Given the option, a majority of retailers would rather plugin to third-party, best of breed technology solutions and channels without interfering with their back-end functionalities, than deal with the complications and lack of flexibility that comes with monolithic software.
The ability to do this is called headless commerce – moving from a state of pieced together architecture and breaking it apart to create a separate front-end ‘layer’ alongside their back-end that provides the ability to plugin to various APIs. This is in contrast to instead fumbling around with the time-consuming coding and development that comes with monolithic systems. Even small changes require edits to multiple layers of coding between the front-end right through to the database layer that is buried in the back-end.
Decoupling the front and back-end and having them talk to one another via APIs presents many benefits and endless possibilities for customisation:
- Each piece of software can be tested, deployed and changed independently without impacting other elements of the system
- Time-to-market of a new application is short due to the ‘plug and play’ nature of software
- Retailers are able to select best of breed partners to deploy gold-standard experiences across their site
- Support new technology
- Seamless integrations with minimal technological burden
While going headless may seem like the only way to thrive moving forward, it isn’t necessarily viable for all businesses. There is a level of burden that accompanies this organisational shift that may not be achievable or worthwhile for a number of reasons.
Sign #1: Your company size and rate of growth
Typically, headless commerce is adopted by larger organisations who have deep pockets and vast resources to devote to such a project. They also need to cater to a larger range of channels and operating systems. For smaller companies with limited manpower or expertise undergoing the significant changes that are associated with going headless may be overly ambitious, particularly when their current architecture doesn’t call for such a dramatic overhaul.
An ideal candidate for going headless would be a company experiencing a rapid rate of growth. It offers a more agile and customisable solution and streamlines internal development so that the business can better support the increase in processes and customer demand during the scaling process.
Sign #2: Current architecture and expertise
The current setup of your ecommerce architecture will likely determine whether or not you are ready to go headless. That, or your willingness and ability to overhaul it. Your architecture should allow vendors to create plugins and connections by isolating the customer facing front-end from the back-end, however this decoupling requires a complete rethink of your current integration strategies. While adding features through API connections is relatively easy, the process of creating a system that supports this is complex and will require a sizable and skilled team.
Sign #3: You have complex requirements
Headless commerce is primarily for companies who have reached a stage of maturity where their customers demand more from them and there is a requisite for every element of their online store to be fully optimised. Naturally, multiplex requirements such as this, alongside a high volume of product-pages in combination with CMS elements, calls for a process that is capable of managing such complexities. Without decoupling the front-end from the back-end, these factors are likely to bog down your site’s speed and impede your ability to scale efficiently, due to a lack of autonomy and flexibility when making changes across the website. A headless front-end provides an effective solution to this problem, as management of separate website features will be achievable via separately packaged CMS’s.
Is my ecommerce ready?
Before diving into headless commerce, it is essential to assess your business objectives, capabilities and rate of growth. Without a doubt, going headless is the preferred choice for a majority of ecommerce businesses, but if you do not have the bandwidth to justify such a project, it is wise to look into alternative options that allow you to tap into expert platforms capabilities but with less freedom.
Moving forward, a headless architecture is clearly favourable and has assisted thousands of merchants in successfully scaling and delivering cutting-edge, and agile experiences. Having been successfully deployed by hundreds of headless retailers, software like Findologic’s has facilitated enterprises, giving them more flexibility to create unique experiences for their visitors and eliminate boundaries.
In spite of this, inclusivity for merchants who may not be ready for the transition to headless have remained front of mind and they are ensured accessibility to a comprehensive suite of features that will without a doubt supercharge their Customer Experience and help users find the desired products without friction.