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The future of eCommerce is headless

  • Written by Ricky Blacker, Senior Solutions Engineer, WP Engine, ANZ
By Ricky Blacker, Senior Solutions Engineer, WP Engine, ANZ

As eCommerce expands, so do the options available for building customer experiences that span multiple channels and reach customers where they are. One of these new options pushing eCommerce forward is headless commerce.

Headless commerce, in simple terms, is the separation of the front and back end of an eCommerce site or app. The front end of the site (the visible elements that users interact with) is decoupled from the back end. Maybe your team wants to offer an optimised shopping experience on the front end but currently faces limitations with your current content management system (CMS). By embracing headless, you can let your team design a dynamic front end without having to mess with the tools you know and love in the backend.

Headless adoption is growing in Australia, with WP Engine’s The State of Headless 2021 Report revealing two thirds of Australian businesses (66%) already use headless technologies and a further 1-in-5 businesses (21%) are considering adopting one within the next twelve months.

Importantly, headless commerce isn’t just for large enterprises. For small and medium-sized businesses who may not have the same budgets or manpower as larger organisations, there are many technology companies like WP Engine that can help implement a headless commerce solution that’s tailored to their business goals. To get started, here’s what SMB’s need to know:

Headless vs traditional commerce

It’s important to note the differences between a headless versus traditional commerce CMS. Traditional commerce CMS’s come with predetermined online experiences for both customers and website managers, with little room for personalisation. This means using a traditional commerce CMS can often be easy to use but limited in ability. A headless eCommerce solution provides more control and flexibility when it comes to determining the types of online shopping experiences SMB’s want to deliver to their customers but requires more upfront work and maintenance.

Benefits of headless commerce

Headless architecture provides a level of speed and security that’s far beyond traditional CMS’s, including improving loading times by 2 to 15 times. Headless can also play a key role in delivering omnichannel shopping experiences by supporting a range of on-site and in-store experiences including apps, point-of-sale, push notifications, QR codes, contactless payment options and more.

Transitioning to headless site infrastructure allows SMBs to connect with customers across a range of devices to serve more personalised digital experiences. A headless eCommerce solution can make it easy to collect, aggregate, and clean first-party data which is now more important than ever in the future of addressability.

Implementing headless technologies makes it easier for organisations to deliver a consistent content experience while streamlining team structures by making it easier for in-house teams to manage and update content without the help of third-party developers. This can mean the difference between hours and seconds when making simple content changes, saving both time and money.

With security an essential part of any customer experience, a headless commerce approach also takes your website security to the next level by keeping important customer data safely stored in an independent and well-protected back-end environment that will stop hackers in their tracks.

How do companies use headless commerce?

Volvo ran into an issue when selling cars in Australia and looked to headless for the solution. Volvo needed to quickly build an accurate pricing tool for Volvo Car Australia, where multiple taxes and fees make a final vehicle ‘driveaway’ price difficult to calculate. In response they built a headless solution, Volvo Car Price Calculator, that pulls from Volvo’s global infrastructure with a new interface that delivers more transparent pricing for each Volvo model to Australian car shoppers.

While the current state of headless commerce is impressive, the future looks even brighter. Headless is on track to become the future of the web, driving huge fiscal influxes for those SMBs that use it to their advantage. The businesses that will truly reap its benefits are those that implement it in a modern, flexible way, empowering their internal teams to deliver fast, dynamic and personalised eCommerce experiences.

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