Headless eCommerce: from a Complementary to Elementary Disruptive Business Strategy
Headless eCommerce As a Need to Fulfill Customer's Everchanging Lifestyle
Countering the Disrupting Pandemic by Starting on eCommerce
The pandemic happened and changed how everyone lives their lives. People are scared to engage in every activity outside because of the risk of catching the spreading. There are no longer crowds filling the supermarket or the mall like before, and they would stay at home most of the time. This situation won't be favorable, especially for merchants that rely on their physical stores to survive. With the consumers no longer visiting their stores, how would they sell their items?
Since the potential customer's majority spent their time at home, merchants would need other resolutions to accommodate them to see or purchase their products from home so they can still keep the business running. There are no different ways to sustain the business; they should do it or suffer the worst consequences--closing off the business permanently.
How to solve this problem
But what precisely on how to accommodate shoppers to shop or browse the products or goods from home? By opening an ecommerce business. Starting a business online makes it possible for shoppers to buy their products without physically visiting their store. With this, merchants could keep selling away their products.
Why do merchants also need to develop their main store commerce?
They can open their shop on an existing ecommerce platform to market their products, but it is wise if they also have their own main ecommerce shop, like a headquarters of some sort. The alternate shops would be acting as another channel to accommodate consumers that are also a consumer on that certain ecommerce platform. The perk of having a main ecommerce shop is the easy access to adjust a store without complying with another platform's own agreement or compliance to keep sustaining the number of sales.
Explain the business model principle and how this solution is the application of it.
Especially on a business, we need to enact:
- Reducing brakes that obstruct our business. Like with the issue with resources could possibly delay our business to deliver an exceptional experience to customers. To mitigate further delays, we had best choose a best practice, so reducing people and time would be viable.
- Accelerating the business running via automation that is not people dependent by granting a self-service every customer can use to fulfill their shopping experience.
- Multiplying operation value by creating simple, low-cost, and valuable products for consumers.
Those points are carried out on the ecommerce implementation that would be classified more in the article below, especially on how it permits customers to shop themselves from the store's website without needing aid from a shop's assistance like on a physical store.
Innovate or Die: Offline to Online Market Shifting
After looking at the paragraphs above, it is undeniable that ecommerce is an essential requirement for brands and retailers today. Whether they are a brand that markets their product or a brand that hires a third-party distributor without being too promotional, whatever it is, both methods need online marketing to sell their products.
Especially after the pandemic struck, the current situation of the marketplace isn't the same as before. The social distancing policy restricted people from wandering freely in public places. They couldn't go to the mall or store as freely to browse clothes and appliances, forcing them to shop indirectly instead from online marketplaces. It accelerates a shift towards shopping digitalization.
People who weren't familiar and used to shopping online--whether they wanted it or not--would need to purchase their necessities online because of the restriction, creating a habit for consumers to rely on and buy online. Now people frequently shop online more than ever before. That even if physical stores have recently opened up and restrictions on going outside are lifted off, people who are used to and comfortable with online experiences are choosing to keep going online. The rise in online shoppers push merchants and brands to adapt on this kind of situation. They would need to change in order to keep up with the changing demands of shoppers to keep their business growing and sustained.
Because of this, an exceptional online experience is especially needed. What kind of exceptional that we are talking about? That is always connected, has speed and convenience for the consumers--the main points that make them choose this lifestyle, and is easy to implement for merchants alike. So customers could engage with the shop at ease and with less effort to ensure customer satisfaction.
To fulfill this goal, we would need an agile and customer-centric infrastructure that is catered for the customers, like when a customer would contact the merchant on an after-sales to file a complaint. However, if the resolution isn't available immediately, they would probably reach the merchant again with a different platform. If all the available platforms aren't integrated, the merchant will not pick up what they complained about before, and it won't leave a good impression on the customer.
Evolution of Omnichannel
Other solutions such as single, multi, or cross channels couldn't accomplish what omnichannel provides. A single channel can only reach the customers through only a distribution option. Whether they only offered traditional retail, face-to-face selling, or mail orders.
Then going to a multichannel approach by adding more options on the channel would be the next solution of a single channel approach, making it possible to communicate through customers using several different channels. However, there's a catch. Every channel on a multichannel system works independently with no connection between them. It is not easy for customers to hop between one channel or another when communicating with the merchant.
