How Headless Commerce Will Prepare You for 2020 and Beyond

Alex McPeak

December 5th, 2019

 

As we talk about the most prominent ecommerce trends to watch and adopt in 2020, the same idea remains constant behind each innovation -- customers are seeking unique and personalized experiences from the sites they shop on most frequently.

In response, brands have been implementing tactics such as flexible payment plans, live chat, social media shopping, hyper-personalization, and AR/VR to impact better browsing. 

However, while the state of ecommerce has been constantly changing in favor of customer acquisition and retention, legacy ecommerce platforms have stayed static. Traditional, monolithic platforms are often one size fits all, even when your brand isn’t. This has made it difficult for ecommerce site owners to curate an experience that fits their business.

As we look towards 2020, headless commerce solutions that allow website owners to build from scratch will provide the flexibility needed to create customized, personalized experiences.

How Headless Commerce Can Help in 2020

Let’s dive into some of the most relevant ecommerce trends we’ve noticed to better understand where headless commerce comes into play:

  • Flexible Payment

    Where brands are offering shoppers new ways to buy, such as with buy now, pay later or digital wallets, web and mobile apps must be able to support this new transactional technology. With headless solutions, the user interface layer can be plugged into commerce backend logic without having to disrupt your overall technology stack, so you can easily add transactional functionality.

    This means that adopting modern payment methods doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel, or redeploy your entire site. As these options become increasingly popular among consumers, websites that are quickest to adopt them will be able to cater to their customers at the most critical point in their journey -- checkout.

    The benefit of headless commerce is that you’re given the ability to make more customer touchpoints transactional, which means you can also smoothly rollout new payment and checkout options throughout your site, whereas ecommerce businesses that depend on legacy platforms will also suffer from longer development and turnaround times in order to implement them successfully. 
  • Social Commerce

    Brands today are realizing that social media can be used for much more than just brand awareness -- it can also be a tool for conversion.

    By creating a social commerce solution, headless platforms create opportunities for consumers to buy right inside their chosen social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to create a more seamless omnichannel experience across channels. Because the backend keeps tabs on customer data, this information can be used across all channels that customers use.

    Ecommerce companies are using social media as a method of transaction by meeting customers where they’re already scrolling in their free time, but this also requires intelligent integration between platforms. By eliminating steps from shoppers’ first look at a product to checkout, you can effectively increase conversions with these shoppable posts. 
  • Unified Stakeholder Experience

    Where customers today are going through many touchpoints,  both online and offline, before making their final purchase, it’s more important than ever to arm every stakeholder that interacts with them with the information they need to effectively continue the conversation and convert new shoppers.
    Traditional commerce services make it exceptionally difficult to connect all these data points, and they end up siloed from one another, meaning that access to a customer’s information such as pricing and budgetary information, discounts they’re qualified for, SKU’s they’ve interacted with, and sizing information is limited.
    When you instead choose a headless, API-first commerce option, you’re able to take account of each platform that you have available or that customers may interact with to create a seamless experience, not just for your customers, but also for stakeholders as they open conversations with shoppers that may affect buying decisions.
    As ecommerce companies look for ways to make their ecommerce experience more interconnected to various touchpoints in 2020, they will need commerce services that allow them to congregate data all in one place in order to better understand customer needs.
  • Conversational Marketing

    Considering headless commerce makes it easier to integrate with other tools, implementing something that improves customer support and communication channels such as live chat and chat bots is much easier than trying to do so with traditional commerce platforms.

    As these conversational marketing tools become more dynamic, implementation into the backend will take more development time in order to correctly link to transactional properties.

    Instead of having these support tools and systems sitting on top of your frontend, headless commerce allows you to more seamlessly weave these tools into your backend to create a more direct channel for customer support and success teams to reach customers and impact site sales.
  • Interactive Content

    Because you aren’t restricted to templates and themes on your frontend with headless commerce, you have more room to get creative with the content you offer and the experiences you want to create on your site. This means it’s easier to, say, implement a quiz that provides a personalized recommendations, or build a product page that allows users to customize their product down to its material.

    The brands that have already embraced this idea of hyper-personalization have also piqued the interest of consumers as they search for more individualized shopping experiences.

    For example, using an API-first headless commerce service, fashion designer Flora Miranda created IT Pieces, a tool that generates custom clothing designs with customers’ digital footprints. By “scanning yourself,” the website collects data from your online behavior to create a one-of-a-kind article of clothing. Because the web team was able to design the site from the bottom up, they were able to avoid pre-designed templates and host an exclusive experience for shoppers that can’t be found anywhere else.

    As more companies experiment with this concept of hyper-personalization, these experiences will be a major differentiator for the brands who are among the first to successfully adopt and implement the technology.
  • AR/VR

    As aforementioned, headless commerce gives you more flexibility when it comes to site content and the tools you’re layering into your site architecture, which means it’s an ideal solution for ecommerce businesses that want to start experimenting with augmented or virtual reality.

    Because these emerging technologies are more complex and not yet widely used, they’re naturally more difficult to integrate into rigid legacy platforms. To create a seamless transactional experience between when the customer uses an AR or VR feature and when they’re ready to checkout, headless commerce provides a more flexible setup so you can create a journey that assists both you and your customers.

While these are only a few examples of the various trends that are sure to come in 2020, it goes to show the many ways that headless commerce is an asset in the ever-changing world of ecommerce. 

By effectively improving the ease of transactions, the integration of tools, and the implementation of new digital content formats, headless commerce vastly improves the customer experience while also decreasing your team’s time to market. 

How Headless Commerce Can Help Beyond 2020

While headless commerce can help you achieve your New Year's resolution for specific trends, it’s worthwhile to note the benefits of headless to any ecommerce business that is constantly changing. And today, what business isn’t? 

With legacy platforms, making updates and changes to your ecommerce store can take weeks or months because your frontend and backend are tied so closely together, that when you release a new version of your website or app, you have to roll out updates to the entire system. 

Unfortunately, this often means that once you finally catch up to what everyone else is doing, they’ve already moved on to the next trend.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, it requires a solution that can match the speed of consumer technology and move as quickly as you do. 

As new technologies continue to arise, new integrations become available, and new customers shop with heightened standards, traditional platforms will no longer provide the framework for true ecommerce agility.

With endless possibilities for customization, headless commerce will be key to creating a unique customer experience that won’t slow you down, in 2020 and beyond.

 

 
 
 

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Alex McPeak