Headless, the next step in the evolution of e-commerce

Retailers need to work with more flexible, convenient and scalable solutions to deliver the best possible experience – this is where headless comes in.

Propelled by the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has gradually become the primary customer service channel for most businesses, according to European e-commerce report by Molly. The headless, a technology, which collected more than 1.5 billion euros in financing between 2020 and 2021, enables e-merchants to deliver highly personalized customer solutions, faster and more cost-effective development, easier scaling, and better web and mobile performance. In its simplest form, headless is the separation of the front-end and the back-end of an e-commerce platform. This architecture offers brands the freedom of expression to build what they want and how they want. More importantly, it allows brands to enrich the experience of their customers.

The Challenges of Traditional Monolithic Commerce

Current technologies are too inflexible to provide merchants with adequate support in a highly competitive market. Monolithic commerce marked the beginning of online shopping. It was an all-in-one solution for selling products that was relatively easy to set up and operate. With these platforms, the front-end is connected to the back-end. Any changes to the front end require changes to the back end. For example, the shopping cart, checkout, subscriptions, and site layout are interrelated. Therefore, it is difficult to make changes because changes made to one part of the site affect other parts. Developers are needed, which increases costs. Additionally, site updates can be slow and tedious.

By separating back-end services from the front-end, headless allows fast-moving e-commerce businesses to change and improve their offerings to customers. Retailers benefit from full scalability and unlimited growth potential with the API-first architecture.

However, the widespread adoption of this technology has encountered some obstacles. Many retailers fall victim to “sunk costs”, that is, expenses that cannot be recovered. They have already invested a lot of time, effort, and money into their current e-commerce platform. Another concern is that a headless structure makes it harder for companies to change their business models that want to scale.

Headless trading cannot work without composable trading

Composable commerce is a business practice made possible by headless technology. It is not just a technological innovation, but the description of a more modular way of organizing online activity. Headless trading refers to services that are simply decoupled from an all-in-one platform, so the front-end and back-end can operate independently. The term composable means that each piece of the puzzle works independently. This is the practice of putting together your own bespoke e-commerce solution.

Ultimately, this creates a fully efficient, bootstrapped architecture. This means retailers can create a truly bespoke system that meets their specific needs and easily pivot to any channel, market or method they require. The composable architecture offers significant advantages to large and small and medium enterprises that want a more flexible configuration.

This is where composable commerce takes the logic of headless and goes even further: API calls are not only used to link back-end and front-end, but also to connect back-end functionality disparate. It is this innovation that allows merchants to choose the services and solutions they need. Changes can be deployed faster and the whole system does not need to be updated.

Headless architecture continues to grow in popularity and is seen as the catalyst for online retailers to move into the next phase of their growth. With customer expectations changing rapidly, e-commerce brands need more flexibility than ever to constantly improve customer experiences. Whether it’s headless or composable commerce, investing in the most flexible and adaptable technologies will determine a brand’s ability to navigate the economic turmoil currently rocking Europe. Businesses will have to do more with less to capture shrinking consumer spending. Especially for businesses that operate in multiple markets, across multiple channels, using different currencies or revenue models.

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