What Is Headless Commerce and Why It's Here to Stay

May 19, 2021 2:30 pm3:30 PM EST

Summary

Headless Commerce has been a very hot topic in the eCommerce ecosystem throughout the course of 2021, but many eCommerce professionals are really just starting to scratch the surface of its true power. This discussion will provide a detailed overview on eCommerce architecture and the ever-growing importance of providing flexible commerce functionality for scaling online sales through any B2B or B2C website.

BWG Connect & VTEX invite you to participate in an interactive discussion with your peers.

As always, there will be no sales pitches and there is no cost to join.

Discussion Topics

  • What is Headless Commerce & how does it work?
  • What are the benefits of a Headless Commerce architecture?
  • Real-world examples of brands & retailers that have effectively adopted & leveraged Headless Commerce to scale digital sales
  • Do brands & retailers need to fully re-platform in order to move to a true Headless Commerce architecture? If so, is it worth the investment?
  • Building a business case for investing in Headless Commerce

Event Partners

Guest Speaker

Ben Hussey

Vice President Sales at VTEX

Ben Hussey is an e-commerce sales expert and the Vice President of Sales at VTEX, the first and only worldwide provider of fully-integrated end-to-end commerce, marketplace, and OMS. VTEX allows retailers and brands to grow through their own marketplaces and collaborate with third-party suppliers. They work with some of the largest brands in the world, including Sony, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and more..

Before his time at VTEX, Ben worked as the Vice President of Global Sales at Elastic Path and the Vice President of Sales, Commerce, and Marketing at MyWebGrocer.

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

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Event Information

May 19, 2021 2:30 pm - 3:30 PM EST

Event format

Roundtable Layout
Featuring 20+ executives, where everyone can contribute, ask questions and learn from peers
On-Topic Discussions
Q&A format, moderated by BWG Connect with group interaction throughout
Make Connections
Opportunities to network before and after

BRINGING TOGETHER INFLUENTIAL EXECUTIVES AND SENIOR PROFESSIONALS

What is BWG Connect?

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.

Key Discussion Takeaways

What does the future of eCommerce platforms look like?

While every online brand uses eCommerce software, many wind up feeling identical. Shopify has made platforms accessible to businesses of all sizes but offers little in the way of flexibility or customization. However, even small changes to digital marketplaces can make a profound impact on conversions — and this is where headless commerce comes in.

By decoupling the front-end from the back-end of a given business, headless commerce allows brands freedom to design the marketplace they want. As a new and burgeoning field, there are still a lot of questions in the minds of many companies: Is this a fad or a new evolution in e-commerce platforms? Will it fit my brand? Are there any drawbacks? If you or your company have questions like these, this event is a must-listen!

In this virtual event, Aaron Conant sits down with Ben Hussey, the Vice President of Sales at VTEX, to answer common questions about headless commerce. They go through the unique pros and cons of using headless commerce platforms, how headless software affects SEO, how headless platforms expand your total product offering, and more. Ben also gives out his personal advice and tips on how to smoothly transition into headless commerce.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Ben Hussey defines headless commerce
  • Is headless commerce the next step for emerging e-commerce brands?
  • Ben discusses the ins and outs of replatforming options when using headless commerce
  • The impact of transitioning to headless commerce: timeframe, operation costs, and more
  • How headless platforms affect your relationships with partners and distributors
  • The SEO impact of headless platforms
  • Advice and tips for brands moving to headless commerce platforms
  • Turning websites into marketplaces — and how it expands your total product offering

Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18

My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director of the BWG Connect, we're networking and knowledge sharing group of 1000s of brands, who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together to stay on top of the newest trends strategies, you know digital pain points, even things that are shaping the digital landscape as a whole. We don't sell anything here at BWG Connect. But I do connect with 30 to 40 organizations each week to stay on top of those those trends. And when the same topic comes up over and over again, we host an event like this. So a quick note if anybody's ever up for a great all around just the session on digital strategy as a whole. Don't ever hesitate to shoot me an email Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com more than happy to set aside some time and do a deep dive. And that's everything from you know Amazon to direct to consumer to fulfillment to performance, marketing, SEO, international expansion, whatever it might be. Or if you're looking for kind of a shortlist the top service providers in that area, we have a lot of people talking about that right now. Just shoot me an email, we can put some time on the calendar, we're more than happy to, to set aside some time to connect with you on that. housekeeping items. As we kick this off, we're starting three to four minutes after the hour. And we're going to wrap up with three to four minutes to go as well. So don't worry, if you're looking at your watch, we're going to get you out of here with plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late and maybe grab a cup of coffee along the way. The last thing is we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, if you have a question, hit star five a handle go up on the screen here. We can unmute you and bring you into the conversation. We're also going to jump around to some people who've joined as well today. But if you want to jump in you have a specific question want to make sure that we get that answered, knowing some people have background noise? Don't ever hesitate to shoot me an email with any questions you want to answer that Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. So as we as we kick off here, you know, tons of questions that popped up in the digital space. Nobody's surprised by that over, you know, the past 1415 months here. But one of the biggest questions that I get all the time is can you do a deep dive on headless commerce? I see headless commerce, it sounds really cool. What exactly is it? how impactful Is it right for me. And those questions have come up more and more. So over the past four to five months. So we've got some great friends, we got some great partners for the network over at VTEX, they're helping a lot of different brands out within the network, we just come highly recommended across the board, the digital experts in this area. So we asked them to jump on the phone today and just say, Hey, can you kind of give us you know, as much, you know, as much knowledge as we can get out of you in the next 50, you know, 55 minutes or so. But also, you know, kind of give us an overview and then answer as many questions as we can as we throw at you. And they're just awesome as a whole. And so, Ben, for the VTEX team is on the line today. And so I'm gonna kick it over to you, Ben, if you want to jump in, you know, brief intro on yourself and VTEX would be great. And then we can kind of jump into this commerce, this conversation around headless commerce the whole but Ben if you want to jump in, that'd be awesome.

Ben Hussey  3:25

Yeah, that sounds great. And just make sure you can hear me okay?

Aaron Conant  3:29

Yep. Loud and clear.

Ben Hussey  3:30

Fantastic. So yeah, as I said, my name is Ben has been working in the commerce space for many, many years. And VTEX. Today, prior to VTEX, I was at a headless different headless commerce provider. And prior to that, I spent some time with SAP. And then before that I was actually on the delivery side of e commerce so that I was buying and implementing commerce platforms and related digital technology. So as I said, being in the space for kind of 15 ish years, worked with, you know, hundreds of different customers and companies across across that time. So yeah, pretty familiar with the headless space and VTEX as a platform. We are an e commerce platform, although we are more than that, as well as eCommerce, we also provide marketplace capability in order management, we are headless. And we'll get into what that really means, as there are some nuances in the definition. So from an intro, I'll keep it kind of short. And as I said, from expected, I'm here to help. I'm here to answer questions as we go along. So you know, I think Aaron, where you want me to start, shall we? Should we define terms of what headless commerce means?

Aaron Conant  4:41

Yeah, I think, yeah, I think 100% let's start there. I want to you know, we have all levels on the line today. So let's start with the basic definition and how it fits in. And then I want to talk a little bit about, you know, where it was at, you know, 15 months ago. I'm super curious as to you know, why All of a sudden, so as I noted, I'm talking to 30 or 40 brands a week, all of a sudden, it's really raised its head over the past, like I was saying four to six months. So I know it's been around, I'm super interested to know, like, Why all of a sudden, is there this much bigger interest? You know, that's been popping up across, you know, it started out to Fortune 100. So I'm curious as that journey that's taking place, and let's go, you know, in the future, and then obviously, it's other people. You know, if you have questions at the hall, at any point in time, just hit star five, and we can unmute you and bring you in. But yeah, if you want to start off with some definitions, that would be awesome.

Ben Hussey  5:34

Okay, so headless commerce. See this separation of the front end and the back end on the eCommerce system. So if you, if you think of kind of the history of how eCommerce evolved. And in the core of the olden days, the original days, we were really just talking about a web experience, right, people were going online onto a website to buy something. And in those days, the system, the technologies that were in play, then and available, then really focused on that as the front end experience, i.e. what people would see on the screen on their computer. And the backend, the backend being things like the promotions, the pricing, what the products are, and the logic around those things, they were very tightly coupled. So whenever you make changes in the system, one thing would affect the other. So with headless, what we've done is we've kind of cut the head off. So that front end experience and how you navigate through website is separate from the core logic of eCommerce. And what that means when headless says you can design a system that you want. And the commerce logic is now served with delivered in an eCommerce API. And that's really the body. And if you think now the body, you can make it multi headless. So you can create these, you can use these eCommerce API's and you can collect Connect lots of different heads on to it. So that's a website or maybe multiple websites. As mobile applications, it's IOT. It could be kiosks, it's really any customer touch point where a transaction takes place. Or isn't the systems you need to put in place to help your employees or your merchandise as warehouse staff, customer representatives? The key thing is that the commerce logic is in one place. And you can separate that from the presentation layer. What does this get you, it's all about speed and flexibility and allowing you to create the types of experiences that you want to create. So I guess before I go any further and make travel boss, folks, again, any questions about that definition?

