Headless ecommerce is customer experience ecommerce

The world of ecommerce is moving fast. By now consumers are used to consuming content and making purchases through a multitude of touch points – including everything from IoT devices to progressive web apps, and legacy ecommerce platforms are having a hard time keeping up with the ever-increasing demands of customers. 

In the past few years, we’ve seen a huge increase in the implementation of a new ‘breed’ of ecommerce called Headless Ecommerce. We see that retailers and brands are moving in this direction to get more freedom around the frontend of their site and how their products and product information is presented, which effectively allows brands to build more personalized and well-designed user experiences than traditional ecommerce templates allows.

But what is headless ecommerce exactly? 

Headless ecommerce refers to solutions where the frontend and backend are decoupled, removing dependencies on how to present content. In this approach the presentation layer (a CMS or a custom frontend etc) is only focusing on delivering content, helping to improve performance and reduce complexity. 

This allows for a faster time-to-market as developers are able to change the frontend without having to worry about backend logic, effectively speeding up the development side of producing new experiences. This is especially helpful if you launch an app, a progressive web app or start commerce in a new environment but still want to benefit from the ecommerce infrastructure you already have.

The move beyond monolithic ecommerce systems

Traditional ecommerce systems are normally composed of very large code bases that over the years end up having a multitude of internal dependencies to support the company’s very particular business logic and processes. Typically, the components will have to run in a specific order and with a specific set of input for the entire system to work as expected. Updating such systems without breaking existing integrations requires dedicated specialists and can be extremely time-consuming even for simple tasks due to the interdependencies within the system. The larger the ecommerce builds get, the more difficult and expensive it gets to manage and develop it. 

Many modern ecommerce organizations are therefore looking towards moremicroservice-based ecommerce strategies where critical components are handpicked and orchestrated through clever use of APIs. With a microservice architecture, each system-critical component is isolated and autonomous, getting rid of the mentioned interdependencies. This results in a more stable and resilient setup where each service can be updated or swapped out for something else entirely, without affecting the rest of the solution. Headless commerce’s decoupling of the performance layer allows for this and is a strong first step for retailers and brands to take complete ownership of the customer experience and personalization opportunities.

Examples and cases

The Headless Ecommerce approach can be tailored in many directions based on the strategy and preference of the business. Here are a few examples.

1) Sportmaster.dk:

Solution: Drupal CMS + React Frontend

It was imperative to be able to create a lot of custom campaigns including personalization, segments, and dynamic pricing. The solution allows for a fast campaign flow with lots of mixing of content and products. 

Headless ecommerce - SPORTMASTER case example



2) https://www.europeanspermbank.com/da/ : Umbraco CMS + React Frontend

Here it was highly important to have very specific and non traditional ecommerce flow with advanced segment based views. At the same time the solution supports international SEO and scaling.

Headless ecommerce - European Sperm Bank case example

Headless platforms for ecommerce

There are a lot of platforms to choose from when it comes to Headless ecommerce. Is is all about finding the right match for the business and use cases. 
For enterprise ecommerce Commercetools has revolutionized the commerce platform market with an API-first, cloud native solution which helps retailers design unique and highly engaging digital experiences. The agile, componentized architecture improves overall ROI by greatly reducing development time and resources compared to traditional platforms.

Most traditional CMSs and Ecommerce platforms also come in a decoupled version, making it possible to implement a scalable architecture while keeping the backend user interface the business is familiar with, be it Magento, WooCommerce or Umbraco.


Klaus Colding

Director, Ecommerce