Solutions must at the end of the day offer elegance, a term that is often overlooked in the eCommerce space — a desire to bring convenience for the admin and a seamless session for the end user. The result must blend agility, efficiency, and adaptability on the entire interface.
To be able to differentiate and compete at the highest level, top brands wanted the best breed of architectural performance. They wanted an architecture that serves the purpose of high organic traffic, increased sales, and thus better revenue — integrating content management and eCommerce platforms.
The Early Days of eCommerce
In the early days, all enterprise eCommerce platforms were designed to run on computer browsers that the majority of the audience used. Other touchpoints like mobile, social media, and wearable tech weren’t considered as a sales source or didn’t exist at all.
All brands created their product pages with vast manually-coded HTML to achieve the desired result. It worked nonetheless, since the sales volumes were low. Though it couldn’t last the test of the evolving landscape.
With more digital devices emerging, the need to recognize the broader picture arose. More and more businesses started to adapt their eCommerce stores with other channels. They made the shift towards sophisticated solutions to support larger inventory sizes and maximize revenue.
The dated solutions (monolithic model) that existed were effective when you had minimal digital touchpoints. For the service providers nowadays highlighting their brand across several devices is the norm. Thus they need a more customer-centric commerce platform, powered by API’s. Hence, a headless solution or headless commerce makes more sense.
A trend seen in recent years is the dwindling demand of the traditional eCommerce model. Since, there is a need for higher performance, cost, efficiency, and results. As a result, API-first Headless eCommerce is gaining momentum. Store owners desire to start their eCommerce business on a headless eCommerce platform.
Traditional Commerce aka a monolithic model; the front and backend are not separated. This gives the business owner a rigid solution built with a pre-determined frontend. It requires any frontend change to reflect on the backend as well.
The backend is where the website design and customization applications got stored. In Traditional Commerce (monolithic CMS) the editors are writing and publishing on the backend of the same system that your visitors are viewing.
In Traditional Commerce, simple tweaks on the frontend need changes on the back-end code as well. Since, both are reliant on each other, this may mean shutting down or redeploying the entire site. Thus, you can't make changes in real time, resulting in time wastage.
If the back-end experiences any errors, performance issues, or requires maintenance, then it may cause downtime on the live site. Traditional eCommerce websites don't adjust to changes very well, which limits the ability of the business to respond to market opportunities.
Traditional Commerce offers templates that look and appear the same in presentation and feel. While setting this up may seem effortless, on the customer side it is very generic. This then results in higher bounce rates and cart abandonment issues due to the cookie-cutter feel on the page.
A rich and captivating online experience that a visitor hopes to find, takes a beating. Something that repels customers and waives the faith of superior brands towards traditional eCommerce.
Customization is the biggest concern in a full stack eCommerce architecture and it becomes difficult to maintain, like in a multi-touchpoint scenario. It also restricts the type of content that one can post, such as videos and rich imagery.
Since most companies try separate commerce solutions, this creates silos which cannot be supplemented; something that’d result in inconsistent behavior. Over time this manifests into a high risk of failure.The downside of slow go-to-market timelines and high development costs in traditional commerce setup drifted many brands and made them look elsewhere to better connect with their audience.
Traditional Commerce Summary
- Store Content and digital assets in a database
- Content gets created on a Content management backend.
- Publishers and designers can create and apply design schemas.
- Frontend displays published content on HTML pages.
Benefits of Traditional Commerce
- Traditional CMS (Content Management System) is ideal for blogs, personal sites, and basic company sites. These sites don't need any massive changes.
- It is easy to develop, manage, and publish text-based content.
- The design is also simplified within a traditional CMS platform, with built-in themes and standard templates.
- Includes a frontend that can be edited and customized as and when needed.
A summary of what the traditional model is made up of:
Decoupled CMS (Content Management System) contains headless commerce, making headless a subset of decoupled commerce. A decoupled CMS is “headless” and then some, meaning it gives you all the benefits of Headless CMS.
In a Decoupled scenario, the back-end gets used for content creation and storage. The frontend gets used for consuming data and presenting it to the user through some interface. In a decoupled CMS, the two systems stay housed away from each other.
It is also known as a Hybrid Headless CMS whereby your content gets managed in a distance. Yet it comes equipped with frontend tools like templates in case you ever want to use them. Also, like in the case of a traditional CMS, the backend and frontend are not tied. A scenario that sees changes made on one side to not reflect on the other side.
Decoupled is also known as the best of both worlds, where you have “chopped off” the head, yet you haven’t detached the head from the “body.” In a headless architecture after preparing the content via the editorial tools you’d need an API call to publish it. It assumes the frontend developer team will be able to handle the content with the set of tools.
Whereas in a decoupled architecture due to the availability of templates, the content management becomes easier since you could start somewhere. A decoupled CMS is therefore looked at as being more proactive, since it prepares content and pushes it out. In contrast, a headless system is more reactive since it waits back for some process to ask for it.
Decoupled has content management, storage backends, and delivers content from the database through a web service or API. The crucial difference between the Headless system and Decoupled architecture is in the presentation layer. Unlike decoupled, headless doesn't have a defined presentation environment.
Decoupled Commerce Summary
- Content and digital assets are found stored in a database.
- Content is created on a Content management backend.
- An API that connects the content management backend, with the frontend.
- A default, content publishing frontend.
Benefits of Decoupled Commerce
- In a decoupled environment you can use WYSIWYG editing, get content previews and other content publishing tools, something that you are robbed of in headless CMS.
- Decoupled CMS is the best of both worlds: you have templates to work with like in a traditional CMS you get the flexibility of a headless implementation.
