Headless Commerce Will Usher In A New Era of Hyper-Personalized Customer Experiences

  • January 24, 2020 at 9:36 AM EST
  • By Arno Ham, Sana Commerce
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With targeted online experiences now key to e-Commerce sales, you’d be hard pressed to find a marketer today that isn’t actively seeking the best way to master e-Commerce personalization. Our data found that 29% of buyers base their vendor decisions on the quality of personalized web store experiences, this comes as no surprise. Still, it’d be equally challenging to find a technical or IT professional who looks forward to handling all the back-end adjustments required to achieve these marketers’ desired degree of e-Commerce personalization. This is one scenario, among many, in which headless commerce becomes the most valuable (and underappreciated) tool. 

But the problem many businesses face today is that they’ve probably heard of headless commerce, yet don’t understand it, or can’t fully grasp how it might benefit their business. 

To put it simply, headless commerce allows organizations to become more customer-centric by enabling them to achieve new levels of omnichannel personalization — through simplified iteration and testing — online. With headless commerce, an organization can separate (and independently experiment with) the front end and the back end of their e-Commerce experiences. Without a headless approach, making front-end adjustments in the name of personalization (and the subsequent back-end changes required) is typically so time-consuming that even leading brands using a conventional e-Commerce platform only update their front-end experience, on average, once a week. On the other hand, Amazon, which uses a headless commerce (headless CMS) solution, typically deploys front-end updates every 11.7 seconds.

With a headless commerce approach, the front and back end of a business’ web store can be decoupled by putting an API between them to manage the exchange of data: giving businesses the freedom to customize their online storefront to better support their customers, without impacting their back end. With an API caching and feeding data between the front end and back end, the API carries most of the workload: making it simple for organizations to manage frequent improvements to their web store’s front end (and customer experience). 

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This “headless” way of working has created the perfect opportunity for headless commerce to become a panacea for organizations aiming to secure a competitive advantage through super-personalized e-Commerce experiences. It also means achieving channel-specific user interfaces (UI) that do not need to rely on each other or be interdependent, which improves the omnichannel customer experience for the 73% of buyers who jump between channels throughout their purchase journey. This means not just personalizing your desktop e-Commerce experience; you also can heavily personalize each customer experience across channels.

Presenting customers with rich, relevant product content across all touchpoints is an important aspect of the integrated customer experience. But, at the moment, many B2B retailers have their hands tied because their e-Commerce infrastructure does not support what the customer wants. With headless commerce, enabling functionality like having custom product catalogs for your customers, is not just possible, but simple. You can iterate as much as you want, giving your customers the features they demand (like personalized pricing and offers), while maintaining or even improving your web performance. Plus, you can incorporate all the new channels your business may adopt over time (like voice-centric touchpoints or wearable devices) into your headless approach — all while staying true to your brand’s style and tone, and having unlimited capabilities to customize and personalize your customer experience.

Businesses that fail to future-proof their e-Commerce platform and manage personalized digital sales channels as a single entity will eventually (and perhaps even soon) see more savvy competitors with headless commerce strategies pull ahead.


Arno Ham started his e-Commerce career at Sana Commerce more than 10 years ago. As a development manager, he led many (B2B) e-Commerce projects for customers like Heineken, AkzoNobel and PostNL. Ham has been involved with the development of Sana Commerce since 2008.

In his current position as Chief Product Officer at Sana, he combines the requirements of customers and partners and Sana’s vision on B2B e-Commerce in a comprehensive product strategy and product roadmap. Ham is responsible for guiding the product management, product development and product marketing teams and works with his team every day to make the ERP integration of Sana Commerce better, faster and easier.

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