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Headless Commerce Explained in Simple Terms

Last updated April 27, 2022 4 min to read
Headless Commerce
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User experience has become the main priority for retailers when setting up or improving their eCommerce website. In 2020, online shoppers demand a quick, and often personalized journey.

Delivering this cutting-edge eCommerce experience can require significant development work, especially for larger, older online stores.

This is where headless commerce comes in.

Headless commerce enables online sellers to change, optimize and add to their front end user experience without worrying about the back end functionality of their site. That’s why 61% of online retailers say they’re planning on leveraging headless commerce in 2020.

What is headless commerce? 

Headless commerce is a system that enables the separation of the front end user interface (UI) with the back end architecture.

Imagine every website as a head and a body. The head is the front end, or the website that shoppers see when they’re browsing for products. The body is the back end, which is the engine powering the site’s functionality.

With a traditional eCommerce system, both the ‘head’ and the ‘body’ are highly dependent on each other to work. If you make a change to the front end, reciprocal changes are required on the back end.

Headless commerce enables you to make changes to the ‘head’ without needing to adjust the ‘body’ as well.

This enables quicker updates, integrations with more channels on different devices, shorter development times, and many more positives for your online store.

How headless commerce works

How do sites using headless commerce function? Simply put, the answer is by using APIs (application programming interfaces).

An API facilitates the sharing of data between software or servers. Essentially, APIs act as a data middleman in headless commerce. They collect and deliver data between the headless back end CMS (content management system) and the front end of your site.

The fact that the front end and back end are detached provides you with greater flexibility with the tools that you use. You can use different technologies for your payment providers, site hosting, advertising channels and more.

The main advantages of headless commerce

Headless commerce has its advantages and disadvantages, like most systems. Here are the main positives.

1. Facilitates quick and easy updates to your UX

A good user experience (UX) today might fall below expectations in a year, or less. Keeping up and staying ahead requires frequent testing and constant optimization. Headless commerce makes this much more manageable.

If you’re using a headless commerce system you won’t need to add developers to small-scale website projects. This means marketers and web designers can experiment, iterate and improve quickly.

Headless commerce advantages
Headless commerce empowers your creative staff to make a bigger impact on your site

2. Makes multichannel selling easier

The emergence of new devices such as smart watches, smart speakers, and new social media channels means online sellers have to rapidly adapt.

If your competitors are seeing great success with a new channel, you should make sure you’re selling on it too!

If your site isn’t using headless commerce architecture, making your site compatible on a new device is a real challenge. A costly challenge as well, as big IT projects aren’t cheap!

3. Faster loading times

Using a headless commerce system often results in a much faster site.

There is a separate display logic when using a headless solution and as a result, your front end applications should work quicker. Your site won’t be slowed by processing in the back end.

4. You can mix and match the best tools

If you’re using headless commerce architecture, you’re able to use multiple different front end tools with ease. This allows you to cherry pick your software and switch when something better comes along.

5. Better use of your technical resources

Developer time is precious, literally! If your technical staff are having to spend hours enabling front end changes, their expertise is likely to be missed elsewhere. This means you’ll have to hire more staff and highly skilled developers don’t come cheap.

The disadvantages of headless commerce

Headless commerce isn’t suitable for everyone. Here are some disadvantages and challenges that come with headless commerce.

1. Initial costs

If you’re an established eCommerce business switching to headless commerce, it’s going to be painful initially. Decoupling your back and front end processes is a time-consuming, delicate process. It has to be handled with care, as so much is at stake.

On the other hand, it’s often larger companies with old, clunky databases that would gain the most from a headless system. It will be costly initially, but you’ll save time and money in the long run.

2. More technologies to manage

For companies that have the resources, mixing and matching technologies for different stages in the user journey is a good thing. You can pick tools that are best for each specific stage of the user journey.

For much smaller eCommerce companies, the use of multiple technologies could be a headache. For these companies, a partially headless solution is often the best way forward.

Shopify offers a range of templates that sellers can easily use for their front end design without worrying about the functionality in the back. You can also use Shopify apps to plug in, giving some of the benefits of a headless architecture.

For sellers that would like to use Shopify but desire a truly headless architecture, Shopify Plus is the one to use. As an entirely headless system, Shopify Plus offers more freedom to personalize, but will require more work to set up.

Did you know that over 60% of US online retail purchases were made through Amazon last year? Amazon’s hold over eCommerce is well established, with 9.1 million active Amazon sellers worldwide and an average of 66 thousand orders per day. Newer sellers may be wondering how they can get more sales on Amazon in such a competitive environment.

