Composable commerce is the next wave of innovation in eCommerce. And just like with any new wave, there are a lot of questions. To demystify the processes, we take the head off the traditional eCommerce platform and break it into a loosely coupled set of composable services.
Headless commerce is a system where our website or app’s frontend (customer-facing) side is completely decoupled from our website’s backend (administrative) part. In a headless eCommerce system, an API allows the frontend to get all product, customer, and other data that it needs for display through server calls instead of loading it directly from the backend code..
The front end is where customers interact with our brand. It’s what they see, feel, and experience when interacting with our online store. Headless eCommerce allows us to leverage whatever technology best suits each business function.
Headless commerce promises to remove the frontend presentation layer, called the “head” in headless so that eCommerce systems can focus on their core competency: selling things.
Imagine having a website and mobile app. We can have a shopping cart that lives in the cloud with composable commerce. We can also have separate services for tax calculations, inventory management, customer profiles, and order management. Imagine having all these services as decoupled modules from our existing website and mobile app — with no coding required.
It’s an entirely different approach to building eCommerce solutions, allowing us to compose a unique solution for every business need or customer experience.
A composable eCommerce framework is designed to separate the various components of our commerce experience (e.g., search, navigation, cart, checkout) and make them independent, so we can use them in any combination we like in any context.
Headless eCommerce platforms and Composable eCommerce allow organizations to build a shopping experience tailored to their customers instead of being locked into the legacy eCommerce platform interface that many systems require.
Headless & composable eCommerce is the separation of the frontend and backend. This separation enables us to serve our content fast as it only has to be fetched from a database or API instead of being generated on page load. Faster page load time will increase UX and conversion rates.
With headless and composable eCommerce, we can provide a consistent user experience across all channels and devices because the frontend and backend are separated. We can focus on having different user experiences for each device by using adaptive design principles instead of working on different frontend systems for each channel.
When we separate the frontend from the backend, we can also split up the frontend into independent components that can be reused across channels and devices. By doing this, our components are easier to manage and scale independently, reducing development costs. The more reusable components we have, the less effort it takes to develop new features for our website (for example, checkout or cart).
Headless eCommerce platforms and Composable eCommerce allow us to integrate e-commerce infrastructure with any other software system. This gives us many more options for streamlining operations and improving efficiency.
The drawbacks of headless and composable eCommerce stem from the fact that we now have to build and maintain our custom frontend. For example, development teams need to make user experience changes, which is a higher initial investment than a hosted platform. And since we’re building our website, there’s no way to get a discount on our payments provider’s transaction fees like some hosted platforms might offer.
Developing new features takes longer and requires more resources. Unlike a traditional eCommerce platform where we can enable or disable features in the admin area, a headless site requires coding new features. This means that a developer will need to write code before our team can see any results.
Because building a front end requires more development work, costs will be higher upfront with headless commerce than with traditional all-in-one solutions. However, depending on how much customization we want, this may not necessarily be true in the long term.
There will be an onboarding period as our development team learns how to use the tools and regular updates as the technology changes. We’ll also need to keep the code up-to-date and running smoothly. Because the front end is decoupled from the back end, there’s a chance of breaking functionality when changes are made.
The answer is “Yes!” but with a caveat.
The caveat is: it depends on our platform
The transition to headless eCommerce is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition. In many cases, a hybrid approach can be taken where headless commerce is implemented for some channels and capabilities while others remain on the existing platform.
The future of eCommerce is headless. It’s also composable. Again, headless is not a technology but a decision — e.g., to decouple the frontend technology for content, users, and even static display from backend business logic.
We believe that further decoupling will be an ongoing trend that business owners and entrepreneurs must address if they want to fit nicely into this emerging architecture — let alone a full-blown headless approach.