Business Blog Five Business Benefits of Headless Commerce

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
November 2018

If you haven’t lived underneath a rock for the last couple of months and you work in commerce, you might have come across the term headless commerce.

Roughly speaking, this describes separating the frontend and backend layers of any application and having them speak with each other via an API. From a technological point of view, this makes perfect sense, especially in the context of the fast-changing user behavior we see in today’s commerce. If customers use different frontends or devices, let’s just put a different head on the same backend and we’re good to go. However, there are also some important business motivations to look at a headless approach. Let’s dive deeper into why this tripartite structure – frontend, API, backend – becomes very relevant for your business and leaves the realm of the too-technical.

Modern headless commerce is now mainstream

1. Customization

Using a headless solution, you are independent of a monolithic software prescribing how a frontend should be structured. You do not have to stick to a specific templating system, train your employees to follow the exact rules the software vendor laid out. Instead, you can build exactly the right type of user interface from scratch. You have full control of what happens in the frontend, and you can follow your UX design principles and shape your brand’s identity without having to adhere to a templated layout that makes your sites and apps look like anybody else’s.

What you gain:
  • Brand recognition

  • Convert more customers and increase LTV

2. Freedom to experiment

Regarding user interaction, you can experiment without the risk to jeopardize the whole ecosystem. For example, if you would like to A/B test specific parts of your commerce websites, try and build an Alexa skill or a fast and shiny Progressive Web App (PWA), you can create some errors in the process without affecting the backend operations. In contrast, with traditional commerce solutions, you often have to modify frontend and backend code simultaneously, sometimes requiring to shut down the entire application for maintenance.

What you gain:
  • Learn faster

  • Save on development costs

3. Speed and Agility

Having the freedom to experiment, you can implement new user interfaces more quickly instead of installing and then maintaining a full-stack software. Development becomes much more efficient because teams can work in parallel. Due to its decoupled nature, changes can be made to the UI, without having to test all the core logic in the backend.

What you gain:
  • Reduced time to market

  • Development efficiency

4. Scaling

Typically, frontend and backend can be individually scaled. Even if the frontend receives a lot of traffic, this does not affect the backend as such, because they are only loosely coupled.

What you gain:
  • Reduce operational cost

  • Stabilize availability

5. Easily add new touchpoints

In a headless scenario, multiple frontends connect to one API and one underlying system. In other words, if you want to add new touchpoints, you do not have to worry about maintaining a software “zoo.”

What you gain:
  • More efficient software maintenance

  • Seize business opportunities

In summary: brands and retailers benefit greatly from following the path of headless commerce.

If you’d like to dive a little bit deeper and get to know a few real-life examples of organizations who’ve successfully implemented a headless solution, check out our brand-new white paper on the Benefits of Headless Commerce.

commercetools author image Stephanie Wittmann
Stephanie Wittmann
November 2018

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