What is Headless eCommerce and Why It Matters - 1Digital® Agency
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eCommerce is full of buzzwords, and though some of them refer to basic, simple processes or phenomena, that much isn’t apparent by their names. Terms like conversion rate optimization, search engine optimization, payment gateways, and many others get tossed around on the daily. While they might sound dense, they are not very difficult to grasp once you take a step back and look at them from a different perspective. Another of these terms is headless commerce or headless eCommerce; again, it sounds daunting, but all you’re going to need is a simple explanation to wrap your understanding around it.

So, what is headless eCommerce? In simple terms, headless eCommerce describes the ability to merge two different platforms and operate them seamlessly without necessarily requiring a separate interface for each. For example, some clients operate WordPress websites that also sell products online; WordPress has some of the best content management features available but is not geared towards eCommerce. By the same token, a platform like BigCommerce is geared towards eCommerce but lacks some of the content-centric functionality of a platform like WordPress. There are specific apps out there that can enable developers to merge the two sites into one interface, allowing customers to shop and buy products seemingly on the same site on which they consume content.

That is only one example. In general, headless eCommerce is a decoupling of the front and back ends of your eCommerce site, and any other platforms that you use, and requires the use of a specific API to give them a feeling of cross-functionality.

Why Headless?

There’s more than one way to answer the question of “why headless,” but it all boils down to what the different platforms are that you use, and what they are good at – as well as what apps you intend to use.

For example, if you operate an eCommerce website on BigCommerce, then you can take advantage of the fact that BigCommerce can handle a lot of orders, makes it extremely easy to list, arrange and track products, and set pricing and collect payments. It is also very secure. In short, it is geared for eCommerce, like a virtual store. Clients visit and their purpose is to buy products. BigCommerce is great at selling, but there are other reasons that people use the internet.

For example, they use the internet to gather information, to learn, and to consume content. Sometimes, they even intend to consume content with the intention of making a purchase decision. This is only one simple example, but without getting too involved, suffice it to say that BigCommerce’s content management systems are adequate but not nearly as robust as content-driven platforms like WordPress.

The Cost of Headless

The basis of a company’s need for a headless eCommerce solution stems from that business’s basic need for the strengths of two or more different platforms as described above. Because headless structure requires a lot of custom development and is sometimes only possible when two platforms can be integrated with specific apps, it can take a lot of time and effort to develop a headless solution. With two systems that operate within each other’s bounds and pull and display information from each other, it can take significant custom development to come up with a solution that is fast, reliable, responsive, and displays properly.

For this reason, headless development has been the purview of larger organizations that can spare the skills for that development, whereas smaller organizations would have to work with a BigCommerce development company or seek outsourced eCommerce website development services. In that respect, 1Digital can help make your goal of achieving a headless structure reality, and we have done so for clients in the past. We know what it will take, but what are some reasons you might want to consider a headless eCommerce structure?

Headless eCommerce: Better User Experience

Ultimately, the point of a headless eCommerce structure is to provide a more enhanced user experience, but at the same time, you can streamline some of your internal processes and initiatives as well.

Consider an alternative in which you would have to operate two separate websites that would require their own website design and development along with updates. If the two platforms were entirely separate, as has been the case traditionally, you would have to make changes to both sites, but by integrating them under a headless structure, all you have to do is make one change and both sites will display it, especially where information is pulled from one platform to display on the other. For example, if you change product information on your eCommerce platform, and the other interface you are using draws that information, it will streamline and simplify the change.

This can make a client’s search for information and their hopping experience much easier, more enjoyable, and more valuable, especially if your clients rely on you not only for content but also for your products or services. Even though this is only one example, it clearly illustrates how a headless approach can save you a great amount of time and money down the road by enabling you to make changes to multiple platforms and apps from only one location on the back end.

We’ll Build a Solution for You

Headless structure cannot be easily defined because it can cover almost any system where there is an integration between two systems that work together to present a seamless front-end interface with separate back-end systems. There isn’t theoretically any limit on how many platforms you can develop together into a headless structure, or what apps you can use; this is limited by the APIs of the platforms as well as by the experience of the developer.

Additionally, the reasons for seeking a headless structure might be very unique to your industry or to the way your users shop, including what they find valuable. With that in mind, a headless structure can save you time, enable you to more easily make changes to eCommerce websites, and scale more efficiently, all while offering a better user experience as a result.

If you rely on the functionality of more than one app or platform to deliver a quality experience to your online shoppers, then you may be a candidate for developing a headless structure. Contact our team, let us know what your business goals are for your online store, and we’ll let you know more about our development processes.

We’ve built successful headless structures for clients in the past using BigCommerce and we can do the same for you. Our BigCommerce development services don’t only include headless development, but also responsive design and optimization for mobile devices, app development and integration, and much more. If your potential customers expect more from your store, give us a call at 877-776-7394 and we can get to work building a world-class solution for your online shop.


Michael Esposito

Mike Esposito is a professional SEO copywriter spurned by a love of language and creativity. When he's not at the keyboard, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of him enjoying the outdoors or sipping fine literature.

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