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Headless Commerce And Its Impact On The Future Of eCommerce

The ecommerce world is continuously changing, and it may lose its head. Yes, you heard it right, headless commerce could be the new thing and can be the future of ecommerce. Headless commerce is gradually increasing its popularity. Although it is a new name in the ecommerce, it has provided many benefits for both shop owners and customers, including faster website load, more personalization choices, and a lot. Headless commerce can become a norm for both B2B & B2C businesses. As per a survey, 86% of business owners are saying that they are experiencing rising customer acquisition costs. Thus, businesses have to create such an online experience that can bring customers in. The strategy many retailers are using to accomplish a content-led online store is headless commerce.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless Commerce simply means that the front-end presentation layer has been decoupled from the back-end solution which was responsible for all the features and functionalities of the ecommerce application. Due to this decoupling, the developers or shop owners can easily make changes without affecting the customer’s experience. The CMS store manages and delivers the content without any front-end layer.

Mostly the head or the frontend is a template or a theme that is decoupled or removed, leaving the only backend. For delivering content like products, blog posts, reviews, and ratings, on a screen or device, while front-end developers focus on how to represent that content using any framework they wish.

How Headless Commerce Help Your Ecommerce Business?

benefits of headless commerce for ecommerce business
As the expectations of customers are continuously increasing, every time a customer is exposed to a better shopping experience, it raises their expectations for other brands quite high. It ultimately implies that the ecommerce landscape is shifting and the ecommerce owner must need to maintain the pace to stand in the market. It gives you the agility to move faster. Here are the primary ways headless commerce can help your ecommerce business:

  • Flexible & Customizable: It is easy to manage the content and deliver it to any channel. The developers can create UX from scratch without any limitations. It is unachievable with traditional platforms where templates and pre-packaged modules determine the UX. The developers can also easily implement solutions like PIMs, OMS, ERPs, shipping logistics; modification, enhancement, extension via apps; as well as adding a custom checkout flow or a new field to a customer account.
  • API Delivered Commerce: In headless commerce, as there is no presentation layer, you can decide where the commerce will take place using APIs. Data is made available, no matter what device or channel users are on. There are many omnichannel networks from web applications to IoT, which can be enabled to integrate with CMS. Mostly REST APIs and GraphQL are used.
  • Highly futuristic: As there are no interdependencies, shop owners can easily implement and develop new solutions at a faster pace. There is no-need for reconfiguring any back-end logic. Headless commerce also supports newer technologies so that the innovation always drives up.

How does PWA technology relate to Headless Commerce technology?

pwa for ecommerce
Progressive Web Applications or PWAs is the best way to implement Headless Commerce Solution. The true potential of headless commerce is realized when the content delivery to different UIs doesn’t pose any problem. But how does PWA and Headless Commerce make it happen?

Headless commerce updates the info real quick and delivers instantly. It provides cloud features to run the app. It also gives complete liberty to include features in an app, and the coding language is no bar w.r.t app development. When the PWA gets headless, the term coined is PWA headless. In PWA headless, the data fetch through API making it more advance. With headless PWA, the app owner gets the advantage to maintain proof of their builds. It will allow them to refresh the design without re-implementing the whole content. PWA already comes among the best solutions in the web & mobile app platform, and adding the headless feature would be another feature in the cap.

  • Standardization: A headless PWA with its trending techniques allows a faster development. This, in turn, will allow the achievement of a standard.
  • New Architectures: You can achieve a lightning-fast frontend with the new architectures of microservices using headless PWA.
  • Latest Technological Stack: PWA employs ReactJS which provides flexibility to the developers to develop faster ecommerce stores in minimum time
  • Headless Mechanism: The API connection through headless approach and decoupling will allow backend modification with no effect on the frontend.
PWAHeadless PWA
1. PWA’s theme will be inherited from the website’s theme

2. For using these your website theme must be perfectly mobile responsive

3. It is a kind of approach like a native but not so close as in this we can not recode the layout/UI/design of the PWA independently from the website.

4. Admin can set the splash background color and theme color of the Progressive Web Application

5. As there is no independent theme for this PWA so it doesn’t have the PWA specific carousel in its theme.

1. PWA’s theme is not inherited from the website’s theme. It has its own theme developed on ReactJS.

2. You can use this in any case, no matter the website’s theme

3. It is very close to a Native App as its frontend can be independently re-coded for changing the PWA’s theme.

4. The splash background color, theme color, text color, button color, and button position can also be decided by the admin end.

5. The carousel and carousel images can also be managed and added by the Admin.

Also Read: Why Develop PWA for Your Magento eCommerce Store?

What are the Benefits of Headless commerce?

headless commerce
After understanding many of the things of Headless commerce, now let’s dive deeper into why this tripartite structure – frontend, API, backend – becomes very relevant for your business and leaves the realm of the too-technical.

