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Webinar Follow-Up: Headless – Not As Scary As It Sounds


What the heck is headless commerce? Great question! This is exactly what we talked about on Searchspring’s recent webinar, What the Heck is Headless Commerce? I was joined by a panel of headless (he-he!) experts to unpack this strange term and discuss its benefits and drawbacks.

Panelists included:

During the Headless webinar we focused on three specific headless commerce topics:

  1. What it actually means.
  2. The benefits.
  3. How to get started.

Throughout the webinar, we took several polls to help learn more about how much our audience understands headless.

Defining Headless Commerce

Andrew Pizula gave a great condensed definition of headless commerce when he said, “Going headless means anytime a company uses a different technology to manage the backend systems and the front end.” Pretty simple, right?

But how does one do that? Here’s how: By decoupling technologies and building modular experiences all through the use of APIs. At the end of the day, “headless” is really a fancy word for using APIs to deliver data and experiences rather than a single platform.

Exploring Benefits

First, and most importantly: every merchant has their own journey. I don’t know which panelist said these wise words, but what a gem! If your online store is ready to start its headless journey, these are three benefits you can expect:

  • Increased site speed

  • Agile marketing

  • Clear workflows

As Aaron Quinn pointed out, there is a cause-and-effect relationship among these three items. Clear workflows can increase site speed. Increased speed can result in the ability to be more agile with marketing. But, there is also the opportunity that your codebase will become so streamlined that speed increases with some limited changes. The nice part about those three items is that building a fast site has the advantage of being easy to manage.

Exploring Drawbacks

  • Removing the “head,” or the front end of a site, means you need to build a front end yourself. Is that person part of your team today? If so, great. If not, you will need to find that expertise.

  • The second potential drawback is that apps are attractive and appear to be endlessly scalable and usable. However, keep adding apps and you end up inadvertently slowing down your site – even though you have the best intention of speeding it up.

How to Get Started Using Headless

You’re sold on headless and the benefits, now how do you get started with it? Not surprisingly, it really boils down to building a strategy. Without a strategy, as with most things, you won’t be successful. The panel recommended the following ideas to get started on your headless journey:

  • Define your goals – Are you trying to speed up your site? Are you trying to build more flexibility? Clear goals will help drive.
  • Be intentional – Once you get started, keep your eye on achieving your goal. Don’t get distracted and don’t change course unless absolutely necessary.
  • Get help – Going it alone, especially with major architectural changes to your site and operations can be daunting. There are lots of people and companies willing to help you be successful in your transition to headless.
  • Choose the right tech – Your choice of tools can make or break your efforts. Do some research based on your goal to find the right technology and technology partners who understand your goal and can help to deliver based on your vision.

Based on our conversation, headless is no longer mysterious term or process. It is an exciting way to boost the experience for your shoppers. With benefits such as increased speed and flexibility, we’d recommend looking deeper into how headless can improve your site’s experience.

Special thanks to our friends at Searchspring for their insights on this topic.
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