In today’s age of digital commerce, consumers are more likely to engage with brands that offer unique and consistent experiences. These days, customers multiplex in and out of various channels before they buy a particular product. However, if that multiplexed experience is not differentiated and engaging then it results in a significant churn. Using typical e-Commerce platforms will not give retailers the flexibility needed to create an engaging experience with agility (e.g., building a UI/UX for a kiosk and then again driving a unique experience in Mobile) as they are very rigid in nature. In this fast-changing digital world, wherein consumers engage with new devices and platforms, retailers need to develop new strategies so as to transform the way customers shop.
However, leading retail companies know that to outpace competitors and stay ahead of the curve, new organizational and technological strategies are essential. That’s where headless commerce comes in. Over the past few years, headless e-commerce has created a buzz in the retail industry and is often touted as the ‘future of e-commerce’. Last year, in a joint webinar conducted by Magento on ten B2B e-Commerce trends for 2018, BORN Global Elite Magento partner) and Magento forecasted that headless architecture will become a popular type of website architecture in the coming years and beyond, for both B2B and B2C businesses.
WHAT IS HEADLESS ARCHITECTURE?
A Headless architecture is a decoupled architecture wherein the front end (UI layer) of an e-Commerce site and the back end (business logic and functional layer) are “decoupled;” they stand independently of one another. Although the traditional and headless architectures provide the same experience to the content creators and managers, the way the content is delivered to the users is totally different.
With the traditional approach, the back-end displays the content according to the front-end template that is a part of the Content Management System (CMS). The front-end is tightly coupled to the back-end, meaning that in order to revamp your site, you generally need to change the entire structure. Instead, headless architecture takes a completely different approach. With just one back-end, it is possible to develop multiple front-end delivery systems in order to publish the content on various channels such as desktop, mobile, and IoT devices.
By separating the ‘UI’ (the front-end) from the back-end layer, a retailer is able to gain more flexibility in serving rich content and brand experiences, as well as overall customer experience. By implementing headless architecture, it is easier to build an entire web environment because an e-commerce module can be added to the existing environment while it creates interfaces (by means of API’s) with the existing front-end and/or data presentation layer. This approach suits different types of retailers in different ways – with content-focused and heavily brand-focused websites being the obvious use case.
BENEFITS OF HEADLESS –
By decoupling the front-end and the back-end, headless e-commerce allows for infinite flexibility and customization to make whatever modifications as and when required. Changes as huge as creating a custom checkout flow and as minute as adding a new field to a customer account are simple when having a decoupled architecture. Also, the marketing team can run any promotion campaign at any time and update content/banners for these promotions on their own without having to depend on the IT team for the support.
A decoupled architecture lets retailers make rapid changes to the front end of their e-commerce website without disturbing the back end. It also means adding new functionalities and integrations takes lesser time, because of the openness of the architecture.
Typically, frontend and backend can be individually scaled. Even if the frontend receives a lot of traffic, this does not affect the backend as such, because they are only loosely coupled.
What retailers gain:
Reduced operational cost and Stabilized availability
Because headless systems are de-coupled, retailers can experiment without fear of slowing down of their websites. For example, marketers could run continuous back-end experiments for achieving the highest level of user personalization such as without disrupting shoppers who are using the front-end search function. With this integration, retailers can now look forward to a powerful and engaging e-commerce site. This includes personalizing the content based on demography (gender, geo-location, age, etc.), and educating and motivating customers while they are on the site via product showcasing, blogs or vlogs, images, etc.
Magento announces the Third Dimension of eCommerce – The Magento PWA Studio
Magento has recently announced PWA studio, a suite of tools for building e-Commerce stores with app-like experiences. Magento places heavy bets on a headless architecture in combination with PWA’s. PWA is relatively a new technology that allows you to pin the desired website to the home screen of your smartphone. It allows Magento Commerce partners and UI/UX developers to develop simplified and fast front-end experiences on mobile devices. It enables the development of online stores in less time, with less frustration and more confidence in the work. And every Magento PWA rolling off the line will be just one more instant shopping channel in your customer’s pocket, loading faster than the competition and giving you more powerful tools to manage your relationship with your customer.
Headless architecture, in combination with Progressive Web Applications, delivers an unrivalled user experience. In addition, it offers many opportunities for retailers to deal with changes faster, more flexible and less expensive. It is much easier to implement independent changes in specific components without affecting the entire environment. This makes the retailers less dependent on one supplier and/or one platform, which ultimately benefits them in the long run.