Aaron Conant  7:44

And if there are any, feel free to hit star five. And we can unmute you and bring you into the conversation if you have any specific questions or you can email them to me, Aaron aaron@bwgconnect.com. So I don't have any any hands going up right now. But if there are along the way, don't hesitate to hit star five, and we can bring you in. But now it looks like understood. So is that separation, so the data and everything is housed in one area, and then you can choose then how to present that data, not just the consumer, but internally to employees or whatever it's understood. Got it?

Ben Hussey  8:19

And so why has Why has this come up? Well, there's a couple of different things. So one of them is those kind of, you know, older platforms and the way they were built, lots of them are coming off support. And so you know, invariably what that means his company starts to look at other options. And we've had lifting the, you know, more modern and more nimble approach. People naturally gravitate towards that. You know, the other thing is that, you know, particularly with COVID, lots of people have found that system that they've either had, or perhaps ones that they've purchased, or anything kind of as a short term due to the COVID kind of increase in ecommerce use. This is being restricted in what they can do. So there are some, you know, there are some great platforms out there all with their own pros and cons. But you know, using either one is probably the best example is Shopify. It's quick, it's easy, you know, pretty much exactly what you're going to get. But one of the things people find emerging about Shopify is they start to kind of grow and scale is, is a templated approach. Everything kind of looks the same for anyone using it right? If you go online and you shop online yourself, you can you can always tell which is the Shopify store. And so some people, some companies, they don't want that, right, they want to be able to differentiate, they want to be able to create their own types of experiences and their own look and feel with their own buying journey for their customer. And as I said, you know, start to connect in other types of experiences, whether it's an app or kiosk or even you know, these days it's getting into connected cars and philosophy. Other types of options. So what why now headless commerce? You know, those two trends are the big, you know, trends and the big modernization, modernization effort that lots of people are going through

Aaron Conant  10:13

Is tied to, you know, another question that comes in is, is it tied to the, I mean, this says the the intelligence level, but I think more like the educational level of e commerce teams at this point in time. So you think about, you know, initially, just a Shopify site is a huge step forward for a lot of organizations. And now this is like the next step in the evolution of what's going on where Hey, realize, hey, it's great, it works. But I need so much more. And it's the next step of of that evolution along the way. And do you see? So the next question? So that's, that's one question. The next question comes in, is you see the majority of platforms going headless, for, you know, larger sized companies?

Ben Hussey  11:03

So, in terms of the first question in Turkey, I mean, that's absolutely the case. I mean, I've kind of lost track of how many companies I've talked to whether the opening statement is when our technology company, I'd be a bit of a generalization, but, you know, I think everyone now understand in 2021, but, you know, technology and digital, people used to be digital as a kind of a standalone as a solo as part of their organization or something they needed to worry about in the future. Whereas now, I think everyone understands that digital is how you go to market, kind of, regardless of what industry you're in, you need some element of digital experience. And because of that, everyone's maturity in the space, whether it's digital in general, or e commerce specifically, has increased and, and that maturity and that knowledge and technical acumen certainly suits itself well to a headless type of approach. And we do see companies of all sizes going down the headless path. So it's not just for big companies, certainly bigger companies tend to have, you know, larger, more technically astute teams, but increasingly with the way some of the headless technologies have evolved, you actually don't need, you know, you don't need an army of developers. You know, that does not really the point find out less so you don't need an army of developers. And in fact, some people would argue that it's more kind of a redirection of your, your technical folks to to the right things. So hopefully, that answers those questions.

Aaron Conant  12:34

Yeah, does the next question comes in? Is this good? Sir? You can say this a complete replatform. Right, if people find they want to look for it, what is that? What does that look like?

