Thursday, March 31, 2022
I prefer to buy clothes via an app on my tablet, and I order groceries with the help of my voice assistant. When I book an accommodation for my next trip, I use the provider's website and my laptop. Today, our purchasing behaviour is more individual than ever, and we choose or change devices and channels depending on the situation and the product. If this flexibility is not available, an alternative product that is more convenient to reach is only a click away.
This behaviour puts companies under pressure. Competition in e-commerce is growing almost by the minute, while customers' demands for availability and performance are developing at a similar pace. And the operators of sales platforms are not satisfied with the status quo either, but are constantly making new demands.
Since 2019, headless or composable commerce has crystallised as a solution approach to these challenges in the e-commerce universe. But what exactly is this?
In a conventional monolithic e-commerce system, the back and front ends form a single unit. All data that is maintained in the backend can be displayed immediately in the frontend. A single piece of software takes care of storing, processing and displaying this data. What sounds very practical at first becomes problematic at the latest when functional changes have to be made. This is because these usually affect the underlying data as well as the code and the frontend, which enormously restricts the flexibility of the developers - especially if compatibility and updatability are to be maintained.
© byte5, canva
The headless approach is different. Here, the frontend (head) and backend (body) are separated from each other and understood as independent components. Communication between the two parts runs via programming interfaces (APIs). This makes working on the shop system much easier. The services used, for example, for the product catalogue, search or checkout only have to have the necessary interface, but can otherwise be selected flexibly. Best-of-breed at its best. The same applies to the frontend, which can be tailored precisely to individual channels and target groups. It no longer matters whether users access the shop via the web shop, an app, the smartwatch, messenger or a chatbot. All contact points can be flexibly adapted through the decoupled backend, while they all access the same customer, product and payment information. This also benefits the stability of the backend.
Of course, the headless approach does not only bring advantages. The high degree of individualisation and flexibility requires a lot of development work and correspondingly high technical and financial resources. Good planning is essential to ensure that all components mesh smoothly in the end.
Basically, one can say that a headless approach is more profitable the more heterogeneous the retailer's front-end landscape is.Chris Köhler, COO & Management
With very different target groups and multiple touchpoints, headless commerce can help to significantly improve the customer experience across all channels and thus stand out from the competition.