Headless Commerce and the Future of Retail
It was forecasted that 82 percent of U.S. consumers would do their holiday shopping online, and more than 70 percent of them would use multiple channels. Cyber Monday is a perfect example of onmichannel shopping taking off, with this year’s shopping holiday touting an increase of $1 billion in sales. An estimated $1.59 billion of that revenue came from smartphones alone.
The retail experience is more multiplexed than ever before. Despite the many channels available to interact with a brand, today’s digital-savvy consumers expect a unified, seamless experience, whether they’re shopping in-store, online, from a mobile device or from a combination of all three. However, retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to keep their customers engaged with a consistent brand and customer experience using inflexible, traditional e-commerce platforms that require lengthy and time-intensive cycles to make changes.
It’s Time to Go Headless
Because online shoppers used to be tethered to a PC, a central approach to managing code used to work for retailers. Now that consumers are accessing brands across devices, this unified approach is slowing down change. Headless commerce is a new omnichannel approach that has no unified platform driving the customer experience. Rather, the concept of headless commerce lops off this central platform and opts for an API approach — making it “headless.”
Headless commerce can help retailers achieve faster time to market, optimize complex digital commerce environments and increase revenue potential.
Faster Time to Market
Consumers are accustomed to being delivered new and improved customer experiences at a rapid rate. According to Aberdeen, companies that provide a consistent service quality across multiple channels retain 89 percent of their customers. Bringing new and improved digital experiences for your customers to market helps reduce costs and improve customer loyalty and retention, but it hasn’t been easy.
More traditional e-commerce systems were designed with many interdependencies, making the rollout of new releases complex and the process of making changes to them slow. The smaller, loosely coupled components of a headless commerce approach allow for more rapid cycles and greater flexibility to alter the experience, or even a component of that experience without having any impact on the other enterprise technology at work.
Optimize Complex Digital Commerce Environments
Moving away from the all-in-one commerce approach means that retailers must make new and often complex decisions about technology features and vendors. The challenge with incorporating and managing the backend and interfaces of an e-commerce platform and its many features and functionality in one code base is that you end up with a very large, unwieldy and complex system that's difficult to change or progress. By moving these features into smaller components through a headless approach, complexity decreases and the intended roles of each component become more apparent. The nature of these smaller, more manageable systems means that changes can be made incrementally, quickly and independently of other systems, optimizing the use of both the technology and time dedicated to maintaining a great experience.
Increase Omnichannel Revenue Potential
Research shows that omnichannel shoppers are generally more satisfied with a retailer than single-channel shoppers. Headless commerce puts this omnichannel strategy at the center of the customer experience. The approach can deliver return on investment in some of the more obvious ways, such as contributing to increased sales in omnichannel retail environments, but there are also some unexpected ways the approach can positively affect the bottom line.
For example, the hosting, licensing and maintenance costs of traditional e-commerce platforms are reduced with a headless design, and the consolidation of operations and marketing tools offer even greater cost savings and revenue potential. Additionally, the approach provides the ability to proactively market and target merchandise more frequently and rapidly at the channel level, allowing for greater customization and reaction to customer segments and behavior.
Andy Powers is the senior vice president of solutions delivery at DMI, a global, end-to-end mobility services company.
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