Is headless ecommerce right for your business? No matter how many blogs you read or products you learn about, it’s hard to get a definitive answer.
Which is why Craig Smith, Salesforce Industry Director for Retail, spoke to three leaders in the space:
James Semple, Senior Success Architect at Salesforce
Peter Youell, VP of Technology at leading digital commerce specialist Astound Commerce
Thom Armstrong, VP of Solutions at Amplience, the headless content management platform for retail enterprises
They’ve packed loads of insights and experiences into a 30-minute webinar. From choosing the right people for the project to exploring misconceptions and myths and swapping stories from the build front line—you name it, they discuss it.
For the full talk, watch the webinar: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Headless.
And in the meantime, enjoy some of the highlights from the show.
Craig Smith: When it comes to headless, one of the first things people want to know is how the business results compare to, say, a traditional integrated storefront.
James—you’ve been involved in many headless projects over the years. What’s your take on this?
James Semple: So we saw this at Under Armour, the sportswear retailer. Their headless storefront boosted conversion rates by 76% and reduced bounce rates by 38 percent
Another example would be a certain multi-billion-dollar department store in the UK. It discovered it could test and deploy new revenue-boosting ideas eight times faster than before.
Craig: You can’t argue with results like that! But before we go any further, let’s get back to basics. What does a headless content management system (CMS) actually do—and what advantages does it give retail businesses?
Thom Armstrong: More often than not, the bottleneck preventing our customers from “doing more” is the fact they need developers to code content in HTML. A headless CMS lets non-developers create content and pipe it back into an existing ecommerce system in an easier way.
With headless, content creation becomes far more agile. Content updates at one of our customers, Sweaty Betty, used to take two weeks. Now it’s down to days.
And because content is stored as data rather than HTML, you can push it anywhere—letting you create full omnichannel customer experiences.
Craig: Do you have any examples of brands that have been liberated—in terms of creativity and autonomy—by adopting a fully headless platform?
James: Most famously, a headless approach gave Lacoste the creative freedom to build a uniquely engaging customer experience—on top of [Salesforce] Commerce Cloud—in which buyers could customise their Polo shirts.
And in Brazil, The Body Shop built a live-stream shopping app in just three weeks. Then during a live shopping event on Cyber Monday, Body Shop exceeded its expected conversion rate by 100 percent.
Craig: How are brands achieving results like this? Do marketing teams need to think and work differently with a headless CMS?
Thom: Definitely. We spend a lot of time with prospective customers making sure they understand this isn’t just about technology. It's also about people, processes, and change management.
For headless projects to reach their full potential, you need buy-in from creatives and developers. Everyone needs to embrace this new, more agile approach where the marketing team composes and creates their own content, without needing developers to code it.
As one of our joint customers, Tapestry, put it recently: it’s a mind shift from looking at digital assets and content as “finished goods” to getting comfortable with them being semi-finished.
Craig: But does this new freedom come at a cost? For example, how much more effort does it take to build a headless website, versus configuring an integrated ecommerce platform?
Peter Youell: There’s no question that a headless implementation is more complex and can often require more effort and cost.
But as headless evolves, lots of new tools, platforms, and techniques are emerging that make a headless implementation easier. What’s key is making sure the right tools are used and best practices are followed.
Let’s not forget that headless isn’t a silver bullet for the perfect ecommerce setup either. There are plenty of horror stories out there of overly ambitious headless projects that never saw the light of day. Realising all the benefits of headless requires working with experienced partners.
Craig: And speaking of horror stories—what experiences can you share from the front line of building headless ecommerce sites?
Thom: So there’s growing demand for headless—but also a lot of confusion. Headless requires a new way of thinking about ecommerce platforms, and naturally this takes getting used to.
In some cases, technology teams are driving the interest. Business teams still seem to struggle to understand what headless means for them and their budgets.
But in general, we’re seeing a clearer appreciation of the benefits of headless and a growing desire to get there. Though this is coupled with nervousness about how headless will change day-to-day operations, and the associated costs and complexity.
In the right scenario, headless is incredibly powerful. However, “traditional” ecommerce platforms also deliver incredibly well.
There’s no one-size-fits-all for ecommerce anymore—and that's a great thing.
Like what you’ve read so far?
Well, get to grips with the pros and cons of going headless with people who’ve experienced it all.
Watch the webinar here: What to Expect When You’re Expecting Headless.
And if you’d like to see how Under Armour succeeded with their Headless Commerce, watch the webinar now