Your Choice – When to Go Headless On BigCommerce

Customer experience is one of the key differentiators for your business, so an option that allows you to make this your priority, like headless ecommerce, can be a game-changer.

When you choose a headless ecommerce solution the platform that manages orders, products, and customer information is separated from the one that powers your ecommerce website or app. This can free you from the technical constraints that limit the quality of your online content, functionality, and overall customer experience.

When should you consider going headless?

Every business is unique, so headless might not be the answer for everyone. There are a number of things to think about before you decide if a headless option is right for you. You might want to consider headless if :

  • you are a large or fast-growing ecommerce business – you will want to know you’re going to achieve a good return on your investment because the flexibility offered by a headless solution will add to your costs. There will be additional platform costs, extra initial development work, and increased support requirements for both your front-end and back-end operations.
  • you’re an omnichannel business requiring different presentation layers for different uses – the presentation layer, or interface with your customers, could be in the form of a website, kiosk, point of sale (POS) system, and mobile apps. Managing all these customer connections with a conventional ecommerce platform will be complex and expensive.

When you choose a  headless approach you will decouple your presentation layer from the other parts of your ecommerce business, allowing them to be individually developed and managed using common application programming interfaces (APIs). This leaves you free to choose the best tools for the job. If you are using BigCommerce you can support multiple front-end presentations in one place.

  • you need to consolidate data from multiple sources and third parties to present to your customers – you might want to use digital asset management (DAM) to make the best use of your media assets, product information, and multi-lingual content while you share blog articles from another source. Seamlessly combining all this content on a traditional monolithic ecommerce platform would be unwieldy. In contrast, a headless solution will connect them all using APIs.
  • Improved ecommerce performance is key to your business growth plans – you might have noticed that the performance of your ecommerce front end has fallen away as traffic to your site has increased. Headless solutions provide native improvements to most performance metrics with the latest ecommerce capabilities.

Approaches to becoming headless with BigCommerce

You can take a number of approaches to implement your BigCommerce headless solution.

A front-end framework – you can use collections or bundles of JavaScript to provide a structure that will help you build your websites and applications. This is similar to a framework for a house which provides instructions for installing windows and doors and tools to create different types of rooms. Using the APIs, you have almost unlimited flexibility to improve performance and support new and innovative approaches to customer experience. However, you will need more development support because it is a less user-friendly option.

Gasby, for example, provides a unified cloud framework for building, previewing, and deploying your projects and a concierge service to help if you encounter problems. Next.js provides automatic and manual set up options as React components, allowing you to pre-render pages and generate the HTML. BigCommerce is now integrated with VueStorefront, allowing you to implement a wide range of ecommerce features.

Content management systems – some content management systems (CMSs) provide API connectivity to support data connection to BigCommerce. This approach is more user friendly so it will be easier to use for developers and others who need to keep your product information and pages up to date. However, using a CMS will add to your costs and will reduce your flexibility.

WordPress for BigCommerce is a plugin that allows you to scale your ecommerce business and free up server resources. You can build complex catalogs, manage large volumes of concurrent traffic, orders and analytics. It includes payment processing and fulfillment. The embedded checkout will also handle payment card industry (PCI) compliance and customer security. If you want to sell across multiple channels and marketplaces from a single location this could be a good option for you.

Or, you could consider Contentful as a straightforward way to manage your content and publish across channels. Its app framework provides out-of-the-box integrations and the option to build custom apps for innovative customer experiences that you can use across your business and in different markets. Content is unified in a single hub and can be created and tested ‘on the fly’ so you can be fast and creative.

Digital experience platforms – you might also want to consider a larger and more integrated digital experience platform (DXP) solution. DXPs are designed to allow you to compose, manage, deliver and optimize customer journeys to provide seamless experiences. You can use a DXP for customers, business partners and employees to maintain continuity. As you would expect, this level of rich functionality and sophisticated composition tools for both business and technical users come at a price and will add complexity.

Amplience is well-established and offers tools for both developers and marketers across websites and mobile devices for apps and social media platforms. For developers it has an open framework that supports any combination of code or process. Using the content hub, marketers can manage customer experience with end-to-end previews and integrated rich media. Content can be created, personalized, tested, iterated and optimized quickly and effectively.

The Customer Experience Cloud from Bloomreach offers a customer data platform, omnichannel marketing automation, product search and merchandising using artificial intelligence (AI), and a headless content management system. It provides a marketing view and drag-and-drop tools that allow you to connect customer data across multiple channels from emails to in-app messaging. You can run highly personalized campaigns and update segments in real time.

Headless Commerce - Digital Experience Platform

What’s best for your business?

The right solution for you will depend on your budget, ongoing costs, your in-house skills and your support requirements. Of course, every business is different, but as a BigCommerce Elite Strategic Partner, we would initially recommend:

  • VueStorefront – recently available for BigCommerce, this option offers an entry point for businesses that are looking for headless capabilities with a front-end framework. It balances flexibility and capability well.
  • WordPress – if your team already knows WordPress then this is typically a good option for your headless BigCommerce approach because your users will find it easy to work with.
  • Amplience – if you’re looking for rich ecommerce features and powerful digital asset management capabilities this is a good option. It is especially effective in the retail sector for configurable products, lookbooks, and hotspots.

The Williams Commerce team always looks at the big picture with clients. We will review your systems, connectivity, and the challenges you face to help you drive your digital transformation. Our Consultants, business and systems Analysts and Architects, will help you to identify, plan and achieve your goals.

Talk to one of our experts today.

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