The impact of Headless Commerce on technology vendors


How will headless commerce impact technology vendors and ISVs now and in the future? In our last article, we outlined what Headless Commerce is and why it’s gaining attention amongst retailers and brands.

Salesforce’s State of Commerce report reveals that many merchants are being held back by complex back-end experiences. In fact, 34% of merchants reported that making changes to their digital storefront takes weeks or even months. Headless commerce offers a solution to this challenge.

The biggest advantage that it provides is agility and the speed to respond to changing customer demands as frontend and backend architectures are decoupled. This allows for more flexibility in choosing the frontend technology and provides the ability to scale each component independently.

Traditional plugins and cartridges are pre-built software components that can be added to an ecommerce platform to extend its functionality. Within a headless architecture, plugins and cartridges could still be utilised, but primarily on the backend for data extracts. Of course, there are use cases like Payment Service integrations where pre-built cartridges and plugins are still used and the frontend communicates with the ecommerce engine through native commerce APIs to save time and effort.

Monolithic vs Microservices architecture

While most technology vendors have been offering composable integrations  for some time, many still use a monolithic services. This may hinder customers in their pursuit to select the best technology that fits their specific business needs, preventing them from achieving a best-of-breed approach or the ability to pick and choose the right solutions. As the need for speed and flexibility ramps up amongst merchants, the shift towards a microservices architecture will enable them to select the best technology from different vendors to suit their specific business needs.

A monolithic architecture refers to an approach where an application is designed and built as a single, self-contained unit. In a monolithic architecture, all the components of an application are tightly coupled together and share the same codebase, database, and deployment environment.

On the other hand, a microservices architecture is an approach where an application is broken down into smaller, loosely-coupled services, each with its own codebase, database, and deployment environment. These services communicate with each other through well-defined APIs, and can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently of each other.

The shift to a microservice architecture represents a monumental technological shift for vendors and could present an opportunity to transform their overarching business models, product propositions, and pricing options to appeal to a wider array of merchants.

By adopting this approach, technology vendors and ISVs can leverage unprecedented flexibility to explore new markets and transcend historical barriers where they may have been pigeonholed or perceived as being solely geared towards either small to mid-market or enterprise merchants, deemed too difficult to customise, or excessively expensive.

However, this is not an overnight transformation and will require expertise, time and investment to ensure their solution is fit for purpose.

Are merchants headless ready?

It is difficult to provide an exact number of ecommerce sites that use headless technology since there is no comprehensive database or registry of all ecommerce sites and their technology stacks.

The adoption of headless technology is on the rise and is becoming a key component of the future roadmap for many ecommerce leaders. However, the number of merchants that have gone headless is still in the minority, as it is a long and well-considered change that requires the right expertise, infrastructure, and investment. As each merchant is at a different stage of digital maturity and size, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, which means that technology vendors must be prepared to meet merchants across the spectrum.

For a technology vendor, it is crucial to keep an eye on the future and the evolution of headless, while also ensuring that their solution is easy to adopt in more traditional senses. This is where pre-packaged integrations come in, as they are typically pre-built, tested, and ready to use, significantly reducing the time it takes for a merchant to adopt the technology compared to building it from scratch.

Many of our clients have a portfolio of integrations to ensure they can meet demand now and in the future. If you would like advice on how you can effectively manage your integration portfolio strategy, get in touch with our commerce and integrations specialists.