Meet Searchers Where They Are With Headless E-Commerce


Most e-commerce sites are impossibly large with churning inventories and infrastructures that are hard to navigate. By using headless e-commerce to build their SEO and focusing on faceted navigation technologies, retailers get the flexibility needed to satisfactorily answer more searchers’ queries, explains, Dave Chaplin, CEO, Altezza.

How we search the internet and the results we expect when we do has changed. Where we used to look for results that matched the exact words or phrases we entered into a search engine, now we expect more. We want the search engines, and the sites where they direct us to, to understand the intent behind our query. In other words, give us the content we want, not necessarily the content we’ve asked for.
An example: Someone looking to buy a new television may search “best flat-screen TV.” At the beginning of their buying process, they want this search to return information that will help them make an informed purchase, such as content that describes the different types of TVs available, or review sites that will allow them to make comparisons between different choices. Later in their buying journey, they may use a similar search phrase, but what they want are product listings. They are ready to buy.

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Similar Searches. Different Intentions.

Most retailers don’t have the content needed to deliver those initial results that help the searcher make a smarter purchasing decision, and that’s a problem. The bigger problem, though, is that many retailers are bad at answering the second query too, and that’s the query they should be experts at answering.

It’s not that retailers are bad at enterprise e-commerce [L11] SEO; most have teams dedicated to it, but many also have sites that are impossibly large to manage, and churning inventory that requires pages need to be constantly updated. Combine these with a site infrastructure that’s hard to navigate and it becomes nearly impossible, without scalable SEO technology, for these retailers to be flexible enough to answer these queries satisfactorily.

What this means for retailers is that they are missing opportunities to meet searchers where they are and leaving money on the table. But making sure they are meeting search intent is going to require more than just looking at keywords; it requires a change in approach to how their sites are built. It requires embracing headless e-commerce.

What is Headless E-Commerce?

To explain the headless concept, think of a restaurant. A traditional restaurant is really two things. It’s a place where food is made and a place where food is eaten. Since they are both under one roof, we think of them as one thing, but these two things can be decoupled. A food truck is a great example of this. It’s the place where food is prepared, but where that food is eaten is up to the customer.

In headless e-commerce, the presentation layer is decoupled from all of the other things you need an e-commerce platform to do for you. The backend – the “kitchen” – is still going to concern itself with product and catalog management, pricing, and shopping carts. But the front end, the thing that actually creates the pages on your web site or mobile app that your customers interact with, can be whatever system you want it to be. You’re not limited to whatever technology your e-commerce platform uses to create pages. Decoupling allows you to use the newest technologies and add more when you need new capabilities. It allows you to bring in front-end developers familiar with modern frameworks such as React, Angular, or Vue.js without needing every developer to be an expert in your e-commerce platform.

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APIs Give Headless E-Commerce Technology the Needed Flexibility

Headless e-commerce technology relies on APIs for the flexibility needed to allow retailers to pivot as their shoppers change, and that includes when those expectations from a search shift away from exact matches and toward matching for intent.
Once you’ve decoupled the frontend from the backend, a headless e-commerce platform makes it easier to integrate with other systems. Instead of relying on whatever SEO capabilities are built into your e-commerce platform, these capabilities can be supplemented with tools that would allow you to employ technology to build and optimize pages to best meet the specific intent of those searchers. Automated SEO optimizations mean you can keep customers happy and keep them from leaving money on the table.
None of that is possible, though, if you don’t start by architecting your site in a way that gives you the flexibility to choose the best tools, frameworks, and platforms available.