Headless Commerce: Introduction, Risks & their Solutions for Enterprises
eCommerce is the fastest growing industry of the 21st century. An eCommerce website is divided into two parts: front-end and back-end. The front-end is what users see while the back-end deals with the business side of things.
Be it Amazon Dash buttons, voice assistants, or providing new ways to explore information on a website, consumers are embracing the IoT era even if the retailers are trying to duck from it.
eCommerce giants like Amazon and BestBuy are reaping the benefits while others are just scratching their heads. How to develop sustainable back-end solutions that can resolve the problem? The simple answer is headless commerce.
Shopify headless or headless commerce is separating the front-end of the store from its back-end.
In this blog, we’ll discuss basics about headless commerce, risks that come with headless commerce, and practical solutions that will make enterprises rethink their store development.
Headless Commerce – An Introduction
Paul Rogers – an eCommerce consultant, explains it as:
For non-tech-savvy readers grasping headless commerce is not easy. So, in simple terms, headless commerce is where the front-end appearance layer is separated from the back-end commerce layer in an eCommerce platform.
“By separating the ‘presentation layer’ (the front-end) from the layer (the back end), a retailer can gain more flexibility in serving rich content and brand experiences, as well as overall user experience.”
Let’s elaborate with an example:
Say an eCommerce store owner wants to add a one-click checkout button for fast shipping.
With headless commerce, the front-end layer will send an application programming interface (API) request to the back-end layer for one-click order processing.
APIs enable efficient communication between the front-end and the back-end layer.
With a traditional eCommerce setup, it might take minutes or hours to process the one-click order request. But headless commerce makes an instantaneous request.
Thus, eCommerce brands can experiment with their store with new features, improving the shopper’s experience with a streamlined experience.
Here’s how traditional commerce differentiates with headless commerce:
(Source: Core DNA)
Traditional eCommerce has design limitations. Only predefined themes can be used, which bounds user-experience. The front-end is tightly coupled with the back-end, which makes customizations difficult.
In headless commerce, there are no design constraints. One can easily create their own experience from scratch with endless customizations at the front-end.
Headless Commerce Risks
& Solutions for Enterprises
Integration Requires Web Development Expertise
Shopify app integration with other devices is easy.
Shopify offers flexibility to try fancy apps. It’s easy to install and connect with the API of platforms. With headless commerce, switching technology is challenging.
Thus it would help if you had expertise with website development to meet the demands for your enterprise.
A well-organized discovery process is your answer. Write down all the services that you need, which will eliminate the headache of swapping things in-and-out. Once you have a clear understanding of service, budget allotment can easily be done. This will reduce any hiccups during the integration process.
Globalization Requires More Wor
If you’re an enterprise scaling your business to multiple regions, it requires adding more languages and currency rates: reviews, intuitive search, customizations, and loyalty programs.
A standard Shopify store requires integrating multiple currency APIs, a multi-region setup that demands one store per currency and language. There are complexities attached to it.
Hence, a headless store that can power 20-30 languages and currencies is quite compelling.
To overcome this problem, you need to be transparent with your agency. Educate them about which countries you are planning to target. An international agency will easily integrate global currencies and various languages with headless commerce.
Project Milestones are challenging to meet with Headless
With headless commerce, there is room for a lot of customizations. Thus increasing development work and increasing project difficulty.
The flow of these integrations is unpredictable and bespoke. That’s why it is advised to test things before you go live. Once an add-on is finished, it’s challenging to make changes, and it also requires additional time.
An intelligent solution is end-to-end testing. This will help in keeping up with the project timeline.
In an enterprise, there is more than one stakeholder, so agreement for each step will improve the project milestone.
Headless demands new product knowledge
The standard Shopify store provides a lot of guidelines on the product and is easy-to-understand.
With Headless commerce, a custom product demands more knowledge as it will be new to you.
A lot of training needs to be done on how your store works online? Thus, custom product training is the solution to this problem.
Custom URL Structures with SEO Implications
Shopify allows a fixed SEO URL structure, which limits gaining full control over slugs. Headless allows custom URL structures with a tradeoff that domain names and slugs must be search engine friendly.
When you are writing custom URL’s, you need to write everything from an SEO perspective. Because if you don’t, your store might not rank well in search engine pages. Each URL must be carefully built with a clear understanding of the page.
Checkout Might Be Open to Bots
You might feel that your products are selling across the globe to customers who are ready to use your service. But in reality, bots are trying to buy your products.
A standard Shopify theme setup might provide you an option to activate ‘bot protection.’ But since headless depends upon signals that come from the theme layer, it will not accommodate Storefront API – which is used by headless to build.
The most viable solution to this problem is to develop an add-on to detect and eliminate bots.
High-Volume Must be controlled by you
If your website has a high-traffic volume, your checkout page needs constant monitoring.
For example, if your store exceeds 4,000 orders per minute, new customers must be directed in a queue. In a typical Shopify store, this queue is managed by Shopify built-in queue mechanism. But with headless, you need to do this yourself.
If you are not equipped with high spike sales, your customers will get a “broken website” error, which will drive them away.
For harsh spikes of traffic on your website, you need to develop error handles that will place customers in a queue.
Email Marketing Language Problem
Of course, customers prefer to read emails in their native language. With a Shopify headless architecture, you can convert CMS languages in the native language. But it’s challenging to translate language in the email to a native one.
Manage all languages from a single email template. For instance, order confirmation emails will have various language options. Then on the check-out page, whichever language the customer is browsing, use that.
Thus, you need to create conditional statements in email templates that will alter the language automatically and send in customer’s preferred language.
There are a lot of complexities with headless commerce. When looking at the pros and cons, a simple analogy, ‘building your own house’ meaning if you have the budget, resources, go for it because the future of commerce is headless.
It’s time for you to keep up with the consumers and retailers. If you’re considering implementing headless commerce for your enterprise, our eCommerce experts can help you out.