When remaining competitive in modern eCommerce, keeping up with the trends is a must. Live chat, mobile shopping, and mobile payments have become essential to reaching your full audience and optimizing your conversions. However, in the last decade, no trend has mattered more than headless eCommerce development.
Until this point, eCommerce websites have typically been built in an all-in-one fashion—with your website structure also housing all the data for your products, listing, and even your sales analytics. But no more. Going “headless” is the ultimate way to enact efficient operations and make your eCommerce shopping experience truly omnichannel.
What is Headless eCommerce and How Does it Work?
Headless eCommerce is when you decouple your front-end user experience from your back-end data storage and processing. Imagine all your product listing details, inventory data, and analytics stored in a data warehouse. From this warehouse, your website, mobile app, third-party platforms, and all other shopping interfaces can request orders and receive deliveries. This removes the burden of storing and processing your back-end data on each individual platform, allowing you to make streamlined user interfaces and keep all of your shopping data unified from a single source of truth.
We call it “headless” because you are removing the “head” that is eCommerce website development from the “body” which is your core data.
Your inventory, your product details, and even your customer’s history and recent shopping activity can now become universally accurate, whether customers are accessing your website, have opened the mobile app, or even browse your products through a marketplace platform.
How Headless eCommerce Development Works
Headless eCommerce stores your ‘headless’ data in a centralized server. You will be able to manipulate it through design and you can choose a complex interface, or you can manipulate the data directly using admin abilities. You can host comprehensive data about the brand down to minutia about the customer. Additionally, you can even store and automate headless content and design templates.
Headless eCommerce development works using an API so that every shopping channel asks for data the same way. You can provide more consistent shopping experiences, customer service, and inventory accuracy by sharing a single back-end with all your branded channels.
Advantages of Headless eCommerce for Your Business
Headless eCommerce development is taking the world by storm. It shows a vast potential to benefit your eCommerce operations at every level. Both the front-end channels and back-end data will move faster, you can provide a more continuous experience even between channels and applications, and even enact superior cybersecurity measures once your data is decoupled.
With headless eCommerce, you are no longer limited by channel or platform. Using an API, any online store or eCommerce application can call upon your core data to automatically populate your product listings, customer information, and even your formatting and design settings. You can just as easily automate the color scheme used by your brand for each shopping channel as you can automate product listings and availability.
Whether you are selling through your own eCommerce website, a mobile application, or third-party marketplaces; the headless API allows you to infinitely expand without having to rebuild product listings or manicuring local data when updates occur.
Faster, More Efficient Performance
Headless eCommerce provides faster and better performance for both your front-end and your back-end. Front-end shopping channels no longer need to carry the burden of all the essential data. This lightens the load and allows you to create beautifully smooth, lightweight shopping experiences.
Back-end data processing is no longer limited by the need to load individual pages and UI elements.
Continuous Customer Experiences
A common frustration for eCommerce customers is that switching platforms or devices is like entering an entirely different store. Headless architecture saves customer interactions and shopping histories to the back-end source of data. When customers log in through a different platform, they will be remembered and can even pick up shopping where they left off on a separate channel.
This is also true of customer service. Customers who seek support for your eCommerce mobile app will have the same engagement history as when they connect through your website or even through a third-party platform.
Cross-Platform Loyalty Rewards and Features
When customers buy products or engage with the brand through any channel, your loyalty program can track their engagement from platform to platform. Because loyalty data can be stored in the back-end, customers can get and spend their points no matter what channel they are currently using or have used in the past.
Easier eCommerce Mobile Development
Creating a smooth, enjoyable eCommerce mobile application can be challenging. This is especially true if you’re trying to piggyback off of data stored through your website. However, mobile apps draw data through an API, making them ideal for headless eCommerce mobile development. With a headless source of data, you can streamline your eCommerce mobile application to provide the best data-supplied mobile shopping experience.
Robust Two-Sided Update Structure
When it’s time to update either the front-end or the back-end, there will be no risk of total service interruption. Through eCommerce website development, you can customize your website, change your app, or restructure your store on a marketplace knowing that your core data is safe and easily re-uploaded to each platform. If updating your data, you can make changes knowing that the customer front-end will still function perfectly, and will receive the new data when it’s ready.
Seamless Front-End and Back-End Integrations
If you want to integrate new features into your front-end design or back-end structure, you can. Each plugin or toolkit can be seamlessly installed without worrying about compatibility with the rest of the now-decoupled system.
Advanced Data Analytics
One important upgrade is the potential for advanced data analytics. By hosting your eCommerce data in a separate location, you can expand your resources and run advanced analysis, even AI-powered analysis. You can supply your front-end with high-level predictive customer data or supply your team with useful insights in a way that does not bog down or risk your front-end user experience.
Superior Cybersecurity for Back-End Data
Lastly, hosting your data in a separate server environment allows you to apply superior cybersecurity measures. You can close any port that the API does not use, and authorize only approved API interactions. Unlike website data, in which the site must be open to random visitors at all times, your protected headless eCommerce data—including precious customer personal data—can be operated using extremely strict and robust protocols.
