Headless e-commerce is a new type of digital storefront solution that allows businesses to optimize their sites fully to suit the ever-changing demands of consumers. Brands that have adopted headless e-commerce can add impressive new integrations and create a customer experience that puts them far ahead of competitors who are still using traditional websites.
We’ve collected examples of brands using headless e-commerce so you can get a better idea of just how much is possible with a headless digital storefront.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What innovative brands are using headless e-commerce?
- What is headless e-commerce?
- What are the benefits of a headless website?
Innovative Brands Using Headless E-Commerce
A headless e-commerce solution can be more expensive and complex to launch than a traditional one, but brands that make the investment see a huge return on investment (ROI).
Kotn is an apparel brand rooted in strong values and a forward-thinking mindset. It adopted a headless approach after evaluating how to overhaul its digital architecture to accommodate the next 10 years of growth. It took advantage of the flexibility of using an API with headless to connect two websites into one. This improved the site’s speed, simplified updates, and created an infrastructure that can accommodate new technologies in the future.
Benjamin Sehl, the cofounder of Kotn, says, “What we’re trying to do is let Shopify handle the stuff they do so well, and we can focus on what makes us unique. That’s where we’ve really gone with our thinking around being headless.”
ILIA needed an e-commerce solution that allowed them to display many high-quality images without compromising site speed and performance. A headless solution provided this and unlocked innovative customization options. The brand now has a “find my shade” functionality that allows users to find the ideal product shade for their skin type. The increased site speed and improved functionality decreased the site’s exit rate by 18%.
Albert Chong, ILIA’s vice president of digital, explains the brand’s decision to adopt a headless approach: “Moving to a headless solution has brought a new way of thinking in terms of content modeling and figuring out all the different content types we can leverage. In the long-term, it’s really going to bring more organizational performance, and more streamlined ways of thinking about how to enhance our customers’ shopping experience.”
Rebecca Minkoff is a popular high-fashion brand that has been embracing cutting-edge technology for years. In keeping with that tradition, it looked to a headless solution to solve a common problem of online clothing retailers. When customers can’t touch a product to get a proper understanding of the quality and feel, they’re less inclined to buy it.
The brand addressed this by using headless to add 3-D modeling and augmented reality to its product pages. A headless solution also ensures that this advanced feature works flawlessly on desktop and mobile.
These interactive new features allow shoppers to understand the products better. “Customers can examine our products from every angle, including the option to view products in augmented reality, which helps them get a better sense of quality, size, and other details that matter,” says Uri Minkoff, the brand’s co-founder and CEO.
The investment in headless to improve the customer experience paid off. Rebecca Minkoff customers are 27% more likely to purchase after using the 3-D feature and 65% more likely to buy after interacting with the product in augmented reality.
Burrow puts a unique spin on buying furniture. Its modular designs can be combined to make the perfect size furniture for each customer. The major benefit of this is that the pieces fit into boxes for fast and convenient shipping. Customers can get a sofa without waiting 12 weeks, which is the common timeline for other furniture stores.
The company’s unique angle made it popular, and it outgrew its traditional e-commerce solution quickly. To implement the features Burrow wanted, such as cart discounts and pricing bundles, it needed to upgrade to a headless website. Headless offers full flexibility to add integrations and optimize the shopping experience, but it does come with a heftier price tag than traditional e-commerce solutions.
Burrow cofounder Kabeer Chopra said, “It’s hard for a company our size to make a financial commitment to larger tools because the business can’t support that type of investment. On the other hand, we need to prioritize platforms that offer a rich enough feature set.” The company’s investment in headless increased site speed by 50% and conversions by 30%.
LARQ is a reusable water bottle company that experienced rapid growth, and with that, a need for a more robust e-commerce solution. The brand has five regional sites and needed a way to bring them together to simplify workflows for the team.
It chose a headless solution to accommodate this need and now has all five sites under one domain. It also launched many new site features. With the consolidation of its multiple sites and the improved customer experience headless provided, LARQ increased its revenue by 400% year over year.
