TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is Headless eCommerce? An Interview with Bolaji Ayodeji

Mariusz Marcak
By Mariusz Marcak
headless ecommerce interview with bolaji ayodeji

What is Headless eCommerce, and what are the advantages of using it?
How to start with it and what to be aware of before you decide to use it in your webshop?

We go over all of this in the 5th episode of the Effective Product Development series with Bolaji Ayodeji – a software engineer, content creator, and community engineer from Commerce Layer!

Best ways to find and learn from Bolaji

Headless Commerce Resources

Video

Transcripted version

Intro

Bolaji Ayodeji:

It’s dangerous to have unsatisfied customers in this modern, competitive, and fast-evolving age.

So there’s a need for new and modern architectures to eliminate factors causing dissatisfaction and improve the business and technical logic and commerce. 

So you need to continue evaluating your business and look for more ways of improving your customer experience and improving everything, right?

And that’s pretty much it.

Mariusz Marcak:

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth episode of the Effective Product Development series, where together with Chris we help digital makers make better informed technological decisions.

In today’s episode, we will talk a bit more about e-commerce and specifically about headless e-commerce. We will also go deeper into some modern e-commerce problems or challenges, and we will try to have a look on how to face them.

But before we get any further with the technology, let me introduce our today’s guest Bolaji Ayodeji. He’s a developer’s advocate in Commerce Layer – this is a platform for global brands providing e-commerce features.

But I’m not going to say much more about it, I will let Bolaji introduce himself a bit more, his company, and his role. So, welcome Bolaji it’s really a pleasure to have you here.

About Bolaji

Bolaji:

Hi! Thank you so much, it’s nice for me to be here today also.

Hello everyone. My name is Bolaji Ayodeji. I’m a software engineer, content creator, and community engineer.

I currently work at a company called Commerce Layer as a developer advocate. What I do is I stand as a mediator between developers using their products and try to help them be successful with the products and their craft generally.

Alongside my work at Commerce Layer, I’m passionate about Jamstack, headless commerce, documentation, communities, and open source. On the side, I manage a community called Open Source Community Africa in Nigeria, which is a community for open source enthusiasts and experts in Africa. And that’s pretty much it.

Major factors that affect the success of commerce business

Mariusz:

That’s very good. I would like to bring a bit more context here in the conversation, because we would like to focus on the biggest challenges of the modern e-commerce world and how to face them with the latest technology. And before we go to the headless e-commerce itself, because it’s quite a hot subject lately, I would like to start from some basics and try to answer the question – where the need for changes in commerce came from? Because as a marketing person, I really enjoy all this business and customer-centric related stuff and e-commerce. I think one of the biggest challenges for e-commerce is to please the customer online. And I remember I’ve been watching your presentation on StrapiConf, where you mentioned all the major traditional commerce challenges. You also called them the major factors that affect the success of commerce business. And can we get a bit deeper into that? Can you, can we try to point them out, maybe?

Bolaji:

Yeah, sure. I think the background context of it all is that the best projects attribute to creativity and solid foundations. And where the problem lies is that these two ingredients kind of have conflicting requirements sometimes for you to build a creative project. It requires you to focus on your user experience, you know, flexibility, you want to be creative, and all that. And for you to have a solid foundation, you want to focus on security, scalability, and all that. But then these two layers kind of have conflicting priorities because for you to focus on user experience and some other customer-related features. It’s kind of hard for you to balance both of them, and this is where the current e-commerce is right now. And why this is a problem is because there is an increased number of consumers using e-commerce today. We’re in the 21st century, and we would know with the pandemic there are more people shopping online than they used to do in, yes, before now. And while we have more consumer shopping online, we also have much consumer shopping on several more platforms, right. And consumers are also demanding for a faster experience, they are demanding for a better experience, and that’s it on the consumer’s side.

And, on the business side, there is an increase in technology, and there is also an increase in competition. So you’re trying to balance and scale up to meet the demands of your consumers. And you’re also trying to balance and scale up to the competitions and the rising technologies. So it’s becoming harder, day by day, for businesses to try to balance, and, you know, meet up to these demands. And this is why we need to change, we need a new technology that can help us achieve this. So that’s pretty much the context.

How Google affects modern eCommerce

Mariusz:

What I feel and see also lately, because, you know, also one of the let’s say a big brother of all this technology is Google, and Google also has his own demands related to performance and quality as well user experience, and stuff like that.

So, I also consider this to be one of the main factors that people will kind of push to new technology. I think Google also wants that. I suppose, I suppose. Modern technology has enabled Google to work more efficiently, so they will definitely try to push online business to the modern technology way of doing stuff.

