Headless commerce: The future of multi-channel eCommerce
Headless commerce solutions are the perfect type of eCommerce platform for brands and retailers who sell in multiple channels (website, mobile app, in-store kiosks etc.). They help brands create better online shopping experiences, simplify technical architectures, and reduce the amount of merchandising effort needed to sell the same products in multiple channels.
If your customers have inconsistent experiences across channels or your eCommerce team is frustrated with duplicating merchandising, promotions and content across multiple platforms, and it’s become too expensive to have multiple storefront technologies, then it is time to explore the benefits of headless eCommerce.
What is headless commerce?
An eCommerce platform needs two core components: A front-end shop (or ‘head’) for customers to shop on and a back-end admin area for business users to manage the shop.
Traditional eCommerce platforms can often only support a single front-end shopping experience (or ‘head’). This front-end is usually coded to be very closely connected to the back-end admin area. This approach is OK if you have simple eCommerce needs or only need one shopping channel (like a website).
But as customer expectations have evolved over the last decade, retail brands must now sell to their customers in multiple channels. And this is where traditional eCommerce platforms become problematic as they cannot have multiple front-ends (or ‘heads’) without significant code customisation.
Headless eCommerce platforms solve this problem by enabling brands to sell on multiple front-ends from a single back-end. This principle of building a single, independent eCommerce back-end with no standard front-end is what people mean when they say they are “going headless”.
If your team spends too long updating the same eCommerce data in multiple systems, or your business needs to make selling in multiple channels a priority to stay competitive, then a strategic move to a headless eCommerce platform is something you should be considering.
Headless commerce pioneers
Our team has been pioneering eCommerce experiences for over 20 years and has been focused on headless eCommerce since 2018. If you manage an inflexible, ageing eCommerce platform that stifles innovation, we can help you plan a strategic, future-ready way forward with modern technology.
We were one of the first UK digital agencies to specialise in headless technologies.
Proven track record
We have three fully referenceable headless ecommerce clients with combined online sales of over £120 million annually.
We modernised Interflora to a headless architecture in under 10 months!
The benefits of headless commerce
The need for single-channel eCommerce software suites is over, and modern, multi-channel headless technology stacks, which Forrester and Gartner highly rate, are being widely adopted across the industry by forward-thinking brands; here’s why:
1. Better shopping experiences
It’s obvious that a mobile app shopping experience needs to be different from a website’s shopping experience, but it is often impossible to achieve different experiences with traditional eCommerce platforms. With headless architectures, you can design and build tailored front-end experiences based on the needs of your shoppers in each channel.
2. Reduced administration
Merchandising teams will be more productive because they no longer need to enter the same data in multiple systems just to list the same products in every channel.
3. Consistent data
Your product data and content will always be consistent across every channel because it will be managed and distributed from one place.
4. Hyper-fast front-ends
Because headless front-ends are decoupled from the back-end, they load faster and do not require high levels of server processing power to compile the front-end for users.
5. Faster innovation
Headless technologies are easier to work with, meaning you can increase the rate of development your teams can deliver. This is vital in keeping up with your competitors, responding to customer feedback and delivering business outcomes.
6. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
Headless eCommerce platforms are cloud-native, SaaS-based technologies. This means the vendor will be responsible for maintaining and upgrading your commerce platform as part of your subscription fee. This releases budget and resources that previously would have been ringfenced for keeping your platform online and up to date to be used for more innovative activities. It also means your hosting infrastructure can scale up and down automatically according to demand so that you are only paying for the levels of cloud services that you are consuming.
7. Happier business users
Business users want to be free to trade their eCommerce channels without a dependency on development teams. But many traditional eCommerce solutions cannot support this independence or meet the expectations of the business without significant customisation. And the more you customise a platform, the harder it is to maintain or customise in the future.