Ben Hussey  12:44

Yeah, that's a that's a great question. And so so the the answer on that one is, it does depend. So I mean, I guess before, before we answer that, you know, benefits of, of headless kind of architecture, you're talking about speed, the ability to customize to personalize the experience. It's talking about being able to use any type of developer language you can, you can integrate more easily to other tools and technologies and make optimizations. So all of those things, and are all really talking about some version of a, you know, crawl, walk, run optimized type of approach. And so do you need to do a complete replatform? No, you do not. You're you're off people often see, if you, you know, out an ecosystem looking around it. There's a phrase triangulation, the strangulation approach. And in fact, strangling the minuses is something that is this is an expression. And so really, that's taking about talking about, you have your feet to state kind of architecture and design and your goal. And then what are the steps you need to take to get there, the days of the Big Bang, we're going to lift and shift our old platform onto a new one, they're kind of gone. Now, one of the great things about headless approach is the integration capability. So you can take pieces of your existing infrastructure setup. And you can start to kind of turn those off and decommissioned that as you turn on the bits of your new architecture. So I don't know of any company today that is doing a hard cutover. There are certain brands and retailers who are saying, you know, I'm on your platform today. And I want to reach platform offset, how do we get there? What is that migration plan to do that? And there will invariably be some form of MVP launch first, you know, minimum viable product, that could be a pilot trial, whatever you want to call it, but there is always a stepping stone type of approach to reduce risk, you know, reduce cost, and really can't get you on that type of journey.

Aaron Conant  14:47

Yeah. Awesome. I love it. The next question that comes in is we're going down this is we're, we're going down that path, what is that timeframe? Right, that takes and then the next thing is like what's the impact on total? Are all costs of operation?

Ben Hussey  15:02

Yeah. So you know, there's two, first part of that process a couple of different ways you can can do it and, and ultimately, it can come down to your other systems involved for most retailers have any copy some description, and, and most at some point, you know, lots have some form of POS. But the ERP is usually where some of the challenges live. Because most ERP systems are not designed for the digital world, they are usually pretty old, they're usually pretty stale, they're usually quite hard and expensive to work with. So, you know, invariably, that presents a challenge for most people. And so if you want to go down a kind of a heavy integration path, you know, your your MVP, first go live with a headless kind of system integrated to, you know, is, you know, on average is probably about three months. You know, we certainly had customers who have done that quicker, you know, we did did, did one for a project and 95 COVID situation where they were up and running in 30 days. So one of the benefits of headless platforms, which, you know, the headless platforms today, like VTEX, and there's a couple of others that are natively headless are also microservice based platforms. And they're also multi tenant, SaaS platforms. So they're already on and running, versus the non headless platforms, which would be, you know, pod based software companies like SAP and IBM, and Oracle, or HCl now. And so those those platforms, some will say they're headless, that they're not really. And, you know, those platforms are, you know, they're taking much, much longer than big monolithic platforms, because you have to, obviously, set up all the infrastructure and get everything running. And that takes, you know, those projects are much bigger and more time consuming. So, again, one of the great benefits to headless commerce, is that the platforms are all multi tenant SaaS, and, you know, they're already kind of up and running. So it's really more of a configuration exercise. You know, get your branding and everything on there your products in and as using integration to the SRP, which is, you know, usually what the variability is around timeframe. So, you know, is it worth the investment? You know, this is always a real challenging question for any business owner, there's a couple of things. So, if you're, if you're on a monolithic platform today, and you're, you know, maybe you're running a system in your own data center, or maybe you're outsourcing, that, you've probably got quite a lot of cost in running infrastructure, you probably have quite a lot of cost in the support and maintenance contract on your existing platform. And you put those two things together by themselves. And I can pretty much guarantee that headless commerce platform is going to be less expensive than running those things. So again, multicenter SaaS is always less expensive to run. So just the runtime cost of your commerce platform will absolutely go down with a headless commerce architecture, compared to the, you know, the monoliths or the older technologies, there is, of course, always a cost initially to stand up a new platform. So, you know, there's some math to do to look at the, you know, the amortization and all of that. But generally speaking, you know, headless commerce, costs of technology has been decreasing over time.

Aaron Conant  18:36

You know, other questions, if you have them, keep sending them over to me at Aaron, aaron@bwgconnect.com. Then the other questions that came in are around, you know, what is? How do you do an evaluation that if the, if the move to headless is right, you know, what is the overall timeframe on evaluation? What are the top five things to look out for in a conversion to a headless? Then I was just going over through a couple more questions that came in, around the audit side of things, you know, if people are sitting back, nobody wants to just make this, you know, crazy jump immediately. What are the you know, what does an audit look like? If people are trying to do an assessment if whether or not you know, moving ahead list is worth it? And then, you know, standing so we'll pause there like, what is that assessment?

