What is headless e-commerce? + benefits

March 7, 2024 by
Frank Calviño

‘Headless e-commerce’ has been trending for a while, but do you really understand what this means and what benefits headless solutions can offer? 

Headless commerce, as an approach, means decoupling the front end and back end of businesses' web stores by putting an application programming interface (API) between them that manages the exchange of data. This is the equivalent of saying that your front and back ends technically operate as separate individual things. 

Doing this allows for an opportunity to test and experiment within both environments (independent of each other). Furthermore, it allows the optimization and regular update of each end without tampering with the other. 

According to Gitnux statistics, 57% of organizations globally are expected to be using headless commerce by 2023, and 60% of major retailers in North America are predicted to adopt a headless platform by 2025.

Gitnux

This for e-commerce is particularly useful, as it allows for updating the front end - the public one - without having to change the back end - the one that usually requires more programming skills - and because e-commerce needs to be constantly updating and modifying its public side - with new products being listened, sales, events, and promotions among many other things - this poses a strategic advantage over traditional architectures where the front and back end are bound together. 

Headless e-commerce's main benefits 

The main benefits headless e-commerce provides are speed, creative control, and easier integration with multiple third-party solutions. 

Headless commerce is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% through 2027, reaching $32.1 billion. 63% of the global market share for headless commerce solutions is held by Europe and North America.

zipdo

More creative control

A monolithic system - non-headless traditional back and front connected - where the presentation layer (so-called themes or templates) is strictly defined and connected to the back office makes it an ideal place to quickly build an online store and get your products to market but creates a vulnerability for the future. 

Now, headless provides the opportunity to shift, modify, and change the frontend tools you use to better match your brand's style, spirit, and desires while retaining the backend you prefer for optimal performance. 

The idea is to be more ‘composable’ and have access to more different tools to choose from. Your front—your public side—will reflect what your brand wants and what the public wants, while at the same time, you can keep the less ‘sexy’ parts of your business safe and sound in the backend. 

Easier integration 

Because the front-end UI is separated from the back-end logic and data storage, the ERP system can be easily connected to other applications, providing a cohesive single source of truth.

This allows businesses to create an integrated view of their data, which streamlines their operations and improves cross-functional collaboration. The result is a more efficient, data-driven business that is better equipped to adapt to changing market conditions and customer needs.

Speed 

Using a headless architecture makes it possible to create faster-loading pages across desktop and mobile devices. Improving your site speed can also impact your bottom line. The two-to-three-second mark is the turning point where bounce rates skyrocket.

This is because headless e-commerce provides an integration approach by connecting and exposing assets using APIs. APIs allow software platforms to communicate with each other more easily and foster seamless connections and data transfers with greater flexibility.

Monolithic commerce architecture tends to be slow and sluggish. Even if prospects aren’t in your commerce storefront proper, the strength of your CMS/backend integration will regulate their content browsing experience. 

The more complicated your architecture, the slower their pages will load. This is bad enough when it comes to your storefront and shopping pages, but when it happens to customers simply trying to browse your thought leadership resources, it can be hugely detrimental to their browsing experience. In many cases, it may drive them away from your brand altogether.

Conclusion: is headless for you? 

Overall, headless e-commerce is a good idea. It allows for an easier, faster, and more efficient approach to e-commerce, and thus, it has been gaining traction and will probably continue to do so. 

But, before you jump into the headless wagon, be mindful that this solution might not necessarily be the best for your brand or business, and many - many - factors should be weighed in before choosing it. 

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