Bolaji:

You know, companies want to make revenue, right. And all we’ve been saying so far is the only way you make more revenue is for you to satisfy your customers, basically, which brings us down to trying to improve the entire platform, because that’s all your business is all about – you satisfy your consumers.

Pain points of modern eCommerce development

Mariusz:

Can you tell us something about the pain points of modern e-commerce development?

Bolaji:

Yeah, sure. I think Mariusz already mentioned one of it, which is Google, and we have the Google Core Web Vitals, which is more like a standard in terms of how websites on the Internet will probably rank on Google, what Google expects in terms of performance, and some kind of metrics, right. And all these metrics that, there’s research behind it, that started, unsure how, when you measure this kind of metrics, it allows you to know how performance your business is and how satisfactory it is for your consumers. So meeting up with this metrics is kind of hard with the traditional way, which is currently how most businesses are operating currently.

And, some kind of structure, that most traditional e-commerce businesses use, is something called the monolithic architecture. It’s an architecture where you have, you know, all components bundled into one single application: the presentation layer, the business logic, the database content management systems and everything in one system, right. And, having all these, affects a lot of things. It affects the developer experience, it affects flexibility, it affects the cost of the project, you know, it affects security, because it becomes harder for you to make changes in your application, it becomes harder for you to adapt to new changes, right.

So when you, maybe, you get this project to the end of the line, and you have it out live. It wouldn’t meet up with the performance metrics that’s required for you to pass, you know, those tests, and, eventually, it’s not going to satisfy your users. So it becomes hard for you to meet up with a Google Core Web Vitals. And we also know that for you to rank well in Google performance and security happens to be one of the core metrics, also. So we see here that performance pretty much covers everything, and this is one of the pain points that modern commerce experience today.

And I think the last one would probably be customer experience and page speed, which kind of still results in performance, right. So you want to ensure that your consumers have the best experience – as much as they demand. And this means covering several edge cases, like Chris was trying to mention, about having people from different countries and each of them have different demands. My demand from Nigeria will be different from yours in the UK. And you have to really be ready to satisfy me and all your users, right. And this calls for more creativity in terms of the consumer experience, in terms of the page speed, you know. And all this satisfaction kind of boils down to the engineering decisions you make, because you really cannot just, you know, create satisfaction from nothing. You have to do the technical work that would result in that satisfaction. So all these are kind of the pain points that modern e-commerce experience today, and, you know, there is a need for a solution.

What is headless eCommerce, and how it is different from the traditional approach?

Mariusz:

So, I think that’s a really perfect moment to actually go smoothly to headless e-commerce. So, if you could explain headless e-commerce approach a bit more. Like, how we differentiate from the traditional approach.

Bolaji:

Yeah, sure. And so, like we’ve been saying so far, there is a flaw in the current architecture, and we need a new technology. And headless e-commerce architecture is kind of the new way of designing architectures in e-commerce, whereby you separate the components and the logic behind the entire systems, so, in summary, you have your presentation layer independent from the business logic.

And when it comes to the headless commerce architecture, you just have the front-end layout APIs. The APIs can mean anything. It can serve several things, right. And that’s how flexible it gets, right. So when you separate the front-end and the back-end logic, you are able to decouple the components into independent models. And it allows you for more flexibility, better performance and also efficient development, because now it becomes easier for your team to work on a particular project.

Your front-end engineering team can work on the user experience and try to be creative as much as they want. Your business logic engineers can, you know, try to work on your business requirements and build something that works for your platform. And your content managers can also work on your content, because this is one thing businesses also miss out, because they feel content is probably just not so important, it’s just text, right. And it’s really important because we’re talking about customer experience and satisfying demands. I mean, your content is pretty much the first entry point your consumers get to your platform, so you need to optimize that to serve them, right.

And the headless architecture allows you to do this smoothly. So now you can focus on the front end by using, maybe, static site generators, like, Next and Gatsby and, you know, try to build the front-end layer, right. And you can leverage on headless commerce platforms to handle the transactional functionalities of your e-commerce business.

And then you can also utilize headless command and content management systems to manage your content. And the list goes on and on, because the idea is you’re now able to compose your stack using a lot of tools, technologies and then build them up into one application, that would meet up the demands of modern e-commerce. So that’s pretty much the idea behind it.

Advantages and benefits of headless technology in eCommerce

Chris Lojniewski:

Yeah. I like a lot that you can basically use the best tools for building the commercials. You can use the best checkout experience that you can have, you can use CMS for managing content, so all marketers and content marketers are happy. Yeah, and as you mentioned, different teams can work at the same time on the platform and also in the bigger e-commerce different vendors, so, for example, a few agencies can work at the same time on the platform. Yeah, so that’s very cool about headless e-commerce, but do you see any, you know, cons of using headless e-commerce and some downsides? Maybe, when it’s not worth to use headless e-commerce for the projects?