Ben Hussey  19:34

Yeah, like? Yeah, it's a good question. So first off with any assessment really start on what your business objectives are, and what the pain point is you're trying to solve. And I always encourage people to be really brutally honest about what that is. So, you know, if, you know if you have a single website, selling, you know, widgets for 10 bucks each and you're going to sell 1000 of those A month, then flows great solution for you. You don't need headless, you don't, it's not going to solve any problems for you. So I mean, I'm using that as the example. Because it really is important to make sure that, that you're looking at what your objectives are. If you have a problem today that you're trying to solve, that might be cost of your existing setup. That might be it takes too long to make changes, it's too expensive or too hard, or I can't create the experience. So one, then that is, of course, the thing you're trying to solve too. And you're going to rely on your benefits around. The challenge always, for business owners is when you have things like customer experience as your benefit, how do you put $1 value on that? There are ways to do that. But it is, you know, it is harder to do versus the kind of absolute, you know, costs of running platforms, which of course, is much easier to calculate.

Aaron Conant  21:00

Awesome. So I'm going to jump out. You know, James, thanks for hitting star five reminded to others. If you have a question, hit star five, we can bring you in the conversation. But James, you want to jump in, you know, brief intro yourself organization would be awesome. And then yeah, feel free to ask away.

James  21:15

Yeah, so James, here, VP of Digital for K&N Engineering, or an automotive filtration, something. So we have air filters, oil filters, things across those lines. We're actually going through a headless commerce now. So it's really exciting, because we're starting to see the benefits of the flexibility and the speed of the site. And so I, you know, I start to think about the future. And I'm kind of curious what you're seeing potentially clients or non clients, once they've achieved sort of this Nirvana of headless commerce? Where are you seeing them kind of focus upwards? Right, because there's a lot of directions that we can go after that. And we'd love to get your point of view on that.

Ben Hussey  21:58

Yeah, that's great question. And I'd love to hear that, because one of the one of the things you will probably start to look at is, okay, we've been able to now take our current experience, and we've taken it to the next level in terms of flexibility, and all those good things. So now what? Well, now you could maybe start to look at different business models. And this is actually where lots of my conversations are with people today is philosophy companies. They're kind of, Okay, we're doing e commerce, we're doing direct to consumer, but now what, like, how do we now take that, and how we may be adding new product lines without having to hold the inventory and the associated costs? Which would be a good one for you in your industry? How do we expand into international markets without having to have a local presence? How can we deepen our relationships with our suppliers or our distributors, and create a more seamless connection for our customers through that particular channel? So it's a participant listening to get into the more in depth beyond kind of standard commerce for the omni channel story? So the different touch points? And then there's also the Okay, how are we now expand what we're offering as our products or service to obviously generate more revenue to generate more loyalty, more stickiness, perhaps becoming a one stop shop for certain types of customers. And then international expansion is always one, it's usually terrifying for people. But again, now with headless and with some other capabilities, like marketplaces, those are the types of things you can now start to do, which is starting to be kind of is kind of a new term that started to creep in. Gartner used it recently. It's called collaborative commerce. But it's that now we have e commerce and we're doing well at it. What do we do next? And it's those types of things. Did that was that help? Did that answer your question? We'll help

James  23:54

You drill a little bit more deeply into the international sort of components of that. I'm curious, as well. more of that.

Ben Hussey  24:01

Yeah. Yeah, it's a great, it's a good one. So there's a couple of things that we that I see a lot of, and I've talked to people, so companies in the US who want to go international, you've got a couple of options. So one of them is Latin America, for example. Very big on, you know, marketplaces, marketplace shopping. So whether it's Amazon or Colibri, there's there's a whole bunch of them. And so what lots of US companies doing are now working with those marketplaces in Latin, and having those marketplaces, you know, adding their products to them, but doing so through the US, you know, operation so they're not setting up a local entity, that marketplace is the local entity in effect, they take the payment, they're remitting revenue back to you. So you're essentially using them as your kind of, you know, in market operation. And obviously, you have a commercial relationship with that marketplace. You know, continue to ship the product directly or, you know, on mass to the marketplace. And that's the other thing is the ship directly. So we also work with customers a lot on who or could I maybe set up a web presence in, let's say Mexico, or Columbia is another good one. And you can actually fulfill directly from the US at a price point, that makes sense, four years ago, we can do that. But you can also now fulfill and either directly or there's third party companies that do this for you. And they will actually, or you can then fulfill and ship direct from the US into those markets. Countries like Colombia has favorable import rules, and pricing that allows you to do that and still maintain good margin. So those are the ones that kind of top of the mind on the spot that I tend to, there's also a couple companies that seem to some similar models in Europe, with some pretty good success along along the same lines. And, you know, for lots of people, though, the gold international is how do we do it without having to that manufacturing, setup operations, etc, etc. Keep it all pretty lean, pretty low risk. And if it goes great, then I may choose to open up operations over there. But initially, how do I get my products into market and be able to bypass all those things that are?

