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The Value of Headless Commerce

John Blakie • October 24, 2018

Digital transformation is a major force shaping modern business strategies. Brands recognize the need to reinvent their customer experiences to meet today’s demand for seamless, personalized, omnichannel shopping and buying.

Modern consumers love convenience: they shop with the brands that make their life easier. At the same time, no two businesses are alike. Commerce technology is a critical commonality, but selecting the right solutions is a highly complex process that varies widely from company to company. When it comes to building the perfect foundation for the perfect customer experience, there really is no one-size-fits-all solution.


Off With Its Head!

A more recent approach for optimizing the customer experience has been headless commerce.

Headless commerce refers to any commerce system where the experience layer or application environment is separated from its transactional counterpart. This can take a host of forms, with common architectures ranging from custom-coded front-end technology such as SPAs (Single Page Applications) to enterprise-class experience-management platforms like Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). Add mobile to the mix, and these variations only continue to grow.

Digital design agencies have been developing robust experiences through front-end development and mobile technologies for years with increasingly sophisticated designs and a relatively inexpensive price point, especially when compared to powerful back-end systems connected to custom front-end experiences.

Along with these added costs, though, has been the introduction of more robust, data-driven, and interactive frameworks, such as AngularJS. These applications have been able to deliver fully interactive commerce applications.

This sounds great. What’s the catch? What’s the value of headless commerce?


The Catch

This architecture – a custom front-end integrated with a powerful back-end commerce platform – has a number of drawbacks when it comes to experience management. On-going management of the experience (i.e. changes to functionality, design, layout, content, assets, etc.) is wholly reliant on the same front-end developers that built it in the first place.

While these developers are certainly familiar with the platform, this situation requires these technical resources to spend valuable time and effort on simple changes. Often, the people in marketing, merchandising, and other business functions who are responsible for the changes, are completely unable to perform them through a management interface or console.

With the rapid pace at which customer experiences and demands are changing, this old model is leaving larger enterprises and complex organizations far behind their smaller, more nimble counterparts. The value of headless commerce is all about speed.


Is Flexibility Really Worth The Expense?

The facts are clear: businesses that are able to quickly respond to changes in user behavior or market demands will win business over slower competitors. Furthermore, delivering an engaging and intuitive experience rapidly builds loyalty, driving down selling costs and building brand equity.

It is common knowledge that it costs companies a lot more to gain a new customer as opposed to keeping existing customers happy. Building your brand loyalty by efficiently using your development budget pays double dividends.

John Blakie

About the author

John Blakie

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