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How Headless Commerce Systems Help Retailers Realize Greater Speed, Agility, and Control Over Customer Experiences

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The retail industry is ever-evolving, mirroring in many ways the evolution and progress of humankind as a whole. It’s always expanding, welcoming new concepts and competitors and consistently innovating to develop more advanced and effective ways to operate, communicate, and succeed. Much of the most recent innovation, within both the retail environment and society in general, has centred around the use of technologies, spawning new systems and tools amid the arrival of the digital age. For retailers the world over, the new digital landscape is perhaps best reflected by the recent explosion in e-commerce and rise in the use of digital devices — a combination that’s resulted in immense opportunities for retailers to leverage and capitalize on the creation of multiple streams of digital commerce. However, with these opportunities also come challenges related to the development and management of experiences across all of the channels. Any friction within these experiences, any points of pain felt by the customer during their shopping journey, could lead to decreased loyalty and sales, interrupting, even preventing, growth for the business. For this reason, retailers everywhere are becoming more attuned to the notion of headless commerce, piquing curiosity throughout the industry as to the potential benefits and payoffs of headless systems.

Going Headless

What’s unique about headless systems is the fact that they operate with the frontend decoupled from the backend, meaning that the touchpoints presenting information to the consumer, such as a retailer’s digital storefront, mobile app or in-store kiosk, function independent of the backend powering and supporting them. Leveraging application programming interfaces (APIs) to link and define interactions between the multiple pieces of software and hardware used to construct the system, the user is enabled with greater agility in their utilization of their systems. In short, the benefits that can be realized through the headless approach are multifaceted and allow businesses to remove much of the complexity that’s often involved in running and supporting a successful digital e-commerce environment for their customers. It serves to increase a retailer’s speed within the ever-broadening digital ecosystem. But, most importantly, says Adam Sturrock, VP Product Marketing at Amplience, a headless architecture and approach provides merchants with the freedom to innovate and enhance the customer experience across all digital channels.

“The experience that is created and offered to customers within today’s digital environment is the most important consideration of any retailer running part of their business online,” he asserts. “Through these experiences, they’re trying to connect and engage with their customers in a way that’s seamless and effective. And increasingly, they’re realizing that these experiences have got to be differentiated within a unique customer journey that is taking place across multiple channels. Customers are interacting with retailers and brands offline, online and on their mobile devices. And retailers have got to orchestrate those experiences and support them by weaving together numerous components and pieces of data from various systems. A headless approach allows content creators, campaign managers and marketing teams the ability to leverage all of the data to develop curated experiences for each channel from a single system, providing them with full control over the design of their digital customer journeys.”

Transformative Approach

For many businesses currently running traditional monolithic platforms to support the experiences they offer, the concept of headless might be a bit of a foreign one, seeming perhaps counterintuitive to the proper management of systems, information, and content. However, for those seeking to harness more of the data that they have access to in order to provide their customers with a greater level of customization and personalization, the migration to a headless approach and execution of new strategies is quickly making a lot of business sense, representing a means by which to stay ahead of today’s digital curve. It all adds up to big changes that are required to the current retail technology infrastructure, a daunting task at best. But, helping businesses navigate through the change to realize the power and potential of a headless approach are company’s like Amplience.

Founded in 2008, the developer of an API-first, headless content management platform began its own journey with the simple mission to “empower retailers to deliver the inspiring experiences that convert customers”. The company has remained true to its intent over the course of nearly a decade-and-a-half, evolving to create a solution that helps its clients dramatically simplify how their commerce teams plan, create, manage, and deliver content across channels. And, according to Sturrock, the company’s approach is also helping to create a digital environment for retailers in which there is no gap between insight and action.

“A lot of the solutions currently available to retailers are quite reactive in the ways they enable teams to respond to things,” he points out. “There will be an external pressure or an internal problem to solve and the systems simply allow them to react to those challenges. Whereas, with Amplience’s solutions, retailers are empowered to be a lot more proactive in their decision-making, scheduling and strategies. Retailers and brands are very campaign and calendar driven by nature. And with the right insights and information, they’re enabled to properly plan, build out a strategy and effectively execute on it. And because our system is built with the competence to allow retailers a clear view into the output of the experiences they offer, they’re provided with insights that they can tie back into their strategies. It’s all about embracing and leveraging agile best practices to help transform your digital offering and create an exceptional experience for customers.”

