Grzegorz Ścisło

e-point International CEO

Headless eCommerce - the many-faced god of modern internet commerce

E-commerce

Every company faces the threat of aging solutions that hamper the performance. The tech that used to be a competitive advantage becomes a burden. Building a headless, decentralized infrastructure tackles the challenge.

In the traditional, out-of-the-box eCommerce solution, the system is monolithic, with the frontend and backend tightly cooperating to deliver a fast and seamless customer experience. All the elements, be that a database, the checkout, or any element given, were designed as an integral part of a working mechanism.

The approach used to work well for many years, and multiple apps are still delivered as the monolithic systems - operation systems are the best examples. Yet with the world of eCommerce changing so fast, keeping the system inseparable with the technologies used in the day of launching makes it obsolete and antiquated quickly.

What is headless e-Commerce

In the headless approach, the app itself is distributed and decentralized. Initially designed to make the frontend replacement easy, the idea evolved to make a solution work by delivering replaceable blocks connected by API.

All the blocks and API can be delivered by one vendor, but contrary to the traditional model it is not mandatory. The solution can be combined from the most effective and best-performing blocks, coupled together with API.

Example

The database and the backend can be built on SAP, delivering the performance and reliability of the technology.

  • The CRM and marketing automation can be delivered by Hubspot
  • The frontend can be provided by hybris commerce suite
  • All the solution can be put together by Oracle Enterprise Service Bus

Headless eCommerce is not an idea to be implemented. Internet moguls, including Amazon and Netflix, already work this way, delivering customer excellence regardless of the platform, channel or touchpoint.

Headless eCommerce benefits

Providing a decentralized app with no strictly defined single frontend and backend comes with significant advantages:

Multiple frontends working on a single backend

In the traditional, monolithic app, it was challenging to incorporate the next element into the working system without breaking it or at least without damaging the stability.

 

A headless paradigm enables the company to deliver multiple frontends, including:

  • B2B frontend - is designed to serve the business client with all the options usually unseen in the B2C world, including bundling the product or repeat orders.
  • B2C frontend - is designed to compete on the B2C market with all tools delivering the information and visuals to the customer.
  • Product Information Management - the system designed to keep the product information in one place, keep it actual, and convenient without the need to update information in all places manually.
  • CMS, ERP, CRM - despite being business apps used internally, all elements listed need to provide users with convenient and optimized tools to perform their work effectively.
  • Any future frontend that can come - the eCommerce business environment

Scalability

The scalability in the headless eCommerce comes with the separation of all elements from each other. Thus, replacing the antiquated database with the new, better-performing one is much easier than rebuilding the monolithic application, riddled with inner dependencies.

This approach makes the maintenance of the solution much more manageable, mostly due to being a bunch of apps instead of the one super-complicated ones. Thus update packs are smaller, simpler to test and implement. Any bugs are easier to reverse as it only affects one inner app and not the whole system. This comes with a more precise structure, with less riddled code - any app can be taken out and separated.

Last but not least, it is easier to maintain and develop the system with any component being a standalone application. A programming team can be smaller, more integrated, and work in a more agile way.

Cost-effective

Delivering a system in a headless paradigm ensures that the system will not become legacy one overtime - each component can be replaced over time with the latest tech. When it comes to aging solutions, especially code-packed ones, the technical debt grows at a staggering speed. According to Forbes, a technical debt average cost $3.61 per line of code and $5.42 when it comes to Java code.

Or any component can be added as long as it communicates with the rest of the system via standardized API. Considering the fact that legacy systems in the US government cost over $337 million a year, that's not a benefit to overlook.

Summary

Probably the best aspect of headless eCommerce is its agile nature - the company can start delivering the decentralized system by adding components that communicate via the standardized API. In the beginning, it is enough to separate the database, eCommerce solution, and the CRM - the components that usually are standalone by definition. The next step is to not think in the “monolithic” paradigm but in a decentralized, microservice-based way.

As a result, the company gets continually evolving solutions that can be relatively easily kept sticking to the latest tech trends.

So what do you say to the aging technology after embracing the headless paradigm? “Not today.”