Headless Commerce: The Evolution of Selling Online

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In the last few years, online shopping has greatly evolved. The customers want a seamless shopping experience, plenty of options in every product category, faster checkouts and same-day delivery and, in some cases, even within a few hours. It’s quite apparent how difficult it is for eCommerce business owners to match this pace and satisfy customer demands.  Selling online can prove to be very challenging, but also very beneficial to your company.

Traditional eCommerce can no longer support the growing customer demands. There are many positives, though, like the advancement in the IoT field that has benefitted online retailers. And there’s another new strategy adopted by the current eCommerce stores – it’s headless commerce. Here’s how it is taking eCommerce to the next level. 

Flexibility in new eCommerce models

Nearly all traditional eCommerce models are built on monolithic architecture. This is an all-in-one model where all eCommerce activities are done in a single unit. The problem with such a model is limited flexibility. Its speed and functionality decrease as the number of users grows.  

When an upgrade is needed, monolithic architecture presents a big challenge to eCommerce. A minor update, such as adding a code, demands the entire structure to be updated. In a fast-growing eCommerce environment, this negatively impacts the business.  

Decoupling the monolithic platform is the new solution to its challenges. The technology behind a decoupled network is headless eCommerce. A decoupled architecture provides further benefits when a business adopts an eCommerce microservices architecture. The top benefit of eCommerce microservices is high flexibility in new eCommerce models. Each application is broken into micro components that provide a unique service on the user interfaces.  

Each micro component works independently but communicates with the entire system through an API. This ensures the entire system remains highly flexible to provide an unprecedented customer experience.  

Combining mobile applications and websites

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In traditional eCommerce, a business depended on the desktop first design, where the default design was based on a computer design framework. The technology worked well until when more shoppers began using mobile devices to shop. The traditional desktop-first design could no longer support fast-growing eCommerce.  

Today’s business adopts a mobile-first design approach where the default design is based on mobile technology. This has helped revolutionize online selling through headless commerce. Decoupling the front end from the back end has given rise to a wide range of mobile and web applications.  

All these applications perform their functions independently without pure reliance on the back end. In a microservice architecture, each application is broken into smaller units that can work independently. Web and mobile applications are interconnected through a series of APIs to complete requests made through mobile devices and computers.  

This is the new evolution that headless eCommerce has brought to online stores. The stores can take advantage of hundreds of applications to connect with thousands of clients through multiple devices. Whether you send requests from mobile apps or computer apps, the experience will be the same.  

Highly integrated systems

Managing multiple platforms and a large number of applications is not easy for online businesses. Companies have to manage orders coming from sales channels and manage big data, POS, ERP, and many other platforms. The solution is to integrate all the platforms and applications to create a centralized system.  

If companies use the traditional online store approach, they will revert to monolithic architectures. Headless eCommerce helps integrate the entire system while each application works independently. It creates an online business with a high level of efficiency and productivity.  

A highly integrated online business system creates an error-free eCommerce environment. The system helps save time, increases delivery speed, and develops enhanced output. The customer gets satisfied, which opens greater opportunities for online stores to increase sales.  

Websites respond faster in a decoupled online environment. All that takes place in the backend doesn’t need to change in the front end and vice versa. This creates a front end that is superfast and a highly efficient storefront compared to traditional online storefronts.  

Better control and consistency

Headless commerce technology gives developers the freedom to exercise their creativity. They are no longer restricted to the need to make complete changes to systems whenever they create a new application or upgrade an existing one. This is one of the advantages that has paved the way for the development of microservices architectures. 

They can leverage innovations, upgrade applications, fix bugs, and improve brands without worrying about system performance. They have total control of the system, and they maintain brand consistency effectively. Innovation can be impossible if developers cannot control the systems and entire front-to-back and back-to-front processes.  

This is the best way to ensure the systems are consistent and up to date with current trends. What the customers see in marketing campaigns and storefronts should be consistent with their checkout experiences. This solution is effectively provided by headless commerce and the benefits of microservices.  

