Just a few years ago, eCommerce might have been considered optional for brands. Nowadays, however, things are vastly different, and almost every business has recognized the potential of eCommerce and the value that it can bring. We can see why given that by 2026 almost a quarter of all retail sales worldwide will be done online.
One name synonymous with eCommerce is Shopify, and it is often the go-to eCommerce platform (or at least placed under consideration) for businesses of all sizes. Today, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the headless commerce approach to eCommerce. Consumers have gone from shopping online while sitting at their computers to shopping on the go with their smartphones, tablets, and other devices, and brands need a way to cater to these customers on different channels.
But what is headless commerce, and how does it differ from previous forms of eCommerce? In this article, we’ll explain headless commerce and how you can benefit from it with the help of a headless CMS.
What Is Headless Commerce?
An eCommerce store is divided into two parts: the customer-facing frontend and the backend eCommerce platform, where all the inventory management, checkout, fulfillment, and other details are handled.
Headless commerce separates the frontend from the backend of your eCommerce store. It enables you to easily make changes on the backend, such as integrating additional tools, without impacting what happens on the frontend.
In addition, headless commerce allows you to create a shopping experience on any channel. If your customers want to shop on a desktop or laptop, they can still do so. However, they can also visit your store from a smartphone or tablet, a mobile device, or any other device or channel they want.
Why Is Headless Commerce Becoming Popular
The growth around eCommerce is notable, but that doesn’t explain why headless commerce is getting so much attention.
The reality is that customers are demanding that businesses cater to them with omnichannel shopping experiences that span more than one device. Mobile is the go-to method to browse the internet for the majority of people these days, with 90% of the global population getting online using their mobile phones. So that means eCommerce stores need to be mobile-friendly and blend content from social media channels to create a cohesive shopping experience.
Customers want to find a product while browsing Instagram or TikTok and then purchase it without feeling like they’re downgrading their experience. They also want to find products online, purchase them in-store, and vice versa and receive a personalized, unique experience. Headless commerce makes this a possibility.
Headless Commerce Architecture vs. Traditional Commerce Architecture
To fully understand headless commerce architecture, one must first know what traditional commerce architecture is like.
Traditional commerce architecture consists of a tightly coupled frontend and backend in a monolithic model. Platforms like Magento and Shopware are examples of tools that fall under this category. Tight coupling gives IT teams better control over the platform but limits the shopping experiences brands can create, often restricting them to one channel. Plus, these bulkier traditional commerce systems restrict how quickly businesses can go to market, and its tricky to extend functionality or easily integrate with modern software tools.
Whereas traditional commerce tightly couples the backend and the frontend, limiting what businesses can do, headless commerce decouples the two to improve flexibility. The frontend and backend communicate using APIs instead, giving complete freedom to developers to create shopping experiences for any device.
Also, integrations with other tools are much easier, further enhancing the commerce experience. Companies can use a headless commerce system to power their eCommerce backend and integrate a headless CMS to create frontend experiences on different channels. They can also use other tools like a personalization engine, experimentation tools, and more to deliver a high-quality customer experience.
Moving Towards MACH-based Systems
Headless commerce is also a starting point for MACH as companies move away from traditional suite platforms towards modular software tools to build their tech stacks. MACH stands for microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless, and gives businesses the freedom to develop their tech stacks using best-of-breed tools. It is also a driving force for headless being the future and the present eCommerce choice for many companies.
The Many Benefits of Headless Commerce
While the future of eCommerce is headless, there are many reasons businesses should look to embrace it today.
Headless commerce gives companies the flexibility and freedom to customize the frontend shopping experience as they see fit. It also offers developers the option to work with modern frameworks and tooling.
With the ability to create headless storefronts on different channels, brands can tap into omnichannel selling. Product-related content can be published on any device, even in places like smart speakers and watches, allowing businesses to create a cohesive experience no matter where a customer is browsing.
Faster Time to Market
Headless commerce allows marketers to quickly launch new products and campaigns without being slowed down by developers needing to work on things in the background.
Headless commerce allows e-commerce stores to cope with large spikes in traffic more quickly than if they were using traditional commerce architecture. This facilitates a more scalable experience and reduces the potential downtime that can harm a business.
Customers demand personalization, and headless commerce enables businesses to deliver. Brands can create a unique experience for each customer, spanning multiple channels throughout the customer journey. For example, headless commerce makes it easier to provide specific product listings or discounts for customers in a specific geographic location. Personalization can also be accomplished by offering rewards to the most loyal customers of a brand.
With developers and marketers able to work in parallel, more channels to deliver content and sell to customers, and the ability to quickly adapt to changes in the market or customer preferences, headless commerce can lead to improved performance for brands that can use it.
Headless Commerce With Storyblok and Shopify
Headless commerce offers several advantages for brands that use it, from the present-day ability to create a shopping experience on any device or channel to the ability to adapt and respond to changes as required. To accomplish the full benefits of headless commerce, brands need to choose the best software tools for the job.
First of all, an eCommerce platform like Shopify is necessary to handle all of the backend functionality. Fulfillment, checkout, merchandising, and more can be handled with Shopify. Brands can benefit from one of the leading eCommerce platforms and easily integrate with several other technologies if required.
On the frontend, integrating a headless CMS like Storyblok enables businesses to blend content and commerce. Storyblok offers the freedom to innovate and create and manage content for your blog, landing pages, and other elements of an eCommerce website. Plus, you can create a shopping interface on a mobile device, tablet, digital kiosk, or wherever you need to.
Getting the most out of platforms like Storyblok and Shopify requires top notch support. Digital agency take_it is a Storyblok partner and expert in Storyblok as a headless CMS. We can also help you to get more out of Shopify and create a headless commerce strategy that appeals to your customers on every channel.
Digital assets security company NGRAVE needed to upgrade from using a page builder and adopt a modern CMS instead. With the help of take_it, they migrated to Storyblok as their new headless CMS.
They also needed to integrate Shopify to manage their eCommerce shop, and take_it delivered once again by facilitating the integration using Storyblok plugins to fetch products while Shopify handled the checkout process.
Read more about how take_it helped NGRAVE in our case study: How Take It_ used Storyblok to create NGRAVE’s futuristic eShop & Academy with eyes on the horizon.