Aaron Conant  26:19

Awesome, it's in thanks, James, for jumping in anything else in your site? Well, awesome. So I think you spurred some great questions that have popped up as well. You talk about, you know, Ben, the relationship with, you know, distributors or different partners? Can you expand on that a little bit as well?

Ben Hussey  26:37

Yeah, so I know, you know, I will speak from my VTEX experience here, we have about three and a half 1000 customers using our e commerce marketplace capability all over the world. But one of the things we do is we as well as giving people the capability to be a marketplace themselves, or offer that capability. We also offer direct integrations into all of those product marketplaces that exist in other countries. So and including Amazon, and others. So we have partnerships, also with third party fulfillment companies, including AWS, which some people do like to use, because they have these lots of houses everywhere with Amazon, and lots of trucks to do next day delivery and things. But equally, we have others that are not Amazon. And so, you know, really, that's the kind of the different business model expansion, how do I kind of how do I get my products into more customers hands the way they may choose to buy it? And, you know, and that's what we kind of look at from a technology because, you know, again, in e commerce, pretty much any technology platform should be able to deal with this chunk of promotions, and, you know, should be able to integrate some content systems and, and those types of things, right, those are the basics of e commerce these days. So we do spend a lot of time working with our partners and with our customers to figure out how these, you know, and how we can deploy these types of new different business models. Tell people with, you know, with increase in revenue, and then, you know, the other good thing for, you know, a manufacturer, particularly branded manufacturer is is distribution, you know, how can you have a customer experience for our customer, and customer may be buying for you, from you, but being fulfilled through that local distribution so that you don't create channel conflict. So another example of some of the things we do with our, our platform and our team to help people with going to market in different ways.

Aaron Conant  28:39

Awesome, love it. Next question that comes in is during the jump over to a headless platform, is there any impact on SEO whatsoever? And then, I mean, James is just talking about site speed increase, and with everything that's going on, with core web vitals and all, are you seeing, you know, better performance on that side as well, from a site speed standpoint? So SEO insight be?

Ben Hussey  29:04

Yeah, I mean, it can be pitchin generally, that's manageable. And it kind of does depend on your strategy. So for example, if you have an existing, you know, frontends URL, which, you know, will say optimize to some degree for SEO, you can certainly, you know, decouple that and use that without loss commerce platform, and, and there really wouldn't be any impact to SEO at all. So there's certainly ways to manage it. We have generally seen, and again, it depends, of course, on some of the way you do SEO and some of your underlying search capabilities. You know, you sometimes might see a dip after go live on any new platform. But then it becomes a hockey stick, in terms of, you know, the gross treachery afterwards, or the recent ones I've seen, which could just be a function of how busy the market is these days have been pretty much sister You know, go live the line just go straight up in terms of, you know, SEO and other related performance improvements. I can't think of an example, I've seen some that have meaningful negative impact on things like SEO.

Aaron Conant  30:13

Awesome, what are there? Are there key things that people need to look out for, you know, during the, you know, when they jump during the conversion over to a headless ecommerce platform as a whole?

Ben Hussey  30:28

Yeah, I mean, you know, that isn't necessarily for everyone. And I mean, I think they kind of mentioned that, you know, you're still kind of have to do your research and assessment to make sure that it's going to give you the benefits, and it does make sense for your business. And, and so, you know, there is a, there is a dependence on some development efforts, you know, you do need to have a front end of some description, whether it's one you build or one you buy, but ultimately, that does need to be managed. So, I think, you know, again, being being real clear of what the kind of the total cost is to get where you want to be. So the different kind of systems you need in place, is important. And I think lining also to, as I said earlier, to your strategy, but also your capability, you know, if you're, if you're really strong with a back end development team, that's great. But if so then if that means you're lighter on the front end capabilities, and, you know, maybe you want to use a headless platform that does provide a front end as well. So that would be you know, VTEX would be a good example, there are headless platforms out there that don't have any form of front end. So you really are on your own, you really do have to go off and build or buy one. So I think, you know, you're going to have a fast start with the flexibility to use lots of different technologies that can sometimes translate to kind of a bit of an overwhelmed Well, there's so many different options and things. So getting, you know, either a good vendor, or a good advisor, or someone who can kind of really help you narrow in on to what's kind of important to really get the most value or the most bang for the buck from it.

