Headless refers to an emerging digital commerce trend when frontend, or customer-facing experiences — like a site, app, or social media page — are decoupled from backend business processes. Backend data is accessed through API calls, allowing brands to create dynamic, one-of-a-kind commerce experiences through any channel imaginable.
It might sound like just another industry buzzword, but “headless” commerce is already having an impact on ecommerce today by enabling brands to create dynamic frontend experience imaginable for a fraction of the time and cost.
Why headless matters for digital experience
Traditionally, ecommerce websites were built to sell to customers on desktop computers. They were costly, slow to build, and difficult to update. The rise of user-friendly ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce gave brands more control over the way they sold prodcuts, but still lacked the functionality to keep up with rapidly shifting consumer expectations.
Decoupling the frontend from the backend gives brands the freedom to build any customer facing experience imaginable — voice, video, virtual reality (VR) commerce, anything is possible with headless — and industry is taking notice.
Since 2016, the number of articles mentioning headless or headless architecture has greatly increased.
Image via: cbinsights
People are talking about headless, but it’s more than just talk. This business model is changing the way brands approach commerce right before our eyes.
Consumer expectations are rapidly shifting
At Crowdfunded Summit 2021, industry experts came together to discuss the future of crowdfunding and ecommerce. Emily Stovall, Partner Manager at Facebook, gave an insightful presentation on the exciting state of social media commerce and the possibilities it holds for brands.
In Stovall’s talk she unearthed important insights into shifting consumer behaviors and expectations that have important implications for the headless conversation.
“The connected world has given people infinite choice and total control over what they watch, read, interact with, and buy. We expect things to be tailored to our tastes and in the formats we prefer. That’s why it’s never been more important to know your customer and anticipate their needs,” Stovall said.
She went on to highlight three key buckets where consumer expectations have changed:
- Discovery – the way that customers discover products
- Immediacy – customer expectation around convenience and purchase immediacy
- Personalization – people’s expectations around being able to personalize their purchase
People and brands are sharing and discovering products every day on social platforms. In fact, 52% of online brand discoveries happen in public social feeds.
In terms of immediacy, it’s never been easier to buy. People are getting used to purchasing anything, anywhere, at any time with the click of a button or a voice command. It can arrive within days, or even hours.
As for personalization, the popularity of services like Netflix and Spotify have pushed consumer expectations to the point where they expect it from all their favourite brands. Ninety-one per cent of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them compared to brands that do not.
These expectations have shifted even further because of COVID-19. It’s estimated that two years of digital transformation took place in just two months as a result of the global pandemic. Stovall said businesses can no longer wait for people to actively shop and search for them, and that more than ever businesses need efficient strategies to sell meet customers where they already are.
So how does headless commerce fit into the picture of rapidly changing consumer expectations?
Build any frontend experience imaginable
By enabling brands to quickly and cost effectively create the commerce experiences consumers want, they access the agility to not only keep up with today’s consumer, but futureproof their business to meet tomorrows.
Lets take a closer look at one area where consumers are spending more of their time than ever. You guessed it, social media.
Stovall said Facebook wants to make it easier for customers to discover products where they’re already spending their time, whether that’s looking for inspiration on Instagram, or browsing their social feeds. Several exciting ways that brands will be able to use commerce-enabled experiences on social media include:
- Shoppable content — selling directly from blog posts, images, videos, and any other content customers are browsing, sharing, and enjoying
Image via: Later
- Live shopping — enabling customers to click on shopping tags during live broadcasts on social media for commerce in real time.
Image via: Trendhunter
- Experiential marketing and viral stunts — Learn how Donald Glover and Adidas launched an exclusive product on social media to Coachella attendees and sold out the product within eight hours.
Image via: medium
The future is bright for brands looking for cutting edge ways to create customer-facing commerce enabled experiences. With a sound headless commerce architecture and API-powered technology, imagination is the only obstacle to a brand’s success.
Don't lose your head all at once
Looking to learn more about headless? Find the answers to all the questions you have about headless here.
If you're ready to start creating “anywhere commerce experiences” that meet your customers where they’re already looking, we should talk. We'd be happy to help make your next big idea convert.
Want to chat more about headless commerce? Drop a comment or question below.
Special thanks to our friends at Bold Commerce for their insights on this topic.