Harry’s Digitization

One retailer that’s truly embraced the new digital age is Harry Rosen. Through the digitization of its business, the iconic Canadian menswear retailer has elevated the experience it offers is clientele, moving the company forward in a big way. It achieved this by leveraging a MACH-based technology solution (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless) for its management of digital channels of commerce, utilizing services from a consortium of vendors whose collective technologies comprise the whole of the company’s tech architecture. Essentially, from a technology standpoint, a MACH-based approach breaks down the traditional monolithic platform into individual components whose functions are fulfilled by a collective of software and solutions. Amplience was selected to provide the technology that supports the retailer’s content management and digital asset management systems, powering the Harry Rosen online experience. Amplience’s involvement in the transformational project resulted in significant website and mobile performance, increasing its speed, functionality and effectiveness.

Reputation and Relationships

In addition to the work that it’s done in collaboration with Harry Rosen, the company provides its expertise to more than 350 of the world’s leading brands, an extensive client list which includes Coach, Crate&Barrel, GAP, Golf Town, Indochino, Mulberry, and a host of others. In a very short time, Amplience has grown to become one of the most trusted and valued technology partners for retailers everywhere, elevating its reputation within its field and increasing awareness of its digital prowess. It’s a trajectory that obviously bodes well for the company. And, as Sturrock explains, it’s a reputation and trajectory that continue to make positive gains as a result of the relationships that Amplience builds with its clients.

“Because we’re a software vendor, we have direct relationships with all of our clients,” he says. “But it’s the nature of these relationships that we’ve developed that’s most important, positioning ourselves as a partner rather than a supplier. We provide them with the infrastructure and content repositories. And our customer success and solutions teams assist, helping clients through the pre and post implementation process and with the scaling of campaigns. We also help clients understand where the friction and pain-points are within their workflows and the experiences they’re providing and offer advice and solutions to mitigate and solve those challenges. In addition, we also work with a network of partner system integrators that we can recommend to support retailers’ efforts in building out their infrastructure. Our objective is always to help ensure the success of the retail clients we work with. In doing so, we ensure our own successes.”

Acceleration and Change

In this age of increasing digitalization, the experiences that retailers deliver through their digital channels is becoming paramount, and the importance of the content that helps support those experiences is growing in significance. The combination is more often than not serving to meaningfully impact notoriously low online conversion rates and providing brands with the greatest means of differentiation and advantage available to them. And, as technology developers and partners like Amplience consistently innovate to deliver the right solutions to help retailers achieve their digital goals and grow their businesses, the future of headless looks bright. With respect to Amplience’s plans, Sturrock says that the company remains fixed on continuously improving its offering to the industry and expanding its client-base further during this time of acceleration and change.

“We are looking to grow rapidly over the next few years. We just experienced a fantastic quarter and I’d imagine our growth is going to continue to quicken as we build out our products and invest in further product development. But our primary focus is on maintaining the high level of service and expertise that we provide our clients through our software solutions and collaborative approach. As the world continues to become an increasingly digital one, and the number of digital touchpoints and channels of commerce expand, the concept of a headless approach to content and digital asset management systems is going to become the accepted norm when it comes to creating and executing on the experiences that customers are beginning to expect from their favourite brands. And we want to ensure that we’re partnering with as many retailers as possible to help elevate their digital strategies and the experiences that they offer.” 

For more information about the ways Amplience’s headless approach to content and digital asset management systems can help enhance your digital customer experiences across all channels, visit amplience.com.

*Partner content. To work with Retail Insider, email: craig@retail-insider.com

Article Author

Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry is an experienced writer who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring retail industry news and analysis to life. With 25 years of learning, including over a decade as Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Retailer magazine, he’s equipped with a deep understanding of the unique world of retail and the issues, trends, and innovators that continue to influence its evolution and shape its landscape.

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