Why Strategy and Timeframe are Pivotal to Your Headless Commerce Transition

Published On: April 9th, 20203 min read

Accelerated time-to-market is one of the best things about headless commerce.

But the promise of speed may create a misconception about the transition to headless commerce. First off, getting started can take a lot longer than you might suspect. Moreover, the complexity of headless commerce requires a comprehensive strategy to keep all the moving parts rolling in the same direction.

Companies have excellent reasons to modernize their commerce platforms. After all, legacy platforms usually have a rigid structure that requires changes on the frontend to coordinate with planned backend releases. This structure binds the hands of people trying to react quickly to changes in their marketplace.

Headless commerce decouples the frontend from the backend, enabling fast development timelines that are more difficult with a conventional monolithic commerce platform. But enjoying all this speed comes at a cost: You have to invest plenty of time at the beginning of the headless transition to formulate a strategy that will ultimately save time in the future.

Getting Your Headless Commerce Strategy Right  

There’s a lot of due diligence, planning and execution to navigate:

  • Discovery and Gap Analysis:
    • Assessing your current state
    • Defining your desired end state
    • Performing a gap analysis
    • Doing a cost-benefit analysis
  • Setting priorities
  • Building a roadmap
  • Creating the right teams and training them to ensure they have the required technical skills
  • Choosing the right platforms (commerce, CMS, search, etc.) that meet your current and future needs
  • Developing the “head” (UI/UX/presentation tier):
    • Selecting the right software stack
    • Designing, implementing and supporting the cloud architecture
  • Adopting Agile and DevOps methodologies that ensure rapid updates and speedy iterations
  • Securing buy-in from everybody
  • Building a migration guide to limit business disruptions and improve customer experience

These and many more variables must mesh with your current IT configuration, governance and marketplace expectations. And everything needs to be flexible enough to support rapid changes in the years to come. Limitations in your platform of choice that seem minor today could prove major in 18 months.

To navigate these variables, it helps to start with a gap analysis that describes your current environment and the future state you hope to achieve. The skills and technologies you’ve already mastered will play a significant role in the transition. You’ll want to build on your strengths rather than create everything from scratch.

Thorough due diligence lets you build a roadmap that identifies new technologies you need to implement and provide a timeline for getting it all done.

Giving Yourself Enough Time to Succeed

And now for the bad news: There will be meetings — lots of them.

Embracing a new commerce platform requires an immense number of decisions, most of which are interrelated. These choices require consensus based on feedback from your staff and advice from your technology partners. And you have to weigh the impact on customers, suppliers and co-workers.

Gaining frontend flexibility opens up a universe of alternatives. You can’t weigh them all, but you will want to consider the most promising ones. Your strategy builds a foundation for the future of your commerce operations. That’s not something to rush through. The more you get right in the early meetings, the fewer meetings you’ll need to fix glitches down the road.

DMI: A Strategic Partner for Headless Commerce

At DMI, we’ve implemented headless commerce architectures for companies across a wide spectrum of capabilities and technology maturities. Some clients have no in-house IT, while others have the resources to develop in-house platforms. Our edge in digital commerce is our deep experience with both legacy and modern commerce systems at every level of the software stack.

We help clients formulate the optimum headless commerce strategy based on their current realities and their business goals. And we help them formulate a timeline for getting it done right.

— Atul Bhammar, senior vice president, solutions architect, digital commerce