Blog, Ecommerce, Technical Development, UX / CX

How to Use Headless Commerce to ‘Win’ at Ecommerce

Headless Commerce: You’ve heard of it, maybe read a couple of articles about it, you may even know what it is. But, how does headless commerce translate into a better digital experience for your customers?

To recap our last article on the topic, a headless commerce approach separates the backend systems used primarily for operational purposes and the frontend solutions used for user experience (the presentation layer). The API environment connects the two ends—these APIs allow ecommerce sites to integrate new modules easily. As a result, each module functions independently, but can easily transfer data between each other.

There has been an evident decline in monolithic IT legacy systems—the systems traditional commerce platforms typically use. The number of sites using Java or PHP as the primary programming language has steadily declined from 2013 to 2017. During the same time, JavaScript and React (the programming languages used for the base system of headless commerce) increased.

How Headless Commerce Improves Your Customer’s Experience

Improves Site Speeds

In ecommerce, slow and steady does not win the race—especially when it comes to site load time. Headless commerce separates your core ecommerce platform from the frontend customer-facing systems and functionality, such as your email marketing platform, chatbot, content management system, etc. The two ends are connected with a robust API integration environment. As a result, the ecommerce platform doesn’t have to carry the weight of all the data from the presentation layer.

When each system is separate, smaller and specific chunks of data can be transferred between modules using the APIs. Headless commerce also allows brands to tweak, upgrade, or test individual modules without disrupting the entire customer experience. For example, the development team could be A/B testing a new checkout flow without affecting other customer-facing platforms. This approach improves site speed—something that will help you retain your customers.

The average load time for retail sites in the US in 9.8 seconds. Each second of delay results in a 7 percent reduction in conversion, 11 percent fewer page views, and a 16 percent reduction in customer satisfaction. Being able to improve your site speed will not only increase the conversion rate on your ecommerce site but will also decrease the number of customers who leave your site to go to a competitor.

Personalized User Experience

When you use the headless commerce approach, you’re decoupling the operation systems (think: CRM, ecommerce platform, content management system) from the user experience presentation layer. This allows you to integrate modules and solutions that align with your business model and unique customer needs seamlessly. For example, if you find that many of your shoppers would like to pay for products using a micro-lending service, you could easily integrate its platform without disrupting the current payment flow, or without upgrading the entire system.

Additionally, you don’t have to rely on your ecommerce platform to deploy specific features or capabilities you’d like to offer your customers—the API environment allows for ultimate customization. You can run endless tests on particular modules to better understand your customers and modify the user experience without lagging the system.

The customization benefit is key in providing an optimal experience, no matter which channel the customer comes from. Unlike ten years ago, customers are coming from various channels: mobile apps, voice-activated speakers, smartwatches, social media, and desktop. Because each module in the presentation layer is isolated, you can create an optimal user experience for each customer touchpoint—improving customer engagement across the entire journey.

Increases Omnichannel Revenue

An omnichannel strategy requires flexibility and automaticity in order to roll out new updates, content, and add products to the catalog to all of your various sales channels at the same time. That said, only 9 percent of brands describe their marketing strategy as omnichannel, and 30 percent say they have no plans to implement an omnichannel solution.

Customers no longer shop through one channel. They may see something on Instagram they want to buy, but prefer to pick up in store. Or, they order a product through their Amazon Alexa, but use their mobile device to check the status of the order. Regardless of which journey your customer chooses to purchase a product, you’ll be able to dive into an exhaustive number of features to develop a consistent and fluid shopping experience. It would be difficult to provide this same level of enhanced customer experience with a traditional ecommerce platform.

Faster Time to Market

In ecommerce, there’s always a new technology or strategy to keep up with the latest consumer trends. In a traditional ecommerce platform, it can be challenging to implement new technologies if the ecommerce platform does not have a feature for the one you want. For example, progressive web apps are easier to adopt when you have a headless commerce system in place because of the decoupled layers.

Headless commerce not only allows you to deploy new technologies quickly and in a cost-effective manner, but it also allows you to update your ecommerce site easily. If you want to change the navigation or push out a promotion for a new product, your marketing or ecommerce team could easily perform this task without involving front-end developers.

With new technologies and consumer trends emerging almost daily, headless commerce provides you with the ultimate solution to align your brand with the needs of your shoppers. Updating content, implementing an AI-powered chatbot, adding a new mobile payment option, and pushing out a new marketing promotion are all things you will be able to integrate easily with headless commerce.

If you’d like to discuss if a headless commerce strategy is the right fit for your brand, or you’re considering optimizing your current customer experience, feel free to reach out to us here.

Shannon Kenneally
After graduating from Clemson, Shannon started her career in marketing, focusing on content creation and engagement. As Blue Acorn iCi’s Media Marketing Specialist, she keeps clients and customers up-to-date on the latest trends and news in the ecommerce world. In her free time, she enjoys running with her dog and checking out the local breweries in Charleston.
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