Today's shopping journeys are all too often fragmented. Customers like the experience of physical stores but value the speed and convenience of online shopping on a laptop or mobile. They use social channels for inspiration, but instead of landing on the home page of an e-commerce site, their journey starts on a product page.
It is challenging for retailers to keep up with customer habits and preferences and serve up content to fit. Retailers must get their arms around this ever-shifting landscape, and the best way to do this is by delivering seamless customer experiences across multiple channels and touch points.
But how can they accomplish this? Let's look at social media as a starting point, for example.
Social in consumers' path-to-purchase
How are social media platforms changing the way consumers shop, and how can retailers ensure these channels are coordinated with others when it comes to the consumer journey and their experience?
Younger shoppers expect a digital-first experience. They are increasingly going "social-first," driven by influencers on Pinterest or Instagram or by Facebook or TikTok ads to visit retailers' websites. They welcome deeper digital engagement and branded storytelling.
Social disruption has made social influence an authentic route to market. A scatter gun approach to marketing is not effective when social platforms are in play. Retailers are still using paid search to advertise products in their shopping feeds on Google, Facebook, and Instagram, but they need to make sure they are linking ads to a listing page that includes the product, or directing the customer to the product page itself, with key cross-selling functions. They can also use paid social feeds where content must be designed to convert the customer by directing them to the most engaging destination webpage.
Curating content carefully is essential when it comes to maximizing social channels. There needs to be consistency, particularly when it comes to updated product information, correct details on stock availability and pricing. Focusing too much on home page content is a mistake as the home page is not necessarily the most important page of the experience when it comes to generating sales.
That said, retailers also need to be aware that if customers are landing directly on a product page from a social media feed, they are, in effect, circumnavigating the home page and potentially a whole storefront's worth of content, offers and promotions. Traditionally, this is the end, not the beginning of the shopping journey, so a balance needs to be achieved to ensure that whatever route a customer takes to arrive on an eCommerce website, they get an experience that is compelling and engaging throughout.
Headless commerce addresses these journey complexities
The addition of channels, like social, into the consumer journey and escalating customer demands require a more flexible technology framework—one that gives retailers the opportunity to create truly unique, branded shopping experiences and meet shoppers' wants and needs in every channel. In response, a growing number of retailers are turning to a modern, headless approach and rebuilding their commerce strategy.
Headless decouples the front and back ends, eliminating the need to redesign the eCommerce experience for each channel. Instead, developers build or buy new front ends and use APIs to connect them to the monolithic back end, where transaction processing and other commerce logics reside.
The modern version of headless commerce is often referred to by the acronym MACH (Microservices, API-First, Cloud Native, and Headless), and it takes a best-of-breed approach to the commerce technology stack. Rather than extending their full-featured legacy eCommerce platforms, retailers can adopt newer, more flexible technologies that are ideally suited to their business while building unified experiences regardless of channel with a shared experience management platform.
Bridge the gap with experience management
Managing and creating for all different touchpoints and channels can be tricky. Retailers need to be able to pull everything together, so they have a centralized way to deliver the experiences they want — and what customers require in today's complex shopping environment.
A modern headless approach to commerce can help retailers create a unique multichannel shopping experience and evolve it as their brand and customer requirements change. Retailers that reap the benefits tend to be large and growth-focused, with commerce capabilities across multiple channels and a commitment to first-rate customer experience.
With today's fragmented customer journeys, there are many important components when looking to plug the gaps of customer experience so that they remain consistent regardless of channel. Creating a connected experience across all channels is critical. More than that, retailers don't just want to give customers the expected, but instead delight them, and provide an encounter they'll remember and that drives conversions. A headless approach is a key way to support this.