If you're like most WordPress developers, you're looking for a complete eCommerce platform solution with no plugins or extensions to build the front end that you want. Whether you're building from scratch, replacing an existing design or migrating to a new platform, the theming process can be challenging and time intensive.
Implementing a headless commerce platform solves those challenges and removes traditional restrictions around building and designing for eCommerce. Headless capabilities give web teams flexibility to build complete eCommerce storefronts within the WordPress environment.
So what makes headless commerce for WordPress such a great option? Why change how you're integrating eCommerce with your WordPress powered websites?
A few key points to agree on right off the bat:
Building for eCommerce on the front end is intensive and time-consuming. Each project has many moving pieces with complex requirements that change on a client by client basis.
The content experience from website to eCommerce should be seamless. No subdomains for your store with a different look and feel. Customers expect consistency.
Reducing the time and cost of front end development will help to boost ROI and encourage new web investment.
If you can keep your web team and technology team building in an environment they're comfortable with (WordPress), have lots of experience and expertise in - everyone wins.
Hosting, monitoring and securing an eCommerce website requires extensive investment of time and resources.
Engineering, building and designing unique customer storefronts have always been a challenge and traditionally, most eCommerce platforms have been able to deliver a rich feature set, but can be challenging to work with.
Whether the template structure is rigid, massive hacks or workarounds are required or the front ends are built in an inaccessible methodology, developers are often frustrated by the limitations in building eCommerce storefronts that will meet customers requirements. At launch, the developer is left thinking they could have built something better in less time if only they had more flexibility around design and implementation.
With the headless commerce approach developers are not bound to develop, create and design in a certain way. The idea of a single way of building the front end no longer exists. The development team now has complete control to access and interact with the platform through an API framework.
Use any theme, frontend framework or content management system to build all the experiences you need for your storefront. From product listing and search through checkout and account management, the headless platform delivers the data and functionality through the API for the entire commerce lifecycle and includes the backend administration tools to completely manage the eCommerce business.
So what happens when you aren't building from scratch? You're adding eCommerce to an existing design or moving from one platform or another? Is it necessary to start over completely and rebuild and redesign everything?
Nope. With headless commerce, you don't have to. In fact, in many cases, you can leverage the existing layouts and design and replace the data calls and functionality request with references to the headless platform. The display is the same, but the tool delivering the data has changed.
Customers may not even notice that there has been a change to the system when the design, layout and theme remains consistent.
Better yet, the ability to integrate with an existing design means you can focus your development efforts on replatforming with eCommerce first, reviewing the results and the investment in a redesign later, if necessary.
When the time comes to rework or redesign the storefront, the last thing you want to be forced to tackle at the same time is a brand new eCommerce platform or be forced to upgrade. So much more testing and development is required that the process can be overwhelming.
With a headless commerce implementation, you have the flexibility to redesign whenever you’d like. The headless commerce implementation has no required built in front end specifications, template or restrictions. The API call to get products, place an order or apply a promotion is the same regardless of what your design looks like.
With a separate content management system and eCommerce platform, the technology team can count on quickly rolling out and implementing new versions of the eCommerce platform as they are released and become available. Significantly less time will be spent working on testing upgrades, reviewing release notes and checking for plugin operability post upgrade.
For making upgrades and core updates to the CMS platform, the WordPress team can leverage any of the latest theme development tools, core platform version or combinations of plugins and not interrupt the operation of the eCommerce platform or force an unplanned upgrade.
Both systems are connected through the API, but can be upgraded, secured and maintained separately.
What happens when your client needs to expand their business? Including looking at opportunities for additional websites, additional storefronts, mobile applications outside of the WordPress environment?
A headless commerce platform is designed to be client agnostic and perform the commerce tasks that are needed; handling data, returning results and processing commerce transactions. The open front end approach means that the web development team has the flexibility to link the headless commerce platform wherever needed: point of sale, mobile application, website and more. Future growth isn't limited or restricted to the WordPress environment.
How can integrating a headless commerce platform be cost competitive with more traditional eCommerce implementations?
With a more efficient front-end development process, you're only building what you need. Create the exact design you want and integrate the API-based platform into the front end experience. No workarounds means faster development, fewer resources and quicker project launches.
There are fewer workarounds, plugin-installations and extensions required for the platform that you'll need. Less resources and time means better results at lower costs.
Secondly, there are no fixed hosting infrastructure assets required and with a dynamically scaled environment, you aren’t paying for infrastructure that isn't being used. No servers sitting there "just in case" you need them. Your hosting environment should be cost-optimized for low and high traffic. A SaaS service should have no licensing costs & reflect scaled pricing that is performance driven only.
With a separated CMS and commerce platform, you are secure knowing that the entire database and eCommerce platform is only accessible through direct access and a permission based API.
It's important to consider a headless commerce platform that is PCI Level 1 certified. A single tenant hosted infrastructure will ensure a secure environment as your web operation grows, succeeds and expands.
Slatwall Commerce can help you build a headless storefront powered by WordPress with no gaps in functionality across the commerce lifecycle. Merchandise multiple physical or digital product types without plugins or extensions:
- Content Access
- Gift Cards
- Product Bundles
Add complex price groups & promotions with orders across multiple sites & currencies. Manage quotes, account credit terms & payment methods. Pick, Pack & ship orders or pick up in store. Report on your data & automate workflows to capture abandoned carts. Track & automate low inventory alerts & place vendor orders. Integrate with other systems to automate marketing opportunities. Do all this and more under one roof. With a complete and fully featured eCommerce platform, you're not limited in functionality and options to build exactly what you want.
Kevin Costner, Field of Dreams