Development

Headless Ecommerce: It Might Not Be What You Think

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Ecommerce is on the rise. In fact, it is predicted that 18% of all UK purchases will be online this year and that by 2040, 95% of purchases will be facilitated by Ecommerce. There are lots of reasons for this, and far too many to dissect here. Suffice it to say that ecommerce is big business and offers big opportunities for those who get it right. An industry that grows this quickly rarely stands still, and there are plenty of factors that will shape the success (or otherwise) of ecommerce businesses in 2019 and beyond.

Naturally, at Bigger Picture, we’re more interested in the web design and development aspects of ecommerce. Luckily for us, there’s plenty to get excited about. There aren’t many people who get excited when you say the words “website architecture” to them, but then that’s why we do what we do! What we’re excited about with ecommerce websites is a new approach, based on a headless Content Management System (CMS).

What Does Headless Ecommerce Mean?

A headless approach is when the front end of your ecommerce site is separate from the back end. The content layer (shop front) sits independently from the ecommerce functionality in the back end (warehouse). Traditional methods have it all rolled up into one, a full stack approach.

Because the two parts are now separate, they can operate more freely in what they are designed to do. i.e. the customer-facing aspect can be more tailored for customer experience, and the back end can be more tailored for managing the functionality of the ecommerce site. You could, of course, have done this before but a full stack approach would have meant having to make changes across the entire site. Now, a headless approach means you can change one aspect without having to worry about the other.

Where Has Headless Come From?

The recent surge in the popularity of headless ecommerce sites has been caused by a couple of main factors. Firstly, consumers simply expect more from the ecommerce sites that they visit now. They expect a first-rate user experience, as well as some level of personalisation. This sort of approach just isn’t possible on a more traditional, full stack ecommerce site. It would take too long and cost too much to implement changes across the entire site.

Secondly, ecommerce is no longer just the playground of retailers who took the plunge to go online. Increasingly, brands, including B2B brands, are looking to expand into ecommerce to diversify. They already have a big site, packed full of content, so developing a whole new one would be a huge bit of work. Instead, using a headless approach, they can build an ecommerce engine and connect it to their CMS.

The Benefits of Going Headless

Increased Speed

When your presentation layer is doing just that, i.e. presenting content, it doesn’t have to worry about anything else. This reduces the complexity of the system as well as reducing loading times. By now, we shouldn’t have to tell you how important quick loading times are for successful websites!

Quick and Easy Changes

Want to change the layout or appearance of your site? Far easier when you’ve gone headless. Make and enact the changes, and only have to worry about the presentation layer. No messing about with the code from the back end and risking a mistake.

Flexibility

Having the two aspects grants you greater flexibility. Website upgrades, whether they be front end or back end can be undertaken separately. The whole site doesn’t need to be changed at once, each bit can be updated when you’re ready. Leaving you free to identify areas for improvement and tackle them as you see fit.

Ecommerce? It Pays to Get Headless

A headless approach makes sense for any ecommerce business that has a sizeable catalogue. They’d all benefit from being able to separate the front and back ends and make changes independently. There are some other cases though that would benefit particularly well from a headless approach. Any ecommerce business that is also content heavy makes sense, that way the ecommerce and content parts can be separated.

Likewise, any ecommerce business that is growing rapidly or updates their catalogue or offers on a regular basis would all benefit from headless. Again, it is just about granting that extra level of flexibility and control over the entire site – without compromising the back end.

If you think your ecommerce business would benefit from going headless, then get in touch today, we’d love to talk to you.

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