Comparison of Headless eCommerce vs Traditional eCommerce Platforms
What is the difference between headless eCommerce and traditional eCommerce platforms?
Traditional eCommerce platforms are usually quite restrictive in front-end design. Your data also ties directly to the permitted structure of your eCommerce shopping website. If you are using a platform like WordPress or Squarespace, this comes with templates, plugins, and protocols that limit how you can design your front-end, host your data, or handle customer interactions.
With headless eCommerce development, you can build or work with whatever front-end you desire. All you need are API calls to receive the core data and automatically build or rebuild your front-end information.
Customization and Personalization
Headless architecture allows for advanced personalization. Using back-end analytics to examine personal preferences and shopping patterns and front-end freedom of design, you can truly customize each unique user experience. In contrast, traditional eCommerce development is extremely limited to the customization and personalization built into the initial website platform.
Flexibility and Adaptability
Lastly, traditional eCommerce platforms are typically quite rigid. This is especially true when it comes to adaptive and flexible design and your ability to expand to new channels. Headless eCommerce not only unlocks your potential for adaptive eCommerce website development, but it also unlocks your ability as a brand to adapt to new channels and shopper trends.
Key Considerations for Choosing a Headless eCommerce Platform
How do you know which headless eCommerce platform is right for your business? Several eCommerce platforms now offer headless architecture which allows you to decouple your front-end and back-end operations. Let’s look at the primary reasons why you might choose headless eCommerce as your go-to option.
Flexible Front-End Design
Does your eCommerce application need to operate on a wide range of channels? If you are looking to push your data to a website, mobile app, marketplace, voice shopping, and/or in-store experiences using the same shared core data, headless architecture is the superior choice.
Decoupled Update Capabilities
If you want the ability to update your front-end and back-end separately so that performance and experience are not influenced by changes to either half of your e-commerce architecture, then headless offers the most robust architecture option.
If you’re looking to beat the game on both website and app performance by lightening the burden on front-end design, headless architecture offers a higher potential for high-performance design.
Headless eCommerce Architecture and Implementation Process
Headless eCommerce development has no single right way to implement it. Instead, it’s an approach to your entire technical architecture design.
Your core data set makes up headless eCommerce. These can be relational databases, keystore databases, archives, and/or object buckets. The data is stored, updated, and manipulated at the core level. You can store your data using a headless CMS (content management system) like Strapi or Contentful. You can then integrate your headless data into existing eCommerce platforms like Shopify using APIs that call and translate the data to your eCommerce front-end.
The second stage of the headless eCommerce architecture is the API. This is a collection of scripts and functionality that calls for data from the core server or updates data in the server using approved ports and methods.
Lastly, there is your front-end, which can be as many platforms, channels, and mobile apps as you need. You can even support multi-brand infrastructure using different websites that call on the same core headless architecture. The omnichannel front end uses API calls to send and receive data.
Measuring the Success of Your Headless eCommerce Strategy
How do you measure the success of a headless eCommerce development strategy? You will quickly begin to see the results as you use this infrastructure to improve every aspect of both back-end data management and front-end customer experience.
Customers who enjoy a faster, more continuous brand experience will increase conversion rates. This includes both new leads who run into fewer slow-downs and returning customers who may feel delighted at the improved overall experience.
Speed and Performance
Once you decouple your data from your website, applications, and marketplaces, you should notice an increase in speed and performance. Websites and applications can run more efficiently without data to slow them down. Your back-end can be optimized just to fetch and serve data without the need for page loads or graphical elements.
Improved SEO Results
With the benefit of greater performance and more flexible content management, you receive improved SEO. Search engines today, particularly Google, prioritize websites that can respond instantly. Because headless eCommerce apps are more lightweight, they can achieve these performance metrics. Because data is dynamic, you will also have an easier time keeping your on-site content fresh and recent.
Both factors contribute to higher SERP rankings and improved SEO results.
Faster Integration of New Channels or Features
When it comes time to integrate new features or add new channels to your shopping experience, you can measure old implementation data to the new process. Headless architecture will offer streamlined integration focused only on improving either the front-end user experience or back-end data handling.
Lower Cost Operations and Update Cycles
You can optimize your resource costs when front-end and back-end are decoupled. Rather than requiring a web server with high performance and deep storage, you can optimize your website for interactive performance and your data for deep storage and read-write performance. This not only lowers operation costs but can also increase the speed and decrease the overhead of your production cycles.
Cross-Channel Customer Engagement
Lastly, you can track how customers become engaged across multiple channels. You can do this by tracking their logins from application to website to marketplace.
Discover Headless eCommerce Development with Practical Logix
Are you considering taking your eCommerce brand headless? Practical Logix can help you build the ideal architecture and strategize your next wave of decoupled updates. Let us engineer the next wave of customer experience improvements by optimizing your use of your independent back-end data and newly freed front-end development. Contact us today for an initial consultation.