Bolaji:

Yeah, sure. But before I talk about the downside, I think I would like to add that one other brilliant you know flexibility that headless e-commerce gives you is the ability to serve your consumers and several marketplaces, several sales channels. We talk about how consumers are shopping on different devices, on several mediums, right. And the architecture, where you have your business logic separated from the front-end layer, allows you to build one entire business logic for your entire commerce platform, and serve that on several presentation layers on, you know, on the web, which happens to be maybe the popular entry point for consumers on your mobile phones, on smartwatches, you know, IoT and some other cool entry points – marketplaces, that people use currently. So, that’s also one of the great benefit that traditional e-commerce doesn’t give you, right. So, yeah.

Cons and downsides of headless eCommerce

Bolaji:

So, yeah. And then about the downsides of using headless commerce. So, I think, the first downside of using headless commerce happens when you don’t actually use headless commerce, so you’re losing, first of all, if you’re not using headless commerce. And the best way for us to see it here is determining if headless commerce is the right thing for you. Because despite all the pain points and wonderful benefits, it’s not the right solution for everyone, right. So, if you’re a small business with small requirements, you know, a single marketplace, just a few engineering resources with a desire to just, maybe, start selling quickly, right, it’s not the best thing for you, right. But then if you’re a growing brand that wants to expand your brand or your business internationally, you want to take control over your content and your user experience, then it’s probably the best fit for you. And why this is, because the headless commerce architecture kind of builds the mindset where you have to build everything yourself. As compared to the traditional way, where you pretty much have templates, you know, boiler and boilerplates, and stuff like that. That just what straps your entire project, right. So, for a small business that just wants to make sales, right, you really don’t even know if you’re satisfying your customers yet or not, you really don’t have so much data and all that, so determine if you want to leverage the headless commerce architecture.

But then when you are a fast-growing brand, you know, you have a lot of consumers, and you’re trying to meet up with the demands coming from those consumers, it’s now easier for you to work with that data, and then try to leverage the headless commerce architecture, right.

So the first downside here or rather the second downside is not being able to decide if it’s the best fit for you, right, so and a lot of things go into determining the best fit in terms of headless commerce. I think, we will share more about that soon. Especially, when you’re trying to determine the best. Do I use the word technologies, right. We will probably talk more about that. But this is like the idea behind the downsides.

Chris:

Yeah, yeah. I agree in 100%. I think, sometimes you don’t need a very fast shop, you don’t need to invest, for example, maybe you are just a local shop, and you’re selling just for your city. So, the customers won’t compare your shop with, you know, 100 000 other vendors, but they just want to have, you know, this favourite T-shirt from the favourite shop on the corner. So, maybe it’s not always needed to have it, maybe. Sometimes it’s, yeah, it’s good enough to just install, to go to Shopify.com, and just, you know, register and have the shop ready without any development. Because, I guess, in the headless world every time you need a developer to work on the e-commerce platform and develop it, right. And add new features or integrate it.

Bolaji:

Yeah, that’s the idea. Wanting to leverage on the headless commerce architecture costs something, right. And, like I mentioned earlier, starts from the mindset, so you have to do this yourself because you just identify the big loophole in your business, and you’re trying to improve it, so you can make more revenue and satisfy your consumers, and make more revenue, right. So, there is a lot in terms of the development that you need to do. There is a lot of analysis you need to do to decide on the best technologies to use, right. So that’s pretty much the downside if you’re not sure if it’s the best fit for you.

What is Commerce Layer, and how web shops can benefit from it?

Mariusz:

Right now, I think it’s also a good moment because we have mentioned about some smaller shops that maybe don’t want to really use headless e-commerce or don’t really need to use headless e-commerce. But, you know, we have been watching Commerce Layer as well.

Bolaji:

The idea behind the Commerce Layer is – it was used with a vision to solve the problem that traditional e-commerce platform experience, right. So as an API phase platform, Commerce Layer supply and supports headless commerce natively. And we provide you with several commerce APIs, that you can use to manage the transactional functionality of your platform, ranging from inventory management, order management, shopping carts, payments prices, checkouts and some other cool stuff that exists in e-commerce. So the idea is you can integrate your e-commerce platforms with commerce layer, and, you know, build a single backend that would serve all your presentation layers. So, if that makes any sense. And alongside the commerce APIs you get, we provide you with an order management system where you can manage your orders, manage your returns and some other cool stuff. So Commerce Layer sits between, you know, the transactional functionalities involved in commerce. So while you’re leveraging on the front-end experiences, you’re trying to build the best experience, right. That’s one aspect of headless commerce. You’re trying to build the business logic, also. And then Commerce Layer comes in and then handles all the transactional functionalities. So then you just have to plug in APIs into your architecture.