The truth is, they absolutely can because with Amazon’s booming market share come many opportunities. We’ve assembled this digestible list of 14 quick wins and strategic moves, to help you up your game and sell more on Amazon.

1. Do keyword research

Having the right keywords can be one of the most important tactics in reaching your target audiences. Using the keywords that are common to searches for your products is the objective, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is a constantly evolving game. That means that keywords used successfully in the past may not be as effective with updated search engine algorithms today.

The terms used by customers to find products change daily and are affected by seasonal, cultural, and economic factors. Hence, it’s important to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and make sure you cast a wide net when implementing keywords for each product listing.

Each product should be optimized with as many relevant keywords as possible – into the hundreds! This gives you the best possible chance of getting your products found by customers, helping you sell more on Amazon.

Amazon keyword research tools like Helium 10, SellerApp, Jungle Scout, and AMZ One can help by generating a list of related keywords with search volume, competition level, and other useful metrics, making it easier for you to choose the best keywords for your product listing

2. Use a repricing tool to get more sales on Amazon

When it comes to sealing the deal and making a sale, price is a main deciding factor for many customers. As an Amazon seller, you always want to make sure you’re pricing your products competitively, but equally, you don’t want to lose your margin! 

This is something that using repricing software can help with. Repricing software automates the pricing process in real-time, ensuring your prices stay in line with those of competitors, and with market fluctuations, while you get more sales on Amazon.

Repricing software also has many customisable features that allow you to set prices at optimal levels to help drive sales, without compromising profit. It’s worth taking a trial to see how it can help lift your sales. 

3. Get more Amazon reviews

Online reviews are important to spread confidence through word of month and for building credibility for your brand. It’s also a fact that 72% of shoppers won’t buy until they’ve read reviews of a product from people like themselves – people they trust. 

Even a strong product with great marketing behind it still has to overcome the fear of the unknown if there’s no social proof. Plus, positive reviews are a significant factor in deciding which products win the Amazon Buy Box.

Get more Amazon reviews by encouraging feedback from your customers. The best way to do this is by utilizing feedback software to automate the process.

4. Provide great customer service

Customer service is absolutely essential in eCommerce. Offering top-quality customer service not only adds value, but helps retain customers. A big part of making a sale is assuring the customer that they can trust you to deliver, and that trust is hard earned but easily lost. Providing good eCommerce customer service is critical, and committing to providing great customer service is all the more so!

As an Amazon seller, you need to be on top of your customer service. Responsiveness, a friendly manner and quick and easy resolution processes are all ingredients that make for a winning approach to great customer service. 

But it can be confusing trying to streamline it all. Thankfully, there are all sorts of tools available to make this job easier, like helpdesk software to keep all your customer interactions in one place. This helps you to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries when they come in, so that your customers always know you’ve got their back.

5. Leverage Amazon seller tools

The best part about being an Amazon seller is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools available to help you maximize your business and get the most out of selling on Amazon, whether third-party or FBA. 

From repricing tools, to help desk software, to review software and even shipping assistance, many tools exist on the market today that specifically help Amazon sellers optimize their listings, prices, feedback, shipping, customer service and even their taxes. 

There are many different seller tools available, so it’s worth reading about options and making an informed decision about the right ones to choose for your business. With the right tools, you can grow your business more than you ever thought possible. 

6. Get more sales on Amazon with ads

Running ads is almost guaranteed to help you get more sales on Amazon, but it’s easy to just throw money at them and hope for the best. You can do better! Pay attention to your advertising cost of sales (ACOS) metric, the figure for how much ad spend you need in order to make a sale.

By advertising more efficiently, you lower your ACOS and ensure you get more bang for your buck. Over time, you’ll learn what works and you can employ a strategy with regards to how you run your ads. Taking an insight-driven approach to Amazon ads results in a more profitable Amazon business!

7. Optimise your product pages

The old saying goes that 80% of readers never make it past the headline of any piece of content. That means once you’ve written your product title, you’ve effectively spent 80 cents of your dollar.

When writing product titles, stick to the formula of:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Features (size, colour, gender etc). 

This lets you include the right keywords in the right order to immediately tell shoppers that this is the product for them.

Moreover, making sure to visually design your product pages so that they’re clean, simple and easy to read will also help win over shoppers. No one wants to read through a cluttered page. The more straightforward (yet informative) and the cleaner you make your design, the more likely you’ll be to win over those elusive eyeballs!

8. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The quickest way to get more sales on Amazon is by ensuring that your products show up consistently in the Amazon Buy Box (the area in the top right of a product page, where shoppers can ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’). This is because over 82% of sales happen through this highly sought after space.

Although the exact formula to win the Buy Box is unknown, there are a few things that we know are essential. These are mainly metrics that prove the seller is providing a good customer experience. Customer reviews play a big role here. The more positive reviews a seller can amass, the likelihood of winning the Buy Box increases. 

In addition to reviews, something else that’s obviously very important to Amazon shoppers is price! By using repricing software, you can automatically set your prices at the optimal level to win the Buy Box and maximize profit, even if you’ve got an enormous inventory.

9. Amazon account health rating

The Amazon account health rating (AHR) is a new feature that helps you monitor your account health based on its adherence to Amazon seller policies. 

It considers both negative factors (such as the number of unresolved policy violations on your account) as well as positive factors (how your account positively impacts the customer experience through its selling activities). 

Each account will be given a rating, which is regularly reviewed as Amazon monitors the performance of its sellers. If your account is off-target, you will be notified so that you can improve your performance. Conversely, a good AHR rating will work in your favor, helping assure customers that they’re doing business with a compliant seller. 

10. Maintain your Amazon SLA

A big part of being a seller is cultivating trust with your customers. That means showing them that you operate in an above-board manner and that you’ll make good on your promise of fulfillment to them. One way of doing that is by making sure your Amazon store has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is a promise to your customers that they’ll receive their orders on time. When it comes to fulfillment, the SLA is based on the capacity to fulfill open orders and on-time shipping and delivery. 

SLAs help manage customer expectations by defining standards and outlining circumstances under which you as the seller won’t be liable for unfulfilled promises (e.g., natural disasters preventing shipping, etc). 

eDesk’s customer service solution is designed to alert you when your SLA is expiring, so your business is never caught without one. Having a current SLA helps you maintain transparency with customers, thereby building trust which helps ensure customer loyalty.  

11. Focus on products that already sell

Most ambitious business owners want to try new streams of revenue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the things that are making you money now. 

By doubling down on the products that already provide your Amazon store with a reliable revenue stream, you not only deliver to market demand but ensure that you have the financial runway required to take risks on innovative new products, if need be. 

Review your financial statements every quarter and look at the items that are performing best in your store. Think about how you can continue to market these with ads, SEO keywords and upgraded images to maximize their selling potential in your online store. 

12. Sync your inventory

Inventory can be a delicate balancing act. Hold too much inventory for too long and you need to pay over the odds to store it. But hold too little inventory and you lose out on vital sales, or even customers, due to an inability to fulfill. Amazon can also penalize you if your inventory performance isn’t up to standard.

Stock control is something every seller needs to understand and have the capability to manage for optimal results. Smart inventory management is an under-appreciated way to increase your Amazon sales and profit margin. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Investing in the right tools and software can help sellers take the stress out of balancing supply and demand.

13. Expand into new Amazon marketplaces 

Amazon currently has 20 marketplaces around the world, which include the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and more. 

You can scale your brand by moving into some of these marketplaces. This can involve doing market research to find out which products are popular in each market and then uplevelling your shipping operations in order to be able to ship globally.  

But expanding into new markets also means you’ll need to take language into consideration and localize your listings so that they feature each marketplace’s local language and SEO keywords in the appropriate language. Multilingual customer service is also needed in order to be able to service customers across various marketplaces in their local language. 

Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. eDesk’s help desk solution is designed to support customer service and workflow in multiple languages, so you can expand your business without investing in the overhead of hiring a global team. 

14. Spy on your competitors

Ok, maybe “spy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but profitable sellers are always on the lookout for what their competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re offering the right inventory for your market at the right prices. Repricing software will monitor this for you, taking the guesswork out of pricing at the right levels. 

Using data gleaned from helpdesk reporting can also help you gather valuable insights and feedback from your customers, which will help you to better understand what customers want and need. Acting on analytics-driven insights from easy-to-read reports means you’re always one step ahead of the competition. 

Final thoughts

The quest to increase your store’s Amazon sales doesn’t need to be an uphill struggle. There are many resources available to Amazon sellers today to help them optimize their store and develop a healthy sales pipeline. 

By staying in touch with how the Amazon platform grows and using the right tech tools to drive your business, you can continue to do what you do best: building a great brand, winning customers, retaining existing customers and improving your bottom line. 

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