why legacy platforms are so expensive

Business Blog The cost of not going headless: Why legacy platforms are so expensive

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
February 2022

Often, when companies are thinking of migrating their commerce platforms and headless comes up as an option, the first thing that comes to mind is the cost of re-platforming – and it seems daunting. But we suggest that you think about it in a different way: What does staying on a legacy platform cost you? And how does that compare to the cost of headless commerce?

why legacy platforms are so expensive

What is headless commerce?

Invented by commercetools, headless commerce decouples the frontend (what users see and engage with, AKA the “head”) of an eCommerce platform from the backend (where product information, customer details and other data is stored). When a commerce tech stack is headless, APIs can push backend information to any frontend – including smartphones and personal computing devices, all the way to digital signages and even voice assistants – for a seamless, omnichannel experience between touchpoints. Headless commerce is a key part of digitalization and modern efficiency.

For a commerce platform to be optimal, it must be agile, flexible, fast and customizable. This is exactly what headless commerce enables your business to be. Online shops backed by headless architecture are adaptable enough to rapidly deploy changes to frontend content on any touchpoint for campaigns, promotions, adding new markets – whatever you need – independently of developments in the backend.

This leads to both time and cost savings because:

  1. You simply have to input data and changes once in the backend, and have those changes deployed everywhere across frontends.

  2. You can make backend changes without affecting the frontend, and vice versa. Say goodbye to the days of “down for maintenance” and hello to more revenue thanks to higher uptime.

  3. Since they are modular and development is easier, both the backends and frontends can be constantly evolved to stay at the forefront of the technological curve.

Why going headless lowers your TCO

There are many ways that migrating to commercetools will lower your total cost of ownership (TCO). A headless platform lowers operational costs, provides better value than legacy software, and has no large capital expenditure or surprise costs. But in this article, we’ll be focusing on why headless commerce specifically is the smarter financial choice. 

Firstly, headless commerce facilitates a best-of-breed approach. With commercetools in the backend, you can select a frontend, payment solution and whatever else you need to compose the best customer experience that is specifically built for your business needs. This best-of-breed approach enables you to select the most optimal services and best pricing since you have several vendors to choose from. As such, you will never pay for features and services you don’t need – a huge change from legacy commerce suites that had fixed feature sets you have to pay for, whether or not you use them.

Next, a headless solution will scale with your business as it grows. Whether you’re considering adding new product lines, selling via new touchpoints or integrating the latest tech like AI and voice commands, it’s all possible – opening up your business to new revenue streams and capturing more customers. In other words, if you want to customize, tailor or add to your platform, the headless architecture of commercetools will never hold you back – no expensive upgrades needed, no fixed tech stacks or proprietary programming languages, and no specialist developers required.

The maintenance costs have sunk dramatically since the implementation [of commercetools] and it is possible to quickly and easily develop new APIs as connections with our partners.
Jesse Wierenga

Scrum Master and Agile Coach, Eurail

How non-headless eCommerce platforms eat into costs

This may be a hard truth to face, so we’ll give it to you straight: Legacy platforms like Salesforce, SAP and Oracle are costing you money in sales, time and resources. An all-in-one commerce platform may have seemed like the right choice at first, but it’s far from being the most cost-effective solution. There are big upfront, running and unseen costs that are constantly piling up by staying on your legacy platform – and the longer you put off migrating, the more costly it is to your business.

If your platform is not headless, it’s difficult for your online shop to integrate new channels to increase sales. You are not able to customize your platform, features and add-ons to fit your business needs, so your shop looks like every other shop out there and does not reflect the uniqueness of your brand. Your release cycles are clumsy, large and staggered instead of continuous and consistent.

Companies focused on building something headless were innovating more quickly because they had faster development times, shorter development cycles and faster feedback loops. The likelihood of us being able to stay up to speed with what we wanted, what our stakeholders wanted and, most importantly, what our shoppers wanted, was more likely with a headless approach.
Simon Young

Senior Engineering Director of Unified Commerce, LEGO

Think of all the lost revenue from downtime, plus the added costs and hours spent on working around your legacy platform – on trying to fix crashes, working around upgrades and being unable to react quick enough to market changes. All that can be avoided by building a modern commerce solution that fits your business needs, versus working around a cumbersome legacy platform that holds back your business.

That’s why you shouldn’t let the fear of migration hold you back. Staying on a legacy platform is much more problematic than re-platforming, and moving on to a headless solution will save you money, time and headaches, both right away and in the long run. Take it from customers like L.L.Bean and Pret a Manger, who have migrated from Salesforce to commercetools, and customers like LEGO and H&M, who have migrated from SAP to commercetools – migrating is far easier than you think. 

To learn more about the value headless commerce will bring to your business, read our white paper: Benefits of Headless Commerce.

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
February 2022

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