Today’s consumers use an increasing variety of devices, including tablets, smartphones, smartwatches and even voice-activated digital assistants to do their online shopping. In fact, in 2017, for the first-time smartphones gained a higher share of e-commerce revenues than PCs. At the same time, customer experience continues to take priority over price as the main motivation behind purchases, so businesses must keep working to find new ways of maintaining loyalty. Bring these two things together and you have a perfect storm. Customers are demanding the same great experience and service, regardless of the channel or device they use, for any shopping activity they undertake.
The answer to this challenge is what’s known as headless commerce. Having the opportunity to present customers with rich but relevant product content across all touch points is an important aspect of the integrated customer experience. Headless commerce is about replacing fixed strategies for each channel with a personalised buying experience. This is based on tailoring information regarding new products and recommendations for each customer across all channels. The right approach to headless commerce ensures that customers stay engaged, increasing their propensity to buy, even if they are switching between channels to make a purchase. Even in B2B commerce, the boundaries are being pushed and there is a strong need for headless commerce. According to our recent research, 39% of global B2B organisations are using VR to personalise the customer experience while 40% are using progressive web apps and 39% are enabling wearable technology to place orders.
The momentum of omnichannel within the B2B market has already refined the customer experience from what it once was. As a result, organisations are opting to combine direct sales channels with web stores, warehouses and back office functions to achieve seamless commerce. For example, if a customer abandons their shopping cart, they will receive a notification, email or phone call from the sales team to find out why. While traditional e-commerce solutions offer default front and back end layers, headless commerce platforms are able to deliver information without the need for a front-end layer. By decoupling the interface with the back-end, developers have more freedom to customise a webstore and review the buying experience. This means businesses can present content at different touch points throughout the sales cycle, whether it be on a mobile phone or a smartwatch.
More and more businesses are also taking advantage of e-commerce 3.0 to build more functional webstores and improve their e-commerce solution for better customer experience. e-commerce 3.0 is the stage where companies seek more integration between their webstore and wider IT infrastructure. Headless commerce is an extension of this development. Where 3.0 mainly focuses on the integration of the webstore and back-end (ERP) system for transactional benefits, headless commerce looks at the front end of the CMS and how content can be delivered most effectively, easily and consistently across a business’ sales channels. Since e-commerce 3.0 enables efficiency across the system and allows for data to be logged within one source, it’s perfect for headless commerce.
Integrating the webstore back-end with the ERP system allows an e-commerce solution to calculate pricing, tax, and shipping costs, and also ensure consistent product information management, amongst other benefits. Developers can use APIs within headless commerce to then easily customise what the customer views without having to rebuild the applications into the e-commerce platform. If businesses are able to work with one system to service their webstore and other sales channels, this can save time and resources that can be utilised elsewhere in the business.
While many B2B organisations focus on upgrading their existing webstore, some are implementing new technologies such as headless commerce in a bid to improve their customer experience. By building a headless commerce CMS system business can ensure that their webstores are capable of using multiple channels.
Businesses that fail to future proof their e-commerce platform and manage their digital sales channels as a single entity will eventually see more savvy competitors with headless commerce strategies pull ahead. Simply using an online webstore is no longer enough. Utilising all sales channels available to provide a seamless and personalised omnichannel experience is vital to maintaining a high quality customer experience that results in optimal sales.