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Headless commerce is taking over the market, which should come as no surprise. More and more companies are making the shift toward headless commerce to improve their customer experience and gain the flexibility no other approach provides.
If Salesforce Commerce Cloud is your eCommerce platform of choice and you’re thinking of going headless, then keep reading. In this article, we’ll cover:
the headless commerce solutions by Salesforce
how they can help you scale your brand
what the cons and pros of Salesforce headless architecture are
how to advance to headless commerce with SFCC
What is headless commerce?
Before we dive into Salesforce headless solutions, let’s quickly review the basics.
Headless commerce is a type of software architecture where frontend and backend layers are separated, independent, and communicate through APIs.
The main takeaway here is headless commerce makes businesses more flexible and scalable. Decoupling the presentation layer from business logic enables eCommerce brands to create customized digital storefronts while leaving the backend untouched.
This means brands can change their frontend easily to improve performance, enhance user experience, or simply redesign their website with no reliance on backend and business logic. It also means a shorter time to market for new features and cost reduction.
Is Salesforce Commerce Cloud headless?
A short answer to this question is — yes. Salesforce Cloud Commerce is a world-class platform used for eCommerce. SFCC has only gained a stronger foothold in the eCommerce market since introducing headless commerce capabilities to its users.
After Salesforce acquired Mobify, it introduced a headless Salesforce Commerce Cloud feature called Salesforce Composable Storefront. This detour from the usual low-code approach brings new customization options for the Salesforce ecosystem.
Salesforce’s Composable Storefront gives brands the ability to migrate to headless commerce. The idea is that online brands can access Commerce Cloud backend solutions and mix them up with a totally different customized frontends using APIs and pre-built packages.
What tools does Salesforce headless commerce offer?
Salesforce has relatively recently released several tools for headless commerce all combined in Salesforce Composable Storefront.
Composable Storefront empowers retailers to go the extra mile with their frontend and set a foot beyond catalog templates. This results in a more unique brand experience that seamlessly integrates with backend functionality — but doesn’t strongly depend on it. As the cherry on top, it also comes with increased performance and reliability.
In the spirit of composable commerce, the storefront is modular by design, meaning every component is deployed separately. Salesforce’s Composable Storefront can be customized using pre-built packages or API services provided by tech vendors and partners.
Two major elements that help brands move to headless commerce and create their very own bespoke storefront in SFCC are the PWA kit and Managed Runtime.
One of the power-ups Composable Storefront offers is the Progressive Web App (PWA) toolkit — designed for both developers and the business side of things.
Progressive Web App technology is what makes the customer experience as seamless as it comes. With PWA, the online store performs like a native app on any device — meaning a more consistent customer journey and less friction.
Salesforce’s PWA kit includes several ready-made components and pre-built packages that allow a faster transition to headless architecture. It’s like setting up a customized interface out of fully packed LEGO blocks.
These LEGO blocks are multiple and quite diverse: among them are not only base components but full-scale starting sites you can iterate from. Salesforce has an ecosystem of partners building accelerators for Composable Storefront with a set of out-of-the-box integrations, including various search systems or CMS.
Salesforce itself treats PWAs as a way to stay flexible with your frontend but avoid the financial risks of racing towards fully composable and headless commerce when every piece of the puzzle is handled separately.
Managed Runtime is a complimenting feature to the PWA kit, providing the required infrastructure to deploy and host your headless digital storefront. It’s a bit more technical but also important to take into account when covering headless commerce Salesforce features.
The core advantage of Managed Runtime is that it takes care of the servers by itself. It means the team can concentrate on developing and polishing the storefront while the Managed Runtime scales automatically to make sure your store is up and running regardless of the traffic.
What are the pros and cons of headless eCommerce with SFCC?
We wish we could just tell you whether SFCC is good or bad for headless commerce. But it’s a bit more complicated than this: like any other service, Salesforce has its benefits and drawbacks.
Pros of using SFCC for headless commerce transformation
Salesforce remains one of the most popular and trusted eCommerce platforms, so many would consider it an option for going headless.
