What is Headless eCommerce?
The COVID-19 pandemic and incumbent lockdown restrictions have changed how customers buy products and shop online. For your online business to survive, it must be able to adapt to changes in customer expectations and needs.
Keeping up with the changing eCommerce landscape means having a headless eCommerce structure. But what exactly does headless eCommerce mean? Let’s find out in this article!
Meaning of Headless eCommerce
Headless eCommerce is that buzzword everyone has heard but rarely understands. Fortunately, we have in this article an easily understandable explanation for what headless eCommerce means.
At its most basic, a headless eCommerce architecture is one where the front-end and back-end are separated. The ‘head’ is the front-end or interface that customers interact with; it’s responsible for the overall user experience (UX).
On the other hand, the back-end is the part that drives the functionality of the eCommerce platform. It refers to the database, application and server that are responsible for the operation of the eCommerce site.
In traditional eCommerce software, the front-end and the back-end are coupled together. Before you can change anything on the front-end, you have to change the back-end first.
A coupled eCommerce structure places limits on creativity because businesses cannot improve on user experience easily or implement faster changes. Each time, they want to tweak the user-side of the eCommerce platform, they have to hire a developer to write new code.
Headless eCommerce excises the head (front-end) from the back-end, which explains the ‘headless’ moniker. Hence, you can adjust the front-end without needing to tweak the back-end programming.
With headless eCommerce, companies have full control over the front-end and can implement design changes faster. Changing anything on the front-end is easier and doesn’t require complex code rewrites.
The biggest advantage of having a headless eCommerce platform is the flexibility it gives to improve user experience. When designing their eCommerce platforms, many businesses will place user experience at the bottom in the list of considerations.
This is a huge mistake.
You may be unaware, but user experience is central to eCommerce success. Nowadays, customers want a rich, smooth experience while shopping online. If your eCommerce site fails on the UX front, sales will suffer.
However, headless eCommerce offers more benefits beyond improvements than a better user experience. The subsequent paragraphs will cover some of the benefits of headless eCommerce for your business.
Benefits of Headless eCommerce
From what you’ve heard, you know headless eCommerce is great. But what are the benefits of headless eCommerce for your site? Here’s a rundown of the advantages of using a headless eCommerce architecture:
- Increases flexibility
A headless eCommerce structure gives you more flexibility when it comes to tweaking the front-end of your online eCommerce site. The developer can modify the front-end without it affecting the back-end code.
This flexibility also allows for more creativity when designing the front-end. The developer can do things like changing layouts, adding properties, etc, all without touching the back-end.
- Better site safety
Under a traditional eCommerce structure, the front-end and back-end are linked. If malicious individuals access the front-end, they can easily breach the back-end and take over the entire site.
A headless eCommerce operation separates the front-end and the back-end. They still work together, but each is independent of the other.
As such, hackers cannot breach the back-end even if they breach the front-end. This reduces the likelihood of the entire platform falling under the control of malicious individuals.
- Quicker delivery of content
Headless eCommerce allows developers to use API to pull information stored in the back-end and send it anywhere — and rapidly, too. The API is a self-contained software that isn’t limited by external frameworks, processes, and systems.
This means the API can deliver content at a rapid rate compared to traditional variants. It also lets eCommerce platforms deliver content to more custom delivery channels
- Faster speed to market
Today’s eCommerce industry is ever changing, as the COVID-19 crisis has shown. In particular, trends relating to the user experience are evolving; your online business will have to react to these changes quickly to survive.
But that’s impossible with traditional eCommerce software. These software models require complex back-end development before you can adjust the front-end.
Headless eCommerce promotes faster changes to the front-end and allows you to introduce new features quickly. This is good, as greater speed to market is important in eCommerce.
- Reaches customers via multiple channels
In the past, customers made purchases through their PCs. Things are more different now; people shop through smartphones, tablets and other internet-of-things (IoT) devices.
