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Headless Unpacked: The Benefits Of API-Powered Commerce For Retailers


Blog banner showing anything is possible with headless commerce

Still trying to wrap your head around headless commerce? You’re in the right place.

On a recent episode of the Retail is your Business podcast, hosts Marc Raco, CEO and Co-founder of MediaMouth Network, and Rebecca Fitts, Director of Real Estate at Leap, interviewed our CEO and Co-Founder, Yvan Boisjoli, in a candid conversation about headless commerce, the importance of an elevated checkout experience, and the future of digital experience. Here are some key takeaways from that discussion.

What is headless commerce?

For Boisjoli, headless commerce is as simple as disconnecting the frontend from the backend of your platform. In a headless commerce architecture frontend “heads” or customer facing layers are connected to backend systems and microservices via an API layer. Think of APIs as an intermediary between two things that allows them to talk — for example, a mobile storefront connecting to a checkout or inventory management system. 

By freeing the frontend from the backend, brands have the freedom to develop any kind of customer-facing experience they can dream of — talk, touch, voice, in-car commerce, touchable shopping experiences on any surface, screen, or mirror. Boisjoli believes it’s becoming more popular for large brands and retailers as they seek new ways to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive landscape. For brands that want to go the extra mile to create a memorable customer experience, headless might be the architecture that gives them the freedom to stand out from the crowd. 

Why should consumers care about headless commerce?

Any conversation around headless commerce can turn technical fast, which begs the question: are the benefits of headless commerce something everyday consumers should be concerned with? The short answer is yes. 

Though shoppers may not be aware of the technology powering the commerce-enabled touch points they are interacting with, headless commerce can help them have a better experience. Many leading brands are using API-powered technology to provide new and exciting consumer experiences, shoppable moments worked into everyday life, and a higher performing, more seamless omnichannel experience for their customers. 

Consumer behavior has changed dramatically as a result of Covid-19 and the emergence Internet of things (IoT) technologies, and headless commerce can enable brands to meet those evolving expectations.  

“Headless commerce is empowering brands to build really engaging experiences through different touchpoints, all managed by one technology stack. If imagination is your only limit, how do you want to interact with your customers?” – Yvan Boisjoli, CEO, Bold Commerce

Who is headless commerce for? 

Boisjoli will be the first to tell you, headless commerce is not for everyone. It’s more complex, it has a longer development cycle, and for small-to-mid-market brands who are getting by with an out-of-the-box ecommerce store, or brands content with the capabilities of their legacy platforms, it might not be the right fit. 

However, for brands looking to leverage and harness the latest technology to create market differentiating consumer transactions, bridge the gap between online and in-store for a true omnichannel experience, add future optionality to their business for what is yet to come, headless commerce is the correct evolution. 

For retailers with a focus on in-store experience, Boisjoli points out headless is not a strictly digital or online innovation. In fact, many brands are using headless commerce to redefine what in-store looks like, and create powerful online and in-store integrations. 

“Retailers have been forced to wake up and realize the Internet of things (IOT) is no longer a futuristic concept. It’s how people are engaging with your brand today.” – Yvan Boisjoli, Bold Commerce

What are some brands using headless commerce today? 

Though it isn’t always obvious, some of the biggest brands in the world have already made the shift towards a headless commerce architecture. The next jaw-dropping or awe-inspiring marketing campaign or consumer experience you see from Nike, Venus, or Under Armour might be powered by a headless commerce architecture. Let’s look at two Canadian retailers that have also made the shift. 

Harry Rosen

Laptop open to Harry Rosen checkout

Canadian men’s clothing retailer Harry Rosen leveraged a headless solution in order to add future optionality to their business and elevate their checkout experience. Though they had already made a name for themselves as a leader in luxury mens retail on their trusted legacy platform, its rigidity and inability to create differentiating consumer experiences pushed them to pursue a digital re-tailoring. 

Since their launch they have already seen a 100% increase in online conversion rate, a 4X increase in online revenue, and a 5X growth in online sales from Clothing Advisor relationships. With their best-of-breed, MACH-based commerce stack in place, they are well positioned for the next wave of commerce-enabled technology and consumer experiences. 

Learn more about how Harry Rosen tailored a new solution to fit during the pandemic. 

Staples Canada

Laptop open to Staples Canada' product page

Staples Canada set out to build a best-in-breed commerce solution that would be the backbone to their 350+ stores and growing presence online. Their existing legacy platform lacked customizability and scalability and was too expensive to maintain in a digital-first marketplace. They implemented a composable solution that saved them time and money and elevated their checkout experience for B2C and B2B customers. Some highlights from their transformation include an improved omnichannel customer experience, increased B2B revenue, and the successful implementation of a curbside pickup option in just 72 hours during the early days of Covid-19. 

Learn more about Staples digital transformation to a best-in-breed commerce leader. 

Enter a world of flexible retail 

Bold Commerce’s Checkout Experience Suite is enabling brands to build on top of existing technology to integrate the best-in-breed tools, partners, and integrations they need to tackle today’s business challenges. Leverage our robust APIs to drive conversions, optimize every transaction, and create commerce experiences where your customers are already looking. Ready to explore? 

Try headless for retail

This originally appeared on Bold Commerce and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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