The headless trend has been around for a few years now. It promises to be the best solution for companies who want to deliver outstanding website and eCommerce content without struggling with their backend technology. Until now, the assumption was that headless technology was targeted almost exclusively to B2C brands. But, this is beginning to change. Going headless is now a critical business strategy for B2B companies, and brands are looking to “provide customers with business-to-business functionalities while offering the visual, content-focused experience that gives the feel of a B2C site.”
B2B challenges that drive headless transformation
The days when B2B companies could afford bad UX or longer loading times are long gone. Spoiled by the quality of B2C commerce, B2B customers expect a similarly smooth and convenient shopping experience. This results in some challenges that are fuelling the headless trend:
Maintenance complexity of legacy software
The digital and eCommerce world is spinning faster and faster, and it’s getting harder to keep up with the technical demands. It’s especially difficult when the technologies used are complex, interdependent, and monolithic. Under such circumstances, any necessary change requires a significant investment of time and, most importantly, external and internal resources. It’s not uncommon for requirements to change even before the B2B commerce project is completed. Let’s sum up: The maintenance complexity can involve — but isn’t limited to — the following aspects:
- Interdependency between business software
- Need for internal and often external developer resources
- Time aspect: Not only does eCommerce — like all other complex business — projects take time, but they must be prioritized accordingly throughout the whole company
User-friendly experience and speed
For a long time, eCommerce’s many functions and perks were reserved only for the B2C sector. Mobile apps, PWAs, fast loading times, or user-friendly design were long considered nice-to-have in B2B and not a standard. These times are finally over. Customers are seeking more user-friendly online purchasing experiences, and over 60% of them would like to “”
Image source: The B2B Future Shopper Report 2021
Similar to the B2C sector, the customer journey in B2B has long been distributed across many channels. And in all of these channels, B2B customers expect speed, flexibility, and access to the information they need — for example, specifications, inventory, or shipping — in real-time.
Personalized content and offers
B2B business is often based on years of collaboration and personal relationships. This includes communication as well as quoting and pricing. What was conducted almost exclusively face-to-face before the pandemic has now moved into the digital space. And that B2B business will continue to be conducted digitally in the future. This shows the need to make digital sales and communication channels more personal and lively. Even though B2B meetings will continue to occur offline, modern eCommerce channels will remain important support and part of the customer journey.
Reasons to go headless as a B2B brand
Besides a future-proof architecture and much easier personalization, there are a few more reasons to switch to headless technology. Let’s sum up some of these reasons:
- International stores: If a B2B business operates several international stores, then headless commerce enables country stores to have more control. Still, those country-specific stores can operate entirely separately, and they can access the data and functions provided by the head office.
- Multi-store/multi-brand stores: Even in multi-store and multi-brand stores, it can make sense to play out individual frontends, products, and content for each store from a central system.
- Better performance: Lean, headless eCommerce infrastructures and data exchange via standard interfaces enable high-performance store applications.
- Integrate business processes: A strong focus on standardized interfaces allows business processes from systems such as ERP, PIM, CMS, and CRM to be integrated more easily.
- Cost of customizations: Merchants avoid high follow-up costs in development projects where only a subarea is changed. The entire eCommerce platform doesn’t have to be rethought and possibly rebuilt with headless technology.
- Short project runtimes: Project runtimes, for example, for redesigns or new functions, are faster. Subtasks and changes in the frontend and backend can be transferred to different development teams.
In general, headless commerce and headless technologies enable B2B business models to introduce features more quickly, adopt new technologies without changing the whole tech stack, and increase conversion rates and revenues.