Who can use Commerce Layer?

Mariusz:

Right. If I think of e-commerce managers, for example, that would like to benefit somehow from Commerce Layer, like, what I as an e-commerce manager, what can expect from Commerce Layer? Like, which kind of problem you can take out from my agenda?

Bolaji:

So I would say they’re like three, I call them umbrellas, in which Commerce Layer would provide something for you. Headless, composable and global. And headless we’ve already been talking about it, right. Commerce Layer gives you the flexibility to implement the headless approach to building e-commerce platforms, right. So you are able to handle your transactional functionalities and business logic on one end and have your presentation layer on another end, and your content on another end. So that’s flexibility in the development aspect of your platform. 

And in terms of composable. Commerce Layer gives it more flexibility to leverage on composable commerce. And what this means is you are able to pick from a collection of tools based on your business requirements, and then, you know, when you pick all of them, you build them into what you want. So what I mean is you have business requirements, you want to build a platform that satisfies xyz, right. There are several headless tools out there ranging from content management systems to static site generators to other management systems and several core systems are required to build the large e-commerce platform you want to build, right. So Commerce Layer gives you that flexibility – to leverage other platforms, other tools and compose them together. And the key word here is based on your business requirements. So it’s not something that is set in stone. Whatever requirement you have, you have the ability to just choose, and, you know, build what works for you.

And the last thing is global, right, so Commerce Layer helps you to sell to multiple countries without any form of data duplication. I think Chris started mentioning about payments and some other stuff that exists in terms of e-commerce, right. Because you would probably have marketplaces or let’s say markets in several countries, right. And that’s why for a small business it’s actually not the right decision for you to come to headless commerce because you probably don’t have multiple markets that you are leveraging. So it’s more like just jumping into something and then losing some of the benefits, right. So with commerce leader you are able to build your entire business logic on one end. And you can use the same data across several markets places. You don’t have to duplicate every single contents or do I call them data for each of those marketplaces, right. So there’s much more flexibility that comes in terms of selling internationally, in terms of payments, in terms of content, in terms of the e-commerce functionalities, right. So these are kind of the three umbrellas in which Commerce Layer provides services to you as an e-commerce business.

Chris:

Yeah, sounds very good. And, as I noticed from your website, you also can create a subscription-based business using Commerce Layer, right? I think that’s a very cool feature. And, can you tell me something about more QR code catalogs, that you can build using Commerce Layer? I think this is a pretty interesting feature.

Bolaji:

Yeah. So the idea is there is no end to what you can do with Commerce Layer, it’s like we just give you a big blank board and tell you to, you know, draw the amazing ads you want to draw. So the fact that it’s an API first platform, and we provide you with several APIs for all the core features you need for your e-commerce business. I pretty much kind of list all of them right now. So with those APIs, you can now build whatever you want to build for any presentation layer. And the QR codes and catalogues just become one end to it, right. 

So leveraging the kind of technology you’re comfortable with you can use our APIs to, you know, use something with QR codes whereby as a consumer I can just scan a QR code and have access to a product, and then I can make payments with QR code, you know. There’s fun stuff you can do with that and likewise, like I mentioned with IoT, with smartwatches and some other cool stuff. So that’s just the idea. We give you the APIs, and then you can do all the cool stuff you want to do with it.

Chris:

Yeah, so, yeah, there’s a lot of cool features. And we can build a lot of nice platforms thanks to Commerce Layer. But do you have an ideal client for this kind of projects? I mean, some specific industry that Commerce Layer serves mainly? Or this is a bit random and it just the matter if a developer chooses this tool and implements it into the e-commerce platform?

Bolaji:

So there’s no specific business skills for Commerce Layer, right. Any kind of industry can fit into Commerce Layer – fashion, education, entertainment, you name it. So long you want to sell online. That’s pretty much it. You want to sell something, you have something to sell, either physically or virtually. It can be digital products. Then Commerce Layer is the right fit for you.

Chris:

So, I noticed that on the Commerce Layer website there’s a lot of, you know, technical benefits of using that. So I saw you’re attracting developers, that wants to build e-commerce platforms for their clients or for their bosses. And developer is checking her website, developer is saying oh this is a nice API, I have SDK for my favourite language, the communication is easy, the documentation is accurate, so, yeah, I’m going to choose Commerce Layer and suggest for my boss to implement it.

