One of the biggest opportunities in the experience economy is creating an ecosystem that enables brands to engage with customers across every touch point. Brands are now expected to provide a unified, omnichannel experience where every interaction is instant, seamless, and personalized to each customer, whether through a website, smartwatch, or voice-based assistant.
This is where the “headless commerce” approach to technical architecture comes in. Headless commerce is where the “brand” experience is built on each touch point in tandem with the “commerce” functionality, with all data from each platform sent back to a shared operations platform. For example, the data from an Apple Watch sale is reconciled with the data collected through the brand’s Alexa Skill to create a seamless, omnichannel experience.
With the customer at the heart of the architecture, headless commerce is a powerful approach to building technology infrastructure that is flexible and can deliver personalized experiences.
A successful headless commerce approach comprises three key components, all of equal importance.
1. Emotional: Too often, the last consideration when creating a commerce platform is the consumer’s emotional needs. But emotionally intelligent stories that resonate with customers on a personal level through memorable and compelling content is what influences the way they feel.
For example, architectural paint maker Dulux employed a headless commerce approach that uses personalized content to respond to consumers’ emotional needs at the time of purchase. Dulux relied on online tools, inspirational content, and advice to help people complete their home projects.
2. Functional: Functional needs are all about convenience–making customer interactions as relevant, easy, and as fast as possible. Amazon’s one-click checkout and ASOS’s same-day delivery service are perfect examples of this.
3. Tangible: Tangibility–the design of physical interactions between a brand and customer–is increasingly important as online-to-offline experiences become commonplace. This is an opportunity for brands to become part of consumers’ daily routines by offering services that connect with their physical products–for example, the Philips AR Grooming app, which assists in men’s grooming routines, or voice-enabled experiences, such as Diageo’s The Bar, a home cocktail-making service.
In order to create superior digital experiences, brands must build a technology ecosystem that supports all three consumer needs. In practice, this demands the decoupling and reconfiguring of the commerce and CMS platforms to build a headless commerce approach where the “heads,” or touch points, are separated from but connected to one central operations hub.
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