Aaron Conant  32:04

Or that's another question that comes in, do you do like an audit? Are you able to step in and do that evaluation as a whole? Is that something you guys offer?

Ben Hussey  32:14

Um, yeah, we do. And we can do and what mean, what we would actually generally do is have a quick chat with folks and figure out if we're the right people to do that, you know, audit or review, we might have some of our tech Keno system, integrator, you know, agency types of partners who, you know, for free would do a nice audit, or, you know, for for a fee would do a deeper audit. And but yes, certainly, I mean, you know, any, any good, any good software vendors should be, should be pushing any company pretty hard to really, really make sure that, you know, their software is going to help is actually going to solve the problem, or after wasting everyone's time. So, we certainly do that. We certainly do discoveries with people where we have a conversation and just say, hey, what are your challenges? What's, what's causing you pain? And where do you see some opportunity in the future? What technology Do you have today, and in a, in a half an hour of conversation, you know, myself, my team, you know, we can usually figure out pretty quickly if, you know, if we're the right solution for you. And if we're not, we'll happily tell you who we think might be. And equally, if you're not comfortable just talking to us, then we started to recommend, you know, an integration partner or an agency who, you know, who would have, you know, opinions as well. So the service we can do, and we can certainly help people equally with, we're always happy to recommend others as well, but can do that.

Aaron Conant  33:33

Yeah. Next question. It comes in around, you know, if you fast forward two years, that what percentage, you think will be ecommerce sites, and I'm going to kind of class so I don't, I don't want to include, you know, the smaller Shopify sites, right. So if we go into, you know, you know, the Shopify Plus in the Magento, and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, whatever they may be, what percentage, or where they're at now will be on a headless commerce system. So I expanded the question just a little.

Ben Hussey  34:04

You did. Um, are you gonna, I'm gonna give you two different answers for that one, because I think the headless commerce system statement. I think that's where people will gravitate. You know, I would say it probably won't be the majority yet from a headless commerce system in two years, because there's a lot of legacy technology that needs to be removed or bypassed in order to get there. So I think it'll still take a little while for people. But I mean, as we've heard, and I mean, I was on a conference not too long ago, where I mean, the same thing, lots of people going down the headless journey. So, I mean, I think we're probably close to a tipping point. I think the principles of headless and what people are viewing as important is flexibility and speed. That's everyone today. I think the question is more really, people using those principles and how they look technology? I think the question is, or the answer is, you know, people are figuring out to what extent can I do that with the systems I have today and kind of break them apart. And, you know, if if not enough, then I'm going to go off and get, you know, a new technology or two to get me on that kind of headless microservices journey. Every everyone's going that way.

Aaron Conant  35:24

Yeah. Awesome. Next question, it comes around is the the ability to offer a marketplace. I mean, this is, this is, like, incredibly interesting to a lot of people right now. You know, as you look at how do I expand my total overall product offering without having to, you know, take on a ton of additional inventory or anything like that? Can you talk a little bit to the, to the marketplace? You know, say? I'm gonna Yeah, a little bit, yes. The websites that are turning the marketplaces?

