Over the last few years, the benefits of headless commerce have become well known. But maybe less widely understood is the process of moving from the traditional monolithic platform you’re now using to a new, headless solution.
The practicalities of migrating your eCommerce setup can seem overwhelming. But when done right, you can increase site speed, improve digital experience, and drive up ROI.
But to make a smooth transition to a headless eCommerce platform, you need to know a few things first.
Is headless right for you?
As with any eCommerce setup, a headless solution is a sophisticated software system. Wading through the details and taking all steps into consideration so you can decide if headless is a good candidate for your business can be tricky, but important.
To help you get started, here are some common characteristics of eCommerce companies that are good candidates for headless:
- As a retailer, you’re Content-led and mobile-first
- Your brand relies on creating rich digital experiences
- An omnichannel strategy is central to your goals
If your organization fits this profile,and you’re using a traditional, monolithic ecommerce platform, then you might be struggling to keep a modern, content-driven marketing and customer experience strategy going with the solution you’re currently using.
How to make the transition without the disruption
The advantage of headless migration is that you don’t have to do it all in one go. The hugely challenging task of performing a complete re-platforming while keeping your online channels functioning is replaced with a much more manageable, step-by-step approach when making a migration
Microservices let you do things piecemeal
Headless separates the backend from the frontend, allowing each component the space to do what it does best while communicating with each other via API calls.
But a headless solution built with a microservices architecture also separates backend functions from each other, with APIs again facilitating communication. This allows eCommerce services to be deployed independently of each other, so you can migrate in stages.
Headless commerce platforms built with APIs at the core of their architecture ensure that when you want to implement more services, you can be confident that they will be able to ‘talk’ to the ones you already have in place and that they’ll work together.
API coverage and extensibility
As you’re no doubt aware, it’s not as straightforward as simply hooking up your online store to a new headless backend and pressing ‘execute.’ You need to make sure you choose a headless platform that has the right APIs for your eCommerce setup.
Look for a platform that offers flexible and robust APIs that can facilitate extensibility.
Every eCommerce brand has its own unique requirements, so before you go headless, you’ll need to work out what parts of your site will require the extension of out-of-the-box functionality.
To explain extensibility more clearly, let’s take an example:
A specialist B2B technology retailer might need to display their product’s technical specs to their customers as they add to cart or notify them if two products are not compatible on their checkout page. As this is not needed by most online brands it will not come as standard from a commerce platform vendor.
The B2B retailer will need a headless platform with extensibility of services so they can modify, or extend, the standard cart and checkout function to meet their customers’ special checkout requirements.
What are the main staging posts when migrating?
The cornerstone of any eCommerce business is data.
Data migration from a monolithic platform to a headless one requires a detailed plan. Start by mapping out what services you will transfer over to your new platform and in what order.
This way, you can decide which services to migrate and when at a pace that suits you. It will also allow you to detect any gaps in your coverage in plenty of time. With headless, you can plug these gaps by incorporating services from third-party providers, so you won’t lose functionality.
Remember the bigger picture
While it’s essential to lock down the technical side of things, it’s also important to remember that headless migration isn’t just about the software. There’s a human aspect to any significant change, and migrating to a new commerce platform is no different.
Going headless will almost certainly mean an adjustment for how your teams work with each other. If you’re used to your development teams having to take action on change requests in a monolithic platform, then headless will be a big change.
With headless, marketing teams can execute changes themselves in the CMS or page editor. These interfaces function in a much more intuitive, code-free way. It vastly reduces the time to value for marketing decisions and frees up your developers to concentrate on experimenting with backend changes that will deliver faster site speeds and enhanced digital experiences.
Keep expanding your knowledge
There are many things to bear in mind when migrating to a headless platform, this is just a quick introduction to the topic.
If you’re interested in what going headless can do for your online business and would like to find out more, our free eBook has a wealth of resources to help you understand the jargon, evaluate platforms, and take a step closer to implementing a faster, more manageable, and more flexible commerce platform.
Free eBook: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Headless Commerce