The Pros and Cons of Headless Commerce

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The Pros and Cons of Headless Commerce

The eCommerce realm is growing larger, and thus more competitive, every day. At present, eCommerce makes up roughly 14% of the total retail sales market in the United States and is expected to command close to a quarter of all retail sales by 2023. Much of that trade occurs on mobile devices. According to a 2019 survey, 6 in 10 respondents reported researching and or making purchases on their mobile device.

In order to remain competitive in the eCommerce marketplace, it is imperative that retailers have the ability to rapidly adjust to the ever-changing technological landscape and maximize customer experience. Headless commerce provides the agility and scalability that retailers need to thrive in the eCommerce marketplace. Let’s take a look at what headless commerce is and what it can do for your eCommerce business.

What is Headless Commerce?

Essentially, headless commerce is the act of severing the front-end technology that operates the eCommerce retail storefront or user interface from the back-end technology that provides the practical nuts and bolts of the eCommerce business sales. By decoupling these two systems from one another, eCommerce retailers are free to implement the latest and greatest features to their user interface without interrupting the cogs and gears that keep the business operations running smoothly.

What Are the Specific Benefits of Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce offers eCommerce retailers a competitive edge by providing the ability to pivot and adopt the latest user interface advancements as they arrive on the scene without interrupting the flow of routine business operations.

Increased Scalability

A traditional or monolithic eCommerce business system offers an all-in-one package system that works well at the outset but becomes constrained as the business grows.  Headless commerce allows business owners to scale up easily by providing the ability to plug in a new back-end solution without losing the front-end content and user interface that they have worked so hard to create.

Increased Speed to Market

The speed of innovation is moving forward at a dizzying pace. Customers expect an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user interface and eCommerce retailers who are unable to provide a cutting-edge quality user interface will quickly find themselves falling behind those who are able to adapt more quickly. Loss of competitive edge means loss of customers, loss of sales, and loss of revenue. Headless commerce frees up marketers and front-end developers to implement the latest innovations in the user interface as rapidly and as frequently as needed without being constrained or slowed down by the need to reconfigure the back-end payment and inventory systems that keep your eCommerce business rolling along.   

Increased Security

While traditional eCommerce systems provide some level of security compartmentalization to prevent users from accessing areas of the business they are not authorized to access, this solution is far from foolproof. Due to the all-in-one structure of traditional systems, bad actors are able to easily navigate from one area of the system to another using a stolen or compromised password. Headless commerce renders this type of security breach much more difficult. That means eCommerce retailers can feel safe granting the free access that marketers and content creators need to keep site content up to date knowing that the back-end administrative functions of the business are contained in an entirely separate system.

What Are the Specific Downsides of Headless Commerce?

The list of downsides for headless commerce is far shorter than the list of positives and boils down to a matter of convenience versus agility and functionality. The very nature of headless commerce means that headless systems do lack the convenience of an all-in-one solution. While traditional systems do provide a modicum of convenience the trade-offs in terms of scalability, speed to market, and security are significant. That being said, if convenience is your main priority then a traditional monolithic system may be more appealing.

Essentially, headless commerce offers eCommerce retailers an easily customizable, infinitely scalable, ultra-secure business solution with the agility to pivot on a dime. Content can be updated multiple times daily, and the user interface can be easily updated with the latest technological advancements and eye-popping visual themes without interrupting the flow of business. Likewise, the back-end eCommerce system can be scaled up as needed as the business grows and product inventory and sales increase without sacrificing the visual style and archived or evergreen content already established. While headless commerce may not be the perfect solution for every eCommerce retailer, it is clear that the benefits it provides easily outweigh any loss of convenience for the most competitive-minded business owners.