Headless e-commerce, e.g. by the use of a Progressive Web App, is a technological answer to a solution without a fixed front end user interface.
The benefits of separating front- and backend are:
- a short time to market,
- performance scaled to business needs
- flexibility in terms of new features
- seamless support of different channels or touchpoints
- offering the ultimate customer experience
An agile, scalable and future-proof e-commerce platform is what you get when you opt for API-based (or "headless") commerce. The management and database logic are connected via an API to the front end, which is fully equipped to the taste and needs of the brand, company or channel.
Platforms will become increasingly sophisticated, with ever better performance, and their time-to-market will be shortened as IT development becomes more efficient. In order to remain relevant in an increasingly demanding market, it is necessary to be able to set up initiatives quickly.
The speed of a website largely determines your success. Google supports this statement:
57% of visitors will leave a page if the loading time exceeds 3 seconds.
The commercial effect of a faster website speaks for itself. Depending on the technology chosen for the front end, a headless architecture can make the website relatively fast.
The development speed of a traditional e-commerce solution with front end and back end integrated, is often faster than in a headless environment or for a Progressive Web App. This is because many standards have already been defined in the front end. By staying close to the standard, much less development needs to take place. Intershop offers a template for its PWA, to shorten the project time to just customization.
What you need in a headless approach are clearly defined models for data exchange between front and back end. Because these are no longer connected, clear agreements must be in order. But starting with a smartly framed MVP (minimum viable product), a working environment can go live after a few weeks, too.
The extent to which you are able to anticipate changes determines whether or not you are a leader in your market. With a flexible front end, the architecture is better equipped to build a micro service and experiment with a new business model.
The micro service outside the platform is called via an API. In this way, you do not develop legacy code in a package, which means that an update in the future will be less labor and time intensive.
You can continue testing and have to make a relatively small investment for new functionalities. This limits the ROI in the event of a negative result.
More than one online shopping channel
Customers want seamless commerce, on every touchpoint, no matter if desktop website, shopping app, in-app buy on social media, market place, a brick and mortar store or on the tablet of a sales consultant. Therefore, it is no longer sufficient to only process orders via a web shop. Due to the disconnected architecture, it is possible to operate all channels more easily from one back end. For example, you can also set up a drop-shipment website in a new continent.
Think about linking e-commerce to already existing technology and user interfaces, for example in cars: welcome, car commerce. By being prepared, by means of a headless architecture, a car can serve as a user interface for shopping.
Separate front from back end for better customer experience
With a headless structure, the back end can be linked to multiple shopping channels. This makes it easier to coordinate your stock management. An additional advantage is that by connecting a smart POS system to your commerce environment, the data flows back into the e-commerce environment. Analysis and visualization of online and offline data is thus easier and of higher quality.
A great seamless customer experience and personalization is the ambition of many companies. With a headless structure like a Progressive Web App as separated user interface, you will be forced to think carefully about the design and the choices to be made. It is not predefined by default.
The enormous freedom at the separated front end allows the e-commerce manager to create a target group specific customer journey, and looking at the customer experience, in this way the best result can be achieved.
Do you want to know more? Read this article on Intershop's PWA.