Bolaji:

Yeah, yeah, that’s pretty much the idea behind it. And, you know, sometimes it might not be actual developers that would even find this out. It might be, you know, business-minded folks, who are concerned about your revenue. Or it might be engineering managers. Someone that just wants to look for a technology that would kind of improve your current architecture. But then the idea is – you come, you know, you look at the features, and then you’re satisfied that this works. And then you try to convince those who are above of your business to leverage the technology.

Benefits of Commerce Layer for developers

Chris:

Yeah, okay. And what do developers like in Commerce Layer? Is there something specific that is worth to mention?

Bolaji:

So, the first thing there would be the flexibility that comes with using Commerce Layer. I think, I’ve used that one several times already today, right. So the idea of handling the whole, the entire transactional logic behind your e-commerce business and then being able to serve that across several presentation layers is really cool, right. So, I can have my e-commerce platform, you know, and Commerce Layer’s handling the prices, handling customers, the products, line items, checkouts and cool stuff like that. And I can have that served on a website, a mobile app and maybe a smart shop on smartwatches, right. So it’s really cool how you’re able to do all that with one platform.

And the other cool feature is the idea of selling internationally. So, Commerce Layer by default allows merchants to scale their businesses to several marketplaces. And this is at less cost, and it’s very easy, and you don’t have to do any form of data duplication, right. So this, the idea behind selling internationally and flexibility, happens to be one of the key stuff that developers love about Commerce Layer.

Migration to headless eCommerce

Mariusz:

Let’s imagine the company, let’s say I would like to migrate the Jamstack, let’s say I have some platform, but I’m not really happy with my results. I can feel, you know, a breadth of Google Core Web Vitals and stuff like that. And I would really like to go Jamstack. Is there anything that me as a business owner, for example, that I should be aware of?

Bolaji:

So the headless commerce approach uses a kind of top-down approach, right. So, I think, by now we already understand the pain points from traditional e-commerce and why we want to leverage on the headless commerce approach with Jamstack, right. So, the idea is for you to follow the top-down approach. Start from the customer experience, because the flexibility that headless commerce gives you is that all these components are all independent, right. So you can start from the customer experience. Pick the right framework that works best with your engineering team, you know, pick the right CMS that works best with your contents and focus on building the customer experience that satisfies your consumers. And this can start from you analysing what kind of data you have currently in terms of your consumers. What are the pain points. What do they need, you know, where are you lagging what do they want? And then identifying those pain points, you can then design an experience that satisfies those needs, right. And then you go ahead and implement that design in terms of building the perfect customer experience that works for you, right.

And then next you can now focus on the commerce part of it, which is the transactions and everything. So the idea or something you should prepare your mind for as a merchant when trying to leverage and headless commerce and Jamstack is that you’re going to write code for pretty much everything, right. So set that mindset that okay I am going to build this stuff and that’s pretty much how you get started, and then you use the top-down approach to start from the customer experience and build it down.

Mariusz:

Yeah, I actually really like this approach. Because everything starts from the user, pretty much.

Chris:

Yeah, yes, this is a very nice quote, you know, this kind of approach and yeah. I think when you’re migrating to headless e-commerce, you might notice that maybe your current e-commerce platform can work as headless e-commerce, so maybe you can start just with the updating user interface as you mentioned. And, yeah, you can stay for a second with your traditional e-commerce, for example, Magento or Shockware, or something like that and, yeah, you can use their API to build a great user interface.

Bolaji:

Yeah. So, it’s a process, right. You don’t just maybe jump into it or because you want to understand that you are doing the right thing. So take it slowly and then work your way down through.

How long does it take to migrate to headless eCommerce?

Mariusz:

Yeah. Yeah, so that’s actually my next question. Like, what kind of time frame should I prepare for such migration? Because we have those kinds of questions from clients. Like, okay how long does this is going to take, you know?

Bolaji:

Yeah. So, it pretty much varies depending on the kind of projects you’re working on, right. And how fast it will go depend on how soon you are able to assess and decide on the technologies you want to use. Which kind of is one of the biggest decisions you have to make in migration, right. You need to ensure, that you choose the best technologies because they are a lot out there, right. So, realistically, it would take probably around three to four months for you to migrate from Jamstack to the headless commerce. And we know this because at Commerce Layer I’ve worked with several brands, right, and we understand how much time it takes for you to decide on those technologies. And it will pretty much take you less time if you’re reaching out to us for an example, because now we are experts in the field, and we’ve worked with several brands before now. So we pretty much understand what your business or your project needs to succeed. S,o if you reach out to us, you know, request the demo, we can tell you what are the best, you know, the best parts for you to follow in picking those tools, and then you can go ahead and start development, right. And then, if you’re able to do that yourself, also, I mean, it’s cool because you need to be sure that you make the best decision at the starting point and that’s what makes it faster.