Shorter time to market
Salesforce Composable Storefront is empowered by the PWA kit and pre-packed functionalities. Using these practically out-of-box solutions is much faster than developing each new component from scratch.
PWA kit and Managed Runtime both work on increasing the speed of your website and maintaining its uptime.
Improved customer experience
Shifting towards a personalized frontend enables you to mix editorial content, shoppable goods, and even check out, all within one page. You're also able to easily implement CX changes, with little to no deployment risk and downtime.
Wide network of partners
You get access to B2C Marketplace and AppExchange where you can find tons of ready-to-run integrations and commerce applications by independent software vendors and partners. This significantly boosts the process.
Cons of using SFCC for headless architecture
There are also some downsides when it comes to headless commerce under the Salesforce roof.
Even with all the composable components and PWA kits, you’ll still need quite experienced developers to help you build your storefront. As a standalone product, SFCC can be challenging for those who have never encountered Salesforce before.
Going headless with Salesforce is an option for those who are already Salesforce clients. If you are a part of the Salesforce ecosystem using its CRM and other tools, the cost is worth it. If you’re considering using Composable Storefront or Commerce Cloud alone, it might turn out to be costly.
How to prepare for headless transformation with Salesforce Commerce Cloud
If you’re convinced that you should head towards headless commerce, let’s discover how you can pivot to this new architecture. First of all, remember: it’s not a low-code approach, so for headless transformation, you’re still going to need a team of good developers.
To ensure your team meets the challenge, make sure they work with technologies like React, Node.js, and Jamstack, are fluent with the API-first approach, and can ensure consistency of design and UX.
Once your team is ready, it’s time to decide on the approach. If you’re already using Salesforce and plan on propelling your commerce business to headless, there are three main approaches you can take:
- Full replatforming
- Go full-scale custom-made composable
- Use Salesforce Composable Storefront
- Use Frontend as a Service
To reap the benefits of headless commerce, you can ditch your Salesforce-based architecture and move to an entirely new headless commerce stack built with true headless solutions. With Vue Storefront on board, which provides a fast and mobile-first frontend solution for headless commerce, you can pick your own tech stack and combine the solutions out-of-the-box.
30+ ready integrations with solutions like headless CMS or headless commerce platform , ready API and pre-optimized Cloud solution make Vue Storefront Frontend as a Service a perfect start towards headless commerce.
Download the whitepaper and learn how Vue Storefront helps to make the first step towards headless commerce.
If you want to keep your Salesforce backend and enjoy headless architecture at the same time, there are three approaches you can take:
Fully customized composable storefront
You can build your own composable architecture from scratch on top of the Commerce APIs provided by Salesforce. Meaning, you can choose tech vendors you personally prefer for every part of your tech journey. This path, though very close to the actual definition of composable commerce, is no easy one.
On one hand, it gives your team a carte blanche software-wise and unlimited control over every module. It would be a highly customized platform hand-picked for your particular content, business needs, and goals.
On the other hand, it brings extra responsibility, as every module requires development and maintenance. It also makes the system quite bulky.
Salesforce Composable Storefront
Since you’re already using Salesforce, you can benefit from its built-in headless tools. As we covered above, a composable storefront offers lots of pre-packed PWAs, making building your storefront easier and faster than hand-picking and orchestrating every single vendor yourself.
This is a less time- and resource-consuming way than building the whole system from scratch. With the help of developers and a vast library of plug-and-play apps, it is a relatively fast way to gather a personalized presentation layer.
Use Frontend as a Service platform
The third way to efficiently move your business to a headless model is by using a Frontend as a Service (FEaaS) platform.
FEaaS brings composable frontend modules — an ecosystem of cloud-native API-first components for headless commerce. These modules are faster and easier to combine, making the route from build to launch much shorter without sacrificing performance.
Vue Storefront provides FEaaS solutions for headless transformation and composable commerce, covering every technical aspect of your business. You get a fully customized headless solution ready to bring real business results at once.
To reap the benefits of headless commerce when your online store is based on Salesforce, you can take one of two paths: full replatforming or adding a new frontend .
Download the ebook to deep dive into the topic and make the right move.
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