Why are so many retailers moving to a headless model for e-commerce? Changes to the way we shop are not slowing but accelerating. And it's not just COVID that caused these changes. Factors like emerging generations with far different expectations, technology innovations with new ways to engage in different channels, and social-economic structural changes are also driving this need.
What’s clear is that current e-commerce systems are struggling with today's requirements. Why? Many retailers built their e-commerce foundation on legacy “everything-in-one” platforms connected to antiquated systems that were designed to support in-store and distribution channels. These legacy technologies are often inflexible, create bottlenecks that impede productivity, and require costly customizations for even the smallest changes.
Traditional monolithic platforms weren’t built to let retailers evolve and adapt experiences at the current rate of change. They also don’t allow retailers to bring together all the best possible tools needed in one place and enable them to work together seamlessly.
The rapidly evolving business and technology landscape and escalating customer demands require a more flexible framework — one that gives retailers the opportunity to create truly unique branded shopping experiences and meet shoppers’ wants and needs in every channel. As a result, a growing number of retailers are turning to a modern, headless approach for their e-commerce strategy.
Following are eight reasons why headless e-commerce architectures should be a strong consideration for retailers, including the customer, business, and technology benefits:
1. Performance is stronger. Using headless enables massively faster page load times than are possible with traditional e-commerce systems. That’s key, as it has been proven that website conversion rates drop by almost 4.5% for each additional second of page load time. And the probability of bounce rates increases significantly as page load times go from one to three seconds.
2. Customer satisfaction increases. With a headless e-commerce architecture, retailers can drive higher customer satisfaction. For example, with it, there are no page refreshes, similar to an app, which users enjoy.
3. Omnichannel experience is bolstered. Headless is needed to deliver a superior omnichannel experience. It allows retailers to have consistency in their content, data, and across their entire customer experience. It also gives the flexibility to easily integrate into many more channels, including social media like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, not to mention marketplaces like Amazon.
4. Personalization and unique experiences are empowered. The massive changes that the e-commerce industry has gone through over the last few years and shift to digital as a primary channel means that brands are competing on experience, not just on products and pricing. Customers are looking to engage with brands and their values and stories. As such, retailers need to provide clear, differentiated experiences — and headless delivers on the promise of true personalization. And this can be done dynamically, on the fly.
5. Flexibility is realized. The business environment is always changing, and retailers need as much flexibility as possible. Headless enables a business to add and remove new features and functionality quickly and try out new vendors with ease.
6. Agility is underpinned. The environment is not only changing, but that change seems to be accelerating, which means retailers need to be far more agile. Headless provides the agility that traditional e-commerce systems don’t allow. Development can be much faster and more efficient because retailers’ teams can do the development in specific areas, like the front-end user experience, without having to make changes throughout the architecture as was required in the past. The change is only made in one place, so it’s quicker and easier to do — and as a result faster to realize the benefits. A retailer can bring smaller, incremental releases live more rapidly than ever before.
7. Seamless, rapid integration with other technology is possible. With headless, retailers can choose their own technology and architecture, with the exception of the APIs and microservices they receive from the chosen vendors. This enables their technology team to work with the most modern, flexible technologies. And the API approach of headless means that it’s much quicker and seamless to integrate with other systems.
8. Future is supported. Retailers need to be future-ready, not future-proof. Meaning, as businesses, it’s necessary to understand there will always be unknowns. A headless e-commerce architecture is ready to deal with those unknowns, given its ability to allow retailers to make changes continually and rapidly, so they can always be experimenting, testing, and innovating.
Retailers need e-commerce systems that can not only deliver what’s needed now but also for the future. Headless e-commerce architectures enable retailers to be more agile and more rapidly adapt to the continuously changing business environment. Those businesses that are not going headless now are going to be left behind as competitors that do deliver the more engaging and consistent experiences that customers require and will be the ones that win the hearts and minds of consumers.
— John Williams, CTO, Amplience