Leveraging generic systems for selling online

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In headless commerce, users make requests from multiple platforms. The requests are sent to the backend through an API, and then the backend communicates the result through the same API. The result is displayed on the screen of the user’s device as information.  

In a situation where the backend is decoupled from the front end, the front end is made highly generic. This means the front end can effectively interact with any type of application and send the correct API requests. It can communicate with web browsers, freeware, database software, word processors, multimedia software, spreadsheet software, and many more.  

A generic system allows front-end developers to create an unlimited number of applications. They can create web, mobile, kiosk, and smart device applications that enhance user engagement and experience. On the other hand, the backend developers can upgrade the backend system by creating functionalities that support new APIs created on the front end. This creates an online store that is agile, user-friendly, and resilient.  

Increased sales with selling online

Headless commerce allows developers to create customized applications that meet customer demands. Each business is unique and serves unique customers. Apart from a customized and personalized system, headless technology allows adaptability. It can adapt to multiple channels and IoT devices. This allows businesses to adopt effective omnichannel strategies, which lead to increased sales.  

Conclusion on Selling Online

Headless commerce has led to a new evolution of online business. Decoupled systems allow greater innovation, such as application microservices. Developers are freer to create a wide range of applications and avail them to customers. By availing new technologies to customers, the business equips them with the power of choice. They can choose to shop using any digital device and notice no difference in experience or request responses. In the long run, the online store benefits more through increased sales.  

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How European Startups Can Reach More American Customers

For the businesses of Europe, cracking the American market is not always straightforward. Aside from the cultural differences which some brands struggle to encompass, there are also the administrative challenges to overcome. European startups are especially susceptible to falling short when crossing over to America, so let’s talk through some tactics and techniques to try out which solve many common snafus.

Get a US phone number

With a US phone number, your geographical location is rendered irrelevant, and you can serve American consumers even if you’re based elsewhere in the world.

There are two reasons to take this route, the first of which is to reduce or even eliminate the costs that customers would otherwise incur for calling you. It’s cheaper and more convenient for them to be able to dial a US number, even if this does leave you with additional costs to pay.

The second benefit comes from a branding perspective. If you want to make your startup appear to have a local presence, a US number will do this. The same applies to having a US postal address, so consider adding that to your arsenal as well.

Build a US-specific sales team

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If you’re already established as a startup in Europe and you’re eyeing up America as your next move, then you need to recognize that your approach to sales will need to shift.

You could take a whole team over with you to get the ball rolling, but in reality it’s better to hire those who already have experience and expertise in encompassing the different sales ecosystem stateside.

One affordable alternative to opening a full-blown office of your very own is to instead partner with an existing sales solution provider, and piggyback on their resources instead. If things go well, there’s always the option of going solo further down the line.

Adapt your marketing with your European startups

We’ve touched on how American customers will have different expectations about how businesses and brands reach out to them, and it’s sensible to break this down further into specific examples.

First, there’s the tone you use in your promotional materials. As well as adjusting copy to avoid using words and phrases that aren’t used in the US, you’ll need to think about how your broader brand personality is laid out, and whether it matches American sensibilities.

Then there’s the marketing methods themselves; social media marketing is hugely impactful in America, and influencers are especially powerful. As such, if you aren’t too reliant on this as part of your European operations, making a switch to your focus as you tackle the US is wise.

 

Leverage established platforms

Similar to the aforementioned use of a US phone number, you can also bring American consumers onboard if you sell to them through channels that they already know and trust.

While you can and should set up a standalone e-commerce site, it is handy to also embrace third party marketplaces like eBay and Amazon so that you can reach out to prospective customers with ease. This will even streamline the distribution of products, because you can harness the extensive infrastructures that platforms like this offer to sellers.

Final thoughts on European startups

Expecting instant success when moving into the American market is unhelpful for all startups, especially those based in an entirely different continent.

Making tweaks to turn US consumers onto your brand, rather than hoping that you’ll be able to get by on the exotic nature of European businesses in an American context, is advised. And patience will avoid disappointment and burnout during the early phases of your transatlantic transition.

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