LARQ expanded into global markets by creating a site that can be translated automatically into a customer’s local language. The site also supports multiple currencies, ensuring that customers can make purchases easily no matter where they are. The addition of multicurrency support increased conversions by 80% in three months.
About two-thirds of LARQ’s purchases are made on mobile, so a seamless mobile shopping experience was one of the major focuses of the move to headless. To do this, the brand integrated Google Pay into the checkout process.
This gave customers more ways to make their payments and also increased checkout speeds. Google Pay stores customers’ preferred payment methods, so they don’t have to go through the hassle of entering the details to complete their purchases.
FirstVet is an online pet care brand that provides devoted pet parents with 24/7 access to vets. Customers can have a live video consultation with independent veterinarians to determine what’s ailing their pets and get treatment recommendations or referrals to local clinics.
For a company that operates exclusively online, FirstVet needed a flexible e-commerce solution. Company founder Lars-Martin Norviit explains, “What we wanted was a headless solution that had a stable documented back end with good APIs.”
It used a headless option to build a custom front end that integrates perfectly with its video meeting platform. It also needed a website that could integrate Klarna, the standard checkout solution in Sweden, the company’s home base. FirstVet was able to increase its customer base by 324% by offering high-quality virtual vet care on a website that’s optimized for speed and function.
Four Pillars Gin
Four Pillars Gin cofounder Matt Jones describes the brand’s website prior to headless as “a Frankenstein kind of thing.” With the traditional website, the content management system wasn’t integrated well into the back end of the site. This had a serious negative impact on fulfillment and shipping and limited the company’s ability to expand into the digital space.
After five years of trying to make a traditional solution work, Jones decided to move to a headless option. The goal for Four Pillars Gin was “to find the right [headless] partner to help us strike the perfect balance between brand experience, storytelling and world-class, future-proof, scalable ecommerce.”
Four Pillars Gin wanted to avoid a templated, ordinary-looking site at all costs, so a headless e-commerce solution was the obvious choice. The company created a beautiful site that provides an immersive brand experience while still offering functionality and technical excellence. This proved to be a profitable combination that led to a 152% increase in transactions and a 75% increase in conversions.
What Is Headless E-Commerce?
Headless and traditional e-commerce refers to the way a digital storefront’s front end and backend work together. It’s the relationship between the way developers build an e-commerce site and customers interact with it.
In traditional e-commerce solutions, the site’s front end and backend are tied together. Any changes made to one side can impact the other, sometimes in unexpected ways. This limits customization and flexibility, making it more difficult to adopt new technologies or create an innovative customer experience.
With website builders that offer a headless solution, the front end and backend are connected through an application programming interface (API) rather than directly. This means there’s no predefined front end.
A business owner and developer can work together to create a website experience that aligns perfectly with the brand and provides all the personalization that customers have come to expect.
What Are the Benefits of a Headless Website?
Decoupling an e-commerce site’s front end and backend opens the door to countless opportunities for exceptional design and shopping experiences that can delight customers. The brands featured below offer a detailed look into the many possibilities of headless and the benefits that come with them. Before we dive into those, here are five of the benefits you can expect with a headless e-commerce site:
- You have complete ownership over your site’s infrastructure, so you can create the exact experience you want for your customers.
- You can incorporate marketing tactics such as personalized content that can skyrocket conversions.
- Headless essentially helps to “future-proof” your website by ensuring you can adopt new software integrations.
- You can combine multiple versions of a website, such as if you have .ca and .uk versions, into a single domain for easier site management.
- Your site can automatically translate content into a customer’s local language or provide a multicurrency checkout process to help your brand expand into global markets.
Headless websites are the newest digital storefront solution, but they’ve already made a tremendous impact in the e-commerce industry.
With an upfront investment into this flexible site architecture, your business can reap the benefits of easier site management and increased conversions for years to come.
You can view all of the best e-commerce platforms for more information or comparisons.