Headless Commerce Vs. Traditional Ecommerce

By Ambab Infotech

The frontend and backend of an eCommerce website are its two components. The former is the interface, where the customers interact with the website, browses through the products, etc. The latter is the working table for the administrators and managers, which allows them to manage product catalog, view and manage orders, customers, etc.

What is an eCommerce platform?

As the name suggests, eCommerce is a shared network that allows its users to browse through all the information, forward it, etc. The system can be used for buying and selling goods and/or services. 

Ecommerce is meant as an alternative or parallel solution to regular commerce. Hence, it offers its part of pros and cons. In recent years, eCommerce has been the most sought-after solution for buying needs. It has also catapulted global trade to the next level.

The eCommerce platform is the tool that is used in order to develop websites and other web-related services. Many clients with business potentials go for websites as well as apps on various platforms, namely Android, iOS, and Windows. 

This cross-platform adaptation and website strategy has proven to be really great in increasing the brand’s market presence, brand value, information on the availability of products, etc. It has also been proven to be effective in offering unprecedented convenience to valuable customers. Wonder why else eCommerce giants like Amazon are soaring the heights of the market?

In order to understand what are the differences between headless eCommerce and traditional commerce, we first need to understand what they are or mean in the first place. Let us begin with traditional eCommerce first.

Understanding Traditional Ecommerce

It is a website-building platform that has been available ever since websites and the world wide web have been around. It is regarded as a rather straightforward method of going about building a website. 

However, despite its simplicity in application, the traditional eCommerce platform, also called monolithic platform or monolithic application has severe limitations, which we shall discuss further in the blog.

Moreover, Traditional eCommerce does not allow decoupling, which means that the user interface layer, i.e. the front end code is not separated from the logic code, i.e. backend logic engine thus resulting in limitations.

Understanding Headless eCommerce

Headless eCommerce

Headless eCommerce is an alternative to traditional eCommerce and vows to patch all its shortcomings. It offers greater customisability. It is the most versatile in terms of programmability and maintenance.

A website built on headless commerce is developed with a more open-ended designing platform that facilitates a greater scope for changes. Whereas, traditional eCommerce is rather limited to changes.

Defining, in technical terms, headless eCommerce is a software architecture pattern that allows decoupling.

However, in spite of the great versatility of headless eCommerce, its greatest virtue, i.e. flexibility may cause some to opt-out of it as an option. The number of possibilities it offers can actually prove to be the bottleneck for the development process; developers will have to build the entire website without a templated base, adding to its time.

For argument’s sake, both have their own shares of pros and cons. Nevertheless, headless commerce is more revolutionary as it offers complete control to the developer to make any changes they desire. 

The below comparison points elucidate the difference.

1- Openness to integrate new technology

The eCommerce business must keep up with the industry dynamics. Needless to say, numerous factors affect the online sales business both positively and negatively. A website being able to inculcate newer trends in technology can give the firm a good edge in the fierce competition.

The eCommerce industry is so dynamic that any instance of reluctance towards a technological iteration can lead to disastrous consequences, namely drastically reduced customer conversion rates, losing existing customers etc.

headless commerce platform is optimum in the technological transition; the developers can work on the change over the front end smoothly. Besides, this platform gives completely centralized control for designing and delivering the content as opposed to traditional eCommerce. It guarantees an uncompromised customer experience.

2- Cost to acquire new customers

Driving new customers is an integral way of increasing the brand value. It is a future-orientated approach every eCommerce business wants to take. Sustaining the existing customers along with widening the clientèle can be doubly beneficial to the company.

An ideal way of getting new customers is by driving more and more web traffic. No doubt, organic and paid traffic driving methods together work effectively. Nevertheless, the cost of paid traffic driving method, i.e. advertisements on search engines and paid search engine rankings can be overwhelming. Paid methods may not always work either. 

Hence, the organic method of getting data traffic of potential customers is the best for any eCommerce firm. This is where headless commercecan be a great tool to put to use. It offers complete freedom for a firm to develop the website the way it wants. 

With the headless commerce development platform, a firm can use experience-led and content-led strategies and devise a website accordingly. Customers can visit the website due to the user experience and convenience they find while browsing it. 

Websites based on the traditional eCommerce-based platform are usually made with a commerce-led strategy, which may not be so effective in purely organic search. Often, drastically low prices can be the only way to work around such a shortcoming.

3- Speed in making extensions and newer regional sites

As stated above, a website needs to conform to the dynamics of the industry and activities surrounding the market and target audiences. 

Bug fixes, improvements in the frontend aspect of the website, namely adaptability to different screen resolutions, integration of newer payment methods, adding new sections, and temporary changes like festive season themes, etc are some of the changes every eCommerce website has to inculcate every now and then.

Such changes need to be implemented without affecting the customer engagement the website is meant to provide. 

An eCommerce firm that has vouched to widen its market on a global scale must assure rapid implementation of changes, making its website truly experience-led.

The traditional eCommerce platform of website development is the most rigid in this area. Hence, it can prove a big impediment in letting the brand go global.