Data migration to headless eCommerce

Chris:

Yeah, I think also an important decision to make is the data migration. For example, you have your customer data, some sensitive information, maybe. And you need to decide if you want to migrate the orders, and, you know, which format the orders are, and it’s possible to do or not. And is Commerce Layer allowing to easily import data from, you know, popular e-commerce platforms?

Bolaji:

Yeah. So, we pretty much support importing those kinds of data into Commerce Layer, right. So it becomes, maybe, let me see, much easier, than it would be for you to bring in your data from existing platforms and then try to set them up, right. So, it’s harder if you’re probably a large-scale e-commerce business with like a lot of data, right. And if it’s pretty much medium, it’s, you know, it’s going to vary based on the size of whatever you’re trying to migrate.

The cost of headless eCommerce

Mariusz:

One of the quite obvious questions, another one from our clients. They would like to definitely know what kind of costs they can expect, but I’m not actually because, you know, we are in the different places in the world So, a website done in UK will probably cost differently than websites done in Eastern Europe and in India and so on. So as a business owner, for example, I would like to know not maybe not the cost, but the things that I will need to pay for. Because, as we mentioned at the beginning, you still need a developer to do stuff out there, you know, you still need some skilled people. Like as a business owner that never done any coding before, you might have a huge problem to get there, you know, to start and so on. So, in a way, I would like to have an approximate idea of things that I would need to pay for, you know. 

Bolaji:

Yeah. So, I think, we’ll start with the point that this architecture is tailored for enterprises, we’ve said this several times, right. So if you’re a small business, then this is not the right thing for you to do. You need to be sure that you are doing the right thing, right. And the idea is, there is a native market cost in terms of the transactional aspect of using headless commerce platforms. For example, Commerce Layer keeps the cost of infrastructure constant if you sell in multiple countries, right. So you don’t have to pay for several apps, integrations and stuff like that. It’s just, you know, a payment that is based on your orders, right, it’s based on what you’re selling, right. So that’s pretty much the idea. So aside from paying for let’s say a platform like Commerce Layer that handles all your transactional functionalities, you would also want to consider the cost of a content management system. There are several out there, right, to manage your content. And you would also want to leverage something like a CDN that would help you to, you know, while you’re using static site generators, cache this pages, and, you know, deploy them on CDNs, which makes things faster and increase your performance. So you would also want to consider that. And alongside other tools and stacks, that you would want to use, you might probably want to use an image service to optimize your images like Cloudinary and some other cool stuff, right. So these are pretty much the ideas or the sections that you would want to focus on before we now go to the actual building of the customer experience, which, you know, you can decide to use a digital agency like Pagepro, or you can decide to use, you know, hire developers that would work and build this stuff for you. So it’s pretty much on the customer experience aspects, designing and finding developments, the commerce aspects, headless commerce, like, Commerce Layer and some other integrations tools and stacks that you need to use.

Chris:

Yeah, and I think if we are speaking about costs. It’s, of course, cost of implementing new platform, but we need to remember about the cost of maintaining an existing platform. And, for example, maybe you can have your old big e-commerce website that hosting, you know, costs a lot of money, and there is a place to improve it. Maybe your current e-commerce platform has an outdated tech stack, and it’s time to implement new features. It’s killing your business, so, yeah, you need to check the costs on the implementation of the new website and also the cost of staying with the old website. And also, yeah, maybe it’s not just about the cost, but I think it’s easier to find developer and recruit developer that will be working on fresh technology stack, because developer experience also is an important factor if you’re having an in-house team to develop new features into your e-commerce website. So I think headless and Jamstack approaches has great developers experience, right.

Bolaji:

Yeah, I agree with you 100%.

Best tech stack for headless eCommerce

Mariusz:

And, I think, then quite natural next move would be to trying to choose the best tech stack for my webshop. Let’s say, are there any e-commerce platforms that you could recommend? Like, because obviously there are the popular ones, but maybe we could try and match the e-commerce platform to a specific kind of business? Like, what would you recommend?

