Headless commerce is a relatively recent phenomenon, but it has already entered the mainstream. What is it, what are its advantages, and why is it conquering the market? Let's try to figure it out.
What is headless commerce?
Basically, headless e-commerce is the architecture of the project, which provides the ability to store content, manage it and implement its functions without an interface for the software component. Simply put, the model of headless commerce involves a separation between the server side — storing data on the server (backend) and the interface part — presenting them to the end user (frontend).
The link between the backend and frontend is implemented through an API (Application Programming Interface) — a programming interface that allows the integration between independent platforms.
What’s the difference between the traditional and the headless model?
1. Traditional model
Most e-commerce stores operate on the traditional or monolithic e-commerce model. In this case, the interface and the backend are closely linked. This approach is typical for small and medium-sized businesses that want to go sell online quickly.
But there are disadvantages: as your business grows, you will gradually want to make some changes to your site to pivot business processes and scale, but you will find that you will be limited in doing so because of monolithic approach specifics. And since the server side and the client side are closely related, code changes can have unintended consequences.
2. Headless commerce
With a headless approach, you have much more flexibility and options for customizing and improving the site. Headless commerce allows modules to work together for higher speed and efficiency.
The interface is not defined by the server-side CMS or the commerce platform. Therefore, you have a huge choice in terms of interface design: whether it's a third-party interface platform, an existing interface design, a ready-made template, or a completely developed from scratch solution.
In the case of the headless approach, the site frontend doesn't just mean what users see in a browser. It includes requests from all devices used to shop online. That's one of the main benefits of this approach: thanks to APIs, developers can design different solutions for new continually appearing channels and tailor them to customers' needs. And the advantages of headless commerce do not end there.
Why headless commerce?
Separation of the server and interface parts allows you to create any number of interfaces (frontend platforms) without changing the information in the database on the server.
Businesses today are taking an omnichannel approach. It's important to provide a quality user experience regardless of the brand communication channel: whether it's a mobile app, website, or social network. Headless commerce allows you to work simultaneously across multiple distribution channels. All the key information is concentrated in a single backend platform — it is easy to export it for presentation in any interface. No special settings are required: everything is working out of the box.
This approach to the frontend offers ample opportunity for customizing the solution to meet the customer's requirements. The headless model allows a business to keep what works and replace or solve what doesn't. Adding something new doesn't require a complete platform replacement.
Headless architecture can protect your business from crashes. If there is a problem with any service, it is easy to replace it with another. All because it communicates with the backend via API. In addition, contrary to many myths, headless commerce is secure, resilient to high stress, and has high performance.
Headless software gives you more options for personalizing content. It allows you to provide users with exclusive offers that are more likely to interest them. There's much room for personalization, from the catalog to the personal account.
The headless commerce architecture allows you to easily migrate from one interface to another, if necessary. So, for example, you can migrate your site from Magento 1 to Magento 2 painlessly.
How does it work?
Level 1 is the devices from which online purchases are made. This level is about interaction with customers. It is essentially a frontend.
At this level, the data for the first level is transmitted via API.
This is the backend itself, which is divided into parts. These are isolated pieces of code, each working with its database. Thus, all elements such as search, shopping cart, or checkout have their piece of code. This reflects stability and easier scalability.
This is where the databases are located. They store and organize the information of your store.
Headless commerce examples in e-commerce
Nike wanted to create a mobile-focused e-commerce site to increase sales in that segment. This required them to optimize every element, including visual design and calls to action.
With Headless Commerce, they implemented a solution to optimize the experience across all pages. As a result, Nike became the market leader, overtaking its age-old competitor Adidas.
The company wanted flexibility and customizability as it managed multiple international sites. Choosing a headless architecture gave LARQ the ability to manage multiple international sites in a single domain. In addition, the brand gained the ability to customize the site according to customer needs. In particular, they can now use features such as multi-currency shopping to improve the customer experience.
A 400% increase in revenue over last year, an 80% increase in conversion rates in three months, and the ability to expand internationally quickly are the results of the move to headless commerce software.
K2 Sports is an umbrella brand that sells products from a variety of outdoor sports brands. Each of these brands needed the ability to maintain its distinctive brand voice, product information, and services on the platform.
K2 decided to go with a headless solution, which has successfully eliminated reliance on development and increased the amount of content they publish to meet the needs and goals of the brand. They can now create sites 75% faster and publish content 90% faster.
Is it worth the switch to headless commerce? You can get the answer by thinking about whether this model can solve your business problems. If you are faced with the fact that you have outgrown the technical capabilities of your store, but you are stymied by the capabilities of the standard approach, then the answer is positive, otherwise, take your time.