The continued expansion of the online retail landscape has forced companies to search for new ways to attract and retain customers. Headless commerce has emerged as a method that businesses can employ to address some of the challenges associated with the evolving eCommerce market.
In this article, we take a quick look at what constitutes headless commerce and investigate the benefits of using dedicated servers for hosting websites in this type of environment. Businesses can obtain a substantial competitive advantage by hosting their headless commerce website with a dedicated server solution.
What is Headless Commerce?
In a headless commerce environment, the frontend and backend of an online store are separate entities. These two parts come together to create a store’s customer experience.
The frontend is the customers-facing part of an eCommerce platform. It is also known as the presentation layer and includes components like a website, data streams from social media or mobile apps, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
The backend, or eCommerce platform, is comprised of the underlying systems and processes that enable a business to run its e-commerce environment effectively and efficiently. A backend provides functions involved in storing data, order fulfillment, and purchase checkout.
Decoupling the presentation layer of the frontend and the functionality of the backend provides the opportunity for almost limitless customization. A headless solution enables a business to concentrate on developing and creating engaging user experiences with frontend technology. A flexible backend can furnish the functionality and security required to address evolving business requirements.
Headless solutions enable businesses to be more agile and able to meet changing trends and customer demands.
Advantages of Headless Commerce
Headless commerce offers several advantages to businesses involved in the online marketplace.
Enhanced frontend development - Developers can create a unique customer experience to make a business stand out from the crowd. New technology and the elimination of pre-defined themes can give an online store a distinctive look that appeals to online shoppers. Dynamic frontend applications can be developed to receive and process data through customized application programming interfaces (APIs)
Flexibility - Changes can be applied to a website more quickly with headless architecture than in a traditional eCommerce implementation.
Developing an omnichannel presence - Headless commerce makes it easier to create a viable user experience across all sales channels. An API can link content to users on mobile apps, websites, or any other channel available to the business.
Improved customization and personalization - A headless commerce approach eliminates the need to use the standard eCommerce templates and themes employed by a majority of websites. A greater degree of personalization and customization will drive customers to the site and improve brand loyalty.
Scalability - The flexibility and customization available in a headless commerce environment mesh with the needs of businesses poised to scale up to meet changing requirements.
Longterm cost savings - While there may be some upfront costs when implementing a headless commerce platform, there will be financial savings over time. The control businesses exercise over the environment can drive increased revenue and reduce the need for expensive third-party technical support.
Challenges Associated With Headless Commerce
Several challenges need to be surmounted by organizations implementing a headless commerce environment. In some cases, these challenges may result in a company deciding to choose to deploy a traditional eCommerce solution.
Cost - The initial cost of implementing a headless commerce architecture can be substantial and may not fit with a company’s projected capital expenditure budget. These costs need to be weighed against the projected benefits and increased revenue generated by the new system. Costs can be controlled with options such as renting a dedicated server from a third-party vendor rather than purchasing it and housing it in an on-premises data center.
Technical expertise - A high degree of technical expertise is required to correctly implement headless commerce. Changing existing processes can be tricky and when not done right can expose a company to failed systems, downtime, and lost revenue. In many cases, partnering with a third-party hosting provider can reduce or eliminate any concerns about the availability of adequate technical resources.
Data integration and connectivity - Integrating the diverse data streams and sales channels can be extremely challenging. Faulty integrations will lead to dissatisfied customers and late hours for an organization’s development team. Third-party tools that help integrate and automate data intake are essential when implementing a headless commerce environment.
How Dedicated Web Hosting Solutions Benefit Headless Commerce
Companies that rely on their eCommerce platform can employ various web hosting solutions. A shared server approach is the least expensive option, but will not always deliver the desired level of performance or reliability. A virtual private server (VPS) addresses some of the shortcomings of a shared server but still falls short of the performance achievable with dedicated physical hardware.
Let’s look at ways dedicated web hosting benefits headless commerce.
Customization - A dedicated server provides full control over the deployment of operating systems and software applications. Both frontend and backend resources can be fine-tuned and customized to provide an improved user experience. Shared physical or virtual environments do not allow the same degree of customization and force companies to make compromises that result in negative impacts on the business.
Reliability - A dedicated server enables a company to use in-house technical resources to make changes or respond to an emergency or unexpected outage. Eliminating the reliance on third-party service lets a business address problems before they disrupt services and customer interaction.
Flexibility - As the owner of the hardware, a company can quickly make changes whenever necessary. There are no concerns for shared tenants or limits on partitioned resources. A dedicated server affords businesses the greatest degree of flexibility of any hosting alternative.
Transparency - With a dedicated server, companies know exactly what software is running and will not be surprised by unexpected compatibility issues. Using the proper monitoring approach and having access to performance logs enables an organization to address lagging performance before it starts to impact the customer experience.
Choosing In-house or Third-Party Dedicated Hosting
Once the decision is made to go with a dedicated hosting environment to address the needs of headless commerce architecture, the next question to be answered is how it will be implemented. As with any website, a company can elect to host it using internal or third-party resources. The following factors influence an organization’s choice.
Financial status - Setting up a dedicated server in an internal data center is an expensive proposition. Renting the same hardware from a reliable provider is a way to minimize the cost of going with a headless solution.
Available technical resources - Many companies lack the in-house technical resources to adequately handle the responsibilities of maintaining a dedicated server. Once again, a reliable vendor can supply those resources, allowing a company to implement headless commerce with a limited staff.
Datacenter space - Dedicated servers need to live somewhere. A third-party vendor already has the space allocated. Companies that do not have on-premises space available can still go headless using a provider’s space and servers.
In either case, in-house or third-party-assisted, a headless commerce approach can benefit a business and enable it to gain a competitive advantage over market rivals. Operating in the extremely busy world of eCommerce, anything that can be done to stand out from the pack will benefit a business. Headless commerce enables the creation of unique customer experiences that help businesses thrive.