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When Is Headless Commerce The Right Choice For B2B?

Headless commerce is one of the most buzzed-about concepts nowadays. It has emerged as a powerful tool for eCommerce brands and agencies due to the ever-increasing change in consumer expectations, competition, and omnichannel needs.

To stay ahead of competitors, businesses must offer top-notch shopping experiences via every touch point, both in B2B and B2C.

That's where headless commerce comes in. It offers a great dose of flexibility to adjust the experience for every channel. A headless CMS also gives developers the ability to innovate quickly. You can start selling anywhere without design or development constraints.

Let's take a look at headless commerce for B2B, why it can be the best solution for your company, and the many B2B headless CMSs available.

What Is A Headless Commerce? (One Minute Explainer)

Headless commerce is the separation of a website's front-end from its back-end eCommerce functionality, compared to traditional commerce, where both are connected. This comes with a slew of benefits that companies today need. For starters, it provides businesses with a great deal of flexibility.

With a traditional system, changes can be clunky and time-consuming. Whether you're redesigning your website or want to add a feature that enhances the shopping experience, you're impacting your whole architecture. In other words: small changes have a huge impact.

With a headless CMS, you can pinch your front end without tweaking the back end, saving yourself time and resources.

Another significant advantage is that headless systems supply content through an API, which will deliver your content seamlessly to any device.

To put it simply: an API will connect two applications so they can exchange data. When content is stored in a headless CMS, the API will make sure the content gets displayed and adjusted to any type of device or digital touchpoint. Content can be delivered to desktops, mobile apps, kiosks, displays, chatbots, virtual reality (VR) experiences, or any other channel your business requires. Even if more channels develop in the future, the headless and API combination guarantees the proper experience.

Traditional systems organize content in webpage-oriented frameworks, which makes it hard to fit the same material into other digital platforms. As you probably know, traditional commerce channels need to be developed separately.

With digital channels evolving daily, businesses simply need more flexible solutions that instantly fit every touchpoint.

what is headless commerce

Why Headless Commerce For B2B?

While it's evident that businesses to consumers (B2C) benefit from headless software because their storefront needs to be applicable for every channel, how does that apply to B2B businesses?

To answer this question, we need to look at several trends in B2B commerce.

  • B2B ecommerce trends

    65% of the B2B workforce are Millennials and Gen-Zers who've grown up with social media, search engines and review sites. They're digital-first buyers who expect perfect buying experiences on every channel.

    The difference between B2B and B2C buyers is that they are less price-conscious. Only 8% of B2B buyers said price is the primary driver of their decision to select a specific vendor for a new offering. If B2B eCommerce stores want to win and keep customers, they will have to succeed in one thing only: added value. From excellent customer service and relationships to optimizing the entire digital experience, from research to delivery. It's the era of 'the self-serve B2B tech buyer'.

    As B2B brands embrace selling products online, buyers are becoming increasingly comfortable purchasing products with limited to no support. Currently, B2B buyers purchase 67% of their products online . Plus, 18% of B2B buyers prefer remote self-service purchasing channels (i.e., being able to make a purchase without having to speak with someone) when working with B2B companies.

    More and more B2B brands are selling through other channels than the traditional ones, like marketplaces and social media. Currently, 46% of B2B buyers use social media to learn about available solutions.

With these significant shifts in generation changes, buyer expectations, and channel diversification, B2B companies need to offer omnichannel buying experiences, too, just like their B2C counterparts.

By going headless, B2B companies can deliver a seamless and personalized experience across all touchpoints without losing quality in performance. They can also deploy changes much faster and experiment with new features or integrations to enhance the B2B buying experience even further, whether adding an app, selling through marketplaces, or self-serve B2B portals.

In other words, it gets easier to win customers and expand via any touchpoint.

importance of digital experience for b2b buyers
Prosper- Importance of Services When Shopping Online for B2B buyers PROSPER INSIGHTS & ANALYTICS

Headless Commerce Versus Traditional Commerce (Deepdive)

Before we continue with the positives and negatives of implementing a headless B2B strategy for your company, let's first get a firm grasp on what headless commerce entails by comparing it to traditional commerce platforms.

