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The ugly truth of delivering eCommerce experiences in 2021

Partners Tarek El Deeb Tarek El Deeb
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Why are we talking about the ugly truth of delivering eCommerce experiences in 2021? Well, eCommerce brands are faced with challenges coming from two directions. The external world of the consumers, and the internal world, the organization. Barry D'Arcy, Storyblok's VP of Partners, and Sam van Hees, Co-Founder & Strategy Director at Story of AMS, discussed this dilemma at TheNextWeb Conference 2021.

The External World of the Consumers

We are surrounded by devices: the mobile phone is always in our pockets, our laptop is a few steps away and our tablet is laying somewhere in the house, most likely on the couch. Our digital life is everywhere, and as consumers, we know this but brands tend to ignore/dismiss/lose sight. They forget that digital has become the most important medium to communicate with your customers, and not acting on this new reality is costing eCommerce brands valuable customers.

Kasper Rorsted, the CEO of Adidas went as far as saying "Our single most important store in the world is our dot-com store, there is no comparison".

Unfortunately, when you look at the eCommerce space, this new reality has not sunk in. Of course, there are exceptions but eCommerce is most often referred to as the 'sea of sameness.’ The reason being, almost every webshop looks more or less the same. From the layout to the content and functionalities. What we encounter on the web are conversion-driven eCommerce platforms that were created by endless A/B testing and built by IT-driven technology.

This brings us to the next problem facing eCommerce brands in 2021, the internal part, the organization, and technologies used. Up until now, we’ve been living in two separate worlds: that of the CMSs and that of eCommerce platforms. This separation is not only found in technology, but also within the organization, the teams.

The internal challenges eCommerce businesses are now facing:

  • Monolithic Structure

  • Restrictive Technologies

  • Usability Constraints

  • Slow in Go-To-Market

  • Siloed Content Sources

  • Slow Page Performance

Thankfully, we have now entered a new era of headless commerce.

An eCommerce website consists of two sides, the ‘frontend’ and the ‘backend’. Traditionally, eCommerce sites use one system that handles both the front and back-end also called the monolithic solution. The frontend is often referred to as ‘the head’.
To keep it simple, headless eCommerce is the separation of front and backend systems, which brings with it a lot of advantages.

According to detailed insights, 64% of large companies are developing new solutions to advance their eCommerce efforts. 76% of those plan to switch to a headless architecture within the next 12 months.
With numbers like this, it’s hard to ignore that headless eCommerce is the future.

The question is: why are brands going headless?

The brands that are most likely to benefit from a headless setup are those that:

  • Experience high volume of traffic especially mobile traffic and transactions

  • Brands focused on content and delivering extraordinary branded experiences

  • Sell in multiple countries, languages, and currencies

  • Have complex content management needs or a huge volume of content

There are three trends that are causing eCommerce brands to go headless:

Firstly, you need to stand out. The aforementioned ‘sea of sameness’ which is what brands are looking to sail away from.

Second, is the rise of mobile commerce. The days where consumers buy products only from their desktops are over. In fact, the mobile-commerce market will hit $270 billion by 2025.

The third trend causing brands to go headless is the rise of the Headless CMS itself. When opting for a monolithic solution you need to use the CMS of your eCommerce backend. These content management systems function on a basic level and they are not optimal for fast-growing and larger eCommerce businesses.

Benefits of a Headless eCommerce CMS

  • Faster User Experience

  • Omnichannel Capability

  • Personalization

  • SEO

  • Improved Customer Experience

  • Saving Resources & Time

Another huge benefit is the ease of internationalization. With a headless commerce setup and a headless CMS scaling across the globe and selling in different countries becomes a lot easier.

Incorporating the 20-2-20 Rule

When someone is on your website, they have clearly taken time to get to the website, meaning they’re open to invest time and take a deep dive.Brands need to deliver on that expectation.
You can do that by incorporating the ‘20-2-20 rule’ in your eCommerce website. You can do that with a headless CMS because you have more freedom with regards to the content and layout of your front-end.

20 Seconds to Capture Attention

According to Facebook, brands on social media have 1.7 seconds to tell their story. 1.7 seconds to stand-out, and peak consumer interest. With your website you might have a bit more time, but clarity and speed are still key. Customers must be able to understand what you do within 20 seconds.

“If you confuse, you lose” - Donald Miller, best-selling author

2 Minutes to Drive Engagement

The hardest part is over, you got someone's attention. Now, you have to drive engagement and connect with that customer. The goal of these 2 minutes is to have a piece of storytelling in place that makes the customer think: “Hey, this is interesting, I want to learn more about this brand”. The best and most common way to accomplish this by telling a story.

The core of a relationship between a brand and a person is a set of shared values. If a person can identify themselves with a brand, you have a potentially lifelong connection. So with this piece of storytelling, you want to share the values of your brand. What you stand for, why you do what you do and who you are helping with your products.

20 Minutes to Build Relationships

Customers are very willing to learn about your brand and the products you are offering. To accomplish this you need to have at least 20 minutes of content easily accessible throughout your eCommerce website, from videos and different types of media, such as AR, and integrate them into product overview pages, detail pages, etc.

At the end of the day, a customer will only buy from you if they trust you. And trust is also earned by answering all of the questions a customer might have about the products you're selling. The most effective and scalable way to do this is with content and scattering this content in a unique way across the customer journey on your unique and headless webshop.


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