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Don’t lose your head; commerce is all around but have you checked out?

Thanks to smarter, faster and more sophisticated mobile payment platforms, and innovations such as Amazon Dash Buttons and beacons, e-commerce is booming. In fact, according to market research Company, eMarketer, worldwide retail e-commerce sales will top $4trillion in 2020. It is an ever-growing business and as it continues to grow and play an increasing role in retail sales, brands must learn to get on board with this trend, or risk being left behind. Ever evolving technology is helping to speed up this development in e-commerce, but the proliferation of smart devices has made it crucial for marketers to keep abreast with the changes and become more targeted in their efforts to reach and attract customers. 

However, along with technology, the consumer has also evolved. They have a whole new set of expectations where convenience, efficiency and savings are no longer key drivers to making a purchase. This new breed of customer is demanding immediate gratification in the form of entertainment and stimulation. They also expect a seamless experience on well-engineered, fast and reliable platforms so the technology now has to be flawless. So what can retailers do to ensure that they satisfy these demands?

In response, a new phenomenon taking the online retail world by storm is proving to be a strong contender to rival the in-store shopping experience. Headless commerce creates a world where everything is shoppable including banner ads, videos, games and images, and capitalises on that moment of inspiration and impulse experienced by customers when they happen upon enticing, shiny items. 

Headless commerce is more diffuse than the storefront or website retail experience and consequently, is undetectable to the customer. That is the point. Marketers are now looking to how they can monetise these moments of heightened awareness by embedding shopping opportunities in a range of digital experiences, thereby closing the gap between consumer desire and action.

This new approach to commerce is result of the growing sophistication of e-commerce platforms and discerning, digitally savvy customers. Having access to a creatively manufactured and engaging website can now rival standing in front of the window of a luxury retailer like Harrods during the festive season. However, this is reliant on a content management system (CMS) back end that integrates the experience and content with e-commerce services.

Content, content, content!

Even the most impressive shop window installations can miss the mark if they only serve as a selfie opportunity for passers-by, rather than an act as a tool to entice those customers and encourage them to make purchases. Headless commerce starts with content that people actually want and so streamlines the e-commerce aspect of the omni-channel retail experience. This then facilitates the ‘house-keeping’ side of the business for retailers, taking care of merchandise, handling orders and securing shipments made possible by a robust ‘behind-the-screen’ CMS. For the first time, marketing and IT teams can find common ground and unite to create a synergy that will filter down to the customer.   

Similar to traditional enterprise silos that were broken down by the first generation of APIs, headless commerce is revolutionising the consumer-facing operations of major retail brands. The challenge still lingers of traditional e-commerce platforms not having the power to support the growing needs of an ambitious digital marketing strategy. Organisations are constantly striving for the ultimate goal of leveraging content across all channels to keep merchandise moving out the door. Against that backdrop, even the best content management systems have traditionally been unable to address the growing needs and complexities of downstream integrations.

How to rise to the challenge

In this increasingly competitive market, being able to differentiate your business from the competition is paramount. Ensuring your brand embodies content-driven customer experiences that embrace a thoughtful headless commerce platform is one of the best ways to achieve this. So how can you rise to the challenge and create the optimal headless commerce platform to captivate your consumers? Consider these five tips:

  • Inspire content engineering ambassadors. Utilise your marketing team and inspire them to independently create and deploy attractive content for websites, email marketing and cross-channel campaigns. As long as a truly robust platform is in place, the IT department does not need to take on the responsibility of hand-holding throughout the creative process. Having access to the CMS is all that is really needed to create responsive sites, making sure the content fits all screen sizes.
  • Add that personal touch to content delivery. Thanks to headless commerce platforms, content can be adapted and personalised to suit customers’ varying characteristics including language depending on browsing behaviour, orders placed, geography and even the weather. The feeling that the content you are viewing has been tailor-made for you embodies a sense of instant gratification and builds the foundations for the ideal customer experience. This will not only drive repeat business but also attract new customers if the positive experience is shared on social media.
  • Omni channel and multi-device capabilities are key. They use real-time targeting to deliver the aforementioned personalised content to the right customer at the optimal moment. Embrace this and create those experiences at every touchpoint, regardless of channel or device.
  • Merchandising is a differentiator. Again, headless commerce is the ideal tool to enable marketers to take control of a variety of processes essential to retail operations. Cross-selling, upselling or even product recommendations can all be successfully managed through a reliable CMS.
  • Cut the content ownership overheads. The costs associated with building a global content delivery system can be steep, especially for SMBs. The most obvious solution is to house the content in a central repository where it is easily accessible and can be reused across multiple channels.

Vinay Sutrave, General Manager for Digital Commerce Practice, Mindtree
Image source: Shutterstock/Pretty Vectors

Vinay Sutrave
Vinay Sutrave is the General Manager for Digital Commerce Practice, Mindtree.