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eCommerce Today: Headless Removes the Roadblocks

Makayla Adams

The following article was co-authored with dotCMS partner, Raak.

eCommerce Roadblocks

Online purchasing has traditionally taken place via ‘all-in-one’ eCommerce architecture, like WordPress, where there was one focus for the transaction - the online store. These systems were built specifically for content management on websites. They weren’t designed to optimize websites for omnichannel content delivery.

For an all-in-one eCommerce platform to service multiple devices, they would require the product and content to be managed in multiple content management system (CMS) databases, creating content chaos.

Retailers are failing to keep up with market trends and buyer habits by continuously building on top of their existing technology stack. Tightly coupled front and back-end architecture, paired with overtaxed content repositories, are no longer cutting it.

A traditional set-up causes a number of critical issues for content-led eCommerce solutions including siloed systems, limited cross-department alignment and cross-functionality; and outdated and limited technology.

This is because the all-in-one architecture is based on the front end being connected to the backend, and the components being interdependent on each other.

This approach worked okay when eCommerce CMS only needed to populate a desktop website. However, as more and more channels are added to a retailer’s multichannel eCommerce strategy, the all-in-one architecture starts to strain under the weight and complexity of all the extra demands of plugins and custom coding required.

This means every change request made to any component of the CMS, cart, checkout, and design will affect the whole site, and often an upgrade to one section will cause problems to another section.

‘All-in-one’ has traditionally been a quick and simple way to get an eCommerce presence up and running natively in the solution. However, it does pose problems once a business is ready to scale or customize its offering in any way.

When businesses are in the growth phase of their eCommerce journey, a headless solution is optimal, as it will allow the business to shape their eCommerce offering to suit the specific needs of their business.

The mobile experience and PWAs

When businesses are considering transitioning from their old platform to a headless solution, they often ask themselves several of these questions:

  • How do I get my online store design to reflect my brand?

  • How do I speed up my page load times, especially on mobile?

  • How do I improve my conversion rates across the board?

  • Why is my mobile conversion rate lower than my desktop conversion rate?

  • How do I have one source of truth when it comes to managing my products?

  • Can I scale my business into multi-territory and multi-currency?

Headless can provide solutions to all of these questions since headless systems are built on Progressive Web Apps (PWA) technology that keeps heavy backend functions separate from the frontend customer experience. It delivers a completely customized retail experience without compromising speed and user experience.

Headless allows eCommerce businesses to switch their focus from investing in hardware that depreciates over time to instead investing in SaaS technology solutions that continuously update. Subscribing to SaaS products best-of-breed solutions can be leveraged for each specific business function, thus creating a whole business systems approach.

Benefits of Headless

  • Ability to design and develop an optimized frontend UX/UI without impacting the backend.

  • Easy to personalize and customize your store through powerful technology.

  • Multi-channel/multi-language capability.

  • Ability to integrate with any APIs or plugins.

  • Separation of front and back means testing is much faster.

  • Ability to offer a single-user experience across all channels.

dotCMS: Retail’s Solution to eCommerce

Digital commerce has never been as disruptive as it is right now. Technology is evolving at the speed of light and competition not only comes from the usual suspects but also from digital-native startups.

Being able to build engaging and personalized commerce experiences quicker than others in the industry has become the norm for companies who want to stay competitive and ahead of the competition.

The focus on experiences and hyper-personalization, rather than the products and services, allow enterprises to differentiate themselves from their competitors in order to win.

Unlocking and combining the power of dedicated technology solutions is paramount. With dotCMS, you gain a powerful ally to future-proof your customer journey and attract more visitors to your site.

Personalization for Retail

There is a distinction in product-rich websites between content targeting, personalizing site search, and browsing product catalogs that are technically seen with both B2C and B2B retail brands.

This is not the specialty of Content Management Systems, which is where third-party vendors like BigCommerce, Unbxd, Magento, and more can supplement the overall personalization strategy. dotCMS integrates seamlessly with these vendors and others as part of our API-first architecture.

Key dotCMS Features for eCommerce

Interoperability - A digital experience platform never comes out of a single box. Making seamless API-first integrations with your front-end and back-end applications will enrich the customer experience and drive business outcomes. Integrate your tools of choice with dotCMS in no time.

Personalization - Exposing the content and tooling relevant to your customers will drive customer experiences while keeping them connected with relevant engagement.

Search - Powered by ElasticSearch, dotCMS offers high-performing content search for editors as well as site search for your customer portal ending information silos.

OmniChannel Commerce - Building outstanding commerce experiences goes way beyond websites and apps. Leveraging REST and GraphQL, content, permissions, layout, and personalization settings can live everywhere without restrictions.

NoCode / LowCode - To allow your company to win in commerce dotCMS provides marketers NoCode tools to drive your digital commerce agenda, while also having LowCode tools to spark developers' innovation through creating with the stack of their choice

Scalability & Speed - dotCMS has Java infrastructure and multi-tenant capabilities that allow you to scale your website across your organization quickly and easily.

Raak: Headless Commerce Built to Scale

Good CMS projects have multiple common facets, and Raak doesn’t think of them in isolation. They understand your headless project has a laundry list of implementation needs.

Many websites take so long to develop, and they're out of date before they launch. This is not the case with Raak’s agile approach. They’re able to get an MVP site up quickly, then use real customer data to decide what features get added next. 

Raak specializes in building striking, well-crafted integrated websites for discerning businesses. They’re the leading web development solutions provider, using best-of-breed technologies to create fast, secure, and scalable web, eCommerce, and custom applications. 

With a deep passion for headless eCommerce, Raak brings extensive knowledge and experience to the table, helping companies navigate today and tomorrow’s complexities of eCommerce. They know how to empower your digital presence with a future-forward approach.

Raak leverages their expertise in custom application development with the latest technologies to create scalable, secure, and intuitive solutions that align perfectly with your objectives.

Whether you're starting from scratch or looking to revamp your existing solution, Raak has transformed ideas into a seamless, functional online platform.

Raak's Perspective On the State of Commerce

It has been a busy time for eCommerce. These dynamic and rapidly evolving times have forced consumer brands to pay attention to their (e)Commerce and move the priority of upgrading their outdated (e)Commerce systems as business-critical. In the past, (e)Commerce was simply considered another channel, now it is understood that (e)Commerce needs to be fully integrated into the total business systems architecture. Hence the increased popularity of headless architecture and headless CMS’ like dotCMS. Brands with a headless stack can now shift focus to their multi-channel strategies with the confidence that their stack can handle any channel at whatever volume without compromising the user's brand experience.

– Quote from Raak Founder, Peter Lodewijks

Read more about The New State of eCommerce: Headless Content Management.

Image Credit: Imre Tömösvári
Makayla Adams
Digital Marketing Coordinator
August 22, 2023

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