Headless Commerce: What's Fueling Headless Adoption in eCommerce? A dotCMS, DEPT & Unbxd Fireside Chat

Today's companies need the ability to adapt to market demands quickly, and they need technology to drive this. While monolithic eCommerce or CMS solutions may have been viable in the past, modern solutions need to follow a best-of-breeds approach - bringing together many tools to form a complete digital experience solution. Headless makes this all possible through the use of APIs for seamless integrations, so businesses can take a truly flexible approach to their technology stack.

dotCMS's Stefan Schinkel, DEPT's Managing Director Harvey Turner and Principle Architect Daniel Paterson, and Unbxd's Executive Advisor Curt Brown came together for a fireside chat about the need for headless commerce solutions in a rapidly changing digital landscape.

More specifically, the group covers some of the benefits of the partnership between dotCMS and Unbxd for AI-driven site search, the main pain points DEPT is seeing in the eCommerce space that’s pressuring retailers to innovate, and what the future holds for the headless solution developed between all three companies.

Instead of watching the video, you can read on below for the key points of the discussion.

What's Fueling Headless Solutions?

There are a few critical pain points that are driving businesses towards headless content and commerce implementations. The two main ones our panel sees in the market are the need for adaptability and agility.

Paterson says one of the most significant pain points is the ability to adapt to a rapidly evolving marketplace. Previous monolithic solutions prevent companies from moving on the trends and insights they see in analytics tools. He says companies need to take advantage of software like AI-driven product search or other eCommerce tools to remain agile as a business and work more closely with customers. Paterson says headless is the solution that allows you to do this.

From a technical perspective, Paterson says development overhead is a huge pain point. For mid to enterprise size businesses, IT teams are a significant cost factor and generally cannot move quickly if they're working with large legacy applications that have been embedded in the company's processes for years. Company's get stuck with monolithic applications that prevent business agility and let competitors outpace them in the marketplace. Instead, these organizations need a more flexible and futureproof digital experience that a headless solution provides.

Headless Drives Business Adaptability and Agile Development

API-first solutions like headless are changing the way businesses get ahead in a highly competitive eCommerce landscape. They’re fueling digital transformation, accelerating time to market, and promoting company-wide adoption of new processes for delivering cutting-edge customer experiences.

Digital Transformation

Paterson spoke about the advantages of headless from a business perspective. He says API-driven solutions allow companies to bring in modern search tools and other analytics to better adapt to market trends and customer demands. Instead of a suite approach, a business can more easily take a best-of-breed approach with APIs and use the latest technologies that better fit their specific business requirements.

The lightweight approach of a headless solution means IT teams can use a plug and play strategy for tooling and design each piece to support trends as they emerge. Developers can then focus on building or implementing tools for more specific use-cases instead of hacking on features or patches to large legacy systems. In this way, Paterson thinks decision-makers can rely on IT move faster and keep pace with the business.

Time to Market

Schinkel agrees that APIs bring in flexibility for development, but also decrease the time to implement new systems and bring content to end-users faster. He says dotCMS's NoCode tooling, for example, drives digital marketing agility by empowering marketing teams. Without full reliance on IT or development teams, the increased productivity of non-technical staff improves the experience for both content authors and end-users.

As for speedy implementations, Brown says that many competitors for AI-driven search take anywhere from 9 to 12 months, but Unbxd guarantees integration in 6 to 8 weeks. They do this by using APIs to integrate AI and personalization features to third-party software like dotCMS.

Company Adoption

Beyond implementation, company adoption is another area Turner says is essential to consider. Schinkel agrees that company-wide adoption and internal ramp up by marketers and merchandisers is equally important when choosing third-party systems to integrate. dotCMS, for example, offers online training that's freely accessible and quickly brings non-technical users up to speed and Unbxd can get new familiar with its admin console in a matter of days.

Schinkel and Paterson are both seeing a headless eCommerce and CMS solution being implemented by many mid to enterprise-sized businesses. Many enterprise companies have been stuck with traditional systems that have long development and upgrade cycles, and realize the need to up their pace. That's why many of them are adopting an abstract, headless solution that brings content, commerce, and AI-driven product insights together using simple, yet powerful APIs.

What Does the Future Hold?

With a great set of platforms like Commercetools, Unbxd, and dotCMS, the speed to implementation of the integrated solution has been incredible. While features like Edit Mode Anywhere give developers the flexibility to choose front-end frameworks, Paterson sees the future as bringing this abstracted headless solution, and the core implementation, to even more technology stacks other than Java and .Net. Additional SDKs and other libraries will accelerate the development of applications for many organizations, and push forward innovation in the eCommerce industry.

Recommended: dotCMS’ Stefan Schinkel and Will Ezell speak with DEPT about Edit Mode Anywhere.

Schinkel sees the market's need for agility, flexibility, and time to value, and believes headless is the solution for many companies. It's no longer acceptable to be stuck in a monolithic solution, where you’re tied into a long-term licensing agreement because competitors are willing to use agile development to adapt technology in pace with customer demands. Enterprise companies, therefore, need to be looking toward the future and jumpstarting their digital transformation by implementing a headless commerce solution.

June 30, 2019

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