eCommerce sales in the US alone are predicted to hit the trillion dollar mark by 2022. In fact, online orders are going to account for 20% of the total retail sales being made by 2024. But businesses going online need more and more flexibility when it comes to selling to buyers that come from different backgrounds and purchase behaviours. That’s where Shopify headless commerce comes in.
Not sure what headless commerce is? Let’s begin.
Shopify headless commerce
Shopify headless commerce is a wide subject to cover; as it enables brands to grow and scale online with powerful technology capabilities.
What is headless commerce?
Headless commerce is essentially the brick and mortar or the architecture behind an eCommerce solution. It refers to ungrouping the front-end experience you offer to your Shopify store visitors from the back-end infrastructure that is running it.
This enables merchants to turn new technologies into independent digital storefronts with commerce functionalities. This includes social media, mobile apps, smart mirrors, self-serve kiosks, vending machines, voice-assisted technologies like Alexa, Siri and others, wearables and more.
What are the benefits of headless commerce?
It’s important for businesses to keep up with trends. Both in terms of the products and services they need, and the experience they get when they make a purchase online. Headless commerce takes care of the latter.
By offering flexibility, it helps eCommerce businesses rapidly evolve with the times and stay ahead in their industry.
1. Faster time to market
When having to make changes to the storefront, most businesses struggle to get their back-end and front-end teams to work together. With headless commerce, the two teams can work separately.
So you’re basically separating copy from the code, allowing each team to move faster. And once each team is ready, they can converge to push out the changes faster.
- Engage customers through innovative and creative storefronts - kiosks, billboards, smart mirrors, wearables, and vending machines
- Experiment with agile marketing and A/B testing to update your campaigns on the fly
- Accelerate your site performance with a progressive web apps that respond like native mobile apps
- Work simultaneously on front-end and back-end development or on the same files across multiple sites, in any programming language
- Make quick updates to comply with third-party operating systems without needing to reboot your system
2. Increased control to scale faster
Oftentimes, existing systems that are being used by eCommerce businesses are coded in different languages. This can cause a roadblock when it comes to building out integrations as technology evolves, negatively impacting the customer experience.
Headless commerce comes with powerful APIs that let you integrate with existing systems like ERP, PIM, IMS and others. This lets you adapt quickly to changes without having to change the base technology.
- Integrate all systems your business already relies on, like your ERP, PIM, CRM, CMS, or design framework
- Speak your own front-end programming language
3. Increased personalization
Shopify headless commerce provides developers with additional flexibility in how they want to serve data to their customers; irrespective of the device they access the store from.
For instance, you can create a split test for what you build so that you can optimize the customer experience based on the conversion rate you get on the variations. Based on the results, you can also deploy changes to any storefront your consumers are shopping on, seamlessly passing the data through to each and personalizing their customer journey with your brand.
Considering that online shoppers are 40% more likely to spend on store experiences that are personalized, this is a feature you absolutely need!
- Create a beautiful front-end experience for web, mobile, gaming, or any platform with Shopify SDKs
- Deliver highly personalized experiences to each customer segment, based on the criteria you chose
Sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s tell you a little about how it works.
How does Shopify headless commerce work?
Headless eCommerce connects your customer touch points with your back-office operations, that is, your backend, using a storefront application programming interface (API).
What this means is that customer-facing content is managed outside of the headless platform.
With headless commerce, you’re able to use popular and independent content-management systems (CMS), progressive web apps (PWA), customer relationship management (CRM), and digital experience platforms with ease.
You are no longer restricted to finding one eCommerce platform that will do it all for you.
But irrespective of the tools you use to create customer touchpoints at POS, vending machines or mobile apps, each one passes data back through to the back end using an API call whenever a purchase is made. This ensures all your customer and order data still remains centralised and is not lost between platforms.
The best part?
Your customers don’t feel any disconnect on your storefront and the interface remains consistent.
Here’s a glimpse at what headless commerce looks like:
Sounds a bit overwhelming? Well, it isn’t.
And there are a number of Shopify Plus brands that are leveraging headless commerce as of today.
Shopify headless commerce examples
There are a number of Shopify Plus brands that use headless commerce to achieve different goals for their businesses. But here are some leading brands using Shopify headless commerce to enable customized experiences for their customers.
The online clothing retailer uses the Shopify Storefront API to consolidate two stores into one. The converged single storefront you see today has a new CMS, checkout page and custom product pages. It no longer requires them to use custom apps to deliver a personalized and unique experience to their store visitors and customers. This also lets the brand make changes to their storefront in minutes; even during high-traffic seasons.
2. Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative
A collective of small farmers working to sell sustainable meats to customers across the US, Grass Roots chose Shopify headless commerce. This lets them set up custom product pages and checkout, and also use other tools like Netsuite, PWA and Ruby on Rails. The amalgamation of the technologies helps them offer an incredible user experience.
An online platform for expecting parents, Babylist lets consumers share wishlists with gift givers. The site pulls the products from third-party retailers, so that the users can compare product quality and sizing, show age-specific recommendations and shop around based on the best prices they get - all on one website. They were able to incorporate two customer experiences - one for expecting parents and one for gift givers using Shopify headless commerce.
An online retailer that is known for scrubs, FIGS uses Shopify Plus headless commerce to get more flexibility with its eCommerce landing page design. It makes use of Unbounce and Next.js to create custom product pages for its Shopify Plus storefront. The brand also has its own mobile app.
Ready to leverage Shopify headless commerce?
If you’re starting out an online business or are moving to building a more enterprise infrastructure to offer your customers a more customized shopping experience, you should opt for Shopify headless commerce.