Traditional vs. Headless Commerce

For a long time, organizations have relied on "monolithic" or "all-in-one" traditional systems to meet their requirements. These systems are intended to perform everything and anything, behaving as a jack of all trades at times. Conventional business models provide advantages like an already-implemented user interface and a selection of standard software applications. Still, these monolithic methods occasionally come with lower growth rates and higher development expenses, which can stifle creativity. On the other hand, headless B2B eCommerce platforms allow for greater adaptability and rapid expansion.

Let's take a detailed look at the traditional and headless commerce models.

Headless Commerce vs. Traditional Commerce
Headless Commerce vs. Traditional Commerce

Front-end Interface Construction

When building a front end for a traditional e-commerce platform, developers are hampered by several design and workflow restrictions that limit scalability. In the conventional commerce model, the time investment needed to adjust the system, software, and front-end platform can be substantial. In addition, there are restrictions on what may be modified by developers without invalidating warranties or making expansions impossible.

In contrast, headless commerce allows developers to tailor the user experience to the specific requirements of their business rather than being hampered by the constraints of a predetermined traditional front-end platform. This means that the requirements of a conventional e-commerce framework no longer restrict front-end developers. All that is required is a simple API request, eliminating the need to make changes to the backend databases.

Front-end Interface Construction

Customers and administrators in traditional commerce systems have a set interaction model to follow. Consequently, there is little room for variation or individualization as the developers and users of conventional e-commerce platforms are limited by the platform's fixed standards for the optimal user interface.

However, headless platforms allow businesses more freedom in the design of their e-commerce portal. Also, it enables companies to exert more significant influence over the interactions between their products and their customers.

Flexibility

Traditional solutions don't leave much space for maneuvering when it comes to making changes because the front end is inextricably bound to the backend code and infrastructure. When making even the slightest modification, developers must dig deep into the application's code and modify numerous levels, from the user interface (UI) to the database (DB) layer.

On the other side of the spectrum, due to the front and back end separation enabled by headless commerce, infinite configurations are possible on demand. Any modification a front-end developer may think of, from a new field in the customer profile to an entirely new checkout flow, is easily implemented in a headless commerce framework.

The Benefits Of Headless Commerce For B2B

After a pandemic that made online shopping the norm, companies have a greater need than ever to stay at the forefront of technological advancement. Increasing the speed with which a product reaches the market is typically directly correlated with a rise in revenue, making every hour of developer time invaluable. In most cases, the transition to headless commerce B2B is well worth the time and energy invested because it speeds up business operations significantly.

Let's go in deeper into the benefits of headless commerce for B2Bs.

b2b customer portals

Better Buying Experience

By switching to a headless commerce system, online retailers can significantly improve their customers' shopping experiences by tuning into what the customers want. A headless commerce B2B platform streamlines the process of updating a retailer's online storefront, whether it be the addition of new payment gateways or fulfillment methods like "buy now and pay later" options. Since merchants are not restricted by a monolithic CMS, they can quickly adapt their content to accommodate evolving consumer preferences and respond instantaneously to market shifts owing to the headless system's flexibility.

Flexibility

Rather than upgrading or replacing the entire platform, developers can simply add new modules to a headless commerce system in order to keep up with customer demand and technological advances. When it comes to CMS, dynamic experience platforms (DXP), and progressive web app (PWA) platforms, businesses are free to pick and choose what works best for them, allowing them to realize their distinct creative visions on their own terms.

Customization At Your Fingertips

Headless commerce solutions provide virtually limitless alternatives for creating a unique and visually appealing online shopfront for your eCommerce firm. All the headless architecture advantages, advanced personalization options, and stringent security and compliance measures are at your disposal in a headless B2B eCommerce platform.

