Be Where Your Buyer Is: An Introduction to Headless Commerce

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Ecommerce, despite being a relatively new business model, is changing faster than ever, and the amount of money spent online by both businesses and consumers has been growing every year thanks in part to better Buyer Enablement. Buyer Enablement as discussed in previous articles (read more on Buyer Enablement here), is a collection of techniques which remove friction from your sales process to gain competitive advantage, speed up the sales cycle, and improve your customers experience. One such technique is known as Headless Commerce, and if you’re like most Americans you’ve interacted with it before.

The traditional eCommerce model is simple: advertise across several different platforms, drive traffic to your eCommerce site, allow the customer to add items to their cart, and close the sale through your checkout process. This model however has a number of problems, especially from a Buyer Enablement perspective. You’re directing the customer from a platform they know (such as Facebook), to a new website they may not know or trust. Once customers land on your site they need to get their bearings, find the products they want, and figure out your checkout process. It’s a jarring experience at best, and abandonment at worst.

Headless Commerce addresses these shortcomings by allowing customers to transact where they already are. More than half of Americans begin searches for new products on Amazon, so many eCommerce businesses have begun selling their products through Amazon. In the past, businesses ran Facebook ads to drive users to eCommerce sites, but with the rise of Facebook, stores businesses can sell their goods directly through Facebook storefronts.

An important thing to note about Headless Commerce is that it isn’t tied exclusively to a web browser interface like Chrome or Safari. For example, Amazon’s Echo and Dash Buttons allowed customers to complete eCommerce purchases from the comfort of their own homes, without even touching a computer or going online.  And it isn’t just limited to Amazon and Facebook. WordPress has a number of eCommerce plugins which enable eCommerce purchases directly through a WordPress blog. It’s all about reaching the customers where they are, through channels where they feel comfortable.

Managing such a large number of sales channels is made possible by new and evolving technologies. Rather than managing a unique product catalog for each sales channel, businesses can now maintain a central product catalog in a Product Information Management System (PIM) which can manage products for sale across several different channels, using APIs. Each channel then handles its respective checkout process and sends the purchase information back to the seller.

Selling through a large marketplace or social media site, especially one your customer is already using, lends additional credibility to the transaction

Headless Commerce expands your reach across several channels which exposes your business to more customers, and there are other benefits. Rather than whisking your customer off to a new site, you allow them to transact from a platform with which they are already familiar, preventing them from becoming defensive or suspicious. Selling through a large marketplace or social media site, especially one your customer is already using, lends additional credibility to the transaction. Additionally, by selling through an existing marketplace like Amazon or Etsy, the buyer may already have their shipping information and payment methods saved, further reducing friction in the transaction.

A good Headless Commerce strategy speeds up transactions and keeps your customers happy. By doing so, Headless Commerce techniques remove friction from the buying process and result in better Buyer Enablement.


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