A Quick History Lesson: Monolithic Architecture vs. Headless Architecture

Historically, eCommerce platforms were built with traditional monolithic architectures, where the components, functions, logic and user interface are all “prepackaged” or tightly tied together which makes it difficult to change and update. With monolithic architectures, you cannot make an update without affecting the entire application.

More recently, businesses have started shifting the way they approach software development, with a stronger emphasis on scalability, flexibility and speed. Things like agile methodology and dev-ops are top mind, so technologies like microservices and headless eCommerce have emerged.

“The extent to which businesses are moving to more customer-centric proposition and commerce strategies and functionality drives a need for flexibility across customer-facing environments. To answer this new reality, we’re seeing the increasing adoption of so-called ‘headless commerce’ solutions.” – Graham Haller, Director of Consulting at Bench.

But the term “headless” is still a little fuzzy for even your most technical colleagues. So here’s a quick explanation of what it means and why it’s such a buzzword.

Headless B2B eCommerce: Explained in 3 Minutes

Definition:

Headless eCommerce platforms are characterized by the absence of the front-end or the “head.” Headless eCommerce platforms decouple the user interface from the back-end, making it possible for you to customize the experience to a whole new degree. They also allow for the creation of custom SaaS applications at a fraction of the time and cost of any previous method.

Implementation Time:

While exact implementation times generally depend on development resources and desired requirements, it’s usually much quicker to roll out a custom B2B eCommerce application when it’s built on a headless B2B eCommerce platform.

Headless eCommerce is delivered with a RESTful API, meaning any barriers to customization are removed and you can define exactly what the front-end user experience looks like. You don’t need to spend time, money and resources customizing something that already exists.

Read about how we were able to deploy a custom enterprise application in 8 weeks with OrderCloud

Costs

Again, while the cost of a custom headless B2B eCommerce application varies depending on the requirements, you avoid many of the high costs associated with the development of a traditional monolithic application.

Headless eCommerce lowers costs by:

  • The ability to customize the user experience from the get-go instead of trying to make something work that’s out-of-the-box.
  • The ability to integrate and utilize best-of-breed microservices to speed up the development of the experience, instead of building everything from scratch.
  • Generally, applications built on headless eCommerce platforms are managed, hosted and maintained by the platform company. You cut down on hosting costs and the requirement of additional resources to manage and maintain its performance.

Benefits

  • Headless eCommerce platforms provide unparalleled flexibility:

Because the front and back end of headless eCommerce platforms are separated making updates on the fly is easier. Decoupled architecture increases the flexibility and ability to add products, implement promotions, and more without having to recode the entire platform.  

  • Headless eCommerce scales with you as you grow.

A headless eCommerce platform is the key to a future-proof eCommerce experience for your customers and ever-changing business. Updates and features can continually be added to the back end architecture without impacting the user experience. At the same time, you can easily roll out a new user site or expand to a new channel without risk to the back-end. Unlike traditional software, headless eCommerce doesn’t just work for your business today but is able to evolve as your business does.

  • Headless eCommerce helps you meet customization demands.

B2B customer preferences are constantly changing and many demand a B2B ordering experience that looks like B2C. Headless eCommerce applications allow for complete control over the look and feel of the user interface with complete customization. Your development team can also take advantage of APIs and integrate with other systems to create unique user experiences and add new features.

  • Headless eCommerce makes your business more efficient

APIs are at the core of headless eCommerce. Being built with, and for, APIs makes it easier for your eCommerce platform to integrate with your existing business’ critical systems such as ERPs and CRMs. With a headless eCommerce platform, you don’t need to change how you do business just to take advantage of technology. You can create an application that is specific for your business and works with the systems that you already have.

Who likes it

  • Developers

Your development team appreciates the flexibility that headless eCommerce provides. They are able to create the application that your customers are demanding without being constrained by legacy software or the platform itself. They know that headless, API-first platforms can do more from a speed, flexibility and integration standpoint. Your front-end team can focus solely on delivering modern user experiences without worrying about the back-end.

  • Marketers

Headless eCommerce allows marketers to provide the modern experience your customers are demanding. Marketers can take advantage of headless eCommerce applications to create personalized omnichannel experiences for their customers. Customized applications drive user engagement through promotions, one-click reordering and consistent branding across any device.

  • CIOs

Today’s CIO is charged with being the driver of innovation for their businesses. However, many have inherited disconnected systems and need to find a way to get everything working together. Headless eCommerce not only brings ordering online but is able to integrate with existing systems while eliminating others through streamlined supply chains.

At the end of the day, many business leaders are looking for a technology that can support their growing business today and in the future. When you have a unique business, it’s easy to see that out-of-the-box or traditional solutions aren’t actually one size fits all. Built as a cloud-based, API-first, headless eCommerce platform, Four51 OrderCloud offers nearly limitless customizations and endless freedom for growth. So wherever your business needs to go tomorrow, you’re ready to lead the way.

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