Most traditional eCommerce software are suited to delivering content only to websites. This can severely limit your online business’s ability to put products in front of more people.
Headless eCommerce software is able to deliver content to multiple channels through APIs. So the user experience will be optimal whether the customer is accessing your platform via a PC, tablet, mobile phone, or ‘smart’ device.
What are the Disadvantages of Headless eCommerce?
We’re not going to pretend that headless eCommerce is a magic pill with no side effects. Like everything, headless eCommerce has a few of its advantages. Here are some:
- Higher cost of adoption
A headless solution is great for eCommerce because it lacks a preset front-end layer. Rather, developers will have to build it to adapt to each device.
This improves user experience, as the content delivery can be tailored to suit customer needs. But the process can take time to implement and run up your development costs.
- Increased complexity
Headless eCommerce software uses APIs to retrieve information from the back-end of the site. Naturally, this makes for faster and more seamless delivery of content.
The problem with APIs is that you’ll need an experienced developer to set it up for you. You could do it yourself, but only if you are a master software programmer.
- Limited marketing friendliness
Headless eCommerce architecture has no front-end presentation layer. This can be problematic when trying to develop your eC0mmerce platform.
To start with, previewing content to see how it’ll look on devices used by customers will be difficult. Also, creating and publishing content can be difficult, as you have to depend on another department.
- Increased cost of ownership
Building a headless eCommerce site usually requires more development than your average Shopify or WooCommerce store. This often means more money spent on hiring developers to get the platform running.
Common Features of Headless eCommerce
There are many headless eCommerce solutions available. Here are the basic things a good headless eCommerce software should help you do:
- It should manage inventory
- It should manage orders
- It should be able to manage shipping costs
- It should be able to process payments
- It should be able to generate analytical reports
Best Headless eCommerce Software 2020
With so many options claiming headless eCommerce capabilities, it can be difficult to decide what’s best for you. Still confused? Look through our overview of the best headless eCommerce software:
- Shopify Plus
You probably know Shopify, the uber-popular eCommerce platform for small to medium-sized businesses. But you may not know Shopify Plus, which is essentially Shopify for large enterprises.
Unlike its regular sibling, Shopify has more eCommerce capabilities. Plus, it adopts a headless approach that provides a richer experience for end users.
An open-source eCommerce software, Magento provides you with a highly dynamic shopping cart. It also gives you greater control over the site’s functionalities, content, and design.
BigCommerce is one of the most popular services for running eCommerce sites. It is quite great for large enterprises, with its advanced built-in functionality, data resources, and customization.
Also, BigCommerce operates a headless system — it decouples the fr0nt-end presentation layer from the back-end commerce engine. Its headless solution helps brands more flexibility to stay ahead of the competition.
ElasticPath is billed as a headless eCommerce software that facilitates integration of eCommerce into enterprise ERP systems. This is one of the headless eCommerce platforms that uses API to increase functionality.
Daalder is a Laravel-based eCommerce solution that takes a headless approach to building eCommerce platforms. It grants you flexibility as regards choosing whatever framework you want for your back-end or front-end.
Daalder uses Laravel for the back-end, but allows you to choose any framework for your front-end. You can choose WordPress CMS framework for the front-end or even React or Vue.JS — the possibilities are infinite!
Daalder realized early on that business owners and developers often want different things. Business owners want an easy way to manage content on the front-end. Developers want a back-end solution that is easy to set up, scalable, and provides optimal documentation.
Daalder creates headless eCommerce platforms that provide the best of both worlds. All you have to do is feed the API to take full advantage of the solution’s headless capabilities.
Running your eCommerce platform using a headless approach can do wonders for your sales and conversions. Especially if you have an enterprise-level online business, a headless eCommerce solution like Daalder is advisable.
Using the Laravel framework, Daalder builds eCommerce solutions that are headless, scalable, and flexible. Want a demo? Drop a message for us today!