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Headless commerce is not as scary as it seems

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Headless commerce enhances the online customer experience.

The term “headless commerce” can seem daunting.

It may conjure up thoughts of zombies, monsters and other scary beings that know a thing or two about decoupling a “head” and a “back-end.” However, headless commerce is neither bad nor scary. Really, headless commerce is key to speeding up transactions, streamlining site development and building amazing shopper experiences.

But what the heck is headless commerce, really? In short, headless commerce is the decoupling of the front end and back end of an e-commerce application in an attempt to enhance the shopper experience.

For example, when a customer clicks the “Buy Now” button on a brand’s headless e-commerce site (front end), it sends an API notification to the application layer (back end) to have the order processed. The front and back end are decoupled, but still work in conjunction.

See? Headless commerce isn’t as scary as it sounds! It’ll be even less scary once we unpack the key questions that e-commerce brands and retailers are asking regarding this growing technology trend.

Who should invest in headless commerce?
First, brands need to ask themselves if headless commerce is right for them and their business. Headless can be difficult to implement and requires some engineering. Somewhere in the decision, brands and retailers have to pick something that isn’t headless and that controls the state of things.

For some brands, headless commerce can be too difficult to implement— they may not have the resources available to take advantage of all these platforms have to offer. Instead, they need something out of the box.

But for others, headless is a real opportunity to expand to new areas, deliver personalized experiences, and try out different use cases. Fortunately, for these brands, headless commerce can be made easy with the right partners and solutions in place.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of headless?
As long as headless commerce is a good fit for a business, it can be a powerful tool that enables online merchants to be more flexible and have more control over their sites, ultimately delivering a better shopper experience.

McKinsey found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, which makes the appeal of headless clear. It enables brands to build whatever they want so that they can get personalization and the shopper experience right.

Ecommerce retailers can expect to see other benefits from going headless too, including:

  • Increased site speed - Faster site speed means better SEO rankings. This is also a crucial component of the customer experience — shoppers don’t want to be waiting on long load times.
  • Agile marketing - With headless, marketing teams can build their own tech stack to ensure cross-functional teams can work together collaboratively.
  • Clear workflows - Brands and retailers can establish a workflow that allows all teams to work together from a single source of truth while ensuring consistency and efficiency throughout the entire site experience.

On the other hand, there are also drawbacks to using headless. As mentioned before, one challenge of removing the “head,” or the front end of a site, is that businesses need to build the front end themselves. And while e-commerce brands can absolutely benefit from implementing headless technology, they must commit to delivering investment upfront into development time, skills, and expertise.

Another drawback is that while using headless to incorporate a variety of apps may appear to be endlessly scalable and usable, too many apps will actually slow down the site.

How can merchants get the most out of headless commerce?
To get the most out of their headless investments, e-commerce merchants need a strategy that meets shoppers’ needs specifically. Don’t just implement tech for tech’s sake.

Brands and retailers can consider the following tips as they get started:

  • Define your goals - Are you trying to speed up your site? Build more flexibility? Clear goals drive results.
  • Be intentional - Once you get started, keep your eye on achieving your goal. Don’t get distracted or change course unless necessary.
  • Get help - Going at it alone can be daunting. There are lots of people and companies willing to help you be successful in your transition to headless.
  • Choose the right tech - Your choice of tools will make or break your efforts. Do some research based on your goals to find the right technology and technology partners who deliver your vision.

Slay the shopper experience
Consumers demand great online experience. As a result, retailers have an increased focus on delivering experience-led shopping, and so headless commerce is growing in popularity.

To truly execute personalized, engaging shopping experiences, retailers need enhanced control over the front end of their stores. Retailers are looking for solutions that offer flexibility, whether it’s technology, targeted recommendations, or the ability to quickly merchandise a category page in response to a breakout trend.

So, don’t let the name fool you. At the end of day, all headless really is about is taking control of the online store and creating an e-commerce strategy that delivers real business results. This is the future of e-commerce as we know it.

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