A cross-channel approach seems likely to work the same since there are broader options to get in touch with the customers and multiple methods of promoting and distributing products, such as retail stores, website or mobile apps, or even through dial-in. It is also possible for customers to communicate with the merchant using the line but decided to end the call and use the webchat instead. But a cross-channel solution couldn't perform the same as an omnichannel approach. The difference with omnichannel is that the customer would need to reinput their information through an automated system to pass it to the merchant or agent. It would be a hassle for customers to always reinput their data when they change devices to talk to customer service.
After comparing omnichannel with single channel and multiple channel subsets, omnichannel stands higher than the other options on providing customers a smooth, uninterrupted shopping experience. Omnichannel allows the customer to save time from reinputting their data and lets merchants perform better on their system.
Internal vs. ASP e-Commerce
Now, to realize the best channel commerce option, there are two options to build the ecommerce, whether cooperating with an application service provider or building it internally.
Both of the options have their own strength and weaknesses. When building the program internally, it provides complete control and customization for the merchant. There would be no restrictions on what the store and system would look like. Merchants would also have no limitation control over their own shop production and changes on the storefront.
The internal building appears to be the finest choice when considering the boundless control and customization provided, that changes could be made without any hassle. But that also means some concerns to contemplate when doing an internal building, such as additional responsibility that came from it, production cost, how it is IT-constrained, and particular troubles over security and the slow pace of innovation.
On the side of production cost, and internal building may mean limitless customization, but it also means costly expenses from maintaining and constructing both the backend and frontend. This would also indicate when building the system, it would rely heavily on what kind of IT resource that the merchant has at hand or can afford. When a merchant resource is finite, innovations that would need to accomplish in the near future could be delayed or slowed down. Even following the production, the merchant's responsibility would not be done yet. Guarding the system is needed to be done in order to ensure the shop's safety.
Cooperating with another application service vendor frees up the responsibility of building internally. Using outsourced programs creates less hassle and lifts the building burden for merchants, albeit being inflexible at times and less control of merchants. Applying this option means less production time but is arduous when needed changes.
Both have their strengths and weaknesses that need to be pondered before choosing one of each to implement, but is there another option with combined advantages but minor weaknesses than the other two? There is another better option--that is, building with a headless ecommerce.
Headless ecommerce makes it possible to have both freedom to control and customize without managing the infrastructure personally with less hassle; this is the solution that merges the two strengths owned by internally made and ASP made stores with fewer cons that are owned by the two of them.
Traditional vs Headless - eCommerce SaaS
But what is headless ecommerce exactly? Suppose we think of the entire system as a person, with two main components--the head and the body. The backend of the store would be the body, while the frontend or the storefront as the head.
The frontend is associated with the head for the reason that it is the first aspect seen when customers are browsing the store. The front end is the main page, products page, sign-in page, and all pages present in the store domain and what the customer is seeing currently; it is the user interface. When customers search, purchase, or do all kinds of interactions available in the store, they perform those things on the user interface and not anywhere else. That's why the frontend is associated as the head of the person. Like when we communicate with someone, we hold our gazes at their face.
After understanding the analogies behind the terms, headless ecommerce means decoupling or separating the frontend from the backend, to give merchants freedom of creating whatever appearance they wanted for their store, without fearing that the backend would interfere or complicate designing the user interface.
That's why when a provider only offers the backend for the system, we call it a Headless eCommerce, as only the body is provided.
And what's the difference between headless commerce and a traditional ecommerce that we know today?
Commonly seen--traditional ecommerce platforms would need the merchant to provide and build the backend and frontend so the store could run smoothly. Usually, when creating the platform, merchants would need to adjust the appearance of the frontend attached to the backend. So it would not cause any problem and can work with the backend seamlessly.
Suppose the merchants are using a SaaS provider, on the other hand, on building their store website. On traditional ecommerce, the provider would offer both the backend and frontend to the merchant. The merchant would leave out complete control of customization and personalization to ensure that their storefront integrated just fine with the attached backend.
