Keeping your eyes open when going headless

Amy Thomason
March 29, 2021
5 mins

“Headless done right is wonderful. Headless done wrong is catastrophic,” says Pete Youell, VP of Technology at Astound Commerce.

A headless approach comes with a lot of well-documented benefits, but similarly there’s plenty of stories of implementations going awry. Many businesses have gone into it with a lack of proper understanding about the migration, about the costs and about the true value they can realize.

Businesses need their eyes open and to ask the right questions.

So, on the back of the recent webinar with Astound Commerce, Salesforce and Amplience, What to expect when expecting headless, we thought we’d take a look at some of the common misconceptions about headless, the things you need to look out for and think about, as well as exploring going headless in a way that’s right for your business.

Where businesses are going wrong with headless  

Many businesses are simply coming at headless with the wrong approach. Often, they’re solely focused on cost savings, performance (i.e. site speed) and time to market, and in doing so are underestimating the investment in terms of both effort and costs that come with truly taking ownership of a headless architecture. Businesses are essentially taking on headless for the wrong reasons, and without the proper due diligence.

Now, don’t get us wrong, a properly thought-out implementation can achieve cost savings, speed to market and experience performance improvements for sure, but if those alone are your business goals then there may be better suited options.

As well, one big way in which some businesses are falling short, is not understanding how headless will affect the business, the mindset and organizational shift needed to realize its benefits. Headless is not a magic potion for change whereby simply implementing a headless architecture means you’ll automatically deliver powerful digital experiences, integrate personalization for example, at will. No, for headless to be effective, businesses will need to change the way they work, they will need to rethink processes and workflows, people and team structures. This is the level of change many haven’t thought about properly nor managed successfully.

Picking your flavor of headless 

A headless approach lets businesses employ best-of-breed tools and solutions to compose their preferential architecture. They can swap in and out tools as needed, allowing them to better keep up with the pace of industry change and customer behaviors without having to rearchitect.

But businesses need to really assess what "flavor” of headless is right for them, as there is definitely no one size fits all. They need to look at their specific business and technical needs and goals and what is the right technology to support those needs. As mentioned too, they need to think about their internal appetite for change and whether they’re equipped as a team to deal with a full headless architecture. In reality, a small team for example, might not be able to manage all the different components at play and find themselves overstretched. It’s about looking at what’s achievable and what’s realistic.

So in saying all of that, going headless doesn’t have to mean going for a full headless stack. You don’t have to completely replatform your entire commerce solution if it’s not right for your business. You can still reap the rewards of headless technology in different ways, for example by leveraging a headless CMS like Amplience and integrating it with a more traditional commerce platform like Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This approach still empowers businesses to create content quicker and easier than before and it still does away with any developer bottlenecks within the content production workflow. Likely too, you’ll be able to leverage the platforms you already have in place, the likes of Salesforce, so the business disruption and change management will be lessened.

What’s it to be? Chocolate, vanilla or strawberry? 

If you’d like to discuss taking a headless approach, and specifically what approach might be right for your business, then please get in touch.

In the meantime, here’s some easy starting points to learn a bit more about headless commerceheadless CMS and how Amplience integrates with Salesforce.