Alternative Text John Coughlan | 21 December 2022 |

Headless Commerce: An essential step for eCommerce retailers

eCommerce graphic

Headless commerce: An essential step for eCommerce retailers

The eCommerce world has changed significantly in the last decade. We’ve seen the explosion of mobile commerce, the birth of social commerce and the market domination of Amazon. We’ve also seen increased customer demand for online retail during Covid and heightened consumer expectations for a smooth and slick multi-channel experience with their favourite brands. Put simply, the pace of change has been rapid and it’s been a lot for retailers to keep up with. But for those that have kept up, they will likely cite one key factor. Going headless.


What is headless commerce?

In its purest form, headless commerce is a separation of the front and back end of an eCommerce application. The front end focuses on the design of the website, the content, images, buttons etc – it’s the site’s presentation layer and what the customer sees. The backend is all around the infrastructure, pricing, security and checkout functionality for example.

Decoupling the two means that developers can use their frontend technology of choice to deliver high-quality content experiences and plug in an eCommerce solution on the backend that manages all commerce functionality.

A headless architecture is achieved by adding APIs (application programming interfaces), which allow the backend commerce functions to be accessed by any front end. Front end developers can then use these APIs to deliver customer experiences to any screen or connected device with any technology or customer experience platform they desire.


What are the benefits of headless commerce?

Headless commerce varies starkly from traditional platforms using a monolith technology where the front end and the back end are packaged together in an all-in-one solution. This does have its benefits in that it’s easier to set your online store up in the first place, but it presents some complications for enterprise-level businesses. Most notably in terms of agility and customer experience. It’s why many enterprise businesses are shifting from a monolithic approach to a MACH approach to scale their businesses. You can read more about the MACH alliance in our blog post.

So, let’s talk agility and customer experience.

With a headless commerce model, as soon as a business introduces new content to its front end, the updates are reflected almost instantly. For websites with more traditional architectures, this can take hours. Basically, the opposite of agility. And since the front end is separate from the back end with headless commerce, developers can work on customer-facing experiences independently from the commerce engine – this means that front end and back end teams can innovate without waiting for the other to finish.headless commerce

In terms of customer experience, developers can now control all the elements that users interact with. This in turn means that brands can get more creative with the content they publish on their websites. Brands can now build custom experiences that users simply can’t get anywhere else – get it right and keep them coming back.

You also have the ability to tailor the design to different users, and crucially test and learn when it comes to your user experience (UX). Plus, the universal

compatibility of headless commerce means that your website works seamlessly between all devices and viewing formats. This brings the capability for seamless cross-channel marketing, enabling brands to rapidly expand into new channels.

Other benefits include:

  • Flexibility and familiarity for front end developers – as they can choose to work with the front end of their choice, whether a CMS or DXP for example.
  • Complete ownership over site architecture – which in turn means complete and unlimited customisation of the front end. There’s also no restriction on choosing a specific theme for the front end.
  • The ability to launch micro-brands or launch in new territories – once you have the system set up, a headless solution is easily replicable across the board making it easily optimised for international SEO, whilst still connected to the overall data orchestration infrastructure.
  • Lower customer acquisition costs – by focusing on customer experience and cross-channel content-led marketing strategies, you can reduce your reliance on paid campaigns for customer acquisition.
  • Improved conversion rates – the agile customisation of the front end in a headless commerce system means you can test out and optimise various front end iterations to see what works for your customers and what encourages them to convert. You can quickly switch it up too.


Operational benefits of going headless:

From an operational perspective, adopting a headless commerce approach also brings the following benefits:

  • Ease of adoption – everyone on your team can easily access and update the front end without any advanced development skills.
  • Time saving across IT departments – with the team making changes, this saves your developers’ time and lets them crack on with their more technical jobs.
  • Time to market – headless commerce means you can launch new experiences quickly and react to market changes.
  • Cost savings – headless means you don’t have to wait on long development processes for any front end changes, eliminating the expenses involved.


What are the possibilities for headless commerce?

Really, the possibilities are endless. This is one of the real benefits of headless commerce. If you want to expand your business into new territories with new frontend offerings for different languages (which you can then optimise for international SEO), it’s possible. If you want to lean heavily on social media to market your products and go truly omnichannel in your sales process (yes, we’re talking about social commerce), you can do it.

The ease of integration, agility and flexibility means that you can respond to the needs of your users instantly. And importantly, you can test and learn and refine your approach. For enterprise-level businesses, going headless creates the building blocks for future scalable success.

At DeeperThanBlue, our team of specialists continue to run multiple projects to transition retailers from traditional monolith technology stacks to headless commerce. We help them engage with their users, provide market-leading customer experiences and scale their businesses. View our latest Andertons Music case study to see how we do it.

With accelerating the journey to headless in mind, we have developed CXOne Storefront. CXOne Storefront provides a composable commerce architecture without breaking the bank It provides a rapid User Experience, best-in-class Core Web Vitals, and can accelerate your development cycles and releases. 

And to learn more about our approach to headless commerce, get in touch with one of our eCommerce specialists today.

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