In an e-commerce world obsessed with finding a magic cure for creating the perfect customer experience (CX), headless commerce is the hot new elixir. Retailers have heard time and again how a headless website architecture improves speed and performance by decoupling the front-end and back-end of their core systems.
It sounds so enticing that some retailers jump right in. However, sometimes they experience a serious case of regret rather quickly. That’s because headless commerce means something different for each and every retailer. When implemented for the right reasons, headless infrastructure brings a wealth of benefits. But not every retailer needs a headless website, and going headless just because it’s trendy is the absolute wrong thing to do.
Instead, take a measured approach. Evaluate your current e-commerce website and your team’s capabilities. If you spot any of these four “symptoms,” odds are that headless is right for you.
1. My website is getting slower as I build new features.
Headless commerce isn't limited to enterprise brands that have a full technical team. Ignore conventional wisdom that suggests brands should achieve a specific ARR target or have a certain headcount before going headless. That may have been true one or two years ago when headless was only for enterprise merchants, but today headless is accessible for small and midsize retailers, too.
That’s why I encourage retailers considering headless to look at their overall growth trajectory. If your brand is being limited by the flexibility and performance of your platform’s front-end, then headless is a solid investment. It will allow you to build an extensible, content-rich front-end capable of fast load times and snappy experiences.
2. Only engineers and developers can rework my website.
Take a look at how easy it is to maintain your current website. Can anyone update product detail pages, add a widget, and spin up a landing page, or does your team need to open tickets and get help from developers and engineers for everything? If your tech team is overburdened by requests others could handle, it’s a telltale sign headless might unlock some admin efficiencies for you. Another consideration: If you’re currently using multiple tools to manage content, a headless solution with a single content management system, a built-in customizer or a combination of both will be beneficial.
3. I have a vast product assortment.
New brands with a limited product assortment trying to find product-market fit likely won’t get much benefit from headless. But growing retailers with large assortments featuring products that vary by size, color and other factors will get more bang for their buck. Because headless makes complex storefronts easier to build, companies with varied products will want a solution that gives them full control over their entire brand experience.
4. My social media ads are underperforming.
If you’re putting hard-earned dollars into Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok ads and failing to see results, headless could help. When consumers navigate from their social apps to your e-commerce site, they expect an app-like experience, complete with fast load times and smooth transitions. A headless infrastructure gives you the ability to use progressive web apps (PWAs) that will deliver the type of browsing and buying experience today’s customers demand, leading to a potential increase in conversion rates.
One other important consideration before you go headless: Think about life after headless. Consider your current staff, their day-to-day workloads, and how headless will change the way they operate. Asking hard questions will allow you to plan for a seamless transition to the headless world and start healing all of those wounds that prevent you from implementing a better CX.
Cory Cummings is Co-Founder and CEO of Pack Digital, a company that provides front- and back-end infrastructure that consolidates product information and content updates in a central system to manage your PWA builds and deployments.
Related story: How Headless Commerce Can Improve UX, Increase Sales