Bolaji:

Okay, and so my recommendation would be based on my own preference and based on my own business requirements, right. So the first thing to note is, you need to find what works for your own requirements, right. Understand what you have currently, like Chris has mentioned. You would not have a JavaScript ecosystem and then try to adopt something in the Python ecosystem. It’s kind of a new space for you, so you need to stay within where you are. Or, it’s possible that where you are currently is very bad, and you want to maybe take a leap of faith that’s also fine. But then the idea is for you to be sure that you’re picking something that works best with your current stack and your current engineering resources. Like Chris mentioned, with having developers working on a fresh project, right. So, first of all, I think, when it comes to static site generators in terms of building Jamstack front end layers for e-commerce, I’d probably recommend something like Next.js, React, Gatsbyjs and, you know, there are tons of others in the VGS ecosystem. And for content management systems, to manage the content aspects of your e-commerce business, I would recommend, you know, Sanity content to graphCMS, dataCMS – it’s just a really cool content management platforms that you can utilize. And for my headless commerce platform to handle your transactional functionalities, I would obviously recommend Commerce Layer. And I’m not being biased here, I’m saying that because I know that that’s what you need, right. And it’s possible if it’s possible that your business requirements exceeds what we can offer, then that’s fine. But I don’t know what your requirements pretty much is that would exceed what we have currently, because Commerce Layer pretty much handles most of the, you know, transactional functionalities that you need to scale your business, right. And then, when it comes to continuous development, I think Chris mentioned something about maintaining your project, and, you know, how you want to make sure you’re keeping your costs down. So, when you’re leveraging on the headless commerce architecture, you really don’t need to focus so much on the developer’s activities, right. You can just, I mean, your presentation layers are static pages, right, so you can leverage on something like Netlify or ACell to deploy your static pages every. Single git push you make, you know, it’s deployed immediately, it’s faster, you know, performance is increased compared to might not have to work with something like AWS and all that kind of stuff. I mean, you might have to do that, depends on your requirements, but then it’s much more easier now for you to just leverage on simpler tools and then compose all of them together.

Chris:

Yeah, and I think those deployment stuff is it’s also very important. In Netlify and Reversal if you do something, you know, if you break the website, you can, if you second, you can revert the previous version that was working very well. So that’s also a nice stuff.

Bolaji:

Yeah, the fact that builds on the git workflow allows you to version control everything. You know, in traditional you’re probably just versioning your code alone, but now you’re versioning your code, your content also because the headless commerce platforms also allow you to use the git workflow.

How to measure if your migration to headless was successful?

Chris:

If you have some experience in your projects – how to measure if the migration went well? Of course, you can measure, you know, the revenue that the e-commerce is making, but, yeah, do you have any tips? How to check if our KPIs are met after the migration, and what kind of stuff we need to monitor just after the migration?

Bolaji:

All right. So, like you mentioned, the first thing is your, you know, your KPIs. What KPIs have you set for yourself, first of all, because, you know as a business your needs is going to vary across, you know, several businesses, right. And that’s the first thing. So whatever measurements you do when you try to migrate, you’re trying to check if you’re meeting what you’ve set already, right. And one key aspect for you in terms of checking the customer experience that you have now is using Google Web Vitals, which you’ve mentioned already. So you can check that out if you have no idea what it means. I think the Google Web Vitals has like three commentaries of checking the largest contentful paints, the first impute delay and the cumulative layout shift, right. These are just some standard metrics where you’re trying to measure – performance, page speed, visual stability, just trying to check and see how your customer experience is, right. So if your customer experience is able to match up or let’s say pass the test of the Google Web Vitals, it means you’re doing something good, right. And that’s the first step.

And the next thing now would be for you to check the current metrics you’re getting and compare it to your KPIs. Did you set a goal of having let’s say 10% increase in sales or did you set the goal of having 10% increase in customers from a particular country, right. So understand your own business requirements, and then you need to analyse this data, and you would be able to see that, yeah, I’m making progress. Because the idea is if your customers are satisfied, then it’s a success. If you’re making more revenue, it’s a success. So if you’re not able to achieve those two things, then it means something went wrong.

Chris:

Yeah. I think also when you’re, you know, releasing a new platform, and you had a previous platform before and, for example, the SEO is very important for you so during the migration you need to make sure that the URL structure is the same, or you did the directions because, yeah, you want to increase your organic traffic.

Bolaji:

Yeah, that’s very true. Yeah, I agree with you.

Chris:

Yeah, usually when we are releasing a new platform, we are checking the URL structure, the meet attack structure, we are using tools like ahrefs so, yeah. We are 100% sure that the side held is better on a new platform than your previous platform.

Bolaji:

Yeah, very true. I think that’s pretty much the sum of everything. You want to ensure that it’s better for every single team. So, you need to take note of all the components required in your platform.

