3 Benefits of Headless Commerce Platforms

November 6, 2017

Category: Best Practices

eCommerce platforms were designed with a desktop computer shopper in mind. But over the past several years we’ve seen new devices start to pop-up, if not take over as leaders, as shoppers have started shopping on screens of all sizes and even via devices that don’t have a screen at all. With things like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Dash buttons and even smart watches, there are so many ways buyers can make purchases online. This is all thanks to the emergence of headless commerce platforms.

Headless commerce reimagines the ecommerce platform as a collection of digital services supporting commerce, rather than a solution for web eCommerce specifically as it has been thought of historically. In a headless architecture approach, the front-end layer and the back-end layer are decoupled, or completely separated, allowing more room for flexibility, enabling nearly limitless customizations and creating more freedom for growth. Headless commerce allows the business to think beyond the simple storefront, shopping cart and checkout, taking things a step further and expecting their eCommerce platform to provide highly customized and seamless purchase journeys, innovative fulfillment options, assisted sales alternatives, integrated microservices, PIM systems, unique corporate account ordering experiences and much more.

When exploring headless commerce, businesses realize 3 key benefits to this type of platform:

1.  Headless commerce allows for highly customized experiences.

With headless commerce, your front end experience is decoupled from your back-end architecture. This makes it easier – and less risky – to make changes to the front end experience knowing you won’t interrupt to the underlying infrastructure and architecture with these changes. In fact, Amazon, probably the most well-known headless commerce platform, pushes updates every 11.7 seconds on average, and Netflix, another headless commerce platform, deploys code thousands of times each day.

This is important when it comes to eCommerce because today, more than ever, it’s important to listen to your buyers’ demands and deliver the customized and personalized experiences they are expecting. B2B customers are much more likely to choose and trust companies that come recommended from other businesses and friends. In fact, 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decisions. This makes it more and more important for B2B companies to be able to run experiments and make changes in response to their customers’ demands. Headless commerce platforms don’t constrain you to what traditional eCommerce defines as the “right” user experience allowing you to start from scratch, and also allow for constant changes, customizations and deployments without disturbing the underlying technology supporting it.

2.  Headless commerce improves your time to value.

The biggest consideration in creating custom software is the time and resources it would take you to develop comprehensive business logic and back end services. In fact, back-end business logic, functionality and capabilities usually comprise up to 85% of a software development process. With a headless commerce platform like Four51 OrderCloud, you are starting from the point of completion which is allowing you to focus on the user experience and deliver a final solution for far less cost, time and effort.

3.  Headless commerce makes integrations faster.

Headless commerce provides an integration approach for connecting and exposing assets via API. APIs allow software platforms to communicate with each other more easily and foster seamless connections and transfers of data. This flexibility removes constraints and broadens possibilities of how the data model can be utilized.

You could even say that headless commerce encourages integrations. Think about it like this: if traditional eCommerce were a car, then headless eCommerce would simply be the engine. If you want top-of-the-line headlights, you can have them, but you’d want to look elsewhere to someone who specializes in them versus someone who specializes in engines. The same is true with headless commerce. You have the core eCommerce functionality as the back-end architecture (the engine), but if you want to add something to make the experience better, you go elsewhere to look for APIs that solve those problems. Because the user experience is decoupled from the back-end, there’s nothing you need to worry about as you facilitate that integration. Take a seemingly simple example: email. Sure, you could build and send off an email directly from the eCommerce platform in a few lines of code. But nothing would compete with some of the top email management softwares out there like MailChimp, which can be accessed and connected via their own API.

Our Chief Platform Architect, Todd Menier, explained it well, he states that “the best B2B solutions on the planet will not be built from scratch nor offered out-of-the-box via SaaS. Rather, they’ll be assembled out of distributed, best-in-breed components.” Headless commerce is what makes this possible, allowing you to assemble a customized, tightly integrated experience with the fastest time to value.