIth headless ecommerce though, you can quickly adjust marketing campaigns on the fly without involving back-end resources. 

For example, say you sell outdoors gear. You might notice a big summer storm is coming, and want to spin up a campaign with 15% off raincoats.

With a headless solution, you could easily design and distribute this across every potential channel from a single place, without involving your development team. In contrast, a traditional solution would require changes across multiple channels to be completed individually, massively increasing the lift to run the campaign.

3. Fixing Mistakes

Mistakes happen. Eventually, every ecommerce store has pushed a sale wrong, entered the wrong promo code, uploaded the wrong URL or product shot, or generally told people the wrong thing.

These mistakes, while small, can take forever to walk back in  a traditional CMS because there are so many assets to change. 

A headless solution makes it far easier to fix mistakes because it can be done from one central location that will cascade through every asset or product you have.

4. One Inventory, Multiple Channels

Currently, a lot of major retailers have two inventory systems — one for in-store and one for online. This system, while it makes sense, delivers a worse customer experience and ends up costing sales. 

For instance, say a customer wants to buy a product that your business has in stock, but is shopping online and your product is in your in-store inventory system. That’s a sale you won’t capture.

A headless approach would allow you to centralize your inventory systems into one, and surface the right product at the right time. 

5. Design Anything

Web design for ecommerce is often restricted by the back-end requirements. Or, if not, takes a lot longer to change because of back-end restrictions. 

One common application of headless solutions is to empower marketing and design teams to tweak and change things quickly to optimize for a better user experience outside the confines of what the dev team needs to make the whole thing work.

6. Use the Right Language for Your Team

Because headless solutions rely on API connections to wire in different systems, each of those systems can be created and maintained in the programming language that suits the tool best.  Headless solutions also mean that you can build out a development team, again, around the language that suits you. 

Wrap Up

Headless solutions have tons of applications for ecommerce businesses. It allows marketing teams to move faster and make decisions based on the needs of the user, not the needs of the development team, it helps centralize content and data across multiple silos, and it means development teams can work in a way that suits them.

What applications for headless ecommerce have you seen? Let us know on Linkedin!

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