Get ready for the headless ecommerce low-code revolution
Headless e-commerce and low-code application development are two increasingly advantageous technology frameworks—and they’re on a collision course for retailers.
The headless e-commerce architecture – which allows retail brands to decouple the front-end and back-end of their e-commerce platforms – enables the implementation of new customer-facing features much faster and more flexibly than traditional processes. Low-code has matured to provide a compelling complement to this approach, increasing the speed at which key ecommerce initiatives can be launched and iterated. The combination of headless commerce and low-code enables retailers to introduce new features at a significantly accelerated pace and test iteratively, making it possible to test and deliver increasingly effective customer experiences.
The powerful fusion of headless e-commerce and low-code is emerging exactly when retailers need it most. A Walker Information report found that customer experience is now the most important brand differentiator – a more important competitive differentiator even than the competition’s products and prices. Faced with this reality, ecommerce platforms that create engaging and tailored digital experiences can drive conversions and purchases more than any other factor.
The advantages of headless
A recent Yottaa survey of ecommerce executives found that 62% use headless commerce to improve engagement and conversions. By separating the front-end interface applications from the back-end systems that manage details like inventory and order management, Headless fuels innovation.
Headless systems are essentially networks of APIs and segmented applications that perform specific functions. This structure makes it possible to flexibly upgrade or otherwise improve individual applications without need to update the entire system. Each feature within these systems becomes independent, enabling a shift from waterfall to agile delivery processes. Innovative new features can be deployed, optimized, and redeployed without systemic delays or roadblocks.
From a front-end development perspective, Headless allows designers and creatives to use their favorite tools. As a result, these teams benefit from the user experience you want to, which directly translates into more tailored and effective experiences for the customer. Backend developers also benefit from dedicated tools and don’t have to worry about the aesthetics of interfaces that customers will never see. By providing designers and developers with their own distinct tools and workspaces, headless ecommerce enables each group to work more effectively, resulting in superior applications.
Benefits of low-code development
Low-code development provides developers with pre-coded functions placed in modules or containers. Using a visual, drag-and-drop interface, developers combine these low-code modules with the data connectivity they need, and develop new and improved solutions at 10x (and often much faster) speed compared to standard command-line code development.
Low-code also increases the speed of application deployment democratize this development. Many retail brands are making meaningful additions to their existing development teams by bringing in people who may have low-level skills but are capable of completing successful projects using low-code tools. Since skillsets for more complex technologies like AI and ML are expensive and difficult to find, low-code can accelerate the deployment of these technologies.
Low-code modules also provide brands with instant flexibility and responsiveness to customer needs by easily swapping modules in and out as needed. Low-code also greatly reduces developer responsibilities in terms of security, as each container-based module uses secured and isolated code.
Headless ecommerce and low-code: stronger together
If headless ecommerce systems have a flaw, they can be to flexible. The fact that retailers need to add their own custom functionality for advanced e-commerce operations often results in over-engineered applications. Complicated service mesh-based integrations between systems also contribute to slow deployment and demanding maintenance. As a result, these projects often go over budget and stretch beyond their completion dates.
Low-code strategies offer a better way forward. Modular low-code tools can provide the required functionality out of the box and provide the coordinated middleware to enable headless e-commerce systems. Brands can leverage headless APIs, existing modules, and templates to quickly bring ecommerce capabilities to market. APIs also make countless third-party technologies readily available, including powerful options from leading martech providers.
Accelerate innovation for unmatched customer experiences
By combining headless ecommerce with low-code development, retail brands can build easy-to-use systems and deploy fully-functional ecommerce platforms in a matter of weeks. From there, companies can leverage customer data and rapidly implement innovation opportunities by iteratively evolving key capabilities. Through this process, brands are able to refine their customer experiences into the strong, unique and competitive differentiators almost required for success.
Brian Sathianathan is CTO at Iterate.ai. He is also the co-host of This week in Innovation, a podcast about the retail startup community that he co-hosts with retail industry analyst Jeff Roster. Previously, Sathianathan worked at Apple on various emerging technology projects including the Mac operating system and the first iPhone.