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What is Headless eCommerce?

As internet-equipped devices continue to prevail in homes, businesses, and society, shoppers are becoming more inclined to consume content - wherever they may be. As a result, legacy software is struggling to support the demand for ever-increasing eCommerce touchpoints.

Enter: “Headless eCommerce.” What exactly is this high-tech trend, and what benefits may it bring to online business owners? In this article, we’ll breakdown the confusion behind headless eCommerce - and help you decide if “losing your head” can place your business on the solid path to long-term success.

What Exactly is Headless eCommerce?

The phrase “head” is used to describe the front end, like a website. So headless eCommerce refers to a cloud-based back-end infrastructure that delivers content, payment gateways, products, or information via an API to any internet-based device - without the need for a fixed front-end template.

Headless eCommerce decouples the front- from the back-end system. This allows business owners the opportunity to sell on any internet-based device without design or development constraints. Essentially, anything with internet capabilities can now become your storefront - it’s as simple as an API call.

Headless eCommerce Implementation

With headless eCommerce, business owners are one step closer to reaching a true omnichannel experience. Since back-end information isn’t tied down to a specific front-end, businesses can widen their presence across the IoT, or “Internet of Things.”

The IoT refers to any network of devices (“things”) built with functionality for connecting to and exchanging data with others via the internet. These devices have embedded sensors and software, allowing for API communication.

IoT Examples:

  • Smart Voice Assistants, like the Amazon Echo or Google Home
  • Amazon Dash Buttons
  • In-Store Interface Screens
  • Smart Watches
  • Smart Mirrors
  • Video-Game Consoles
  • Refrigerators with Screens
  • Smart Ovens
  • Digital Signs

Business owners can utilize headless eCommerce to expand selling opportunities on these and the vastly growing number of other IoT devices. Soon, headless eCommerce will allow users to shop on any device from which they can connect to the internet - with the same ease that they can complete a purchase from their computer or mobile phone.

Pros & Cons

While headless eCommerce appears to be the way of the future, it may not be right for every business owner. Weigh the pros and cons carefully to decide if getting on board with this high-tech movement is a profitable choice for your company.

Benefits of Headless eCommerce

  • Go omnichannel by embedding complete purchasing capabilities to an entire network of the customer-preferred touch-points with the same, simple back-end tools.
  • Stay competitive in a fast market by constantly providing clients with updates and products. Since the front- and back-ends are no longer connected so intricately, developers can concurrently make changes on both sides - without depending on one team to finish first. For this reason, too, changes on one side are less likely to disrupt data on the other.
  • Offer a more personalized eCommerce experience by selling directly to the customer based on previously-gathered data and device-specific information.
  • Remain ready to adapt to any shift in technology trends. Headless eCommerce’s fundamental use of API expedites and simplifies future integration with new programs and devices.
  • Optimize conversions by split testing multiple front end templates, to compare for the best approach on any set of devices.
  • Completely customize internal operations and organization, as a headless eCommerce set-up provides more flexibility than legacy software constrained to a specifically developed admin program.

Cost of Headless eCommerce

Headless eCommerce may sound great, but be sure to weigh the benefits against the cost. While decoupling the front- from the back-end affords a variety of high-tech options, business owners who choose this route will need to enlist the help of front-end developers. These hired developers will then need to create the customer-facing elements for each IoT device you wish to utilize. Dependable, from-scratch front-end development is not usually a cheap task, so be aware from the start of the financial investment involved.

Another area of consideration in regards to headless eCommerce is marketer isolation. With headless eCommerce, marketers are no longer able to preview ads on a front-end presentation layer. Instead, they are dependant upon the front-end developers to build and add the content for them. This, again, adds another layer of developer investment.

Is Headless eCommerce Right for You?

As the IoT is ever-expanding, perhaps headless eCommerce makes sense for your business. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Do you often find yourself struggling to re-platform new tools into tricky existing technology?
  • Do you want to expand your customer-experience onto new internet-based devices, that just doesn't seem possible with your current platform?
  • Are you falling behind the competition due to slow loading times, delayed updates, or limited mobile-shopping capabilities?

If you answered yes to one or more of the previous questions, headless eCommerce just might be your ticket to a strong, profitable future. This technology can provide your customers with rich user-experiences, and allow you to engage with them on any device.

It's time to bring your storefront to the customers - no matter where they may be.

Are you still unsure if headless eCommerce could be the solution your company requires to reach the next level? Contact one of our eCommerce experts today. We're happy to chat with you further about your needs and goals.