The term “headless commerce” is gaining traction as people begin to see value in its maturity. The overriding advantages of headless commerce are apparent in a multi-storefront experience where you can blend a group of best-in-breed eCommerce, content management, and marketing technologies in a powerful way.
But there’s a big question many companies are asking: “Is headless commerce right for me?”
Let’s start with the basics. As an eCommerce brand, most of your consumers interact with a presentation layer, while the administration and what happens from a business perspective occur primarily in somewhat of a back-end management tool.
So, you have two things happening. On the one hand, customer service teams, fulfillment teams, warehouses, accounting, finance, and IT are all working with the back end. On the other hand, the customer is engaging with that front end presentation layer.
With headless commerce, you can separate the front end from the back end of your application. The idea is that you can remove the head from the rest of the body, and the body continues to operate.
There are three significant limiting factors that headless commerce can address. One factor is on the presentation layer and customer experience side. Another is in that back end and management layer. And the third factor is that it helps address limitations inside the organization itself. Essentially, you can use headless commerce as a way to patch over problems you have inside the company.
Traditionally, eCommerce teams carry the primary responsibility for eCommerce growth. However, they often don’t have the authority to manage the eCommerce toolset. They're beholden to an IT team, AI engineering group, customer service teams, operations teams, and maybe even legal and finance teams, limiting their ability to move and pivot quickly.
Headless commerce allows the eCommerce team to work more independently and quickly to achieve its goals without being concerned with all those traditional organizational workflows and approvals that can be restrictive.
Jordan Brannon, President of Coalition Technologies, says, “Headless increases your marketing outcomes. It can be organizational, and it can help free you from some of the bureaucracy traps that maybe you're stuck in with a larger organization… it can be more flexible and dynamic, it can be faster to stand up, [and] it can be more responsive [to] customer needs.”
Headless commerce can help eCommerce teams address changes in the market — such as iOS updates, TikTok, and short-form video content — and take advantage of emerging opportunities as they arise.
To illustrate, a small pest control equipment company saw a significant increase in demand for online purchases during the pandemic, specifically around beekeeping equipment. They stood up a headless commerce experience specific to these products and saw a 3X increase in ROI. Because they were able to set up subsites and optimize for the consumer, their product sales increased. As an added benefit, the headless approach is also less expensive since their main B2B site is already connected to their accounting software, warehouse, ERP, and CRM.
There’s a wide range of headless commerce implementations. Brands are employing headless for apps, emails, games, and more. Rising projects also include headless commerce as it relates to the metaverse, augmented reality experiences, and 3D rendered products. Beyond content management, headless is also being used in multi-storefront initiatives to differentiate the customer experience and optimize the customer journey.
Coalition Technologies’ clients are using headless to generate content marketing, new experiences, and new interactivity. Comparing two clients based on Shopify and big commerce, Jordan says, “Both are leveraging headless as a way of… selling experiences that are different [from the] typical ‘buy a single product.’ Both use recipe-type content for top-of-funnel traffic generation… they wanted their content marketing teams to have more freedom to be able to publish that and do that easily.” Whatever the use case, headless commerce unlocks greater flexibility and unique content for your industry.