Given the ease of deploying an "off the peg" online store from a SaaS provider, it has never been more important to differentiate your site from your competitors.
Until recently, this has been quite a tricky thing to achieve. Fully customised sites generally involve a large development project with a self-hosted platform like Magento or nopCommerce. These platforms are typically "monolithic" applications, delivering both the back-end (commerce) and front-end (UX) functionality. While there is nothing wrong with this, their strengths generally lie in their commerce engine capabilities .. with UX often compromised by limited CMS controls.
This is not to say they don’t still work very well, this often comes at the expense of means to create rich user experiences for shoppers.
Solutions using "headless e-commerce"
With headless commerce, the back and the front ends of the ecommerce deployment are decoupled. But what does this mean?
Well, the system considered the “back end” provides functionality such as the inventory and orders database, payment processing and user accounts. The system considered the “front end” presents the website onto the internet and provide controls for managing and editing content.
The systems delivering the front end and back end communicate and synchronise via an API (Application Programming Interface)
BigCommerce as a "headless back-end"
BigCommerce is an excellent example of an API-driven e-commerce platform. It is specifically designed to operate as a commerce back-end for headless solutions. Indeed, even a very basic website can present BigCommerce functionality to a site visitor transparently via it's API. The end-user has no idea this is occurring.
UX-focussed CMS for the front-end
There are many CMS applications on the market. Some are free and open source, some are licensed. At Equahost, we deploy front ends using Umbraco CMS. Umbraco is built on Microsoft .NET technology and features unrivalled scope for customization.
So now we have an overview of the concept of “headless commerce” … how will it benefit your business?
- Make only changes to front end – no need to consider whole tech stack. So, you can try things out quickly.
- Not limited by the constraints of a traditional, monolithic eCommerce platform. Develop what you need to serve your customers, rather than operate in the confines of a rigid framework.
Choose your own CMS
- There are many CMS available (Umbraco, WordPress, Drupal etc.) These platforms have all been optimized to serve content. Couple these with a powerful API-driven commerce engine like Big Commerce and you have the best of both worlds. (Naturally, we think Umbraco is best!)
Ability to Experiment
- Run a production and a development site side-by-side … connected to the same back end. Makes testing so much easier.
- Use CMS functionality to show / hide test features on your customers and gauge reaction.
- Dedicated server for front-end performance. Own all the server resources for your customers.
- Limited only by CMS and coding skills
- An advanced CMS can cache certain objects like accounts, categories, and products. Some, like Umbraco CMS offer group functionality permitting varying levels of functionality to different users ... depending on permission levels.
Want to know how Equahost can build your 100% custom and branded e-Commerce solution? Check out this page with further information on our Umbraco Big Commerce integration.