commercetools vs. SAP Cloud Commerce

Unmasking imposters: What being headless really means — and why SAP isn't it

Diya Bag
Senior Content Writer, commercetools
Published 28 March 2023

Everyone who operates within the digital commerce ecosystem is well aware that embracing headless commerce is the only way to move business forward in our constantly changing world. But, not all headless solutions are created equal. In fact, some companies — like SAP Cloud Commerce –– have tried to capitalize on the hype without committing to being truly headless. Businesses that fall for their hype are vulnerable to impeded revenue growth. That's why we're here to define what being headless really means — and how "poser" solutions can take your digital commerce back to square one.

commercetools vs. SAP Cloud Commerce

Invented by commercetools CEO and co-founder, Dirk Hoerig, headless commerce was born in 2012. At the time, customer touchpoints were increasing, digitally native competition was growing and consumer expectations were skyrocketing; major enterprises were struggling to keep up. Dirk believed that traditional commerce platforms, with their rigid structures, were holding brands back. And this realization propelled him to launch the first ever eCommerce solution that only delivered backend functionality, decoupling the frontend presentation layer (aka the "head").

Since its creation, headless architecture has become a powerful foundation for retailers to capitalize on microservices, APIs and the cloud in order to continuously innovate, respond to changes and achieve business goals. Businesses can deliver personalized and engaging customer experiences across a variety of devices and touchpoints, while also having the flexibility to change and optimize the customer experience without disrupting the backend commerce systems. It's like having a secret weapon in your arsenal that makes experimentation with new channels and technologies, such as voice assistants and virtual reality, incredibly easy. 

SAP, on the other hand, likes to play a bit of make believe. When leading analyst Gartner calls you "still monolithic at its core," you know you can't really call yourself headless. But SAP found a loophole. With SAP Cloud Commerce, SAP offers a hybrid approach that combines a slightly disconnected head…yet with traditional monolithic eCommerce features! This means that the frontend presentation layer is still tied to the backend commerce systems, making it less flexible and customizable than a fully headless solution. In this way, SAP can technically claim that it offers a headless solution without offering any of the actual advantages. 

Now, let's look closer at what a real headless solution from commercetools offers versus what a pretend headless solution can't handle.

About user experience

When it comes to providing a seamless user experience across different websites or apps, SAP falls short. Its rigid structure and lack of flexibility make it challenging to create a cohesive brand experience across all digital touchpoints. Moving from one channel to another — such as clicking on a link on Instagram to a mobile website — can be a friction-filled experience for users because the CX enabled by SAP is disjointed. Such an incohesive journey leads to a negative experience for customers and can reflect poorly on your brand.

The headless architecture of commercetools allows you to create seamless experiences across all their digital touchpoints; you can design their websites and apps according to your unique needs without being restricted by the underlying architecture. This results in a consistent and engaging user experience that helps to increase customer satisfaction and drive revenue. Plus, you can create and customize content and experiences on multiple platforms at once. Quickly creating new digital experiences, reusing content and testing different strategies is all within easy reach.

About customization

SAP's limited structure can make it challenging to customize the look and feel of your website or app. Additionally, customization requires lots of manual coding, which can be time-consuming and lead to errors. Businesses may be required to hire developers with deep knowledge of SAP's underlying technology, but that can be costly and slow down the development process.

With commercetools' headless approach, customization can be delivered in several ways. With the frontend and backend decoupled, you can freely create a custom storefront experience that aligns with your brand and provides a unique shopping experience. Additionally, with a decoupled architecture, it's easier to collect and analyze customer data, which can then be used to provide personalized product recommendations, promotions and content.

About vendor lock-in

One of the biggest challenges of using SAP is its lack of flexibility when it comes to transferring data or customizations elsewhere. SAP's closed architecture means you're locked into using their products and technology, making it challenging to switch platforms or migrate to new systems.

In the context of vendor lock-in, headless commerce from commercetools can help avoid this by allowing you to choose best-of-breed solutions for each component of your eCommerce stack, rather than being tied to a single vendor's solution. You can choose the best third-party tools for your needs without extensive and potential breaking customization to the core commerce platform.  

In the end, while SAP may have once been the go-to solution for commerce, its slow embrace of modern technology and inability to move away from its signature monolithic architecture make it an imposter in the world of headless commerce. In contrast, commercetools' modern tools, headless infrastructure and composable commerce approach offer businesses a flexible and customizable solution that can drive revenue, improve customer experiences and streamline operations. With easy integration, scalable infrastructure and a commitment to innovation, commercetools is the clear choice for businesses looking to thrive in the digital age.

To view more of our resources about how commercetools stacks up against SAP, visit our webpage commercetools vs. SAP

Diya Bag
Senior Content Writer, commercetools

Diya Bag is a Senior Content Writer at commercetools. Previously, she has worked as a Copywriter in advertising for a wide range of brands, as well as an Editorial Manager in publishing for magazines and both fiction and nonfiction books.

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