Headless Commerce: What is It and How Does it Work?

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“Headless commerce” might sound like something straight out of a horror story but it’s actually a revolutionary development that could have a big impact on eCommerce and digital marketing.

With headless commerce, the front and backend of an eCommerce platform are decoupled. While the two remain connected through APIs, with headless commerce you can implement dramatic change on either the front or backend while leaving the other end largely untouched.

In this post, we’re going to explore how a headless commerce system works and why it’s a vital part of building your Digital Commerce 2.0 system.

What is Headless Commerce and What Are the Benefits?

In a headless system, the front and backends operate separately from one another. As such, change on one side doesn’t require reciprocal change on the other side. This may seem like a minor development, but for eCommerce, it’s a big deal.

Nearly all web traffic initially came from traditional PCs, including desktops and laptops. This encouraged the development of “full-stack” websites, meaning the back and frontends were closely tied together. Change one thing anywhere in the front or backend and it often necessitated a reciprocal change on the other end.

In practice, this discouraged experimentation and customization. For example, on the surface, changing the UX might have seemed simple and straightforward but it would have required a major overhaul of the backend, eating up limited IT resources.

This discouraged innovation but headless commerce is now changing the way websites are structured and developed.

Headless Commerce: How Does it Work?

Headless commerce is proving to be especially useful for content-heavy websites. These days, many websites are constantly changing content in an effort to optimize SEO, conversion rates, and more.

In the past, major changes to the customer-facing user interface (UI) might have required major changes to the backend. With headless commerce, you can often overhaul the frontend of a website without having to touch the backend.

How does this work? You can connect the frontends and backends “heads”, or touchpoints, using APIs. This way, you can develop the front and backend separately, then connect them seamlessly with APIs.

If you overhaul your user interface, changing the way content is presented, adding in different buttons, or whatever else, you don’t have to rewrite the backend. Instead, you do your work on the frontend, then reconnect the two ends with APIs.

Likewise, if you wanted to overhaul your database or whatever else on the backend, you could do so and reconnect with the frontend.

So How is Headless Commerce Going to Revolutionize Ecommerce?

So why should you care about any of the above or headless commerce in general? This technology is already reshaping the eCommerce landscape and if you don’t pay attention, you could fall behind. Markets are competitive. Those eCommerce stores that use the latest technologies and that maximize conversion rates and other metrics, stand the best chance of succeeding.

Headless commerce makes it easier to boost many of your metrics and to gain competitive advantages in other ways as well. Let’s take a look.

Adapt on the fly: Want to redo your user interface? Care to test out new content? In the past, this might have meant redoing your backend. With headless commerce, you can adjust your user interface and other customer-facing assets quickly.

Go Omni-channel: Headless commerce makes it easier to deliver any type of content anywhere. Videos, images, blog posts, infographics, memes, you can deliver whatever you need. You can also use digital signage and progressive web applications.

This goes far beyond websites as well. You can sell products through apps, social media networks, and more. Headless commerce makes omni-channel much easier.

Launch to the Market Quicker: Rolling out new products? With headless commerce, you can often get products onto the market more rapidly. With your content and products centralized, you can quickly deploy them through your API, pushing them through multiple channels.

Increased Customization: Many eCommerce websites and channels are working to provide visitors with customized experiences. Head to some eCommerce sites and they’ll offer recommended products that were chosen with the use of AI algorithms and other technologies. Since content is easier to deploy with headless commerce, you can customize the user experience and content presented by demographics (age, for example) and other factors.

These are just some of the many benefits of headless commerce. We could go on and on. Consider that easier omnichannel and new product deployment will reduce workloads on your staff. This could increase productivity and employee engagement, leading to benefits elsewhere.

Since headless commerce often requires fewer labor hours per project, this could also reduce costs. Further, headless commerce allows you to easily integrate with tools and could even improve website speed.

The above benefits are considerable, however, we’ve only scratched the surface. Headless commerce is already revolutionizing eCommerce.

Should I Move to Headless Commerce?

Essentially every eCommerce store will benefit by moving to headless commerce. In an intensely competitive landscape, you need to carve out every competitive advantage you can.

If you can launch products more quickly or boost conversion rates with customized content, your eCommerce store will not only survive but also thrive.

Even if moving to headless commerce will require a major overhaul, it’s smart to make the move sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the greater the risk that you’ll fall behind the competition. Let’s consider a use-case.

Let’s say you’re a distributor for three different manufacturing companies selling car parts. Each manufacturer uses its own system. Owing to this, in the past, you might have had to set up different websites to sell each of their parts.

With headless commerce, you can integrate all three of their backend systems into one seamless user interface. Now, working with all three of your suppliers is straightforward and relatively easy. Your customers see one simple “Amazon-like” marketplace and behind the scenes, it connects to your many different supplies and systems.

How to Move to a Headless Commerce System

Moving to a headless commerce system isn’t a hard as it sounds when you have the right partner. At PhaseZero, we rely on industry-leading technology and a Silicon-Valley approach to help you accelerate your digital transformation. We built our CxCommerce system to be headless. Why? We knew it would allow us to scale our platform to meet the growing needs fo our clients. We also knew that our clients, many who are industrial and manufacturing companies, would need to integrate with a variety of other systems like their ERPs, CRMs, or existing inventory systems. CxCommerce leverages headless technology to seamlessly integrate your existing systems into a modern digital commerce system so you can create the best omni-channel customer experience.

Schedule a demo today to learn more about how CxCommerce can work for you.

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