emerging technology

Headless eCommerce may be the way of the future. Should your business make the switch?

Chris Powers
June 12th, 2020

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As consumer online shopping habits shift and brands see increased competition in the digital space, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to drive organic traffic to their eCommerce sites across different platforms. This can be achieved by rolling out robust, dynamic, and engaging content that attracts visitors and ultimately converts them into paying customers. In order to stay competitive, this content needs to be flexible and able to respond to customer data, as well as stay consistent across the web, mobile, social, Internet of Things (IoT), and other touchpoints.

Traditionally, the frontend—or customer-facing component—of an eCommerce site has been directly tied to its commerce backend or the side that handles things like inventory management, security, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration. With this approach, the backend limits the amount of frontend customization, constraining how much companies can tailor the user experience and slowing the go-to-market time. This is what a headless eCommerce approach is designed to solve.

No, it’s not just another tech buzzword; headless eCommerce refers to an environment where the frontend of a site is separated from the backend eCommerce platform. Organizations can use a standalone content management system (CMS) like Contentful, Sitecore, or Prismic to create tailored content experiences for different touchpoints, then use application programming interface (API) calls to communicate with the backend commerce layer. Instead of depending on a singular platform to deliver a flawless user experience and a dependable backend, organizations can develop the frontend independently, while easily managing logistics and commerce separately.

Separating the frontend from the commerce backend helps merchants to be more flexible and dynamic in how they develop and deploy tailored content and brand experiences. This improves overall content management, UX, and SEO, helping to increase brand awareness and drive sales.

Transitioning to a headless eCommerce approach can allow your eCommerce business to rapidly develop and deploy content to attract new customers without having to play by the rules of an old-school, monolithic platform backend.

Flexible, easily customizable customer experiences

In a headless eCommerce setup, the decoupled frontend integrates with the commerce backend through APIs. This means that companies can easily experiment with different frontend designs and alterations without taxing their site with related backend changes. Companies can also take full advantage of content management systems (CMS) to create unique experiences tailored to their customers’ needs from scratch, without worrying about adjusting anything on the backend. This also helps to ensure that customers are receiving a consistent experience across different devices and touchpoints.

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Quickly deployed updates

Because companies can easily make changes to the frontend without altering the background in a headless system, they can deploy updates much faster. Frontend changes to the UX/UI can be rolled out swiftly, ensuring brands can stay competitive and up-to-date with the various technologies and devices their consumers are using to make purchases.

Reduced customer acquisition costs

Brands are facing increased eCommerce competition every day. From the rise of the direct-to-consumer (DTC) approach to the growth of eCommerce in social media, consumers have a wealth of opportunities to engage with brands and ultimately purchase products. Digitally-native brands are flooding the space with targeted ads, trying to get their piece of the growing pie and embodying the old adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” As a result, paid advertising costs are rising, pushing brands to seek out more organic methods to drive consumers to purchase their products.

With a headless approach, your content is easily edited and manipulated in accordance with your strategies to drive organic traffic. Because you can be nimble with content, you can drive down your acquisition costs and ensure your tailored customer experiences increase conversion rates.

Content-focused eCommerce

The benefits of an API-first eCommerce approach are clear-cut for brands looking to take a content-focused approach to drive traffic and increase sales. However, headless architecture isn’t for everyone. It’s important to consider how much you are willing to invest in frontend development within your CMS. A headless approach is ideal for organizations looking to get increased traffic and conversions from tailored content experiences. This involves a significant amount of resources, taking away from other, more pressing business matters. If your organization doesn’t want content to be king, a headless eCommerce architecture may not be for you.

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Why go headless?

A headless eCommerce architecture is perfect for companies seeking to gain a competitive edge with an integrated content and commerce environment that allows for extensive customization and an improved speed-to-market. Codal’s experienced eCommerce specialists can help your organization evaluate if it’s an ideal candidate for a headless approach and, if so, migrate to a scalable platform that makes sense for your business. We’re a certified partner to both Shopify and BigCommerce who provide powerful headless backend capabilities. Codal has the technical know-how to ensure your brand finds the right platform, migrates successfully, and is prepared to reap the benefits of a truly headless approach to eCommerce.

Interested in how headless eCommerce can help your brand? Talk to Codal today.

Chris Powers

Chris Powers

Chris is a Content Marketing Specialist at Codal. With a background in journalism and marketing, Chris has written about a variety of tech topics, including open source, fintech, and cybersecurity. Chris loves taking on new challenges with just a pen, paper, and his brain


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