In a recent market survey by commercetools, more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said it takes their company three months or longer to take new commerce solutions to market, and half of the respondents (50%) reported that their organisation’s technologies had limited their ability to innovate as quickly as needed.
Modern, headless technologies are built to fully enable business users with their powerful back-office tooling and featured rich APIs, meaning they can manipulate front-end experiences with greater independence than ever before. And when they do need developer support, the speed of delivery is much faster because the development only happens in the front-end, without impacting any back-end system.
How we do it
Moving to a headless platform requires a strategic approach, and it’s easy to get it wrong, especially if an existing eCommerce platform exists. The last thing anyone wants is for online sales to suffer through the process. We can help create your headless migration strategy, select the right platform and design and implement the new experiences; here’s how we do it…
The Profound Way
For us, everything starts with the customer. Only once we understand the experiences your customers and business users want and your business’s strategic goals can we start having insightful conversations about the right technology mix for the future and the operational change required. This is why our team will begin with a tailored, consultative Discovery engagement before starting any implementation work.
Discovery and definition
Delivered by our experienced Strategy and Consulting team, our Discovery phase typically lasts around a month and will focus on five key areas:
• Your customers
• Your brand
• Your business
• Your technology landscape
• Your data.
At the end of Discovery, we will have defined the future state customer experience, the headless technology to enable it, the operational changes and investment required to get there, and any technical proof of concepts needed before making any significant investment in technology licensing or implementation.
Digital transformation and implementation
Our high-calibre, cross-functional delivery team will design and build your new headless commerce solution. The size and shape of your delivery team will depend on the outcomes of Discovery, the speed of transformation required, the complexity of integrations and the level of involvement from your delivery teams – we are incredibly comfortable augmenting our team with clients' delivery teams.
Support and continuous improvement
Modern eCommerce websites should continuously evolve using insight and customer feedback to improve experiences and stay ahead of competitors. Our Support team is here to keep your site performing smoothly post-launch, whilst our eCommerce Optimisation team will help you plan and execute a strategic roadmap of continuous improvements and CRO initiatives.
Our headless technology partners
We will only recommend technology that’s right for your business. However, we only partner with next-generation, best-of-breed headless platforms (often called composable or MACH technologies). This principle enables us to design unconstrained experiences whilst architecting flexible eCommerce ecosystems that can scale and adapt as your business grows or changes.
Search and discovery
PIM and DAM
Loyalty & reviews
Clients we've helped...
This project has been a desire for our business for many years and I can honestly say working with both of your businesses has been a pleasure. The experience and knowledge you have added to our project team has been immense and I do not doubt that we wouldn’t be where we are now without you. What we have all achieved over the course of this year on this project has been nothing short of monumental! To have created and launched the full tech stack we have in 9 months is truly amazing.
Director of IT, Interflora
Profound helped us to deliver a first-class result in terms of an e-commerce website re-design, system integration and ongoing optimisation. In its first full month the conversion rate from a mobile device doubled year on year and all objectives were met in spectacular fashion. We also now have a better branded site that gives the consumer added reassurance. With 67 % Revenue Growth, 64 % Profit Growth and 136 % more online Tyre Units sold, we are delighted. Profound has demonstrated great design and technical expertise and, for a business-critical ecommerce site, that combination of skill is invaluable!
Head of Retail, Protyre
We knew that delivering a better Customer Experience would need a successful strategic digital transformation. Profound were invaluable in helping us create this experience, from their use of customer insight to the technical implementation. The use of customer evidence combined with a technical proof of concept gave us greater certainty and confidence in all our decisions, particularly as we were considering a modern headless architecture. It’s rare you find a trusted partner like Profound with a passionate focus on the customer experience and the matching technical vision and capability to implement it. It also helps that they’re actually really easy to work with.
Head of Digital, Horizon Platforms
Attend a headless commerce adoption bootcamp
Do you need help understanding if headless is suitable for you or how you can make the switch? Sign up for our headless commerce adoption bootcamp.