- Future-proofs your website implementation, since the user interface side is more resilient in the face of change
A summary of what the decoupled model is made up of:
Earlier sites were only a source of content but have recently ventured into retailing. With the Headless approach they could sync the same content with the commerce engine without the need to redevelop the whole site. Disconnect the frontend from the backend, chop it off - hence “headless.”
The Headless CMS architecture is one of the most prominent concepts when it comes to developing eCommerce sites. Headless Commerce separates the backend from the user interface but connects the two through a set of web services. In essence, decouple the frontend presentation layer from the backend.
"Headless" concept came to the surface when eCommerce over multiple points (Omnichannel) became a growing concern. In the past, eCommerce was performed on Desktop; as a result, both front and backend were coupled, and the sales were quite simple.
Headless Commerce is something in which the content is separated from the logic and functional layer, making it a viable solution for many businesses looking to prioritize content going ahead. Push content into the frontend isolated from the management environment.
Focus resources on customer interactions without worrying about impacting critical systems such as payment processing or product databases. Unlike traditional Commerce, the headless solution allows store owners to do just that. Take the headless approach and simplify the management of your eCommerce store.With headless Commerce you can manage the content and deliver it to any channel, something that the traditional CMS (Content Management System) couldn’t support, giving us the flexibility of content, custom code, the editing interface and templates in a single environment. Traditional eCommerce limited the ability to change sites at whim.
Now, since we need to display content across several devices, the traditional CMS became unsupportive, and the need to design a new form of CMS took hold, something that wouldn’t influence the style or manner in which you present the content.
If the front and backend are tied (full stack), any change executed on the frontend will affect the backend as well which then costs time, money and introduces risk.
Headless Commerce only focuses on providing content through its API (Application Programming Interface). The API makes the content available, independent of the channel and device. Write your website or mobile apps using any programming language; in the process lending higher scalability to your eCommerce business.
The customer touch points are anything that the customer interacts with, to achieve some purpose on a given site. The touchpoints could be the apps, the screen, forms, voice interfaces and so on, that visitors use to interact with your business.
Headless Commerce architecture is something that realizes the need for CMS with eCommerce and allows for both to co-exist without any conflict. In other words, you can decouple the frontend customer touch points from the backend operational systems that we use to run the business. You can connect the eCommerce platform to additional tools like ERPs, PIMs, and perform other integrations via APIs.
So, keep your existing content but still expand your eCommerce offerings without disrupting the entire business. Plus, with headless Commerce you'd reduce the time to market as well.
Headless Commerce Summary
- Content and digital assets are found stored in a database.
- Content gets created on a Content management backend.
- Headless API connects the content management backend to any touchpoint
- Froontend development becomes much easier and frontend experiences become better
- Connect to any publishing frontend, enabling owners to have the frontend technology of their choice.
Benefits of Headless Commerce
- Headless CMS architecture lets you integrate with any system, without any significant redevelopment.
- With UX being the clear focus for any brand going ahead, you want to invest in Headless architecture as it helps you to deliver a rich User Experience.
- Only replace the components of the architecture or the system that need any replacing, letting you have a more tailored development of pieces. With a clear divide between customer concerns and system concerns, you can focus on the underperforming / performing resources.
- Run promotions on the site without a full system reconfiguration. Compartmentalizing different functions of your commerce environment ensures that risks associated with one API remain isolated, preventing impact on other systems.
- Platform upgrades, performance fixes, applying new functionalities, integrations, and the addition of new features take less time in Headless CMS architecture; because of the openness of the architecture.
- Businesses relying on heavy content, visually stimulating rich media, personalized content and are continually upgrading or going through a series of changes can implement “Headless.”
- The ability to make changes fast, measure the impact of those changes, and then optimize the site based on those results, the sort of experiments critical in winning customers.
A summary of what the headless model is made up of:
Content pages and data don’t oppose each other and are certainly not mutually exclusive, we just need to find a way to mesh them together, and that is how “headless” emerged. The headless approach has become quite popular in the recent past for building an eCommerce store. The Headless CMS became a major shift from the monolithic CMS.
The headless architecture utilizes the power and functional maturity of both. In headless Commerce by detaching the frontend and backend, then allowing them to communicate via API enables changes to be made on either side (even in parallel) without being blocked by each other. Decouple the eCommerce platform from the presentation layer, so businesses can use any CMS they like.
In Headless eCommerce, frontend developers can make the necessary frontend changes, and backend developers don't need to fret over these changes breaking the backend rules and logic. Now, make a change to some part of the frontend and leave the backend components alone. Headless eCommerce creates a true separation of the frontend and backend.
Meanwhile, merchants can focus on conversion optimization, without upsetting developers, proving to be a big win. Performing A/B tests is far more flexible, enabling the brands to learn which version creates more traffic and drives higher conversion. All this is possible through the Headless Commerce approach.
In fact, the headless Commerce approach gives you the ability to run tests even during peak seasons. The main advantage of a system headless commerce is it gives you the liberty to run tests even during peak seasons - no need to shut down the website. Work with your internal team to test user flows and find the ideal conversion funnels for successful results.
Decoupled CMS uses templates and tools seen with traditional CMS, many of these tools are not available in headless CMS. But, a headless platform will allow more control over how the content appears on each type of device.
The Headless eCommerce solution cannot present the content to the end user on its own. Decoupled Commerce can maneuver this challenge with ease. The Headless Commerce system is “API only, UI anything” making it possible to present the content to any device. It isn't limited by a predetermined user interface.The traditional CMS architecture made it difficult to use content management solutions to their full potential. Due to the backend and frontend; which slowed down innovation. Get in touch with the experts at Virtina and we'll help you figure out the best architecture for your business model. Our eCommerce developers can also develop headless Commerce for your eCommerce store.
We can help you to figure out which architecture works the best for your business model.