Headless Commerce in 2020: How Headless is Evolving, Entertaining, Everywhere.
Headless commerce has powered a new generation of digital commerce experience, allowing retailers to attach innovative front-end commerce experiences to robust back-end architecture. LiveArea’s James Wilson discusses how headless is making everyday customer interactions more relevant, frictionless and memorable.
February 27, 2020
Author: James Wilson, Solutions Director, LiveArea EMEA
There’s no getting away from it – digital is ingrained in everything we do. We get in the car and open Google maps. We’re using smart devices around the home. Health and fitness, travel, entertainment, communication, banking – these physical activities have become so permeated by digital media that we barely notice it any more. And commerce is no different.
The merging of everyday media and commerce has seen an evolution in how consumers discover, research, and purchase products. The customer journey has been shortened, redefined, and is more seamless and entertaining than ever before.
Headless commerce has powered a new generation of digital commerce experience. It allows retailers to attach innovative front-end commerce experiences to robust back-end architecture, making customer interactions more relevant, frictionless and memorable, which should result in more revenue for brands.
This type of experience is shaping how we conduct everyday activities. Social commerce, with the likes of Instagram and Snapchat facilitating in-app purchasing, is an obvious example of commerce infiltrating the media we consume on a daily basis. Whatsapp also recently introduced in-app purchasing. But it doesn’t stop there.
In 2019, beauty brand Anastasia Beverly Hills was one of only 23 brands selected by Instagram to participate in the closed beta of in-app checkout on Instagram. This feature allows customers to browse and purchase products directly from Instagram without needing to leave the app.
This monetizes the loyalty of their huge social following by giving fans a convenient way to discover, browse and shop products in one centralized location – complete with a consistent and high-quality PFS order fulfilment process.
In fact, with the infiltration of digital into pretty much everything we now do – around the home with smart devices and IoT, consuming TV, movies and music, exercising apps, automotive and in-car devices, transport and travel apps, mobile banking – there’s opportunities out there for retailers and brands across many sectors to provide engaging, native digital commerce experiences to drive revenue.
It’s an exciting time. With the new generation of agile eCommerce platforms expect these experiences to become more immersive, seamless, and engaging.
A great example of merging video discovery with a quick buy can be found with Walmart, and its partnership with Buzzfeed’s popular viral Tasty recipe videos, which are a great way for consumers to discover new recipes, products and grocery brands. Now, customers can add the entire ingredient list from these videos right to their online grocery carts with one click, ready for in-store pickup or home delivery.
And shoppable video is now crossing over into live formats. Think Rihanna’s Fenty show at last year’s New York Fashion week, which was streamed on Amazon, allowing people to buy the products they saw in the show directly from the stream in a few clicks. As Amazon continues to penetrate the video streaming market, expect to see this trend continue.
How does headless support shoppable video?
We are used to thinking about eCommerce as just a transactional interface for shopping, designed to browse, view product descriptions add items to cart, and checkout. Headless commerce allows retailers to embed shopping features in a vast array of digital experiences such as video, without having to touch the commerce backend.
With headless commerce, retailers can deploy commerce experiences within a video environment. The customer can click or tap the item, view details, add to cart, and checkout in a seamless experience.
It was reported at the start of this year that smart home devices had reached ‘mass adoption’ in the UK.
The key is how brands are re-inventing the mundane. Voice assistants make checking the weather or finding a recipe for that out-of-date asparagus more convenient, and more fun. The next step is converting this into a seamless commerce experience, which some brands are already doing.
Bad weather on the way? Perhaps your voice assistant can ask if you’ve got the right shoes or jacket, and suggest some options.
A recipe needed for out-of-date avocado? Well, maybe your bot can order you some in-date avocados, plus suggest a recipe and deliver all the items within a few hours, via an online grocery service. And then, over time, it can learn about your tastes and shopping habits, and suggest new recipes and products and buy them for you.
How does headless support voice commerce?
It’s these kind of seamless, easily conversational transactions that makes headless commerce so appealing, particularly for new technologies and devices, such as smartwatches, voice assistants and IoT devices. Brands can focus on developing the front-end experience such as the accuracy and human elements of the voice assistant, and quickly deploy functionalities and upgrades.
In a similar way, the automotive industry is capitalising on smart technology to improve the driving and maintenance experience for drivers.
Think of vehicles as devices. The automobile is becoming mobile in every sense. Therefore, connected cars need to offer experiences that mirror those on a mobile device – think voice control, social media, movies, and music. In-car infotainment technology is expected to generate $15 billion in sales by 2021, up from $7 billion in 2016.
Amazon, as expected, have seen the opportunity here, and have jumped on a collaboration with Lamborghini, integrating Alexa with the new Lamborghini Huracan Evo model. Amazon and ExxonMobil announced a partnership that in April will let drivers use voice commands to pay for gas at more than 11,500 petrol stations in the U.S.
How does headless support in-car commerce?
Car manufacturers and aftermarket dealers are desperately trying to harvest data, innovate, and develop new experiences to get ahead of the game and start tapping into what will be a huge market. Expect big collaborations between car manufacturers and Big Tech as retailers and brands attempt to carve out ownership of this budding opportunity. Once again, headless is central to this evolution. Its future-proof design will allow manufacturers to accommodate innovative future products quickly within their cars.
The merging of digital and physical interactions means that the route to purchase has been fragmented and connected all at the same time. It’s more entertaining and complex than ever before. The reality is, the advancement of technology and its permeation into everything we do gives the potential for brands to engage and delight consumers in new, more meaningful ways.
The future for brands is headless commerce technology, which enables the flexibility to focus on entertaining, relevant experiences and content across a growing myriad of consumer devices and touchpoints.
Author: James Wilson
James Wilson is Solution Director at LiveArea EMEA. With over 20 years of professional experience in digital creative technologies, commercial web design and web development, James leads the professional services team to consult, scope, roadmap and develop commerce technology solutions for LiveArea’s EMEA client base.