For Business

The future of ecommerce is headless

Composable ecommerce and the flexible online storefront

Closeup of individual with smartphone and credit card for online purchase

The ecommerce industry has come a long way since the early days of clunky “teleshopping” experiments that started in the 1980s. We’ve seen the rise of pioneering platforms as the internet expanded, along with a steady march toward more sophisticated, feature-rich ecommerce solutions. But the truth is, the model of rigid, one-size-fits-all platforms is starting to show its age.

With innovations happening faster and more frequently than ever before, what’s next for the industry? The more agile your business, the more it will be compatible with today’s fast-evolving needs.

What’s outdated about ecommerce?

To run any ecommerce site, there are fundamental aspects that a business needs, such as:

  • A product catalog as a way to store product descriptions, attributes, prices, and more
  • A digital storefront to display goods, where shoppers can interact with catalog information
  • An order management system that tracks all aspects of the order, from shopper payment to order fulfillment

Most ecommerce providers have these critical services. Also, they often have default dashboards that display how a business is doing, but with a restricted set of options for the fulfillment capabilities that it supports.

These providers are convenient in terms of setup, but there is a growing need for flexibility. The more customized your ecommerce approach, the earlier and more easily you can add new innovations to it.

What is composable commerce?

Composable commerce is a term that signals our industry’s shift away from a monolithic approach toward a more modular, flexible, and “composable” approach. By decoupling the various components that power an online store—from the content management system to the shopping cart and checkout—composable commerce empowers businesses to handpick the best tools and seamlessly integrate them into a cohesive, customized solution. This agility not only allows companies to rapidly adapt to changing customer preferences and market trends, but also frees them from the constraints of a single vendor’s roadmap. Businesses can fit their technology stack to best serve their customers’ needs and their own needs.

How can different providers work together in composable commerce?

Let’s look at a few ecommerce building blocks individually: content management systems (CMS), third-party fulfillment providers (3PL), and order management systems (OMS).

For organizations that need a CMS, a business often selects a provider based on what it values most. Do cost efficiencies take precedence, leading the business to the most budget-friendly option? Or does a business care most about how fast the site loads? To provide an example, if a company values speed, Salesforce Commerce Cloud has strong historical uptimes, supports AI and other automation, and provides real-time data. (Learn about Buy with Prime for Salesforce.)

When it comes to a 3PL, merchants might be looking for nationwide-scale that can handle peak season volume. They could leverage the world’s largest fulfillment network through Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) and Buy with Prime. Shoppers get transparent delivery estimates with a solution that offers a >97% on-time delivery rate.1

Lastly, a business might prioritize a location-level view of inventory, so they can offer shoppers the option to buy products online and then pick them up in-store. That would be a reason to choose Salesforce Order Management System.

With composable commerce, businesses make these decisions for each of their required systems and components. A business decides what matters in each scenario and makes the choices to optimize against those criteria.

How does a business benefit from composable commerce?

Composable commerce can provide business benefits such as:

  • Increased flexibility: Businesses can more quickly adapt to changing requirements, technologies, and user demands.
  • Faster to market for new features: Simply plug in a new service’s APIs and rapidly integrate several services together, without worrying about the underlying technical details behind those services.
  • Scalability: Deliver a consistent brand experience across multiple touchpoints like mobile apps, kiosks, and voice assistants. A new social media site launches? Reuse content management services to populate posts. Need a new mobile app? Reuse the same product reviews service to surface reviews there as well.
  • Cost efficiency: Headless services aren’t necessarily cheaper than the monolithic platforms. Instead, using headless services gives you full control of where you want to spend your dollar.

How does Buy with Prime contribute to composable commerce?

Buy with Prime lets companies offer Prime shopping benefits directly on their own ecommerce sites, and they don’t have to be an Amazon seller. So, from a developer perspective, Buy with Prime Headless API support creative, custom shopping experiences for consumers. The suite of API queries and methods cover fulfillment, order management, returns, catalog management, and more. Businesses can pick and choose which APIs to use (and which ones are redundant for the business). Amazon provides the tools as an organization builds the ecommerce house.

One of the biggest benefits of using Buy with Prime is that orders on your site are fulfilled by MCF, which has a “click-to-door speed” of 1.9 days—more than 50% faster than other retailers.2 The fast, free delivery that shoppers have come to love and expect from Prime are now available from your brand.

Regardless of your ecommerce provider, if you choose to use Buy with Prime, you can manage everything in the merchant console. This is where you can add products, change prices, track orders and returns, evaluate analytics, and more. You only use this console if you want. Buy with Prime has integrations with Shopify and Salesforce Commerce Cloud, allowing you to manage Buy with Prime orders within those consoles. Or there are APIs available for you to display the data wherever, whenever you like.

Interested to learn more? Explore all the ways to add Buy with Prime to your website.

1Amazon Multi-Channel Fulfillment internal data
2Source: NielsenIQ, Delivery speed data from Insider Intelligence, August 2022