Development in the headless commerce method can ensure that no time is lost and the whole process of system upgrade completes in no time. Thanks to decoupling, the headless eCommerce platform allows developers to work on a patch or update rollout independent of the site’s workability.

With the highly centralized nature of the platform, developers can ensure smooth and well-coordinated functioning of the main site, its extensions, and all geographical sites.

4- Freedom of programming choice to the developers

Numerous programming languages and toolkits are out there. This may add to the perplexity of the development team. Also, building and sustaining a team that is highly well-versed in all the technical aspects can be hard.

Hence, the traditional eCommerce method of website development may not be the first choice for your backend team since it offers only a few options of programming languages. 

Headless programming, on the other hand, offers a wider plethora of options in terms of the foundational languages; CMX, PWA, and DXP are to name a few. Custom solutions are also widely practicable. This greatly streamlines the team’s workflow.

5- Flexibility in testing an application

Software applications need to go through the repeated development processes or updates. These updates answer problems that infest a website; slow speed, lack of responsiveness, abrupt closing, and so on are some problems that a website develops over a period of time.

In a monolith platform-based development, due to its single-pointedness, even if a small part of the application is changed, then the testing needs to be carried out for the whole application. This results in the inefficient testing procedure of the website and it is labor-intensive. 

In a headless development framework, only a small part of an application can be tested for functionality; hence, it is a highly efficient process. This gives an additional advantage to developers as it reduces the overall time.

6- Resource allocation

Websites require dedicated hardware resources that help them with their optimum workability. The need for the resources by the websites may not be too much to meet; however, their allocation can be tricky especially on shared hosting.

In shared hosting, the hardware resources are divided and allotted to each website that it hosts. In highly coupled, traditional applications, the allotment of hardware resources like RAM, CPU, hard disk, etc for individual software components is treated equally even if some of them need more of those resources.

In decoupled, headless applications, this is not the case; hence, individual software components are allotted more hardware resources than others, resulting in a non-uniform allocation of resources. Such application is not very shared hosting-friendly. 

However, mostly, shared hosting is not at all a choice for most big firms that want to make their digital presence felt.

FAQs

1- Can I transition my website from a traditional application to a headless one?

A- Now after knowing the differences between the two eCommerce platforms, some potential clients may want to switch to the revolutionary option and would wonder whether it is even possible. Fortunately, it is. 

Headless, being a highly versatile platform for website and app development, allows you to transfer functions and modules that are vital for a business.

2- Does switching from monolithic to headless eCommerce take a lot of time?

A- As a business, you are certainly cautious about the time it takes to make a switch from traditional or monolithic commerce to headless commerce. The answer is no. All the time it takes is to develop a new website with integrations from the older one and making it go live.

3- Are headless and microservices the same?

A- While looking up online, viewers are often baffled by terms like headless and microservices and wonder whether there is any difference between the two.

‘Microservices’ or ‘microservices architecture’ is more of a general term meaning single-function application-based development. In headless applications, only the back-end and front-end systems are decoupled. However, in microservices, the overall single-function applications are coupled, giving the thus developed website a better edge of scaling together.

4- Are there any disadvantages of using a headless platform for eCommerce needs?

A- As you have seen that the advantages of using headless platforms for the development of websites outweigh those of their traditional counterparts, you naturally have a strong inclination of porting your existing website to the more beneficial platform.

Now, you want to gauge any possible demerits of opting for the headless framework of development. One of the most obvious shortcomings of the platform is that it does not allow you to preview your website before its actual manifestation.

The preview you may get will be very vague. Naturally, if you are not satisfied with some aspects, then you will have to ask for amendments. 

Another grey area for the headless development framework is that it offers a whole range of possibilities in terms of development. 

Firms that want to embark on an ambitious project of developing a website that serves its purpose to the full extent would have to hand over their development task to highly competent developers. 

The competence comes into question as the process requires a lot of expertise in the field.

Such intricate development requires a lot of skills and precisions for a valuable outcome.

5- Which of the two above-mentioned platforms can offer me the best value for money?

A- Website is an integral part of a firm. It helps a brand go digital and increase its market presence. Brand value and credence are additional benefits a firm gets with a fully functional website.

Besides, a website can be the interface for potential customers to transact and existing customers to interact. 

On contrary, some websites are only meant to prove a company’s credibility and reliability. Hence, when opting for a web development service, you have to take all these factors into account. 

A website meant for direct sales has to be fully customized so that it gives an awe-inspiring experience to every viewer. 

Things like cross-platform compatibility, being able to fit different screen resolutions, etc demand repeated bug-fixing and update rollout. Therefore, the headless developmental framework is the best for such a need.

On the other hand, a website with limited purposes may be developed on a monolithic platform.

Now factoring all these aspects, the respective developmental platforms can give you the best value for money.

Conclusion

Above were some of the many differentiating points between headless commerce-based and traditional eCommerce-based website development. Conclusively we can say that headless commerce offers far higher flexibility in developing a website, fixing it, and keeping it updated than its traditional counterpart. Headless commerce also allows you to control a website centrally with unquestionable effectiveness.