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The Rise of Headless Commerce and the Evolution of Online Selling in Southeast Asia

With over $50 billion USD spent online in Southeast Asia in 2018, the continued rise of online shopping in the region comes as no surprise, with a 20% increase predicted each year. The majority of people in the region have access to smartphones, and this is likely to expand further as the technology and phone costs decrease in price. Add in other digital touchpoints for sales such as touchscreen kiosks and voice-controlled systems, and the market’s metamorphosis deepens.

In this ever-changing, challenging world of commerce, it is very easy to lose your head. But that may not necessarily be a bad thing—especially as headless commerce appears to be the way forward. Confused? Let us explain.

What is headless commerce?

Standard commerce websites have a frontend—generally, a template tweaked to reflect the brand of the company—which is bolted tightly onto the backend of the website. Shopping on the website, using either a computer, tablet or smartphone, the customer experience and administration is predetermined by the template, and there is little room for customisation.

If your website is content-driven, the connection between your website and the shopping platform may feel disjointed with traditional architecture such as the older monolithic and commerce-led approaches to platform development.

Headless commerce disconnects this somewhat, offering a more experience-led platform where the frontend is not as rigid or stuck to a formulaic template. This added customisation ability allows companies and brands to be more authentic in delivering their products and services. It allows the use of popular web development products such as WordPress, Drupal and progressive web apps (PWAs) as more comprehensive commerce sites. Your content can provide more sales leads in this manner without feeling as if the consumer is visiting two different websites.

A headless Content Management System (CMS) architecture allows more fluidity between methods of accessing the store’s products and services, offering a more comprehensive platform for sales. Using headless commerce brings your sales platform into the IoT age and increases potential revenue by allowing the online store to be accessed from smartwatches, digital assistants such as Alexa, kiosks, and Internet of Things (IoT) objects such as smart fridges.

In other words, headless commerce opens a new online world of business to anyone ready to take the leap and cut the head off their platform!

How does it work?

Currently, commerce websites have a front-end displaying the storefront connected to processes at the back-end for the processing of the orders. In headless transactions, the application programming interface (API) connects the front-end and the business end of the CMS processing the order, giving a faster, smoother interaction that offers more flexibility.

Commerce becomes more of a software service with accessibility through more touchpoints than were previously available compared to a more traditional website.

Why choose headless commerce?

Rather than having to purchase a commerce platform to sell your products or services, a customisable platform such as WordPress is user-friendly and ensures that consumers get an on-brand experience. The use of free or cheaper development sites cuts the costs of creating your commerce site. This is particularly good news at a time when most businesses report that customer acquisition costs are rising, primarily due to the increased cost of media and a more competitive market.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) development progresses at breakneck speed, the ability to integrate AI features into your commerce platform helps to futureproof your commerce site. Headless commerce offers more flexibility allowing integration to occur seamlessly.

When spending money on the development of a sales platform, it needs to suit requirements for as long as possible. The option to scale is required, depending on your business model, to adapt to the market and changes in the economic climate.

Scalability is an essential requirement for any business building an ecommerce website that wishes to leave room for expansion. Expansion may include moving into different global markets, so using APIs to manage your sales allows greater flexibility for the front-end to develop localised content without disrupting the flow of commerce.

However, as the front-end is being wholly customised, it must be built from scratch, and this can lead to longer development times. It may slow your progress on bringing your products to the market, but overall, it leaves you with a more viable platform allowing you to fulfil your business goals.

By developing a genuinely omni-channel shopping experience for your consumers or clients, offering more shopping methods and adapting as the market changes, you gain an advantage over competitors locked into the traditional model.

At CrescoData, we develop APIs through our “Commerce-in-the-Cloud” suite and are ready to help your company find the best solution to your business needs.

Most business models today are based on agile development with room to pivot quickly. With CrescoData’s headless commerce development and cloud based platform, this agility is applied to your shopfront, giving you greater control and flexibility as your company grows. As online shopping transforms and grows exponentially, now is the time to get ahead of the competition.

Anna Trybocka