Multichannel Integration

APIs like GraphQL power a headless commerce B2B system, facilitating connections to and interactions with third-party systems. This enhances your brand's potential to be present on an increasing number of devices, hence boosting your capacity to reach a broader audience. Additionally, a headless system enables you to add support for a new device to your e-commerce platform in a matter of hours rather than months.

Improves Employee Retention

With a modern commerce platform and the ease of headless B2B, you can overcome your company's reluctance to adopt new technologies by ensuring that everyone on your team has access to and can simply update the front end without needing specialized knowledge or training.

Ease Of Use For Developers

Thanks to headless commerce, businesses are free to choose whichever CMS, digital experience platform (DXP), progressive web app (PWA), or custom solution they prefer for their online store's front end. By removing the need for the user to interact with the UI, headless B2B allows teams to continue using the technologies and languages that are most familiar to them while still benefiting from the perks of process standardization and efficiency improvement.

More Scope For Scalability

Because of its ability to make changes to the front end without requiring a complete re-platforming of the back end, headless B2B technologies can help to ensure that your brand remains resilient in the face of shifting consumer preferences and business priorities. Front-end developers can integrate new backend features into your system and make use of pre-existing frameworks with the help of application programming interfaces. By using a headless solution, you may treat each new functionality independently and incorporate them as your site expands, rather than having to develop an entirely new site from the ground up.

Streamlined User Experience

The traditional approach made sense when eCommerce sites were optimized for a single experience, like the desktop. However, as consumers increasingly gravitate towards multiple devices and channels to make purchases, including mobile apps, businesses must quickly adapt their content to accommodate these changes in consumer preferences.

When it comes to unified commerce and multichannel experiences, where flexibility and scalability are paramount, headless commerce B2B is an excellent option for businesses as it provides effortless, authentic, and streamlined buying experiences across multiple channels.

Provides A Competitive Edge

Your eCommerce platform needs to be agile enough to keep up with the ever-shifting preferences of your clients. In contrast to more traditional e-commerce systems, which limit you to using just predetermined templates, a headless platform gives you complete creative control over the appearance and functionality of the website, allowing you to respond swiftly to market shifts and keep your firm ahead of the competition.

Future Proof

Since the front and back ends of a headless commerce B2B system are independent entities, they are not constrained by the logic of a traditional business model's programming. As a result, headless infrastructure is dependable, long-lasting, and future-proof without the need for costly and time-consuming re-platforming investments.

The Disadvantages Of Headless Commerce For B2B

A headless commerce strategy can help you overcome the majority of problems plaguing your online business, but in some cases (especially for smaller companies) it might not always be the best solution. Here are some of the drawbacks of implementing the headless model:

Systemic Complexity

The flexibility of headless commerce also adds some complexity. If you compare it to building a house - with conventional software, you're essentially purchasing a fully furnished property, complete with a kitchen, bathroom, and living room. This makes the kick-off fast, but remodeling becomes complex. With headless, you would buy a piece of land and all the right building blocks to build the house (thus the flexibility), but you need more time and knowledge to launch it. Traditional CMSs have lower barriers to entry for developers and creators. With headless commerce, having reliable partners and capable in-house technology staff is essential.

It Can Be Expensive (but doesn’t have to be)

With traditional commerce, the pricing is transparent (you're using one system, with one account and one payment). Headless commerce uses a 'best of breed,' so you must pay for several subscriptions. You will also need more development time for the setup than with traditional systems. That being said, this only applies to small B2B players. Larger B2B companies will save money as a result of the streamlined process of adding new features, integrating with other systems, and making design adjustments.

In both cases, both the costs and complexity are not necessary when choosing the right B2B headless system. At JMango360, we've built an extension on BigCommerce, which allows B2B companies to build headless B2B web stores at a fast pace and for a low monthly subscription. Thanks to several presets, even the setup is quick and easy.

Headless Commerce By The Numbers

B2B companies are starting to notice these advantages. According to the 2021 Global Headless Report by Webscale Networks , Inc.,headless has surpassed all other retail trends, as reported by 52% of digital agencies and 46% of retailers.