Ben Hussey  35:55

Well, it's interesting. In a marketplace as a term, everyone immediately thinks Amazon, right. And so everyone obviously immediately thinks of what would be called the range extension model, which is I sell 100 products today, or products that I have in my inventory, I would like to add more products to my mix. They may be related to what I sell today, or they may not be related to what I sell today. But I will add them onto my website with a third party seller that anyone can see and know is there. And, you know, I'll take Commission on margin on that sale. And so, you know, for example, Best Buy Canada, you know, they are the largest seller of diapers in Canada, Best Buy. They've been through the Marketplace, obviously, we know Amazon, Walmart, you know, lots of the grocers, now Albertsons and others are doing the same thing. But there's lots of examples, you know, Wayfarer is a big example. So, you know, those are all fairly well known, obvious, kind of third party seller types of marketplaces. But there's also the curated marketplace where a consumer may go on the website and have no idea that they're on a marketplace, or that there are other parties involved in the experience. So the curated marketplace would be, you know, very much more products in line with what you sell. And it would be a more of an invisible type of experience. So, you know, you could think of, you know, a large fashion retailer, for example, that sells, you know, sells lots of different clothing brands, very easy for them to add other clothing brands into their mix online, using marketplace capability. But no consumer would ever know that on the manufacturer size, or the branded retailer size. You know, what we often see is that they have wholesale or b2b types of relationships for their channels. You know, and again, I kind of mentioned that earlier, but marketplaces offer the ability for the manufacturer or the core brands to make the sale to the consumer, but fulfill it to the channel or the distribution, so that no channel conflict is created. And so there are lots of different use cases under the term marketplace. And there's lots of different types of applicability. Fundamentally, it all comes back to this collaborative commerce notion where companies are looking at new ways of getting, you know, more products available to their consumers to create stickiness to create experience, ultimately, of course, to create new revenue opportunities. And to do so in a cost and inventory efficient way. Nobody wants to hold inventory anymore. Like it's just a group of folks on this call, that is an issue for, for y'all. But every retailer, I talk to people I talk to, no one wants to hold inventory, it's difficult, it's expensive, you end up the leftovers as fast, etc, etc. And so, you know, marketplaces are is a great opportunity to, you know, push some of that off to others, you know, but equally, it can be an avenue for you to, you know, if you have lots of excess inventory, you know, you can put it into another marketplace, not one run by you, and have it sold through that as a way to clear out inventory, without having to sell it to the deep discount as a huge, huge loss. So, yeah, lots of lots of different models. And, you know, b2b to B, B to B to C, B to B to C, you know, pick the B's and C's and you know, material and put them in any order. And that's really what it's all about is enabling that type of capability.

Aaron Conant  39:36

Yeah. Awesome. Love it. And I think the major tie in here is is fit and I think why so many people are taking off and running with it is the flexibility that the headless, from the brands I'm talking to that headless the platform offers you to test and learn with, you know, limited restrictions compare this traditional terraform and those that can test and learn, the fastest and the most, you know, tend to win because they can get to the best possible answer quicker than other people out there are there. Are there other things that you thought we might cover today, as we kind of get to the last two and a half minutes or so here? Are there things that you thought we might get to today that we didn't that normally come up that, you know, just didn't happen to come up on the call today?

Ben Hussey  40:28

You know, the last thing you mentioned, actually, the testament is a really important one. You know, conversion rate is is always something that people are focused on on it. If you're not, you're probably should be, because you can make any commerce and in marketplace, and you can make small, what are seemingly small changes to an experience of the way do something and it can deliver dramatic results. And so, you know, we did this with one of our customers, we did a quick AV test in the platform, you know, we change the color of the, I think it was the buy button from red to blue, and the conversion went up 50%. I mean, it's, it's crazy, right? It would seem crazy that a small change like that can make the difference. They do so as well as the big kind of picture how we get to the right architecture, those little changes ultimately are what you're trying to get to with headless. And it's really about what are the changes we can make, that are, you know, increases value add, and then make difference. And then, you know, from that we can really kind of start to grow our business, you know, online or other. But we can really start to grow that business through those types of changes. So you know, it's a kind of, I suppose, don't sweat the small things, but at the same time, that's where some of the margin can be.

Aaron Conant  41:44

Awesome. No, absolutely love it. I do want to say, you know, Thanks, Ben, for your time today. Thanks for hanging through some of our audio issues on this side. And thanks for being open to sharing all the information and taking all these questions that we threw at you, you know, the team of VTEX are great friends, partner support is the network and encourage anybody who's looking for more information, it's worth 30 minutes at a time, just sit down and have a conversation, especially if you're not in the headless journey today. But even if you are there all rounds, great people, great friends and partners of the network. So sure, they're more than happy to set aside time and just kind of give you some, you know, strategic pointers along the way. And, you know, obviously, at our side, we'd love to have a follow up conversation with anybody, we don't we don't sell anything here at BWG Connect. But I do connect with 30 to 40 brands a week and, you know, overall digital strategy to stay on top of those things that are happening. So we'd love to set aside some time, pick your brain and find a topic for another call as well. But with that, I think we're going to wrap up right here on time. Thanks again, Ben. Get encouraged. Everybody have a follow up conversation with him and the team at VTEX. hope everybody has a fantastic Wednesday. Have a great rest of the week. And yeah, thanks. Thanks again for everybody joining. Thanks, Ben. Take care now.

Ben Hussey  43:00

Thank you.

Aaron Conant  43:03

No worries my friend saw good already. Thanks. All right.

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