The brands who’ve done the best throughout the first six months of COVID-19 are the ones who’ve pivoted fastest and most effectively to serve a rapidly changing buying journey.

And for many of them, headless commerce has played a major role in bringing new services, experiences and capabilities to market – quickly and seamlessly.

Headless commerce architecture can be a little tricky for non-developers to grasp at first. But it’s worth boning up on – it’s supporting new levels of flexibility and agility that all brands will soon be judged by. 

Let’s take a closer look at what headless commerce is, who it helps and how to get started.


What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is the decoupling of back-end architecture from the front-end delivery layer for ecommerce applications.

At the birth of ecommerce it made sense for back-end architecture (like databases, code and development platforms) to directly feed the front-end presentation layers (everything the user sees). 

That’s because digital experiences were simpler and more standardised – developers could build a few template pages for a couple of different browsers and devices.

But the proliferation of connected devices means the demand for new front-end experiences (and the number of potential touchpoints) has exploded.

Fast forward through the pandemic and you’re suddenly in a situation where your customers want to buy express delivery toilet paper through a smart fridge. 

That’s what headless commerce can do. Here’s how it works.

By decoupling the back-end databases from any predefined front-end platform, developers and creative teams get the freedom of expression to build whatever and however they want. Most importantly though, it enables brands to enrich the customer experience across multiple platforms - without the need to replicate data logic and code for each channel.

The result is an infinite potential of commerce experiences across any format – all fed by backend systems through a simple API call.


What are the benefits of headless commerce for businesses?

We’ll explore four key ways headless commerce can help your whole business accelerate in a second. But first it’s worth covering the cost of admission. 

The absence of a standard front-end presentation layer means headless commerce carries hefty development and creative requirements – everything needs to be developed from scratch.

This is the real price of agility and flexibility – dedicated front-end developers and creative teams constantly collaborating, innovating and iterating. 

But – at a time when cash flow is increasingly tied to responsiveness to change – it’s also a very sound investment with far-reaching benefits.


Four ways that headless commerce makes your whole business better


1. Drive wider employee adoption

While headless commerce does require technical front-end resources, it can also lower the skill barrier for creative teams to design quality experiences by insulating them from back-end complexity.  

A modern commerce platform alongside the simplicity of headless commerce means everyone on your team can easily access and update the front end without advanced skills.


2. Leverage endless possibilities

Headless commerce represents total creative freedom. Your developers, designers, marketers (and anyone else who wants to join the party) can leverage any tool to build custom experiences that fit your brand. 

And because APIs do all the heavy lifting to coordinate a consistent buying experience across all your channels and touchpoints, you’re free to focus on what matters – building stuff that your customers love.


3. Save IT time

Headless commerce absolves IT from needing to implement front-end changes. This translates to dozens of hours saved per interface change, which can be refocused on work that actively makes the business better.

And with headless templates and partner solutions, developers only need a few clicks or light coding to fire up commerce apps that increase customer conversions.


4. Get to market faster

Headless commerce makes operationalising change frictionless. It means the whole business can move faster in responding to changing customer behaviours and expectations – whether that’s launching new services, reacting to market trends or simply continuously and iteratively improving. 


What are the benefits of headless commerce for customers?

The benefits of headless commerce for your customers are clear – they get continuously-improving services, built around their needs, preferences and convenience.

Let’s take a look at how these changes manifest.


1. Real-time changes and optimisation

Sites built with traditional commerce architecture can take minutes (if not hours) to reflect an update. With headless commerce, updates materialise the moment new content arrives in the front end, so customers always have access to the latest functionality and designs.


2. Rich user experiences

Brands using headless commerce can get creative with every digital element users interact with. That could simply mean regularly optimising UX and messaging across key touchpoints. It could also mean bold experimental designs and experiences (that are just as adaptable).


3. Consistent interfaces

Say goodbye to designing individual elements for separate devices and formats (along with the risks to consistency and performance).

Headless commerce is device agnostic – it’s universal compatibility ensures your website works seamlessly across all devices and viewing formats. 

Ready to get started?

Headless commerce gets the right people doing the right things. Developers and designers have the space to work in their areas of expertise towards a common goal – building a cutting-edge customer journey.

Commerce Cloud gives developers a single view of data – with headless commerce’s APIs and tools, your development teams can build coordinated and consistent buying experiences across your channels.

Commerce Cloud’s flexibility means developers can build and ship fast, with free rein over tools, code, APIs and third-party integrations.

At the same time, your creative teams can focus on being, well, creative. Let your experience designers optimise the user experience and interface without development cost to improve customer engagement and conversions.

Customer expectations may be changing fast, but businesses can keep pace.

Headless commerce gives companies the tools to keep up with customers and outrun the competition.


Ready to get started? Take the Get to Know Headless Commerce trail on Trailhead or read our latest guide to help you exceed customer expectations - How to Jumpstart Growth in Commerce.