Headless Commerce for a More Integrated Digital Supply Chain Strategy

By Ahmed Raza

A headless approach can boost flexibility and performance, while enabling companies to tailor content and improve the user experience.

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The ecommerce industry is expected to grow by 50 percent in the next four years, with a projected value of $7.4 trillion by 2025. For businesses in the ecommerce space to thrive, let alone survive, they must embrace innovation on a scale never before seen and achieve breakneck speed to market time.

Ahmed Raza

Ahmed Raza

Gone are monolithic systems that limit creative control and customer satisfaction. Consumers are shopping from websites, social media and marketplaces, versus just one company homepage. To succeed in the ecommerce industry, an omnichannel strategy is essential, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies prove very useful in enabling true omnichannel retailing. Simplifying digital communication with a unified platform is key.

Growing customer interactions necessitate the development of innovations such as headless commerce, an architecture that separates the front and back ends of an ecommerce solution to provide customers with faster and more flexible ecommerce experiences. The front-end, or the “head”—which, in many cases, can be the template or the theme—has been decoupled, leaving only the back end, allowing both sectors to be modified as needed without affecting one another.

Headless commerce platforms can offer centralized channel management, enabling businesses to administer all of these platforms from one place. With this decoupling, companies can make quick changes to the front end and connect multiple commerce platforms, marketplaces and more to the supply chain, either through their warehouses or direct-and-drop shipment vendors, all without affecting the end customer’s experience. Traditional outbound supply chain technology stacks are being upgraded with a headless commerce approach to meet the needs of the new consumer.

The Benefits of Headless Commerce

Businesses should consider headless commerce as a transformative shift from traditional ecommerce. While original ecommerce platforms offered front-end tools that enable fast deployments for companies, many businesses now utilize highly trained partners to achieve the benefits of headless commerce. These benefits include:

Design flexibility: Customer buying habits and behaviors can change at a moment’s notice—such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. Front-end sales tools must be flexible enough to meet new demands. When a company’s customer base preferences change overnight, only a headless commerce platform is flexible enough to change.

Content flexibility: Overall, headless commerce allows for more flexibility in content delivery, because website designers and builders can connect content-management system (CMS), digital experience (DXP) or IoT devices that are specifically designed for creating content- or experience-led commerce. Headless commerce enables brands to choose the ecommerce platform that works best as the engine for their online store, while also working with the front end of their choice, be it a CMS, DXP, progressive Web app (PWA) or custom solution.

True omnichannel experience: Omnichannel sales are possible regardless of whether a customer is shopping on a PC or mobile device, or via any other digital medium. While many traditional ecommerce platforms claim to offer an omnichannel experience, that’s not necessarily true. If a business wants to add a new digital sales channel, yet the legacy ecommerce platform does not yet offer it, it’s out of luck. Headless commerce enables a business’s developers to build a front end for a new digital sales channel whenever they choose.

Complete front-end customization: Traditional ecommerce platforms offer some customization within the confines of the front-end tools. Headless products provide limitless potential on the front end.

Personalized customer experience: Organizations can tune front-end sales to match customer preferences. Personalization creates a stronger bond between the customer and the company selling the product or service and is also known to create stronger customer retention rates.

Increased conversion rates: An ecommerce platform can reduce website or shopping cart abandonment rates by instilling a sense of excitement about the products or services it sells. The entire purpose of headless commerce is to hand the personalization, flexibility and creativity to developers so they can help to create excitement for shoppers. This excitement often translates into increased conversion rates across all channels.

Connecting Trading Partners

Headless commerce also enables businesses to provide more integrated experiences with connected trading partners, as well as excellent supply chain resilience. This happens through:

A unified platform: It simplifies digital business communication with a unified platform that supports electronic data interchange, real-time application programming interfaces and proprietary file-based formats.

Multi-channel integrations: It can help expand a company’s market reach by seamlessly integrating with eCommerce platforms, digital marketplaces, business-to-business portals, social channels and more.

Fast onboarding: It can help companies quickly get down to business with fast and smooth onboarding of customers and partners.

Faster time to value: It can offer increased speed of value delivery to customers and partners across the value chain using predefined business rules and process templates.

Multiple deployment options: It helps companies stay on top of the rapidly evolving needs of today’s business and technology landscape with on-premises and cloud-deployment options.

User experience is everything in a consumer landscape that is focused on instant gratification. With the ideal load time for mobile sites falling between one and two seconds, it is not shocking that just about half of mobile site visits are abandoned when the load time exceeds three seconds. Because headless commerce separates the front and back ends, this problem becomes obsolete, as there are far fewer issues on the site’s storefront view or front end.

Furthermore, incorporating headless commerce into a company’s digital supply chain allows it to reap the benefits of increased visibility, greater flexibility and greater resilience throughout its ecommerce pipeline. Headless commerce platforms can also enhance security through this decoupled architecture.

Consumer shopping nature is changing all the time. When buyers in the past would have purchased directly from a desktop site, users now consume content through a host of interfaces. Suppose a business has complicated needs around the front end of its site or is generally invested in providing an integrated experience across all platforms. In that case, headless ecommerce is an excellent choice.

The advantages of a headless approach mean exceptional flexibility, significantly enhanced performance, and the ability to tailor content and extraordinary user experience to customers. Opting for the right digital solution for your needs or talking to a subject matter expert can greatly improve your chances of success.

Ahmed Raza is the VP at PartnerLinQ and has extensive experience in design, development and architecting enterprise-class software. An excellent communicator, Raza created the concept for PartnerLinQ and pitched it to Visionet‘s C suite. Agreeing with his vision, Visionet created PartnerLinQ as its flagship digital supply chain connectivity solution. Raza has more than 16 years of experience in architecture, design and development for large enterprise systems and has spent the last eight years as the product owner and solution architect at PartnerLinQ.