Headless Commerce Facilitates an Omnichannel Strategy

Thought Leadership

By Iñaki Barturen | July 23, 2021
Illustration of a woman pointing to a search bar.

With the business challenges that emerged in 2020, many companies were faced with taking a hard look at their website performance and use of digital channels.

For businesses seeking a future-proof technology solution, many leaders leaned into a headless approach to set up their site architecture. The benefits of a headless setup are vast and include improved site speed, performance, and security.

Specifically, having the ability to adapt your site components, integrate new technologies, and deliver fast site experiences on any device is a game changer. If you are looking to move towards an omnichannel strategy, embracing headless commerce will be critical to your success.

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of using a headless commerce setup for businesses looking to improve their omnichannel experience.

Accelerate your omnichannel strategy

Omnichannel is a strategy that aims to create a seamless shopping experience for customers, no matter what device or region users operate from. The goal is to standardize the way your brand presents and delivers information across the channels your business uses.

For omnichannel to succeed, your focus must be on the customer. Your strategy needs to revolve around developing a unified experience across all channels. Achieving this requires a decision to be made at the organizational level that will affect the tech you choose to support your systems.

How is omnichannel different from multichannel?

As you seek to evolve your tech stack, it’s helpful to understand the difference between multichannel and omnichannel experiences. Each holds a different perspective on what’s important at the core, and will affect which technology solutions you’ll select.

Multichannel eCommerce holds the view that product is placed at the center. In this view, the experience across each channel may not be standardized. A multichannel philosophy aims to provide customers content through their preferred channel, with marketing that is customized to best match the target market and device.

The challenge with this approach is that it can leave customers surprised and confused that brands operate differently in each channel. Often, this can lead to confusion and mistrust.

On the other hand, Omnichannel holds the view that experiences should be standardized across device type, region, and channel. This puts the customer at the center, which fosters better brand loyalty long-term.

Omnichannel provides advantages for the long-haul

Regardless of the channel, providing great customer experiences means you are choosing to invest in long-term relationships with your client base. Research by Salesforce indicates that 89% of B2B customers would buy again from a business that offers a good experience. This is consistent with findings from a HubSpot survey, which revealed that 93% of people are in favor of becoming recurring customers of businesses that offer excellent customer service.

On the flip side, Zendesk states that 61% of customers will switch to the competition after having a bad experience. This number increases to 80% if the bad experience is repeated.

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, eCommerce and face-to-face are the two most effective sales channels for B2B businesses. This reality further highlights that brands who want to win in their competitive market must optimize for eCommerce experiences that deliver brand consistency.

Headless Commerce standardizes experiences

Thanks to the flexibility provided by this setup, developing your eCommerce platform with a headless approach enables omnichannel adoption. Specifically, you can easily create and publish content, delivering it to any channel you like. Let’s look at some of the features of the setup that make this possible:

  • Decoupled front-end and back-end. A headless CMS facilitates direct integrations to your site front-end via API calls, so actions like product search, selection, and payment are agile. Changes to the back-end won’t disrupt the front-end, which reduces errors and service drops.

  • CDN-based. Thanks to the inherent characteristics of headless development, your content distribution is CDN-based. This means it will load via API calls, which improves device compatibility and connectivity, and enables faster loading times and lighter content processing.

  • Security. Your site will benefit from an additional layer of security. As a result of integrating with a handful of specialized providers, you’ll benefit from their infrastructure and support for calls and transactions.

Dynamic search services for your customers are key

One of the defining features of good omnichannel execution is giving your customers the ability to search for, compare, and purchase the right products at the right time.

To achieve this, you need a smart search function on your site. Algolia is an example of a dynamic search engine powered by AI, that you can integrate and use in a headless setup. The tool operates as a search-as-a-service approach — meaning, you pay per user search.

As customers use your site, Algolia learns about customer interests and preferences. From there, the tool offers them a plethora of product options to choose from in a matter of milliseconds. This means your customers are more likely to stick around and buy from you rather than your competitor.

Thanks to their smart AI, Algolia offers a predictive search capability that serves up related content as the customer types and performs searches. You can adjust the criteria of these smart-suggestions based on your own business insights, to offer an unparalleled online shopping experience.

In times of change, the customer is everything

Today, the purchase journey begins and ends on any device and in any place. In order to attract and convert customers, your products must be easily accessible across sales channels, and offer a seamless experience.

If you are looking to evolve your omnichannel strategy, we’d love to help. At Apply Digital, we work with headless technologies to drive client goals of providing best-in-class digital experiences. Reach out to someone on our team today, and we’d be happy to chat.