Omnichannel B2C stores and B2B eCommerce retailers both gain from a more decentralized, headless approach to commerce infrastructure.

The majority of B2B respondents (59%) reported utilizing headless B2B strategies in recent surveys, while 29% of those who weren't said they were considering making the switch.

When Is Headless Right For Your B2B Company?

Headless eCommerce is an excellent choice if your B2B enterprise:

Prioritizes adaptability and sustainable growth - most especially if you wish to implement integrated commerce and multichannel experiences.

Its primary channel is eCommerce - it allows you to branch out and experiment with different storefronts, thereby increasing their flexibility and inventiveness.

Values freedom - a headless commerce B2B strategy makes it less of a hassle to make changes to things like the site's look, content, functionality, and even its tools.

... As well as flexibility and speed - going headless allows you to embrace new technological touchpoints that can significantly alter the customer's path to purchase.

To put it another way, headless can help your B2B organization deploy ground-breaking ideas without squashing creativity. The ability to connect systems in a more modular approach and work outside the confines of a single platform or technology is made possible via APIs, which are an integral component of headless B2B architecture.

If your B2B firm wants to increase online sales across numerous platforms and provide multiple storefronts while still satisfying the needs of its customers, this strategy is ideal.

In addition, if you pick the right platform, headless commerce provides considerable language support through an intuitive dashboard, which is especially helpful if your organization has to rebrand or if it plans to expand worldwide.

The Best Headless Commerce Platforms For B2B

Now that you've got a firm grasp on what headless commerce is all about, you can begin your search for the best platform. To spare you the research, we have listed four of the most effective B2B headless commerce mediums below.

BigCommerce

Leading Open SaaS eCommerce platform BigCommerce is named a Strong Performer in B2B by Forrester Research.

We've partnered with BigCommerce to create the most outstanding Headless B2B commerce platform available. It is jam-packed with all-in-one capabilities that allow you to sell faster from any channel and scale with ease.

BigCommerce headless is designed for shop owners, agencies, and developers who want to avoid starting from scratch. The platform offers a broad range of ready-to-use headless solutions, such as front-end frameworks, Storyblok CMS. This allows you to launch quicker and modify more efficiently without the hassle of lengthy development.

Its multi-store and language front has all of the functionalities B2B enterprises need to sell online from any device and in any country - all from a single dashboard.

Check out the latest webinar held with BigCommerce to learn more!

Salesforce

Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) is an established cloud-based headless eCommerce platform that is appropriate for mid- to enterprise-level business operators. It has cutting-edge APIs that are powerful and extremely adaptable, ensuring maximum versatility and personalized shop design across all storefronts.

Shopify Plus

Through its headless eCommerce system, Shopify runs over 1.7 million eCommerce sites globally, enabling owners to turn any digital screen or device into a sales channel. It was developed using Ruby on Rails, a framework that paves the way for mobile-friendly shop design.

CommerceTools

CommerceTools facilitates the development of digital commerce possibilities by breaking the established boundaries of existing platforms through a decoupled and open environment, enabling boundless capabilities across all platforms. It is based on PHP and MySQL as fundamental technologies, allowing for the separation of the storefront using particular APIs that can simply build the store experiences based on the targeted storefront.

Why Agencies Choose Jmango360 B2b Headless For Bigcommerce

Check out our 1 minute headless commerce for B2B BigCommerce promo video

By teaming up with BigCommerce, we were able to create the best possible Headless B2B commerce platform for eCommerce.

B2B companies that

> have multiple stores (B2B and B2C);
> want to grow internationally;
> are looking for a more tailored design;

will benefit most because it comes with multi-storefront, multi-language, and numerous built-in features and presets.

Thanks to the many presets and +40 design templates, even the setup and launch are much faster than other headless commerce solutions.

Check out the latest webinar held with BigCommerce or request more information here.

Written by

Lisanne Barnaart

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