In today’s rapidly changing ecommerce landscape, platform scalability and flexibility are necessary for B2B sellers. Especially those looking to create customized front-end buyer experiences that do not disrupt back-end processes. It is no surprise, then, that ecommerce merchants are increasingly turning to headless commerce solutions.
Headless commerce solutions enable them to decouple the front- and back-end of their platforms to overcome their platform’s limitations.
Decoupling the front- and back-ends of a platform allows sellers to independently develop and deploy customer-facing experiences on the front-end without disrupting back-end processes or website performance. In comparison, adding new customer experiences to traditional platform architectures can require updates to the front- and back-end systems. This can turn even small projects into large undertakings.
In need of a way to personalize products within its catalog online, home furnishings and decor seller and retailer Aplusrstore.com turned to headless ecommerce platform provider B2storefront.com to deliver a better user experience.
Headless commerce can improve the user experience
At the heart of Aplusrstore.com’s decision to adopt headless ecommerce was the need to overcome the limitations of its Shopify platform when it comes to listing product variations. The Shopify platform limits each product in Aplustore.com’s online catalog to 100 variations, such as:
- Type of materials
With more than 2,000 furniture collections and 6,000 SKUs in its catalog, Aplusrstore.com could quickly exceed the limit of 100 variations per product.
“With furniture, it’s very easy hit a platform’s limits on product variants because you can have multiple parameters and options for a single piece of furniture,” says Anton Komarow, founder and chief executive for B2storefront.com. “A headless architecture allows sellers to tackle those limits as well as increase page loading speeds.”
Using an application program interface from B2storefront.com, Aplustore.com expanded the number of attributes that can be assigned to each product in its catalog without affecting website performance, such as page load times. The payoff was a higher rate of customer engagement, Komarow says.
Understanding the functionality
In addition, B2storefront used its APIs to expand the functionality of Aplustore.com’s shopping cart. It now better accommodates B2B buyers’ needs.
Once a buyer places an item in his cart, he then can attach other forms such as:
- A purchase order
- Shipping notes
- The billing date.
These all automatically go to the seller’s CRM application. That APIs populate that information in a PDF within the CRM. The information is visible to the buyer through the seller’s platform. In addition, buyers can also create a request for a quote on Aplustore.com’s website.
“Headless ecommerce is a gateway to more features within an ecommerce platform without having to buy more apps,” says Komarow. “Headless allows sellers to stick with the platform they like, but not be limited to the features and functionality the platform provides.”
The ability of headless ecommerce to overcome the limitations of a platform’s features extends to future upgrades. For example, a seller that uses a site search app from a third-party can implement upgrades to the app from the app creator. The seller can do so even if the platform provider has not yet released a version that supports those features, and vice versa.
“This is a plus for stitching together apps, because not all platform dynamics are equal,” Komarow says. “With APIs, you put new features from one platform into another without waiting for the platform provider to support a new feature from a third-party app [integrated into the platform].”
As part of its move to headless ecommerce, Aplusrstore.com upgraded its site search capabilities by implementing Algolia’s advanced search functionality. The enhancements now flag out-of-stock items within Aplusrstore.com’s catalog in search results. Sellers can also fine tune their search results based on phrases buyers enter into the search engine, search terms or both. As a result, buyers can find the product they want quicker.
“Product discovery through site search can be an issuer for sellers with a lot of SKUs in their catalog,” Komarow says. “Because Algolia has an integration to Shopify, we can implement Algolia’s advanced search capabilities, even if Shopify has integrated them into its platform.”
Another feature Aplusrstore.com’s website added to its website is the creation of a customized “thank you” page. This is part of the merchant’s transition to headless commerce. It enhances the B2B buyer’s journey, redirecting buyers upon completion of checkout. Having the ability to customize the “thank you” page has helped Aplusrstore.com overcome the inability to customize the checkout page in Shopify platform.
The customized Thank You page features such vital information as order confirmation and the ability for buyers to track order status, information that is necessarily available on the checkout page. “Developers are limited to what they can do with Shopify’s checkout page, means checkout is not always a customizable part of the customer journey, and that can be a problem if a seller’s webstore is customized for buyers, but the checkout page is not,” says Komarow.
It’s only getting better
Future enhancements B2storefront.com headless solution include developing API’s that allow sellers to embed links to products, videos, and images in customer emails that, when clicked, redirect the buyer to a product page or ad campaign for a specific product.
“Headless ecommerce is being marketed as a silver bullet for increasing page load times, which it does. But in reality, it does a lot more than that,” Komarow says. “Headless improves the customer experience by overcoming platform limitations by making it easier to upgrade the customer experience.”
Peter Lucas is a Digital Commerce 360 contributing editor covering B2B digital commerce technology and strategy.
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