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If You’re Embracing Headless Commerce, Don’t Overlook Your Digital Storefront

A composable storefront is more flexible and scalable than ever. Here are some ways to get one up and running while keeping costs down.

A photo of the shopping cart icon, used in a composable storefront.
When your storefront stands alone, you’ll need to source and evaluate vendors for features such as product search and content. [lucadp / Getty]

Your digital storefront is the online representation of your brand; it’s the user-facing website where shoppers browse and purchase your products. It can represent millions — and sometimes even billions — of dollars. However, it’s often a secondary consideration for enterprise companies when they implement headless commerce. That’s because before headless was an option, the storefront never had to be a separate consideration; it was always part of the rest of the commerce platform. But with a headless deployment, the composable storefront stands alone. And it demands attention from commerce leaders.

A headless transformation separates the front end (your storefront and user experience) from the back end (your data and business logic). This enables a composable storefront: one that’s more customizable, flexible, and scalable than ever. With a decoupled storefront, businesses can “compose” their own unique brand experiences. However, as the storefront gains independence, commerce leaders are tasked with many new responsibilities. If you’re going headless, here’s our best advice for operating, managing, and maintaining your new composable storefront.  

How do I keep my storefront costs down?

Front-end developer salaries. Licensing fees. Hosting. If you decide to build your composable storefront from scratch, costs can add up quickly. The best place to start? Weigh your options and keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to be a build vs. buy decision. In fact, most paths to a headless storefront will have some level of building and buying. The trick is to strike the right balance between the two to minimize costs.

Most paths to a headless storefront will have some level of building and buying. The trick is to strike the right balance.

Working with the right platform partner can offer a best-of-both-worlds approach: they bring decision-making and tooling expertise while your team is still in control of building a unique brand experience. If you build from scratch, you’re on your own when it comes to sourcing and purchasing the foundational pieces of a composable storefront, like a public cloud service for hosting and a content delivery network (CDN). A trusted partner on board supplies this framework, which can significantly reduce costs. Even better? This approach allows your team to focus on innovation instead of managing and maintaining the storefront.

At Salesforce, we provide this for our customers through Commerce Cloud’s Composable Storefront, which offers out-of-the-box tools and functionalities while giving your team the freedom to build the user experience they imagine — without the limitations of cookie-cutter ecommerce experiences.

How do I get my composable storefront up and running — fast?

Speed is one of the main benefits touted by businesses after they make the switch to headless commerce. A whopping 77% of organizations with headless agree that it allows them to make changes to their digital storefront faster. This benefit is especially enticing in the midst of a challenging economy, perpetually rising customer expectations, and market trends that seem to change daily.

However, implementing a headless storefront can become time consuming without the right strategy. Now that your storefront stands alone, you’ll need to source and evaluate vendors for commerce functionalities like product search and content. Then you’ll need to negotiate vendor contracts and plan integrations, which can also set your timeline back. The good news? There’s a better way.

With the right partner for your composable storefront, you can significantly reduce (or entirely bypass) the time it takes to vet vendors and plan integrations.

With the right partner for your composable storefront, you can significantly reduce (or entirely bypass) the time it takes to vet vendors and plan integrations. Look for a solution that comes with pre-packaged integrations for search and content, such as Commerce Cloud’s Composable Storefront. This means that you can simply choose from a streamlined list of best-in-breed integrations and pre-packaged pricing, rather than spending months sourcing and negotiating them on your own. 

Who is responsible for my storefront’s uptime?

“Uptime” is a measure of your storefront’s reliability. It’s a number that represents what percentage of time your site is running smoothly for customers. Ultimately, this means fast page-load times and no sitewide errors hurting the user experience. An excellent uptime benchmark is 99.99% (colloquially known as “the four nines”).  

There are a lot of operational tasks that go into maintaining the four nines. You’ll need to host and monitor your site, keep it secure, scale it for peak traffic, and optimize all content and processes to avoid website downtime. If you build your composable storefront in-house, these new responsibilities fall on your IT team. 

When you consider the potential costs of website downtime, handling operational responsibilities in-house means absorbing a huge risk. Every minute of downtime can cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it’s critical to have the infrastructure to effectively host, secure, and scale your storefront. One way to mitigate the risk? Offload these tasks to a partner with the proven expertise and infrastructure to manage scalability, uptime, security, and performance. Commerce Cloud’s Composable Storefront has 99.99% historical uptime with proven global customer success. If you leave uptime management to a trusted partner, your IT team can focus on what’s most important: managing your brand.

How do I minimize the risks of going headless?

Going headless is complex even in a stable, thriving economy. In the midst of uncertain markets, there’s added pressure to ensure a transition without any costly bumps or snags. Headless challenges exacerbated by economic uncertainty include unpredictable costs and reliance on partners for your business functionalities. Making the switch to headless takes a village, and the process can become risky if you build your architecture around smaller players. 

A whopping 80% of businesses plan to implement headless over the next two years. That’s a big shift — and the winners will be those that choose ecosystem partners that deliver flexibility and freedom, but also reliability and predictability of costs. Commerce Cloud’s Composable Storefront has an entire ecosystem of partners dedicated to simplified, transparent pricing and a team of systems integrators who offer a straightforward approach, no matter the use case.  

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