Discover the future of eCommerce – Era of Headless Commerce

Code Your Commerce: Mastering the Art of Headless Retail

13 Oct 2023

Jiji Sasidharan

Senior QA Engineer

Consumers today demand full control over when and how they purchase things. People’s buying habits have changed, the days of just either going into a store or going onto a website via a desktop to make a purchase are long gone. They now buy products on the go with devices ranging from smartphones to voice assistants like Google Home.

Online retail sites must adapt now that a large part of the traffic comes from non-desktop sources. Here comes the role of Headless Commerce Architecture. Headless commerce architecture separates the customer interface (the front end) from a platform’s core commerce functions (the back end) like processing payments and keeping track of inventory. Both the front end and back end are decoupled and communicate through an API (application programming interface) layer.

Headless eCommerce solutions features

1. Frontend – a user interface across sales channels.

2. API – an intermediary between the front end and the back end that enables an exchange of data requests and data input.

3. Backend – the logic of all business processes and user interactions (checkout rules, promotions, catalog structure, etc.)

4. Data sources – integrated business systems to store and manage different kinds of business data. Integration with business systems stems from business needs. If no business systems are required, the data is supplied from the database(s).

A company can use back-end databases, with information from sources like customer relationship management platforms, to handle features like product information, marketing logic behind promotions and discounts, and checkout, among others. This output is then pushed using APIs to front-end experiences, which can include any digital user interface. This can make it easier for companies to allow shoppers to transact using media like mobile apps, Instagram store pages, or even interactive kiosks.

Limitations of Traditional Systems

1. Frameworks that have been curbed

A traditional system is usually constrained by the framework. Developers confine specific tool kits, which can make layout, delivery, and functionality difficult.

2. Lower security

The system access by both administrators and content authors through the same console dramatically increases data-related dangers. While accounts for authors and editors can be set to have limited privileges, accounts with elevated or full admin privileges might provide unauthorized people access to anything from content to customer details to payment information.

3. Integrations are difficult

To interface with external systems, developers can create plugins (or even buy pre-existing solutions), but the experience is rarely as frictionless as what an API in a headless commerce system can give. As a result, some companies may rely on a different technique, such as manual entry to transfer inventory or customer data into the back-end, which can be time-consuming.

Headless commerce avoids these issues by relying on the API as the backbone for interacting with various business platforms. Admins can secure each system by only granting access to those who need it, as well as limiting the amount of data available to the API. As there is no code related to the back-end database that holds content, front-end developers are free to change endpoint layouts using the optimal framework.

Advantages of Headless Commerce

1. Flexibility and Agility

a. Adapt quickly to changing market conditions and customer expectations
b. Updates and changes can be made independently
c. Rapid iterations, upgrades, and experimentation
d. Fast-paced digital environment and leaves behind time-consuming processes

2. Improved user experience and navigation

a. Progressive Web Applications (PWA) technology
b. Accelerates page load speed
c. Boosts sales conversion rates by reducing page abandonment
d. Increase in revenue for brands and retailers

3. Omnichannel commerce

a. A consistent shopping experience across multiple channels
b. Easier to integrate with different online shopping touchpoints
c. Allows customers to engage and transact with a brand through their preferred channels
d. Increasing customer satisfaction and boosting conversion rates

4. Scalability and performance

a. Back-end systems can be optimized for high-volume transactions
b. Front-end can be tailored to deliver fast and responsive experiences
c. It ensures that the system can handle increasing traffic and transaction volumes without sacrificing performance

5. Integration and customization

a. Businesses can integrate various plugins and third-party services, tools, and platforms easily, such as a content management system (CMS) shopping cart, payment processing, and product management tools
b. Seamless integration with external systems, such as payment gateways, marketing automation tools, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and inventory management systems
c. Enables businesses to customize the front-end experience based on their specific branding, design, and user interface requirements

6. Future-proofing

Headless commerce solutions provide a future-proof foundation both for big and small businesses. As new technologies, touchpoints, and channels emerge, businesses can adapt and integrate them into their commerce ecosystem without having to rebuild the entire system. This flexibility allows businesses to stay ahead of the curve and leverage new digital experiences as they arise.

Types of Headless Architecture

  1. Based on an API-driven eCommerce platform
    ● Product catalog and online merchandising
    ● Product pricing management
    ● Product content management
    ● Online payment and checkout functionality
    ● Entry-level order management
    ● Sales performance management

  2. Based on API-driven CMS
    ● Configurable content templates
    ● Digital asset management
    ● Multi-channel content publishing
    ● Built-in SEO tools

  3. Based on Microservices
    ● Built around the required business capabilities
    ● Developed and deployed independently from one another
    ● Fast to design, test, and deploy, Interconnected via API calls
    ● Delegated to autonomous development teams

In summary, headless commerce revolutionizes online shopping by separating the front-end user interface from the back-end functionality. This decoupled approach enhances flexibility, allowing businesses to deliver dynamic and personalized experiences across various devices and touchpoints, ultimately improving customer engagement and boosting conversion rates.

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