It’s 2023. You have your feet up on the dashboard of your brand-new driverless electric car, ready for the next 100-mile stretch before re-charge. You take a slurp on your Devilish Devon Date and Daffodil Juice (it’s all about local sustainability, of course), as you flip open the onboard computer and take a look down the list of the compatible digital retailers. The perfect time to make a purchase. “Hi Electra. Buy Size 9 Plastiche Air, recycled bottle trainers,” you say. “Purchase made, thank-you for shopping today,” comes the reply. “It will be delivered by drone to your destination in three hours. Now please take your feet off the dashboard.”
OK, we may be having a little fun there, but just how near to the truth is a similar scenario likely to be?
The worlds of technology and inter-connectedness are growing at break-neck speeds, with the number of internet-enabled touch points constantly increasing. According to Statista, the number of IoT devices will reach a whopping 75 billion by 2025.
For digital retailers, it’s no longer enough just to have a functioning ecommerce site. You must be prepared to constantly evolve, experiment with new trends to keep moving with customer needs and expectations and keep one eye firmly on the future.
Headless capability gives business owners the flexibility to do all this and much more.
What is Headless Commerce?
Headless architecture separates the back-end functionality and infrastructure from the CMS front-end display of your online platform. By developing your website in this manner, both can operate independently of one another.
Traditional and headless architecture provide the same experience to content managers and merchants, but the latter allows content to be delivered in different ways to consumers with ease. With just one back-end, multiple front-end delivery systems can be developed to publish your content on any channel or device. Product information, fulfilment capabilities and content management can be put together and maintained separately, before publishing it wherever it needs to go – be that website, mobile app, or the Internet of Things.
By using APIs to deliver services between the two sections, retailers have more flexibility in where and what formats they publish their content.
It all allows for quick and easy customisation to their front-end displays. Brands can quickly scale-up or try new approaches to content, selling and marketing – without the fuss of a major overhaul and enable commerce on any device or application. Suddenly, any device is a checkout for your products.
Why does my business need it?
As with the fun scenario at the beginning of the blog, customers are accessing the internet in a multitude of different ways – and these touch points are increasing all the time.
The retailers who are flourishing are the ones who stay two steps ahead of the pack. In an age where shoppers have come to expect seamless digital experiences delivered to them through a multitude of devices and channels, headless commerce gives retailers flexibility over other experiences.
Radley, a renowned British handbag and accessories designer and retailer, opted for a headless approach based on Adobe Experience Manager as part of its next generation ecommerce strategy.
The retailers operates on Magento 1 but is upgrading to Magento 2 (Magento Commerce), and with a strong brand and loyal following wanted a flexible digital experience.
Redbox/SQLI’s director, Kevin Ludford, said: “Retailers are realising they need to be more flexible with their approach. With customer personalisation so important, brands must be able to quickly adapt and meet their needs through an array of ever-increasing channels.”
Rachel Glynn, Radley’s head of ecommerce said: “Adobe Experience Manager will allow us to create a richer, more engaging and immersive brand experience online – without the restrictions of a traditional platform. This will improve team efficiencies and reduce the number of tools we need.
“Now, we can use powerful imagery, personalised recommendations and more detailed and engaging product descriptions, but customise this when we need to.
“A flexible, experience driven front-end will enable us to deliver content anywhere and everywhere in a way we want to present it and evolve with our customers at the same time.”
Some of the benefits of going headless
There are many benefits of taking a headless approach to your online business. They include:
Accelerate innovation: As more devices become connected, headless ecommerce gives brands more control over where they can publish, without having to wait for CMS support. With the number of IoT devices increasing, the possibilities for innovation are growing too. Just five years ago, consumers hadn’t discovered smart watch or personal assistant purchasing. What will another five years look like?
Serve multiple channels: When it’s so important to listen to and act upon customer feedback – and customise their experiences – retailers can be more reactive and experimental. Headless architecture enables retailers to distribute content across multiple platforms from one back-end, meaning less time is spent delivering the same content.
Personalisation made easier: Headless allows for complete creative control allowing brands to hone in on customer preferences and build more focused experiences.
In a blog on Headless Commerce, Adobe’s writer Dan Curran explained: “Customer data is available across every touch point, letting merchants offer relevant promotions and offers to customers, and creating personalised, meaningful shopping experiences.”
Faster Scalability: Free from restrictions, front-end developers can work faster, meaning quicker site updates at lower costs.
Is headless right for your business?
As with any business decision, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. While the benefits for going headless are huge, you should consider:
- Do you want or need your developers to have more time and freedom on the font-end of your site?
- Do you need or have multiple touch points with your users?
- Decoupling comes with increased management and separate hosting costs.
Magento Commerce offers digital retailers a variety of innovations that support merchants by integrating headless elements into their existing e-commerce architecture. It also integrates with the industry-leading Adobe Experience Manager.
Redbox believes headless will be a key trend for ecommerce business in 2020, opening up many opportunities for forward-thinking retailers.
If you want to find out more, give us a call and let us plan your next steps.