The ecommerce business has become highly competitive, and it’s a fast-changing environment. Many retailers are finding it tough going considering Amazon now controls nearly half (49 percent) of the ecommerce space.
A recent survey by Big Commerce and Retail Dive revealed that 86 percent of business leaders are experiencing increased customer acquisition costs (CAC). The combination of greater online competition and rising media costs makes it vital to find a winning strategy for attracting organic traffic.
Many are turning to headless ecommerce as a new way to create an engaging and valuable online shopping experience.
What Is Headless Ecommerce?
Headless ecommerce is a different approach to online sales that deals mainly with your software architecture. Specifically, a “headless” solution is one that manages, stores, and delivers your ecommerce content without the use of a front-end layer.
When you use a headless ecommerce system, the front end of your architecture, which is often a theme or template, is removed or decoupled. Instead, developers will use APIs to deliver things like blog posts, product listings, and customer reviews to a screen or device. At the same time, you can use any framework you wish to present that content in a way that is pleasing and best serves your customers.
Headless Ecommerce vs. Traditional Ecommerce
The difference between a headless and traditional ecommerce platform can be confusing. If you are still using a traditional platform, it will be tied to the “head,” which is the front-end. If developers want to change a traditional platform, they risk preventing future updates to the system, which isn’t an issue with a headless one.
A traditional ecommerce system might have some pre-defined personalization parameters, but most stop there. With a headless system, you have endless customization opportunities and can change anything from the checkout experience to the look of the customer account page.
The Key Benefits of Adopting a Headless Ecommerce Architecture
If you want an example of a true headless ecommerce architecture, just head over to Amazon.com. The online retail giant has set a precedent for delivering a seamless online customer shopping experience, and it’s something that many consumers now use as the gold standard. In fact, Wunderman Thomas released a study revealing that 60 percent of consumers want an experience similar to Amazon Prime.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to replicate the Amazon experience with a traditional ecommerce platform. But you can get closer with a headless one. Here are some of the primary benefits of adopting this type of architecture.
1. Create an omnichannel solution.
As an ecommerce brand, one of your goals is likely to get your content in front of as many eyes as possible. If you are relying on traditional architecture, this might be more challenging.
But a headless ecommerce website will allow you to deliver your content and brand everywhere at once. You can have a presence on digital signage, Alexa, various apps, video sites, and the good old-fashioned web.
2. Remain competitive.
Did you know that Amazon updates its site every 11.7 seconds on average? This reduces both the frequency and duration of outages as well as improves the user experience.
A headless platform allows you to stay in front of your competition by deploying partial or complete updates to your system on the fly. Even better, these updates won’t impact the back-end of your system, so everything will continue to operate as it should in the eyes of the consumer.
3. Facilitate fast marketing changes.
Let’s assume you want to bring a new product to market, launch a new marketing campaign, or create a new feature on your site. A headless system can drastically reduce the time it takes to make these changes so that you won’t lose valuable time and revenue dollars. With a traditional system, setting up a new program might take weeks or months, but with headless ecommerce, you can shorten this lead time to just hours or days instead.
4. Create a more personal and consistent customer experience.
Thanks to Amazon, today’s consumers now expect a consistent and personalized customer experience. A traditional ecommerce system may not give you the tools you need to deliver this, but you can design it into a headless one. You can use customer search and purchase data to create a recommendation feature and marketing program that extends into social channels and mobile apps.
5. Achieve better conversion optimization.
Few marketers hit the bullseye on their first attempt, but a headless ecommerce solution gives you an advantage. On the back-end, you can continue to experiment with different search or optimization solutions until you find the one that gives you the best results. At the same time, these tests will give you a better understanding of your customers so that you can improve your products and services.
Potential Drawback of Headless Ecommerce
Headless ecommerce solutions aren’t perfect. If you’re going to adopt this architecture, you should understand the potential challenges you’ll face. Among them are:
1. Ongoing costs
Since you won’t have a front end with a headless solution, you’ll need to create your own. Many see this is a golden opportunity to develop something that is unique, that best represents the brand, and that caters to the customer’s wants and needs. But, it can also take some time and come at a greater cost than a traditional solution.
2. Marketer isolation
Since the front-end isn’t there, you no longer have that ease of use that you would with some platforms. For example, some companies love creating content and materials in a WYSIWG environment and previewing items on different devices. These tasks now fall more to the IT team than the marketing department.
Need Help Making Decisions About Your Ecommerce Site?
Whether you’re ready for a full ecommerce website revamp or some subtle tweaks that will improve conversions, Connection Model can help. We’ve successfully implemented a variety of ecommerce solutions for clients and welcome any opportunity to discuss your needs.
Contact us today to schedule an assessment and learn more about how our results-based solutions can help your business.
Written By: David Carpenter