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Benefits and challenges of moving to headless commerce
Think back to how — and how much — you shopped online 5 years ago and it’s clear to see how quickly the digital shopping experience has changed. Behind the scenes, the technology driving that experience has also been going through a major evolution. In particular, the rapid rise of headless commerce.
Many traditional commerce platforms were built when digital commerce was still in its infancy, before mobile shopping or public cloud was readily available. While there’s been an attempt to retrofit these big commerce suits to meet the needs of today’s customer, many commerce teams are finding that their legacy software is holding them back.
Leading headless commerce solutions, which are native to the cloud and built with APIs that let your backend data talk to any frontend “head”, are gaining so much traction because they offer a new level of flexibility when it comes to integrations, omnichannel, and scale. However, like with any new technology, these benefits don’t simply turn on with the flip of a switch. If teams adopt headless commerce without the right resources or organizational changes in place they risk getting tied up in complexities they aren’t ready for.
In this blog post you’ll learn about :
3 core benefits of headless that persuade many companies to make the switch,
challenges that teams face if the right resources aren’t in place,
and ways to overcome these challenges.
Work with the best-fit tools for your business
Traditional commerce suites are designed to have all digital capabilities in one box. This can work great for companies with fairly traditional commerce needs, but for businesses expanding their digital efforts this locked feature box means teams have to compromise on capabilities. For instance, the product management tools in the suite might be top of the line, but the content management and search capabilities you’re stuck with are average at best.
Modern headless commerce platforms are designed to integrate with other tools. They focus on the commerce services they specialize in and share all functionality via APIs so the services can work alongside other vendor solutions. This gives companies the freedom to pick and mix capabilities that are fully tailored to customer and business needs, an approach known as composable commerce.
Challenge: connection all that data
With composable commerce you get to pick and choose best-in-class features from multiple vendors, but the responsibility of bringing these features together lands on you. Developers need to orchestrate the APIs to bring the data and content from different systems together. This includes creating a system for business users to leverage all that data to design the customer experience and ensuring the right data is in the right place at the right time for frontend delivery. For companies with enough development resources, or the budget for an agency, this is doable. For others, this complexity can quickly become overwhelming.
How Frontastic helps
The Frontastic API hub provides standard integrations for industry-leading commerce software and takes care of failure resistance, service authorization, and monitoring so your developers can focus on more value-driving projects.
To get it all out the door, Frontastic provides all parts of frontend delivery and combines, optimizes, and delivers all your services as a Progressive Web App that gives customers an app-like experience straight from their browser.
Create a differentiating frontend experience
A key design feature of headless commerce is that it stores data in a neutral way that allows it to power any frontend, or “head”. This has clear benefits for companies who want to explore new customer channels, such as IoT devices or social selling, or in-car commerce, but it also provides the flexibility to create web and mobile channels that set you apart.
Companies have the freedom to build out sites that emphasize customer relationships like loyalty programs or personalization, they can experiment with new technologies like AR or virtual assistants, or can deliver unique content experiences that drive interaction and boost the brand. With headless, the sky really is the limit.
Challenge: starting from scratch
By design, headless commerce solutions don’t provide frontend tooling. So while the possibilities are endless, your time and budget likely isn’t and building out every frontend framework from scratch is going to slow you down. Even more of a risk, headless requires bespoke solutions for business users to create and manage the experience. If development teams have limited time, creating these critical business user tools often gets moved to the bottom of the priority list.
How Frontastic helps
Frontastic developer tooling makes it easy for developers to create reusable design components, like an image carousel or newsletter sign up, or leverage ready-made starter components for elements like product listing, details pages, cart, and checkout to get to market even faster.
With the Frontastic studio, business teams can use these design components as building blocks to edit content, configure data sources, and publish — all without code or help from developers.
Adapt quickly to ever-changing customer expectations
As new technology and services become available, such as new payment options, social selling, or the rise of “buy online, pick up-in store”, the expectations of omnichannel shoppers continue to grow.
Old-world commerce suites weren’t designed for this rapid change. Many companies have tried to make do with custom code, but over time the platform has become customized and tweaked to the point where making even a small change can cause a waterfall of errors — let alone experimenting with new tools or strategies.
The API-first design of headless commerce solutions means that all your tools can talk to each other in a standardized way, so you can plug in a new delivery option or customer feature without rewiring your whole system. This lets developers spin up pilot projects quickly and mature them over time.
Challenge: avoiding bottlenecks between teams
Developer agility is only part of the puzzle, business users also need to be able to move quickly. If the team managing the site has to ask a developer for help with every frontend edit, all the flexibility a composable architecture brings will be overshadowed by how difficult it is to get the experience out the door.
How Frontastic helps
The Frontastic studioprovides key UX features that often get lost in the move to headless commerce, such as live preview, SEO tooling, template builder, and workflows. Business users can configure the content and data of different headless tools, build out different layouts, and manage their commerce site without needing help from the development team.
Is your business ready to go headless?
Going headless is more than just switching technologies, it requires changing how your teams collaborate on digital commerce. Frontastic gives business users the full autonomy to build out the frontend experience in any way they like, while developers get a standardized framework that further reduces the complexity of working with many different systems. Helping teams break down bottlenecks and gain the full benefits of their composable commerce architecture.
Want to learn more? Have a look at the video below or request a full tour of the Frontastic platform.
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