Headless commerce myths debunked — Headless commerce is too technical

Illustrated graphic of a mermaid holding a shopping bag, representing a commerce myth
November 1, 2021


In this series, we’ve been tackling some of the biggest myths surrounding headless commerce and why these solutions are more viable than many business owners may think. We’ve already covered how long a headless website build takes, whether it costs more to implement a headless commerce solution, and the complexities of headless commerce APIs. Next up is the myth that ecommerce platforms involve technical decisions that should be driven by developers.

This is a pervasive myth, and while it’s understandable that people might think it’s true, we think it’s essential to get ahead of. Modern headless commerce platforms have a technical component, sure, but technical teams shouldn’t have the final word. Creating an immersive and effective ecommerce experience will require companies to go beyond the technical and leverage the full force of their marketing and sales teams.

The technical challenges of legacy systems

In the past, headless commerce platform decisions have been driven primarily by technology and developer teams. Which makes sense, given that a headless implementation can revolutionize your digital sales strategy. But often, these decisions are made without input from sales and marketing teams, creating an unhelpful separation in what the company needs versus what the company gets.

Here’s how it usually goes down: Stakeholders confer with their IT staff, developers and marketing/sales teams to select a platform capable of meeting the company’s requirements. Generally, the marketing teams identify key features and functionalities that will help them better sell to customers, while the development teams work to integrate the chosen solution within the confines of their commerce system.

Inevitably, these confines eliminate many of the great functions that the marketing team looked forward to, placing them in an awkward position when it’s time to launch. What happened to all of those features we liked? We wanted more access to control design and UX— where did all that great stuff go?

Eventually, full-suite platforms entered the scene and made commerce systems easier than ever to set up and install. This shifted the power balance back into the marketers’ hands, giving them more freedom to design as they liked.

But headless commerce in 2021 and beyond is shaping up to look a little different. These days, neither the development team nor the marketing team holds all the power in ecommerce decision-making.

Is it possible to coordinate commerce decisions?

Modern ecommerce platforms and replatforming decisions aren’t made in silos. To get the most out of the investment, companies need to keep both technology and marketing teams engaged in the process. Developers can make great decisions and create amazing storefronts, but if those storefronts don’t deliver what marketing teams need, it ends up being useless/unnecessarily challenging to the business team. Similarly, marketing teams may choose business-friendly solutions, but if developers can’t access what they need to make customizations and enhancements, everyone is stuck.

So, how do both teams coordinate to find solutions that support long-term business goals?

The answer is to get everyone on the same page by showing business and marketing leadership how the headless approach can benefit sales and revenue growth. When you look at how feasible modern headless commerce solutions are to implement, this isn’t a hard sell.

The right development approach makes it possible

As we’ve noted, headless commerce adoption has historically been driven by developers and technology leaders. This means that sales and marketing stakeholders have been left out of the loop—both in terms of what the platform can do and how new solutions let companies get the best of both worlds. And the pattern is made worse by the inherent developer-friendly leaning of other commerce platforms.

This has created a misconception (in many marketers’ minds, at least) that a headless implementation will take more time and cost more money than other solutions. This isn’t the case. When you have the right development team in your corner, launching a solution quickly and for less money with a headless commerce platform is possible. That’s assuming, of course, that the development team behind the project knows their stuff.

Everything in the headless system is driven by APIs, meaning that companies have full freedom to design their storefronts as they want without needing to invest heavily in clunky solutions.

It’s a lightweight type of build that features quick development timetables and low costs—perfect for mid-sized and growing companies looking for better commerce solutions. Add in the additional benefits of a software-as-a-service approach to ecommerce (such as scalability, security and all the other perks that come with vendor-managed solutions) and it’s clear that modern headless platforms offer more than in iterations past.

A coordinated approach to headless commerce

We expect to see headless commerce become standard practice for businesses that want a full suite of tools for their commerce experiences without sacrificing extensibility, flexibility, or creative control.

Hopefully, we’ve shone some light on this misconception and helped clarify why modern headless solutions work best when all teams get involved. If you’re looking for guidance for your own project or need input into which commerce features will benefit your existing strategy, contact us at Ultra Commerce.

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