But if their SaaS provider offers headless ecommerce, unlike the traditional ones, they would only deliver the backend for the store. It allows merchants to let out their creativity to build a rich user experience and interfaces without any restriction and build it with many kinds of tools and third-party integration. Because of this, the communication between the frontend and the backend is through APIs.
Headless eCommerce Business Model
Okay, so how about the headless business model? Because not all merchants are developers or designers, the best solution is to use the body provided by an ecommerce SaaS provider, such as Shopify, and use the head that independent software vendors offer. That way, merchants can have the same exact backend but different frontends.
Usually, the SaaS provider partner that provided the head for the merchants delivers the product on a micro SaaS solution that simplifies the building process of the merchant, like a frontend drag-and-drop builder. Now merchants' creative team can focus on optimizing the user experience and speed up to the market.
Headless eCommerce Strategy
The stake in headless commerce lies in its reliability and performance and how fully customizable it is. The merchant doesn't have to update every single thing on both the frontend and backend when needed to update a new feature or user experience. What else that makes headless e-commerce different from another model?
- Merchant empowerment, how it provides complete control for merchants
Traditional ecommerce platforms are restricting online retailers or merchants from personalizing their own shop's brand. Like limiting merchants to only stick to a default template that also comes with the backend, limiting them from using different templates and themes for the front end. This kind of situation won't empower both merchants and retailers. When they fail to customize their stores to establish their uniqueness and look fairly generic, their shop will fall short amongst other thousands of stores as there are no special points that can be shown through the frontend of the store.
However, headless let merchants to have control over what their store would look like. They won't have a limited choice of frontend anymore again. This would empower merchants, as they can now create a distinct and remarkable storefront that is different than most.
- Ease of development, flexible, extensible, has a very open development environment.
Customer preferences and behaviors can change overnight. When the time comes, merchants need to change or add new features or functionality on short notice. With traditional ecommerce, extending or modifying the storefront wouldn't be as easy and flexible as going headless.
- The cutting edge
Headless ecommerce has a steady access stream of new innovative functionality as soon as it becomes available. Headless ecommerce allows merchants and retailers to integrate with other systems they have in mind at ease--from the back office, ERPs, CRMs, CMSs, to even more new APIs.
It is also unconfined to an in-built CMS and templates that prevent merchants from customizing the frontend that in accordance with the customer's expectations and taste. And when the frontend and backend are not connected with each other on this case, it is improving the store site performance and get rid of slow loading pages that makes their customer drive away from their store. Customer convertion rates then will increase enormously especially when all the problems with site performance is resolved and the storefront an outstanding personalized sites that makes customers stay for long,
- Easy, simplifying complex e-commerce functionality
Going headless ensures that every complex ecommerce functionality becomes simpler. Originally ecommerce services functionality was complicated and intricate to implement, especially when developing internally. Merchants have to figure out for every functionality of the store. Using an ecommerce SaaS provider (e.g., Shopify), they have simplified all the functionality using an easy-to-understand layout and system, causing development to be not so much of a burden.
- Fast, faster time to market and for worldwide access
Headless commerce makes the development easy for merchants by cutting the development of the store's backend and simplifying frontend creation with the help of ISV partner's micro SaaS solution. Merchants won't spend too much time creating everything themselves--such as designing, coding, and debugging the backend.
Without the backend that has been provided by the ecommerce SaaS provider, the merchant's workload would be two times more heavier. When this workload is removed, merchants could spend better of their time developing their frontend so that it would look sleek clean that fits their brand and functional--to create a better customer experience that will boost customer engagement. Thanks to headless, deployment and integration of the store are possible without costly downtime and extended delays.
- No infrastructure
As it used a SaaS solution, to begin with, from the backend and also the frontend, merchants will have less responsibility to maintain their system. For when they are using an ecommerce SaaS backend, the maintenance and responsibility on maintaining the system's security don't fall into their hands, but instead the provider's responsibility and obligation. Merchants and retailers don't need to worry over infrastructure server costs or the need to scale their system whenever the customer's demand is on the rise. Pushing merchants to innovate to improve their customer experience, they don't need to waste their time over those workloads that won't significantly improve their business.
Headless commerce might be the right solution for your business. Especially after how many advantages with fewer drawbacks are given to merchants, from its performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.