According CommerceTools founder, Dirk Hoerig, “Headless E-Commerce” is defined as:
“…an e-commerce architecture where the front-end is decoupled from the back-end commerce functionality and can thus be updated or edited without interfering with the back-end, similar to a headless content management system.”
At Accorin we have been working with headless architectures since 2018. In reviewing our experience with headless, we can categorize our experience as highly-dependent on clients needs and requirements. In other words, we’ve never done it the same way twice.
We do have a framework and most recently we have a specific architecture and headless framework that we plan on making more standard so that we can service future clients with speed and scale.
In this article, we’ll share an overview of some of the headless projects we’ve completed recently, describe how and why they are different, and then divulge our “standard” approach for the future.
Some of Our Recent Headless E-Commerce Projects
1. A Leading POS Vendor for in the Restaurant Industry
One of our clients is a leading provider of point of sale (POS) hardware and software for the restaurant industry. They have bleeding edge technology that can help all types of restaurants, from small mom and pop establishments to large chains businesses, run efficiently.
Smaller chains and independents are encouraged to self-configure the client’s systems via an e-commerce experience that encourages a learn-configure-save- Checkout merchandising process. The equipment and accompanying software requires rich product shots and descriptions so restauranteurs can accurately understand their options and select the best choice for them.
The client invested in Craft CMS for ultimate flexibility in how this content would be created and managed. They approached Adobe Commerce for the back end transaction management and the foundation of a headless architecture was initiated.
This particular client has a lot of custom requirements in their e-commerce business and a team of engineers that manage multiple integrations and third party applications. As the selected selected Adobe Solution Partner, accorin helped the team architect the solution, develop the integration methods and configure Adobe Commerce so the engineering, and content management teams can manage their respective parts of the e-commerce system seamlessly.
2. A Large Consumer Medical Device E-Commerce Retailer
Our second headless case study was a supplier of a popular but expensive and fairly complex medical devices, used at home by thousands of people every day. The product has a number of different configurations, settings and options that fit a consumer’s particular traits and symptoms of the condition that it treats.
This project followed a somewhat irregular development approach, including headless – rapid prototyping while working on the “back end” (Adobe Commerce / E-commerce platform) first. As a B2B seller of a complex, configurable product, the marketing team needed a front end with flexibility to support an aggressive A/B testing strategy; including rapidly deployed landing pages with rich content, images, and self-service product support for consumers. That “front end” was treated uniquely from the e-commerce deployment with Adobe Commerce.
Today the e-commerce marketing team (front end) and e-commerce support teams (back end) work on the same headless deployment with the consumer experiencing a rich merchandising site with dependable, fast and seamless transaction experience.
3. A Pet Food Subscription Service
What if smaller e-commerce merchants are using a SaaS platform or order to tightly manage costs, infrastructure and security? Can they take a headless approach – separating a merchandising experience from the restrictions of SaaS? The answer is yes.
Accorin designed and built our own application called RocketFlowz that allows merchants to create custom content experiences that can sit in front of the core shopping pages of Shopify or BigCommerce.
For our client in the pet food subscription industry, the merchants wanted customers to configure their product options through a guided, quiz-like experience. We designed and deployed a headless component of the infrastructure where RocketFlowz routes the data, stores it and based on an algorithm, supplies the user with product recommendations. The end user gets a seamless, helpful merchandising experience and the business gets to use SaaS e-commerce to run the business.
The Bottom Line
In summary, although many consider it to be, headless doesn’t have to be super complex. The above examples illustrate simple headless architectures, where custom merchandising experiences are provided to shoppers on the front end but decoupled from the e-commerce on the back end, all the while still being integrated and working together. A CMS is not required to go headless and sometimes a simple custom application or existing 3rd party merchandising module can give a merchant that special shopping experience without going through a complex CMS selection and configuration process. However, if you do need a CMS, we have a new headless e-commerce plus open source CMS framework that we are launching at Etail East in early August. The CMS is Strapi and the e-commerce platform is BigCommerce. We have partnered with Webscale to be able to offer this headless e-commerce framework on their secure “CloudEdge” hosting set up. This offering will be of interest to progressive merchants looking for a cost effective architecture that can support merchants that want to serve very rich content with the convenience of SAAS e-commerce.