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The role of headless commerce in omnichannel experiences

Written by
Carla Hetherington
Published on
October 4, 2023

The modern customer is one with increasing demands, especially when it comes to speed and personalization. As such, businesses should be focusing on trying to deliver fast and tailored experiences to their customers if they expect to not only retain them but also increase their customer base. One way to do this is by providing customers with omnichannel experiences, and headless CMS is the key to doing that. Let’s get into it!

The rise of e-commerce

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we shop. With brick-and-mortar stores shutting down all over the world, sellers, even the most “old-school” ones, were forced to innovate and digitalize their business in order to keep providing their services. Since physical shopping was, in most cases, no longer an option, there was a huge shift to online marketplaces, and that shift seems to have stuck. Evidence of this can be found in the growing number of online shoppers in the past year:

In 2023, there are 80 million more digital buyers than there were in 2022—a 3.1% year-over-year increase. -Oberlo

It would seem, then, that our post-pandemic world is filled with shoppers who still prefer to shop online not out of necessity but out of pure convenience, or perhaps laziness. At the end of the day, nothing compares to being able to buy a pair of shoes from your couch by just using your phone. The purchase can take only a few minutes, and then you can go back to scrolling!

Another thing to keep in mind is the multi purpose online channels serve, namely that of being a research tool to compare prices and check availability. After all, who wants to risk going all the way to the store just to discover the item you were in search of is out of stock?

With that being said, it comes as no surprise that “Millennials and Gen Xers are the biggest online shoppers, with 67% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers preferring to shop online versus in a brick-and-mortar store.” Similarly, according to Statista, In 2022, “The highest share of in-store buyers was among baby boomers (ages 57-75), with 83 percent. On the other hand, the same generation did not seem as interested as others in buying products through companies' apps or social media.”

Either way, it would seem shoppers are still divided between online and physical stores, making both these options necessary. So, how can businesses maintain a cohesive shopping experience across both on and offline stores? The answer: Omnichannel commerce.

Omnichannel commerce

Omnichannel commerce emerged out of customers' desires to have accessibility to different sales channels, and the demand for omnichannel experiences has reached an unprecedented height. So, what makes a business omnichannel? Omnichannel is not just a strategy, but more of a completely novel approach to selling and buying products.

The end goal of omnichannel commerce is to provide shoppers with a consistent brand image across different channels (website, social media, in-store) and give them a sense of cohesion and commodity, shortening their decision-making time and speeding up purchases.

Learn more about omnichannel commerce.

How can you optimize your omnichannel experience?

Perhaps the main challenge of omnichannel commerce is maintaining a personal relationship with the customer regardless of the channel they use to interact with your business. This can be done through personalization, which can take on many shapes and forms. For example:

  • Collecting information from previous touchpoints with the customer and creating adequate messaging that follows their journey and caters to their interests.
  • Adjusting your content based on a specific country by providing accurate translations and adapting to different cultural and local contexts. This way, a customer can feel close to your brand regardless of where your store or headquarters are located.

The role of headless commerce in e-commerce

While on the topic of personalization, Headless CMS give businesses a significant advantage over those who use monolithic CMSs, since a headless architecture is inherently faster and more flexible, quickly embracing change.

For instance, a software built on monolithic architecture, such as Magento, offers excellent capabilities and is robust in nature. However, due to its front end being tightly coupled and reliant on its back end, changes can take a long time to process and involve a lot, (a lot a lot), of code.

On the other hand, headless architecture is built on a decoupled front end integrated with Headless CMS, significantly reducing the amount of code between systems, and providing much needed speed.

Amazon: The success story of a headless CMS

Such is the difference between traditional and headless CMS platforms that many have shifted to the latter. A prime example is Amazon, the largest e-commerce platform worldwide. Once a mere bookstore, Amazon was supported by a monolith platform that suited all of the store’s business requirements. However, as Amazon began to expand, the business' ambitions surpassed the platform’s capabilities, standing in the way of scalability and future-proofing. Simply put, they couldn’t accommodate the demand and traffic, nor make adjustments based on changing consumer preferences. Amazon overcame the shortcomings that emanated from their “all-in-one” monolith platform by switching to a headless architecture with microservices, and the rest is history…

It is worth mentioning, however, that headless commerce is not limited to nor specific for enterprises, but is instead suitable for businesses of any size, enabling the addition of business functionalities to existing monolith platforms, and integrating with standard UI with almost little to no technical support.

How can headless commerce contribute to omnichannel experiences?

Essentially, headless commerce provides business with the necessary agility to keep up with customer demands and the technological backbone to create seamless omnichannel experiences. Without a headless architecture, businesses could potentially create omnichannel experiences, but not sustainable ones. Without the agility of headless architecture on their side, they will fail to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and will inevitably be rendered oudated and, by proxy, irrelevant.  

Additionally, the flexibility of a headless architecture gives retailers the ability to incorporate a wide range of technologies through e-commerce integration that help gather and interpret data faster than with a monolith platform, creating customer insights on all sides, from marketing, to sales.

All in all, headless commerce is a must for retailers seeking to provide personalized customer experiences and make the most out of their commerce strategy across all channels, simultaneously reducing operational costs and speeding up their time-to-market.  

How can you create an omnichannel experience for your customers?

Creating a seamless omnichannel experience for customers is a process in itself, and it all begins with integration:

  • Integration: All the different touchpoints must be integrated for data to be consistent across all channels. This consistency is best achieved through technologies that enable data sharing and synchronization across channels, and the preferred one is Alumio, an iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service).

If you are a retailer, you will likely want to integrate the following systems: marketing, inventory, accounting, POS, CRM, ERP, and PIM, to only name a few, and Alumio is the platform that unifies diverse solutions and ensures cohesion across the entire IT ecosystem.

Learn how to build omnichannel experiences with Alumio here.

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