If you’ve thought about making the transition to headless commerce, but are unsure of how to go about it, you’re not alone. Many brands are attracted to the increased speed, flexibility, and adaptability that headless offers, but are put off by the perceived technical hurdles to implementation.
Here, we’ll take a look at the practicalities of going headless, so we can take some of the pain of re-platforming off your hands.
One of the major headaches of re-platforming is the need to make wholesale changes, with all the disruption to internal teams and customer service that entails.
But a headless commerce platform with a microservices architecture means you can migrate services in a piecemeal fashion. Microservices, with their ability to be offered on a service-by-service basis, means that you can take a crawl, walk, run approach to adopting headless commerce.
The crawl, walk, run approach
The most flexible commerce platforms allow you to go at a speed that suits you when it comes to going headless.
That means if you have all your tech ducks in a row and are raring to go, you can implement a new backend platform quickly, confining the disruption to a small time window. If, on the other hand, it suits you to move over slowly and deliberately, this can be accommodated too.
Crawl: This approach suits those who already have a strong, experienced team of developers and IT professionals in-house.
If you want a 3rd-party to do much of the heavy lifting for you but still want to host some eCommerce functionality yourself, a flexible backend provider will be able to accommodate your needs.
With so much expertise already in place, you can play to your strengths and lean on the knowledge and vision that your in-house teams bring. You will still need input and support from your headless platform provider, but you’ll be able to use them sparingly.
They’ll help you migrate services to the new platform in stages, as and when it suits you. They’ll be there to assist you when you need it but won’t get in the way of the excellent teams you already work with every day.
Walk: You could equally decide that it makes sense to split your ecommerce functionality between a 3rd-party and a self-hosting solution. Again, a flexible provider will be able to match your needs, taking a bigger share of the responsibility but not interfering in the areas that already work well for you.
Run: If you’re hyper-focused on content, marketing, and delivering the best possible frontend service to your customers, you should find a headless platform that will be able to take on all the hassle of creating, hosting, and managing backend functions.
This option is attractive to brands who want to concentrate their resources on the things they know best and leave the technical side of providing backend ecommerce services to outside experts, who can also provide ongoing support.
Being able to move at different speeds depending on your needs is made possible by the use of APIs to link up backend services.
Rather than a monolithic platform – or even some headless offerings – where the backend services are hardcoded together and cannot be offered one at a time, API calls provide the means for backend services to communicate with each other. This allows them to be provided separately.
Here’s how it works (using the catalog service as an example):
|Step 1: headless platform deploys the catalog service initially
Step 2: Retailer ports their tech stack to the catalog service
Step 3: Retailer’s site connects with headless platform’s catalog API
Step 4: Retailer’s site receives catalog functionality (pricing, promotions, merchandising, etc)
Step 5: headless platform then deploys inventory service and the steps are repeated
How your teams need to be set up
When switching to headless commerce, your teams will need to be set up to maximize the opportunities the new technology brings.
One of the main things to consider when approaching team organization is what kind of Content Management System (CMS) you have in place.
Delivering rich, omnichannel experiences to your customers means an increased volume of content. This can put a heavy burden on your CMS, as well as the marketing and development teams that have to work with it.
Traditional CMSs will struggle under the weight of this increased content load, something that will also impact the teams tasked with managing it.
Headless CMSs have been developed at the same time as the emergence of omnichannel. As such, they’ve been designed to meet the challenges of delivering content to multiple channels, in different geographic regions, and across multiple customer segments.
A headless CMS coupled with a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) page-builder will take the burden off your development team and allow your marketing team to easily access content, redesign pages, and push content out to all your channels without the need to write a single line of code.
It means non-developer teams are less reliant on your IT department to implement changes.
|Traditional headless commerce
Idea → Marketing team makes request → development team implements in the CMS
|Headless commerce with a page-builder
Idea → Marketing team makes changes in the CMS (eg. dragging and dropping an image onto the landing page)
This change in team set-up means:
- Developer resources are protected – With less pressure on developer teams to execute change requests from other departments, they can be freed up to concentrate on high-level improvements to site optimization.
- Comprehensive buy-in from teams – A user-friendly WYSIWYG page-builder provides a single point of reference for your teams. With this increased accessibility comes greater buy-in from teams business-wide.
Getting set up is only one step on the road to headlessness. If you’d like to learn more about how headless commerce can improve the speed and agility of your site, and deliver unique personalized experiences to your customers, download our headless commerce eBook.
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