How a Headless Approach to E-Commerce Can Boost Brand Resiliency and Success
As brands compete to stay top of mind for consumers, ensuring they have the flexibility to adapt and react quickly to new trends and engagement opportunities is incredibly important. Brands can no longer rely on legacy technology to achieve that competitive edge. These platforms are rigid and add friction when campaign teams want to integrate new features or capabilities.
When engaging with brands or retailers as a consumer, much of our digital experience today is likely to play out across multiple channels and touchpoints. You may follow a brand on Instagram, see an item that you love, and click through to the Instagram online store to view availability and pricing. If the item isn't being sold via Instagram or it’s out of stock, you might visit the brand’s website directly to check availability and view similar products. But perhaps upon visiting the website you notice that the product doesn’t look quite as appealing as it did on Instagram and you decide not to purchase it. Not only has the brand lost a sale, it has also created an unsatisfying experience for you as a consumer. Providing a seamless digital commerce experience across multiple devices and channels is essential to building a consistent experience that resonates with the consumer and truly embodies the brand and its values across all touchpoints
These complexities make providing a seamless and consistently engaging experience a challenge; one that headless platforms were designed to solve.
A headless architecture decouples the front-end user interface from the back end so that enterprises can leverage best-of-breed solutions as API-connected microservices.
Why Should Brands Care About Headless E-Commerce?
In a nutshell, headless architectures allow brands to move with speed and agility to implement new integrations and features without disrupting the front-end customer experience.
This gives brands the freedom, safety and security to select specific tools of their choosing while retaining partner relationships to utilize best-of-breed solutions. To that end, brands that begin embracing headless will typically adopt a digital experience platform (DXP). A DXP can host both best-of-breed and best-of-suite solutions and accommodate a gradual, steady transition from the former to the latter, simultaneously ensuring the continual safe flow of daily operations.
As it relates to image and video specifically, the idea of image optimization in the digital context is a relatively new concept, hence the high priority by content management systems and e-commerce platforms to develop their own optimization tools. Many companies take that trend at face value, checking a box, confident that the tools will meet their asset-management needs. However, out-of-the-box optimization tools may not be able to accommodate the digital experience you want to create for your customers. Furthermore, as the volume and variety of visual media increase, numerous problems quickly arise.
What Impact Does a Headless Approach Have on Consumers?
On the consumer front, research suggests that tomorrow's customers are being conditioned today to expect more in terms of range, ease, speed, convenience and, of course, content. Video consumption continues to grow — heavily influenced by the shopping behaviors of millennials and Gen Z — so brands must get their strategies right in order to deliver.
To realize this potential, brands must first adopt a dynamic data asset management (DAM) tool to properly organize assets before delivery. Developers then routinely collaborate with media creators in determining the sizes, cropping standards, ratios and file types for media. As a result, a headless setup affords developers the freedom and capability to control how specific media will display, such as in responsiveness and adaptive playbacks.
Tying it All Together
While consumers cannot see what happens behind the screen, when done well a headless e-commerce approach can significantly transform their visual experience and bring the full experience of a brand to life. A headless approach enables high-performance videos to be displayed across the e-commerce journey, and for improved mobile experiences, such as the ability to create vertically oriented videos and add captions for autoplay when muted.
As visual media plays an increasingly central role in e-commerce, a platform’s capabilities must focus on automation, optimization and brand consistency. It’s for this reason headless media management solutions are emerging as a core component of the optimal e-commerce strategy, for the purpose of administering images and videos, user-generated content (UGC), augmented reality, virtual reality, 360-degree video, and the like, all in support of a retailer or brand’s lifelike online presence.
Nikki De Marchi is head of e-commerce at Cloudinary, whose mission is to empower companies to deliver visual experiences that inspire and connect by unleashing the full potential of their media.
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Nikki De Marchi is head of e-commerce at Cloudinary. Cloudinary’s mission is to empower companies to deliver visual experiences that inspire and connect by unleashing the full potential of their media. With more than 50 billion assets under management and 9,000 customers worldwide, Cloudinary is the industry standard for developers, creators and marketers looking to upload, store, transform, manage, and deliver images and videos online.