A decade ago, shoppers who wanted to buy something from an online store had no choice but to browse to the retailer’s site on their desktop computer. Today, they are more likely to visit the store on their phone through a native application, a progressive web app, or a traditional server-rendered app. Or perhaps they prefer to buy from a store without ever leaving their social media network. Or they may shout to their smart speaker that they’ve run out of toothpaste and rely on it to relay the message to a retailer.
Today, it’s becoming obvious that shoppers expect to be able to shop using the interface that is most convenient to them.
Traditional eCommerce applications were designed to serve the needs of shoppers from the previous decade. The front-end interface was integrated with the back-end catalog management and shopping cart. Over the years, server-rendered front-ends have evolved to offer a better mobile experience, but eCommerce applications in which both the front and back-end are tightly integrated are difficult to adapt to the expectations of modern shoppers. Headless, or decoupled, eCommerce applications are the answer.
A headless ecommerce application unties the front-end interface from its back-end administration and management features. Decoupling allows retailers to take full advantage of the power of Magento, Drupal, or BigCommerce while freeing them to build independent interfaces that communicate with the server-side application via an API.
With headless ecommerce, developers can create multiple user experiences to meet the changing requirements of shoppers. They can take advantage of fast-evolving web technologies without having to delve into the legacy code of monolithic ecommerce application.
A further advantage of headless architecture is that the back-end and front-end can scale independently. The infrastructure supporting the user interface is not the same as the infrastructure supporting the back-end, a substantial advantage for ecommerce in particular given how resource-intensive large catalogs can be.
Consider BigCommerce for WordPress. BigCommerce is a commerce-as-a-service platform that provides catalog management, logistics support, payment processing, a shopping cart, and more. WordPress is a content management system that excels as the foundation of rich content-first websites. BigCommerce for WordPress allows WordPress to be used as the front-end for BigCommerce, combining the strengths of both platforms by allowing businesses familiar with WordPress to build stores based on a flexible and scalable back-end. The same BigCommerce store can be used as the back-end for multiple WordPress sites, mobile applications, in-store interfaces, and Internet of Things (IoT) retail experiences.
BigCommerce is not alone in anticipating the need for decoupled ecommerce. The same considerations influenced the introduction of both the WordPress and WooCommerce REST API. It is headless that motivated Magento’s API and its transformation into an innovative platform for progressive web applications. Drupal also provides a powerful API for decoupled interfaces.