Ocado ordering online

Headless commerce can provide marketers with more flexibility and control of design and content on their site

The UK continues to hold its position as the world’s third largest e-commerce market in the world, making it a challenging place to gain a competitive advantage.

Retail marketers looking to engage consumers with fresh content on their e-commerce sites can often struggle to create timely campaigns that are visually exciting, especially when they need to run for several weeks. Although retail marketing teams typically have a rich bank of content, from product shots to user-generated content, customer reviews and blogs, they often have limited options available for serving it when using legacy e-commerce platforms.

Headless commerce is an emerging technology that could provide the answer to this quandary.

Traditional e-commerce platforms are typically managed by developers and come with a ‘shop front’ that has predefined templates. As a result, the only opportunity to offer fresh content is by swapping in new images from time to time, which can be dull for the user and a cumbersome process for the site admins.

Headless commerce is a new software architecture that decouples the presentation layer of a site from the e-commerce functionality, and then connects the two via APIs. It provides flexibility, control of design and content, and enables marketers to focus on customer engagement and interaction.

One of the biggest benefits of decoupling these two functions is the ability to present and serve lots of different content quickly and easily. Retailers that are visually strong are better able to customise and personalise the user experience and serve limitless, timely content that brings their offer to life, without having to disrupt back-end processes such as payment processing or shipping, or wait for a site update.

For supermarket brands such as Ocado, which are continuously serving new content around seasonal produce and calendar events such as Halloween, delivering this across multiple customer-facing channels can be time-consuming, especially if page changes are made as often as weekly. Headless commerce architecture can save huge amounts of time, serving new pages as quickly as they are designed.

Headless commerce can help marketers be more innovative and agile, reacting to changes in consumer technology and behaviour, publishing content across multiple channels and updating campaigns on the go, crucial for those operating in our highly competitive environment.

It’s not necessarily right for all. Decoupling can limit functionality in other areas, such as quality control through the loss of page previews, and it could be an expensive or complicated transition for some.

However, for retailers that want to be more responsive to changing market forces, provide a more engaging customer experience and be limitless in their content offering across all customer-facing channels, a conscious decoupling could be the way forward.