In its simplest form, headless commerce is a separation of the front end and back end of an ecommerce application. This architecture offers developers freedom of expression to build whatever and however they want. Most importantly, it enables brands to enrich the customer experience.
To put it simply, headless commerce is the decoupling of the presentation layer of an ecommerce application from its logic. This architecture gives developers the freedom to develop new features quickly and easily either in the presentation, or the logic layer without having to reason about the system as a whole.
A critical component of headless is the combination of the use of first and third party APIs, and cloud platform tools like AWS. These resources are core to every team’s innovation strategy since they allow velocity of innovation, and the ability to combine third party services into a platform that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
In a fast paced environment like ecommerce, keeping pace with the evolution of technologies and trends isn’t easy and requires a lot of critical thinking, planning and a lot of resources in decision making since each change in the platform incurs a huge cost of change. COVID-19 is only accelerating this. In a traditional ecommerce architecture, new features can require both logic and presentation planning and development at the same time, turning even small projects into monolithic goliaths.
The backbone that enables combining first and third party services into a platform bigger than the sum of its parts is an event-driven microservice architecture. With eventual consistency as a central point, developers using this architecture can implement small applications as services and connect them all together. It doesn't matter if an API responds in a matter of milliseconds or days, the final application can still offer an excellent UI / UX while a service developer only needs to reason about one service.
The biggest benefits of an event driven microservice architecture tend to be the following:
1. Better employee adoption. Only having to reason about a single service at a time, flattens the learning curve for new team members and makes implementation of new technologies easier by enclosing all the new logic at the same point.
2. The right tools for the job. Microservices give teams the ability to use third party services easily, to avoid re-implementing the wheel. Teams can now build applications using a modular approach reducing the complexity and maximizing functionality.
3. Time to market. Once your microservices architecture is ready, a new feature can be implemented and shipped in a matter of days. Reacting to a new market trend can be done rapidly and with a minimum of costly back end development.
These are reasons why teams may want to transition from traditional monolithic to a microservices architecture for headless ecommerce. At the same time, companies interested in improving their velocity of innovation should know how microservices can help them deliver even better quality in the minimum amount of time.
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