Should you go headless commerce with BigCommerce?
What is Headless Commerce?
There are two sides to online eCommerce. At the front end, the part the consumer sees, there is the beautifully designed site that grabs attention, recommends additional products and prompts customers to hit the buy button.
At the back end, the part of the process a shopper never sees is where transactions are handled securely, fraud checks are made, stock levels are updated, analytics are processed, personalisation recommendations are calculated and fulfilment services ensure goods are dispatched.
It is a little like a swan. The front end grabs our eye but it is the powerful feet we never see below the surface that is powering that beautiful gliding motion.
When the two are part of the same system, retailers can be restricted by their back-end system to selling in a certain way in specific locations, dictated by what the platform allows.
When the two are separated, through ‘headless’ commerce, retailers are freed to tap into market movements and sell where demand is. This is going to become increasingly important as new channels and marketplaces open up, particularly on social commerce where the big sites are starting to turn likes and follows into sales and loyalty.
Online retailers can be more fleet of foot in innovating new ways to showcase product choices by choosing a headless strategy to tap into the latest development in front end systems.
In fact, if there is one reason why retailers choose to separate their front and back-ends, it is this freedom to jump straight in with new facilities and features, rather than wait for their eCommerce platform to adopt them.
An online retailer typically wants to keep all the foundations of their online store without being restricted solely to the storefront and merchandising option that the platform offers. They want to branch out and sell in new places in innovative ways through having a choice over their front end which goes beyond the one offered by their back end platform.
This involves thinking beyond an online store to integrating a mix of additional digital and traditional channels that operate beyond the web, such as mobile apps, kiosks, in-store cash registers, call centres and catalogues.
One way to think about it is why many people may visit the same food hall each day for lunch. If they sit right next to one restaurant, they are likely to be committed to that outlet. However, if they sit in the communal area in the middle, they still get a table that is clean and has all the condiments they need, but they can eat from whichever food stall they like.
The same table, all set up and ready to go, but there is now a choice of meals. In fact, the diner can even have a starter with one outlet, their main course with another and a drink with a third. It’s all about freedom of choice.
Benefits of Headless Commerce
- Use the frontend of your choice
This is particularly useful for retailers who have a content management system they are happy with but feel restricted by the front end through which they showcase their wares to the world. With headless, the back end and front end can be integrated but run separately.
- Customised, personalised experiences
Modern shoppers expect brands to ‘get them’ and treat them as an individual with apt product choices, in the right colours and sizes where applicable, placed before them with smart recommendations for additional purchases. That is why many retailers want to break free and add a full-featured, customisable front end which their existing eCommerce platform may not support.
- Flexibly adapt to technological disruption
Retailers who are not fixed to a conjoined front end and back-end platform are free to adapt to changes in customer behaviour and move quickly to use a front end that offers the most recent tech breakthroughs, without disrupting the back end where the heavy lifting of handling transactions takes place.
Who is Headless Commerce for?
1. Content or Experience-driven brands
Some retail brands are focused on experience. They want to go beyond catalogue shots and unleash talented designers to use video and imagery that takes the customer into the heart of their offering, to show what it feels like to use their products or enjoy their service.
This is where picking the most advanced, full-featured front end truly comes into its own. Lack of plug-in support for the latest features on some all-in-one platforms is a major reason why innovative retailers are opting for headless.
Online store owners don’t want to be stifled, they want experiences, rather than catalogues.
2. Unique shopper needs that require heavy front end customisation
To stand out in a crowded retail market, retailers are innovating new products, merchandising techniques and sales models. This requires heavy customisation of the front end to integrate apps that allow products to be mixed and matched in new ways, to have the multiple options laid out in a fun, engaging way, rather than (quite literally) the tick box exercise many less inventive conjoined front and back end solutions will offer.
3. Omnichannel – sell on multiple channels and devices from a single source of truth
It could be voice, or working with a Dash button, it might be selling on a new marketplace or doubling down on social selling. It could even be linking into IoT systems that self-order when supplies are low. Every retailer needs to be omnichannel and to offer seamless customer experiences across whatever device and channel a shopper selects.
Adding headless flexibility empowers retailers to enter these markets while those on fixed platforms are limited to whatever their supplier offers.
Headless opens up the possibility for a customer to buy from different stores within an online retailer’s operations through one transaction. Someone buying tyres for one car might also want to buy a radio for another. With headless, the two transactions could be combined in one place to offer the full comfort and easy of seamless omnichannel retail.
- PCI Compliance Mitigation
BigCommerce is native to the cloud and works on a SaaS basis. This means all PCI compliance is handled at the back end, taking the rise away from online retailers
- Enterprise-grade checkout t security with fraud protection
BigCommerce allows retailers to immerse themselves in merchandising while the platform takes care of security and fraud checking
- Open cloud architecture and extensibility
If you are separating your front and back end, you obviously need an architecture that can integrate with other systems. BigCommerce offers interconnectivity with multiple CMS, CRM and ERP systems so insights can flow across a business and
- Run multiple stores across various front-end solutions from a single BigCommerce account
With a BigCommerce account, retailers are free to use a variety of front-end solutions for a host of different stores. It’s the ultimate flexible approach to scaling up a business from a solid foundation.
Greenlight Commerce is a growth-focused digital commerce integrator and agency. We are fully committed to delivering enterprise-level eCommerce solutions complemented by digital marketing strategies to extend your reach and grow your base.
As a BigCommerce Elite Partner, Greenlight Commerce is well placed to see the benefits of the platform. Click here to arrange a chat about how we can help you take your eCommerce operations to the next level with the BigCommerce platform.
You can see how we used it to help Greenlight Commerce customer, Raja Workplace, deliver a 61% increase in online transactions through adopting the platform.
You can check out pricing here and click here to set up a chat about how the BigCommerce platform can be used to take your eCommerce operations to the next level.
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If you are concerned that any future Covid-19 restrictions could delay your eCommerce project, rest assured that we have been fully set up to work remotely for many years now. We can remotely consult, demo, scope, setup, onboard, host, train, support and continue to partner with you. All of our systems are cloud-based so our clients can check progress, reporting and even access ‘show and tell sessions’ during a build, at any time and from any device.