What is headless commerce: Definition, benefits, examples

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What is headless commerce?

  1. Simply put, commerce touches everything, and headless commerce removes sticking points.
  2. Specifically speaking, headless commerce is the separation of the front end content presentation layer and the back end development of an e-commerce application, and supports the omnichannel expectation of today’s consumers.
  3. Headless commerce reduces dependency on IT, making front-end changes easier because they don’t require back-end updates.

Hindsight being 20/20, it never made sense to handcuff the front and back end because the primary functions of the two layers are not synchronous in who they aim to please.

Discover the trends shaping the future of e-commerce HERE.

Examples of headless commerce

If commerce is a two-faced creature, one side representing the purchase, “Yay, I bought something for myself” and the other side of the sale, “Yes, our numbers are up,” how could it possibly be expected that the same things would please the purchaser and seller?

How likely is it that the aesthetic goals of the front end developer take into account the objectives of the back end? Not everyone has to employ headless commerce, but for the companies that it works for, its agility can be transformative.

We all know that people use the internet differently than they did ten years ago, or even two years ago. The explosion of apps, payment methods, and fast-growing remote work options have meant that the scales of desktop versus smartphone or tablet internet surfing and purchasing have tipped.

People want things when, where, and how they want them, and as their tech-savvy has grown, their patience has diminished.

Here are some brands using headless commerce – sometimes as a feature only on certain devices, like mobile:

  1. Nike
  2. Venus
  3. Redbox
  4. Overstock
  5. Target
  6. Under Armour 
  7. Lancôme
  8. Carnival Cruise Line
  9. United Airlines
  10. Debenhams Lilly Pulitzer

How did things work before headless?

What we had before headless commerce was a scenario that impeded innovation, slowed iteration, and made it impossible to keep pace with the movement of the consumer or the surge of customer acquisition costs.

  1. Entire sites existed with each layer inextricably linked through development-not, unlike the human body’s central nervous system
  2. Conversion opportunities were limited
  3. The functionality governed the appearance
  4. Stores dictated the journey

Benefits of headless commerce

  • Flexibility: As consumers expect customization on a dime, the front end of sites can be adjusted to keep pace with the time.
  • Speed: Headless is tetherless, meaning no red tape to get through, and quicker time to market
  • Conversions: There are no impediments to purchase
  • Satisfaction: It is possible to design for the user.
  • Data Insights: Enabling commerce in virtually any system allows for a greater understanding of consumers.

The below video demonstrates the power of headless commerce:

How do you turn heads to make sales?

Headless commerce uses application program interfaces (APIs) to decouple the front end and back end, allowing each to work to their full capacity, unencumbered by what drives or slows the other. It means the opportunities to sell are limited only by a brand’s ability to keep up with their consumers.

Omnichannel isn’t a luxury; it’s an expectation because by the time you say, “Stand by,” the customer is already gone. We live in a world populated by consumers who will not tolerate a brand’s operating hours or website functionality dictating when or how they spend their money.

Designers, developers, and brands around the world are embracing the idea of meeting people where they are. This means innovating, both in tech and in communication. The time is ripe for evaluating your business, and your customer base, rather than having the former guide the latter.

The people willing to pay for your product are telling you what they want – are you ready to respond, acknowledging that an integral part of customer satisfaction is accommodating them?

We’ve all heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Today we have more information than ever before about what our customers want. Through actions, social media updates, and surveys, customers have told us what they want – it’s on us to give them the flexibility and freedom they desire.

Let’s do this.

Is your e-commerce platform ready to meet customer expectations?
Learn more here.

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Amanda Magee

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