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How to Overcome Headless Commerce Challenges for Shopify Users

Submitted by Debra Weinryb, Content Strategist, Diff 

By separating front-end customer experiences from back-end technology, headless commerce provides brands on Shopify and other eCommerce platforms the freedom to customize their online experience and empowers businesses to publish content from virtually any platform.

Headless commerce improves shopper experience by providing a path via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) between your presentation layer and back-end systems, aligning online stores with social, in-store and smart device touch points for shopping cart checkout and payment. As a result, customer touch points such as kiosks, wearables, apps, voice technology, billboards, vending machines, and much more, become connected to provide seamless, cross-channel customer interactions.

Given headless commerce’s extensive list of benefits, including improved customer experiences, enhanced control and scaling, and greater system flexibility, it may come as a surprise that headless commerce isn’t right for everyone. Why? The freedom that headless provides brands also comes with responsibility and that’s why we’ve identified three headless commerce challenges and how brands can overcome them. 

Want to learn how eCommerce leaders are responding to headless commerce? Download the eCommerce Leaders Survey Report to find out!

Three challenges of headless eCommerce integration

1. More development resources needed

Headless commerce separates copy from code. This means you’ll need a marketing team to keep content updated, and a development team to add features when needed. If using Shopify out-of-the-box, customization is available but it will be limited to the platform’s capabilities. If you want specific features, like product recommendations for example, you’ll need developers to integrate those 3rd party applications.

Adding layers to your eCommerce infrastructure not only takes up time, but also requires additional skill sets. Without the right toolkit, it can be difficult to find the causes behind issues that arise, like security threats for example, and to troubleshoot them. Trying to fix complex problems without headless expertise can increase your team’s “technical debt,” with headaches and wasted time.

2. Site speed and security become vulnerable

New technologies often come with bugs such as security threats. When using Shopify out-of-the-box, security, for the most part, is taken care of for you, but site speed is another issue.

Why? Because with a headless infrastructure, the massive number of APIs that connect the data being pulled into the front-end can actually hurt site performance. Whether you are using Shopify out-of-the-box or in the process of moving to headless, you’ll have to monitor site speed for yourself, or leverage an eCommerce acceleration tool, such as Yottaa.

A slow site is a setback for brands because it correlates with a lower conversion rate. Additionally, long page load times negatively affect search engine ranking (SEO). This means Google will drop your website in terms of search engine results  and even give your spot to competitors. And if you get less site traffic, you’ll also have less ROI from search engine marketing, like paid ads. And, of course, a slow site is an experience killer for your shoppers, who likely won’t wait more than 3 seconds for a page to load.

3. Costs for building infrastructure and testing

Going headless means you will need additional technology infrastructure, including more servers and databases, to support the decoupling of your front-end and back-end systems that need to be hosted and managed. Either you will need a team to manage your technology infrastructure internally, or you’ll need to hire a software development team.

A development team can help you add new features, clean up code and fix technical issues. They can also help you build custom commerce applications, or integrate 3rd party systems into your online store, like an ERP, CMS, or PIM. After adding layers to your eCommerce technology stack, you will need further support to test and debug issues, as well as build an inventory of all your 3rd parties.

How Diff works with YOTTAA to overcome headless commerce challenges

Diff is a full-service eCommerce agency that provides brands and retailers with end-to-end solutions to accelerate their growth. Diff’s team works with word-class partners, like Yottaa, to overcome headless challenges, like site speed and security, when integrating 3rd parties into an eCommerce store. This ensures brands can get a better return on investment and increase revenue by optimizing their site speed and providing the best shopper experience possible when switching to a headless platform.

Should you consider headless commerce?

Headless commerce benefits companies that want full control over the look and feel of their website. It’s a good choice for companies that want to actively maintain their site in terms of content creation and presentation. When going headless, 3rd party features and solutions can be added to customize and personalize your website as you wish, with the sky as the limit. A/B testing with customers also makes it easier to personalize your online store, and find features and apps that best compliment your customers’ online shopping experience. 

Don’t let personalization impact your site performance

Choosing to go headless increases the ability to control the look and feel of your user experience. With this freedom also comes the responsibility to optimize 3rd party applications to ensure a fast and consistent customer experience across all devices and channels. With the right team and tools for building, testing, and optimizing your headless project, you can add as many 3rd parties as you want without having to sacrifice site performance.

Want to learn how eCommerce leaders are responding to headless commerce? Download the eCommerce Leaders Survey Report to find out!