Headless ecommerce solutions are built to match 2023 customer standards. This means traditional ecommerce has no choice but to lose its ‘head’ because customers no longer travel in a linear fashion to buy products—from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Any touch point along this path could help them make a purchase decision.
In this article, we’ll understand what headless ecommerce is, how it differs from the traditional ecommerce approach, the benefits your online store can experience if adopt this architecture, and the points you must consider before deciding to adopt this technology.
What is headless ecommerce?
Headless ecommerce refers to separating the front-end and back-end of your online store. This way, the key functionalities are divided into individual components that interact with each other through standardized interfaces, such as application programming interfaces (APIs).
This structure empowers you to give your customers a personalized, cutting-edge, and end-to-end omnichannel experience, and avoid any possible technical debt.
As per Forbes, ecommerce is expected to have a US$ 3.5 trillion market size as it has expanded at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9%.
Headless ecommerce vs traditional ecommerce — what’s the difference?
What is traditional ecommerce?
Traditional ecommerce uses a monolithic ecommerce model, which is made up of a single application that handles all aspects of the customer experience.
This ecommerce approach uses a coupled front-end and back-end architecture. Any front-end change can invariably affect the back end too, and vice-versa.
Since traditional ecommerce uses outdated and pre-defined technology, programming languages, and framework, it restricts you from creating a unique customer experience that shoppers in 2023 demand. Functionalities like search, cart, OMS, checkout, etc. exist as a single application instead of modular components.
Headless ecommerce vs traditional ecommerce — key differences
|Headless ecommerce||Traditional ecommerce|
|Performance||Uses a single-page application technology to load only once.||Uses a monolithic method and the entire system reloads on every new page.|
|Ease of use||Landing pages can be built without technical expertise.
Drag-and-drop can be used to easily rearrange the pages.
Difficult to rearrange content pages or themes.
|Functionality||Front end and back end are separate, allowing multiple customizations.||Front end and back end are coupled, and have constraints due to the underlying front end design.|
|Customer experience||Improved customer buying journey with powerful APIs.||Slow and monotonous customer experience due to difficult and limited integrations.|
|Front end experience||It does not limit front end developers and allow you to create unique user experiences.||Front end developers are constrained and cannot change the customer experience without changing the database, codes, etc.|
Benefits of going headless
A headless ecommerce structure functions in the background and remains invisible to your customers. It provides several benefits with its content-led and customer experience-oriented strategies.
Blazing-fast website page load speed
Semrush found that if your page loads in 0.8 seconds, then it is faster than 94% of the websites out there.
The faster your website loads, the lower the bounce rate. Plus, Google rewards your website with a higher ranking.
Since the front-end presentation layer is separated from the back-end commerce engine, the content is housed centrally. And it can deliver anywhere via APIs. This minimizes the time to market, which improves your performance for the SEO analyzing mechanisms.
Faster build time with lots of customizations
The front-end development is flexible in a headless ecommerce environment. This lends extensive control over the development process, which allows the developers to quickly tailor and dynamically re-alter personalized customer experiences. Plus, you can create and optimize front-end components as per your specific business requirements.
With headless ecommerce, you can add multiple website customizations, from system expansions to integrations without affecting the front-end platform downtime or requiring any database modifications.
Modular site structure for more architectural ownership
The structure of a headless website is modular making the omnichannel ecommerce easier with an API-centric approach. It allows you to keep what works for your website and enables you to upgrade what doesn’t work as expected.
Product designers and front-end developers are empowered with the ability to roll out more marketing features, such as revamping UI/UX design without disrupting the platform’s stability.
Additionally, this ecommerce approach helps you serve personalized content across various customer touchpoints from a single source. Developers can freely implement advanced technical features to enhance the visual appeal of the websites, create multiple template options (that can be integrated easily with CMS later), etc.
High-converting marketing opportunities
Ecommerce businesses often shell out a ton of money on paid advertisements to acquire customers.
With headless ecommerce, you can maneuver your brand to leverage user-specific content based on customer interaction and drive more organic traffic. This reduces your reliance on paid ads for website traffic. You can experiment by implementing new strategies on the front end (to see what drives more visitors) without hampering the back-end functions.
According to Yottaa, 62% of companies agree that headless ecommerce is capable of significantly improving customer engagement and boosting conversion.
You can emphasize specific business attributes aimed at achieving user satisfaction with catchy templates and visually gripping content tailored to specific products or brand messages. This helps in boosting the conversion rate.
In the ecommerce business sector, adopting a single-channel approach is not sufficient. By going headless, you are free to add various online and offline experiences to the front end while the back end continues to run without glitches.
These experiences can be on an online marketplace, on mobile apps, or on an IoT device. As a merchant, you can create an omnichannel presence by making your products available beyond online stores. The content published across various channels is seamless and congruent as it’s powered by API and joined together by practically unlimited integrations.
Gives you an edge over the ‘SLOW’ competitors
APIs define the core of the ecommerce layer. You don’t have to comply with the design constraints found in the traditional ecommerce architecture, which restricts the tool to a fixed website layer with limited design and functionality (with cookie-cutter themes).
According to a VentureBeat report, 76% of customers wouldn’t do business with a brand after one bad buying experience.
The headless ecommerce approach helps your customers skip (any) bad experiences as it enables you to create a tailored user experience. This is made possible by unlimited customizations and integrations to enhance customers’ buying journey(s) — leveraging customer data to create personalized experiences, faster content delivery, user-specific CTA, etc.
Do businesses need a headless ecommerce solution?
Whether you are implementing the headless infrastructure in the beginning or willing to adopt it in your current ecommerce structure depends entirely on what you are trying to accomplish.
If you already follow the traditional ecommerce approach that suffices your current business requirements, then accommodating a new layer might demand time and financial investment.
Adopting a headless ecommerce solution is the way to go if you want to achieve even one of these goals:
- You feel that your business is slower as compared to your competitors because of restrictions to simultaneously make adjustments to the front end and back end.
- Your store’s theme looks old-fashioned, and you would like to make it catchy and inviting via modern templates.
- You want to significantly improve your mobile apps as they’re not user-friendly.
- You want to enhance your website speed to offer a faster shopping experience to your customers.
- You want to gain granular control over your website.
Headless ecommerce has the potential to fundamentally change how your online store is designed and operated.
The move towards this architecture will allow you to:
- focus exclusively on your core competencies
- develop an online store that can scale with ease
- better manage product information management
- ship faster
- provide new monetization opportunities through an improved data-rich environment