The evolution of eCommerce: Headless architecture

The evolution of eCommerce: Headless architecture

Traditional eCommerce platforms have a single integrated or “ready-packed” design called a monolith. Due to this structure, traditional architecture of eCommerce platforms limit you to strict rules even in the smallest changes you want to make within the site.

Platforms with monolithic architecture are not well modularized, so even the smallest changes trigger connections in the entire technical infrastructure of the platform. Any change you want to make on the frontend of a traditional architecture platform (for example, design customization, etc.) will also affect the code stack on the site’s backend.

This is especially critical for businesses that make these frequent updates to the platform, as the monolithic architecture makes it difficult to test new features before they are released.

But this changed with the evolution of eCommerce platforms: the birth of headless eCommerce architecture.

It is the future of eCommerce, actually, starting from now headless eCommerce platforms shine on the tech scene.

From monolithic architecture to microservices

The monolithic architecture has been in use for a long time. However, with the changes in consumer behaviors, UX/UI trends retailers began to face the disadvantages of monolithic architecture.

Disadvantages of monolithic architecture

Limited customization

Platforms with a monolithic architecture are simple to use. The reason behind this simplicity comes from the fact that platforms with monolithic architecture offer pre-made themes that give predefined store experiences to their users.

This is a limiting factor for customization. Headless architecture offers unlimited customization options to different parts of an eCommerce platform such as templates, databases, plugins to increase the user experience.

Hard to adapt changes

Monolithic architecture is not conducive for businesses to keep up with and embrace changes in consumer trends. In order to switch to a new design or develop a new brand image, you may need to make changes in the technical infrastructure of your store: changes in the frontend-storefront requires modifications in the backend. 

This is a factor that takes a lot of time in monolithic architecture and can cause you to miss the trend.

Difficulty to scale

With the power of social media and marketing, reaching customers and growing your store is easier than before. But once the business is grown and needs to scale up, it is difficult with monolithic architecture.

Stores using monolithic architecture distribute the code in the technical infrastructure of the store many times during the scaling process and test the entire application repeatedly. This process continues until all instances have been fully deployed and the entire customer database has been correctly identified. This is because monolithic architecture forces you to completely retest the entire application when you make changes to a single component.

All the problems we have mentioned above show that it is a huge burden to collect everything on a single basis.

Headless eCommerce architecture doesn’t depend on any authority: its features and functionality are separated from each other.

Headless architecture outperforms old eCommerce platforms thanks to various integrated technologies. It uses technologies such as APIs and cloud technology and has more than one feature, as opposed to the inflexible and dependent nature of old e-commerce platforms.

Advantages of headless architecture compared to monolithic platforms

Limitless customization

The headless eCommerce architecture decouples the frontend and backend layers. This means more flexibility to have full control over the store. This takes your business beyond the simple storefront, checkout pages, product pages, cart mechanism, remarketing, and offers unlimited customization.

This allows you to customize all processes with innovative solutions that will increase the user experience. For example, assisted selling alternatives, unique selling experience, customer journey, innovative purchasing experiences, etc. can be customized and enhanced through microservices.

Flexibility and agility

Traditional eCommerce platforms with monolithic architecture are incapable of using microservices that online stores can benefit from. Instead, the platforms make use of third-party software, but they offer limited integration as well.

This means that as your store grows and your customers increase, the functionality of third-party software decreases and becomes inadequate. Headless eCommerce, on the other hand, gets fully integrated and flexible support from various providers with the help of APIs.

Omnichannel marketing

People expect a personalized customer experience across all their preferred channels. Not only social media, but also websites, communication tools, in short, any place where the target audience spends a lot of time.

In this regard, headless eCommerce architecture allows brands to easily implement solutions such as cross-channel inventory controls, synchronized pricing between channels, and managing customer loyalty programs. With headless architecture, you can customize the brand for each channel and improve the customer experience.

Easy to scale 

For businesses that are growing and have a large customer base, scaling is very important. More importantly, some businesses may want to migrate their content to additional interfaces such as mobile apps, various distribution channels, social media channels, smart devices, and virtual assistants like Alexa. 

Unlike traditional architecture that confines content to a single system or database, headless architecture allows you to distribute your content across all channels and scale your business through various integrations.

Mobile shopping breakdown and the role of headless eCommerce

Traditional eCommerce platforms (e.g. Amazon) emerged at a time when the online shopping spree was booming and the vast majority of shopping was done via computers. But after a while, when smartphones started to replace computers, mobile orders started to form a large part of global eCommerce orders.

With smart mobile devices, voice product searches, the use of artificial intelligence and more, the gap narrowed considerably. Today, mobile e-commerce sales in the United States solely have exceeded $40 billion.

The rise of mobile eCommerce – purchasing any product using a mobile device – and the market trends associated with mobile technology has increased the demand for a flexible eCommerce architecture that quickly adapts to this change. Many major eCommerce companies like Amazon, Walmart, Nike have adopted headless architecture.

Today, the fact that a brand that has adapted headless architecture to a potential customer’s business can access its products from their smart watch, phone or virtual assistant is a great convenience for the customer.

In this whole scenario, eCommerce platforms with monolithic architecture have a hard time finding new distribution channels, optimizing the existing platforms well and using the power of social media.

Headless eCommerce has made it easy to use omnichannel experiences on both mobile and PC through APIs, creating new market channels and fine-tuning to improve the customer experience.

This innovation, brought by headless architecture to eCommerce technology, has led online retailers to prefer the architecture that brings a simple and quality experience to the customer’s mobile phone, rather than the platforms that have difficulty in transitioning to innovation.

Who benefits from headless architecture?

  1. Multi-brand stores

If you have an eCommerce business that works with various brands, you don’t need to create multiple webstores and admin panels to manage all these brands. 

With Headless eCommerce solutions you can create multiple storefronts for multiple brands using the same backend, APIs. You don’t need to develop separate backends – admin dashboard for each brand.

  1. Multiple mobile apps connected to your store

Headless architecture allows you to connect multiple front-ends to a single system with integrated APIs. This allows you to design different mobile applications to manage all processes related to your store – your delivery fleet, orders, product stocks, customer support.

  1. Multi-country online shops

Localization is very difficult for stores operating in more than one country. Multi-country stores have to customize their store design (store area, showcase, currency, language, marketing strategy, payment channels, customer support team, etc.) for each country.

This is quite difficult in traditional architecture, because you have to distribute the store’s technical infrastructure code for each country. Unlike traditional architecture, headless architecture allows you to create your unique store for each country with APIs without having to distribute and localize the code for each country.

Is headless eCommerce right for your business?

Before you migrate to a headless commerce

Discover the shortcomings of your current store, and carefully analyze the shortcomings of your current eCommerce platform and ensure that headless architecture can fill those gaps.

Build a strong roadmap for migration and determine what awaits you during the migration process.

Data extraction – extract and verify all the data you stored on your previous platform.

Transfer the data to the new system, after extracting the data correctly. 

Remember that every business has different needs and requirements. What is right and essential for a large company may not be right for a small business.

Determining if headless eCommerce is right for you is the first step.

Can your budget afford headless eCommerce?

Do you have a developer team at your hand?

What changes do you want to make for your eCommerce store?

Finding answers to all these questions will give you a good idea on your way to making the transition to headless eCommerce.

Narmina Balabayli
Narmina is a full-time head of content at Uvodo, lifetime artist, part-time cat lover. Love writing anything about digital. She has superpower to disappear.

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