1. Truly Omnichannel

A headless CMS lets you propel the content anywhere. For ecommerce, it means delivering your products, videos, blogs, reviews, etc. It also allows you to sell through digital signage or even PWAs. Using APIs you would be able to connect your ecommerce platform to different sales channels.

2. Highly competitive

Using headless you can do rapid updates without much impact on the back-end system. Thus, make changes in your front-end to coincide with the pace of consumer demands. For e.g. you can easily provide a highly optimized mobile browsing experience as the number of mobile users is on the rise. Since your frontend doesn’t depend much on the backend, you can add a rewards program without the need to do many customizations in the backend.

3. Powerful Agile Marketing

Do you want to design a new customer experience or want to promote your channel on a new social media platform? You can easily do this with headless commerce. The major ecommerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce lets you sell and promote products on different social media platforms. Hence, you can do campaigns within weeks on headless commerce.

4. Freedom to Experiment

You can do new experiments on the customer user interface without fear of risking the whole system. For e.g., if you want to A/B test specific parts, you can build a PWA you can create some errors in the process without affecting the backend operations you can create some errors in the process without affecting the backend operations.

5. Scalable

The developer can scale up both frontend and backend individually. Even there is a lot of traffic on the frontend, it doesn’t as such effect the backend as they are loosely coupled. Thus it results in a reduced operational cost, and stabilized availability.

Best Headless Commerce Platforms

1. Adobe Headless Commerce

Nearly a year ago, Adobe Commerce Cloud launches Headless offering to serve the high customer experience needs of enterprise customers. It is a robust and highly flexible infrastructure for continuous integration and delivery processes and also empower customers for quick and agile iterations of their code.

2. Bigcommerce Headless Commerce

Using Bigcommerce, you can power multiple stores on multiple platforms. You have the freedom to simultaneously run multiple stores across various front-end solutions all from a single BigCommerce account.

3. Hybris Headless Commerce

Hybris headless commerce is innovated with Angular JS on SAP Commerce cloud. It simplifies and speeds up development using a modern JS storefront. It is extendable and storefront communicates with commerce platform using REST APIs. It can be customized for business needs.

4. Shopify Headless Commerce

Shopify Headless Commerce engages customers through innovative and creative storefronts, like kiosks, billboards, smart mirrors, wearables, and vending machines. It experiments with agile marketing and A/B testing to update your campaigns.

5. Magento Headless Commerce

Magento is a really good fit for the back-end of a headless build, be it via a separate framework or a headless CMS. Magento’s page builder or content staging and preview are good examples of features that fall under this.

Also Read: Magento 2.3 PWA Installation – The Complete Guide

6. Drupal Headless Commerce

Drupal Commerce allows you to implement headless commerce and helps in monetizing the moment of heightened emotion as most of the time, the inspiration, which is potent at the moment, diminishes to a fleeting whim.

7. Salesforce Headless Commerce

The Salesforce Headless Commerce approach will increase customer lifetime value (CLV) because it enables brands to meet customers across owned and third-party platforms.

Frontend Frameworks for Headless eCommerce

The best frontend frameworks for headless commerce are:

  • Vue.js: Vue.js is amongst the lightweight and progressive JS framework
  • React.js: React.js is the declarative JS library for building spectacular user interfaces
  • Angular: A TypeScript-based open-source framework best for developing highly-interactive web applications
  • Nuxt.js: It is an open-source high-level framework built on top of Vue.js
  • Inferno.js: Inferno.js is a highly fast JS library for developing modern user interfaces
  • Next.js: It is an open-source JS framework based on the Vue.js framework
  • Express.js: It has been called the de facto standard server framework for Node.js

Also Read: How to Develop eCommerce Mobile App?

Middleware Orchestration Layers for Headless Commerce

One way or another, the front end needs to get all the data from the headless commerce application programming interface. Rather than call the commerce API’s directly from the front end, we prefer to add a middleware orchestration layer that provides various services like caching, and allows us to consolidate responses from multiple external systems via reliable high bandwidth connections. In addition to presenting commerce data, most of our implementations also interact with a CMS.

We prefer to write our orchestration layers in Node.js, mainly because we find it to be highly efficient and productive. Node.js has a thriving development community with oodles of libraries, and continually improving development workflows. The compatibility with our front-end Javascript is another advantage, making it possible to share code between the client and the server (similar to what we do with isomorphic server-side rendering).

