FAQs: What is Headless Commerce? 🤔

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce is a type of eCommerce architecture that decouples the front-end experience from the back-end system. This means that the back-end system can be updated or changed without impacting the front-end experience, and vice versa.

What Is the Difference between Traditional & Headless eCommerce?

A traditional eCommerce approach, or monolith platform, was built with a strong ‘coupling’ between the front-end experience and the back-end commerce functions. A monolith approach delivers value by offering a multitude of out-of-the-box functionality directly connected to a frontend to quickly stand up a web-based/ desktop browser experience.

On the other hand, a Headless Commerce ‘decoupled’ approach allows for the flexibility to implement front-end changes, add new channels, and generate quicker release cycles (for example: testing solely the new addition in a Headless architecture vs. testing the entire tightly coupled systems pre-launch).

What are the benefits of Headless Commerce?

  • Unlimited Customisation – Personalised Customer Experiences to Maximize Conversions

  • Better agility: Add new features and tools in no time

  • Scalability: Scale your business at lightning speed

  • Higher Flexibility: Respond to market needs faster

  • Easier to implement an omnichannel experience

  • Quick deployment and even greater flexibility

  • Fast new features releases with less risk of bugs

  • Easy troubleshooting and updates

  • Combining of third-party tools

  • Unique platform building

  • The ability to piece together the best in class eCommerce technology

  • No need to ever have to replatform again

Do consumers care about Headless?

Most customers won’t necessarily notice a difference between a traditional storefront vs. a Headless Commerce experience. What a Headless Commerce approach does allow is a brand to regain control of their customer experience and dramatically speed up experimentation cycles to keep up with customer expectations and company growth. This scalability also impacts overall site speed, a crucial factor according to Google as “53% of mobile visitors abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load”.

How does Headless help an omnichannel brand?

By removing the traditional ‘middle layer’ that connects the front and back-ends in a tightly coupled monolith solution. A Headless Commerce approach relies on a single source of truth to simplify the architecture by removing the middle layer. Enabling each customer touchpoint (D2C channel, retail/wholesale, voice etc) to connect back to the same core logic & business functions in a ‘decoupled’ back-end.

What’s the difference between Headless and Composable?

Composable commerce and headless commerce are often used interchangeably, although the comparison of composable commerce vs. headless commerce presents at least one main difference.

Composable commerce goes beyond headless commerce, separating the frontend stack from the backend and selecting the best technologies to build your commerce stack.

For many eCommerce applications, using headless commerce is the first small step towards a flexible architecture. Decoupling the frontend from the backend frees an enterprise from the constraints of an eCommerce platform's limited frontend capabilities. It also ensures that frontend developers can work independently of backend teams, with no cross-functional coordination and compromising an already fragile and enlarged monolith.

Composable commerce takes the flexibility offered by headless solutions to the next level. Within headless architecture, functionalities can be limited by business logic trapped in the monolith if the main platform is still a full-stack engine.

Composable commerce architecture is API-first, as the software communicates through APIs to create complex business solutions.

However, these pieces can also work independently - meaning that one piece of the puzzle can be replaced without impacting other parts of the system.

How much does a Headless build cost?

Of course, the cost of implementing a Headless solution depends on many factors (good/fast/cheap anyone?), but typically it doesn't make sense until a brand is generating at least £1 million through its website.

According to industry benchmarks, a brand should spend between 5% and 15% of its annual DTC revenue on digital projects, and our Headless projects typically start from £150,000.

When budgeting, it's important to keep in mind the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the tech stack. A composable setup will require several microservices, depending heavily on the number of transactions, traffic, search requests, and even the type of content. However, this doesn't mean the cost has to be prohibitively expensive. In fact, we've helped clients replatform and make savings with the payment gateway that actually paid for the initial project itself!

If you want to learn more, get in touch and we'll help you decide if a Headless solution makes sense for your brand.

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