The Complexities of Headless Commerce

So, you’ve decided that headless is the solution for you, but how far down the rabbit hole do you go? When it comes to headless there is no one size fits all approach and it's not an overnight exercise, it always takes time. We understand the need to ensure there's always a plan with a clear vision or the project can easily run aground. Below are some of the things we believe it’s important to consider from a technical perspective before diving into headless.

Typical Headless Use Cases

What stands out typically with headless is the CMS front-end and the ecommerce platform back-end, we’ve already covered if you should consider headless before, but, to refresh when do you need that headless CMS frontend? If you have a website that contains different brands which need different experiences, often they require more complexity than a single platform can handle with multiple frontend templates. You will have a demand on scaling in different manners and scaling quickly as well. Traditionally in a monolith you can have multiple stores for multiple brands but creating different experiences is much more difficult as it’s still the same system behind the scenes. Alongside this, the changes from multiple different countries and brands need to be coordinated or risk getting caught up in a website push before they’re ready, so you’re throttled by your own expansion. Headless CMS is a must when you decide to build a decoupled storefront by adopting modern web frameworks like REACTJS or Angular. Why do you need to adopt these frameworks? Well, it helps you build Progressive Web Apps; they’re Faster, SEO friendly, and almost always maintain a better conversion rate A need to utilise hyper localisation and hyper personalisation to empower your marketers to deploy on their own schedules in their own regions can be a similar driver. Regional teams can have their own timelines with greater ease and a much more personalised feels to their stores. Another good example is if you need to reach your customers where they are; if a lot of your customers are on social media for example, then a headless solution which can screw on a social commerce head is an excellent solution, this likely also links to a heavy focus on mobile which alone can also necessitate a headless approach. If you deal with either or both then a headless approach is a likely solution. Headless platforms clubbed with API-led connectivity gives you the ability to be Channel agnostic, this means that you can onboard any new digitally disruptive sales channels of the future (e.g., Automobile Commerce) very quickly

What Technical Factors Should you Consider?

Going headless requires a holistic view as you’re presented with a host of technical factors to consider and plan for. Firstly, you now need to consider API management, and this comes down to two primary factors, security, and versioning, you also need solid documentation and guidelines on how those APIs are to be used on your site. APIs give your platform reach, you can extend to other platforms, integrations and versions that allow for backward compatibility. Generally, you need an API gateway product which helps you address concerns around complexity handling the above. Security would be more of a concern as you’ve increased your exposure and the surface area of your business through the implementation of these APIs, it’s likely there will be more access points than there were on a non-composable platform. DevSecOps becomes a necessity Are you ready for an agile shift? You need a cultural change to adapt to the new ways of working, can your business support that? There is little point investing is flexible technology if you can’t bend with it. DevOps ensures that you have a controlled release program which allows you to put out releases predictably and maintain a feedback mechanism to ensure you remain informed. Going headless increases the number of platforms on which you operate, you require at least some configurational knowledge to operate them even remotely efficiently. If you have limited IT support staff, then you’ll need to plan for that overhead as these skillsets are essential. Lastly, going cloud native, you need to choose a provider and handle their contract while also balancing multiple other vendors, something that’s tricker than it first seems.

Our Approach

We understand the complexities, technical or otherwise presented by a headless shift. Our approach to this is based on the Ayata Digital Domain Framework (DDF) which is comprised of multiple layers to help you build a roadmap based on how each individual layer relates to you Our approach is fundamentally rooted in understanding your requirements, our DDF always starts with an assessment (digital maturity assessment), this generates an understanding of the business and helps us to form a problem statement. Once you’ve done a digital maturity assessment, we’ll understand your problems and we then can develop solutions, we provide extensive insight into what needs to be done to solve these problems. More importantly we explore not just what needs to be done but how it needs be done, we examine multiple types of architecture and work with you create a dedicated roadmap that has clear benchmarks for progress and ensure that a start point is outlined for you, so you know where to begin on your journey. Throughout this, we help our clients to select a best of breed solution, for us ‘best of breed’ isn’t necessarily the most cutting-edge technology, it’s something that fits in your timeline, your business and doesn’t increase your overhead beyond what you can manage. We’ll help outline your strategy moving forward and tailor the technologies to your business. We provide a versatile skillset and stitch all the different technologies you might want or require together, then make sure you can manage them whether it be internal or external. We have extensive expertise surrounding composable commerce, as such we have accelerator frameworks to cut down your delivery time and ensure you know what to expect and when you can expect it. You may be starting with a legacy platform, or not, we don’t believe that legacy is synonymous with bad, you don't need to change what isn't broken. By extension you don't have to all or nothing with headless, fundamentally it's a journey based on value and time to market. Do we think headless has value and that you should go down that path? If you find that you have a business need for it, then most likely yes! But we firmly believe it is always about the value proposition relative to each individual business, as we said at the start, this is no one size fits all approach. Want some help visualising your journey down the rabbit hole? Talk to us today!