CMS for Headless Commerce

The best CMS for the Headless Commerce are:

  • Amplience: Amplience is an enterprise-level platform mostly used for headless
  • Acquia: Acquia is a drupal based CMS platform for the headless
  • Butter CMS: ButterCMS is an API-based or “headless” CMS which allow you to do the same things as WordPress in terms of enabling your clients
  • Cockpit: Cockpit is a very simple content platform for managing any structured content. It is a self-hosted headless and API-driven CMS
  • Contentstack: Contentstack brings business and technology teams together to deliver personalized, omnichannel digital experiences
  • Contentful: Not exactly a CMS, yet Contentful can do everything a traditional CMS can do
  • Core dna: Core dna is a headless SaaS CMS and Commerce Platform. It can empower your team to quickly launch eCommerce sites and implement digital marketing
  • Craft: For using Craft as a headless CMS, it should act as a content API instead of (or in addition to) a regular website
  • DatoCMS: DatoCMS is a headless CMS. It can create the online content at scale from a central hub and distribute it easily via API to websites and any other digital experience
  • Deity: Deity is a React.js based API-first headless ecommerce platform
  • Directus: Directus 8 is a data-first headless CMS that wraps custom SQL databases with a dynamic API, and provide an intuitive admin app for managing its content
  • Gatsby: Gatsby is a static site generator based on React and GraphQL. A headless CMS offers a read-only API, that can be read by your static site generator

Static Site Generators Platform for Headless eCommerce

  • Jekyll: Jekyll gives you a simple, blog-aware personal or organizational sites. It is written in Ruby language by the co-founder of GitHub Tom Preston-Werner
  • Hugo: Hugo is among the most popular open-source static site generators, and comes with amazing speed & flexibility.
  • Gatsby: Gatsby is a blazing fast modern site generator for React. It can also build blogs, ecommerce sites, and full-blown apps.
  • Spike: Spike is an advanced, modern static site generator built on top of webpack.
  • Wyam: Wyam is a modular and extremely configurable static content generator and toolkit.
  • VuePress: VuePress generates pre-rendered static HTML for each page, and runs as a SPA once a page is loaded.hire ecommerce developers

10 Best Example of Headless commerce

1. Nike

Nike
Nike has gone headless with its PWA for its advantage of more conversion rate. The shoe manufacturer giant has increased its conversion rate from 15-30%.

2. Venus

Venus fashion
Venus Fashion went headless and reduced its median mobile web page load time to 320 milliseconds. It increases the page loading speed from 15% to 73%.

3. Koala

Koala mattress
The highest-rated mattress brand of Australia, Koala decoupled the content from the code to free the engineers and writers from each other dependency. Thus, now they can create new pages, products, and content much faster.

4. Target

Target ecommerce
Target is another leading ecommerce player in the US. It adopted the headless to reduce the bounce rates and higher ROI from SEM.

5. Amazon

Amazon
The biggest ecommerce giant Amazon has also adopted headless for its captivating site speed which is the new competitive battleground for ecommerce.

6. Walmart

walmart
Another biggest example of headless commerce is Walmart which has increased website improvement velocity through simpler/reduced code.

7. United Airlines

United Airlines
Not only ecommerce, but aviation sites like United Airlines have adopted headless for their PWA.

8. Lancome

Lancome cosmetics
Lancome is a luxury cosmetic brand and comes under Forbes’s most valuable brands in 2019. It is also adopted headless for its PWA benefits.

9. Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line
If you are a traveler then you must have heard this name, Carnival Cruise Line is one of the world’s largest travel-leisure agencies. They adopted the headless and find it is good for booking management.

10. Feel Unique

Feel Unique
Feel Unique is Europe’s leading retailer of beauty products. They developed the React PWA with the headless approach.

The Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

Regardless of how many the pros of a platform are, there are always a few cons that should also be noted. So, let’s know about the drawbacks of headless commerce as well.

Costing

As you are separating your frontend from the backend, now you have to spend on two separate environments i.e. the cost will become twice. There could be upfront costs as well for setting up headless commerce.

Increases complexity

Now you will deal with multiple vendors & technologies having their own set of bugs & security issues plus they have their ways of installing, configure, troubleshoot, and also in support. All these tasks require more works and increase complexity.

Loss of Native Ecommerce Functionality

It depends on your current ecommerce platform you can also lose native frontend features after separating it from the frontend. Features like Page building, previewing (WYSIWYG), and also merchandising wouldn’t be further available.

Also Read: How to Develop an eCommerce Website?

author profile
About Author
Author Name:
Amit Samsukha

Certified Magento 2 Consultant

Author Bio:

I am a certified Magento developer and Magento 2 consultant with a decade of experience in the ecommerce development segment. My expertise can make your business objectives overcome any obstacle you are dealing with the Magento ecommerce platform!

About Emizentech:

An acclaimed IT solution provider and a leading Magento 2 development company with its expertise lies in delivering top of the line ecommerce solutions, Salesforce commerce cloud services, mobile app development and many more verticals.

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