The future of eCommerce

Mariusz:

So, I think we’re on a kind of a release moment, you know. When we release a web shop everything works fine, we check the Core Web Vitals, we increase the revenue and everyone is happy, clients are happy, we are happy. So now, maybe, we can have a look, try to have a look in the future of the headless e-commerce? I’m still wondering what kind of things could be improved? Like, there are probably still areas for improvement, and do you have something in your mind that could be still improved? And we are waiting for it, let’s say.

Bolaji:

Well, for me, I think it’s in terms of the number of sales channels arising, right. So, there can be more improvements in terms of enriching customer experience. Because for now, pretty much what we see around is just native websites, right. And I think Chris was kind of interested in the QR code sales channel, and, you know, some other cool stuff which we don’t have a lot of that currently. And that’s pretty much the future of headless e-commerce where we have more enriched customer experiences in terms of videos, editorial contents, you know, IoT devices, voice assistants, you know. Imagine how cool it would be for me to just say:”Hey Siri, I want to purchase a book!” and then I can, you know, make my payments, and then, you know. So there’s still much more untapped benefits that are still there for us to grab in terms of the customer experience. So that’s where I see the future, leveraging more on other sales channels.

Mariusz:

I think that was the also Amazon idea of having this button next to a specific places, like, for example, when your soap is running out, you can just click the button, and the soap is already ordered, you know.

Bolaji:

Yeah, that’s pretty much the idea, that’s the idea.

Mariusz:

So like totally frictionless buying experience you know. You don’t even have to think about much, yeah, just press the button.

Bolaji:

Yeah, I think that’s one of the automation Chris was talking about, right. So we automate the customer experience. I don’t even have to worry about the speed of your website. All I have to worry about is just paying for what I want, right.

Mariusz:

Yeah, and then you have a kid in the kitchen, you know, just banging on it, ordering like 500 soaps or something like that.

Bolaji’s resources to start with headless eCommerce

Yeah, okay, I think we went through pretty much everything related to headless e-commerce. I think at least the things that could be interesting for business owners. Bolaji, it was really great pleasure to have you here with us today. Thank you very much for all your knowledge. Maybe we can still kind of grab you somewhere? Can you say, like, how people can maybe contact you or, you know, because probably we have a lot of visitors that would like to just make things happen. And I suppose Commerce Layer is a good place, I suppose your knowledge as an expert is also a perfect resource to help people out with. Yeah, with the stuff at the beginning.

About Comprehensive Headless Commerce Guide from Commerce Layer

Bolaji:

Yeah, sure. I think the starting point, I would like for you to check, is the comprehensive headless commerce guide which we have at Commerce Layer, which covers the, you know, the challenges with traditional e-commerce and how headless commerce solves this problem. It’s really comprehensive, and I think if you read that, it pretty much talks about what we, you know, we discussed today in more details, right. And you can check out our developers page and Commerce Layout at IOS developers. We have a bunch of resources, we have our data model, which shows you the relationships between several key components in our APIs. We have some core concepts which, you know, we show you some of the core concepts behind Jamstack and headless commerce that we, you know, we rely on at Commerce Layer, right. And we are currently working, you know, day by day to improve the resources. We’re creating more resources for you in terms of trying to migrate to the headless commerce space. So I would like for you to check that out. And please you can also join our Slack channel, you know, if you have any questions or anything at all. And just like I mentioned earlier, we are experts in the field, right, so if you’re having any issues with deciding if this is the best fit for you, or you don’t even know what parts to follow, you can reach out, you know, request for a demo, and then we can show you how best for you to follow. And, you know, that’s pretty much it.

Mariusz:

Perfect, perfect. Obviously, all the links in the comments section.

Bolaji:

I’ll just maybe just leave viewers with this word. It’s dangerous to have unsatisfied customers in this modern, competitive and fast evolving age, right. So there’s a need for new and modern architectures to eliminate factors causing dissatisfaction and improve the business and technical logic, and commerce. So you need to continue evaluating your business and look for more ways of improving your customer experience and improving everything, right. So, that’s pretty much it.

Mariusz:

That’s true. I think you also mentioned that somewhere in the middle of a conversation that it’s all the process, you know. It’s not like once you’ve done, it works well forever. Yeah, it’s an iteration process, yeah, and you have to adapt constantly, I suppose.

Bolaji:

Yeah, just like currently now we are in the that’s what we call web 2.0, and then we are currently having web 3.0, right. So the age is improving, so probably next year now we’re thinking about more around the crypto space and how you can leverage that in e-commerce. So you can’t just sit down and say my platform is working, and then just be happy. You need to keep up with the changes and try to evolve it.

Mariusz:

Definitely true, 100% agree.

Bolaji:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me today.

Mariusz:

Okay, thanks very much then, Bolaji. And, of course, thanks everyone for watching and speak to you in the next video you.

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