For years now, ecommerce brands have heard that the only way to create the best possible ecommerce experience is to hand-pick every tech component powering your store. Essentially assembling your perfect headless front and backend solution like choosing entrees from a buffet.
Of course, you want to use the best tech to power your store (with the flexibility you need to stay competitive). Who doesn’t love options? (or a buffet for that matter!) But—while this approach suits some stores—there’s another way to achieve headless commerce without complexity, massive investment in custom software, or juggling multiple vendors and contracts.
Here we’ll cover what composable commerce is, it's pros and cons, and why it’s not necessarily the only approach in town for brands that need to be agile.
We’ll also share an alternative for brands hoping to go headless without added complexity. After reading, you’ll have a good sense of what approach might help you most.
So settle in, and let’s get started.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Take full design control of your ecommerce store<cta-title>Create custom experiences without site bloat on Shogun Frontend.Learn more
Composable commerce is a way for businesses to build a completely unique ecommerce experience by combining the best-of-breed technology aligning with their business goals.
In other words, brands can cherry-pick top-tier technology to create a memorable online shopping experience.
One way to think about composable commerce—also known as “modular commerce”—is like hand-selecting all the Lego pieces to build your ideal online experience.
Except—when it comes to the frontend of your store—the Lego pieces are your content management system (CMS), middleware, content delivery network (CDN), server-side rendering frameworks, and more!
Many enterprise merchants with big developer teams like the approach of composable commerce because it allows for complete control.
This is one of the biggest benefits to composable—but there are other advantages too, like:
However, there are cons to consider depending on the size of your business, like:
While composable commerce makes it possible to tailor-make each component of your store, for most ecommerce brands, it can actually make more sense to look to an alternative instead. Especially when it comes to your frontend presentation layer.
Now, instead of custom assembling a frontend from scratch for your headless commerce solution, brands can use a unified frontend platform.
Think of it this way: If composable commerce is like choosing every single piece you want for your ideal custom Lego set from your imagination, a packaged frontend solution is kind of like choosing a specific Lego set with the standard (and best) pieces you need to build something incredible.
With a packaged frontend solution, your brand enjoys all the benefits of going headless, like:
The difference is that—with a packaged all-in-one frontend platform (like Shogun Frontend), you can focus on the revenue-driving actions of your business, like the customer-facing experience and content of your website. This, instead of piecing together custom software from scratch (which really isn’t the focus of your direct-to-consumer business).
Plus, with an end-to-end platform like Shogun Frontend, your team gets other benefits like more control with less code too, and a native CMS purpose-built for ecommerce managers.
#cta-mini-fe#Curious to see how a packaged frontend solution works?Learn more
So how do you know if a packaged frontend solution will have everything you need? Let’s look at what’s included in the Lego set.
When you custom code a frontend from scratch, it’s made of the following parts:
When you go the packaged, frontend-as-a-service route, all these modular components get bundled and taken care of for you.
For example, Shogun Frontend is already built with best-in-breed technology. Here’s what comprises our platform and why we’re confident these are the very best components for the frontend for your headless ecommerce site.
We’re confident React.js is a framework that will continue to pave the way for exceptional ecommerce, which is why we’ve chosen it to power our software for customers. And we’re excited to see our friends at Shopify agree: During Shopify Unite 2021, it was announced that Shopify plans to use React.js to build their Hydrogen framework for developers.
Additionally, Next.js makes React-based web application functionalities, like server-side rendering and generating static websites, possible.
We chose Next.js to power Shogun Frontend because:
Choosing React.js and Next.js was a no-brainer for us not only because they are industry-leading software, but they enable Shogun customers to bring their store vision to life without constraints.
A big part of creating exceptional ecommerce experiences is making sure all your customers—no matter where they’re located or what device they’re using—get the same, quality experience. And a reliable content delivery network (CDN) makes this possible.
For this, Shogun Frontend uses Fastly, a secure, edge cloud platform that helps you reach more users without lag or server disruption. It’s used far and wide by leading ecommerce providers (looking at you, Shopify).
We know ecommerce, so when building Shogun Frontend, we knew a robust CMS was going to be a high priority for our merchants. After all, your CMS is the lifeblood of your store; it’s how you create content, manage site updates, launch new products, and so much more.
So we decided to create our own.
Our CMS is purpose-built for ecommerce managers and teams, allowing you to simplify things like automating aspects of your collections, publishing site-wide updates, and managing your content without tedious one-to-one tasks.
Combined with our powerful Experience Manager, our native CMS is really helping Shogun Frontend customers take back control of their ecommerce sites, without needing to code.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>Get a lightening fast CMS<cta-title>Create custom experiences without site bloat on Shogun Frontend.Learn more
Middleware is the software that sits between the frontend and backend of your site bridging the gap between applications. It makes headless commerce possible. Some refer to it as the “glue”.
We wrote our own middleware so Shogun Frontend integrates seamlessly with platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, and more.
For context, below are all the pieces Shogun Frontend is made of (or what our software packages up as a unified platform).
As an ecomm pro, you need to be agile. You want to focus your efforts on revenue-driving activities and the invisible parts of your business that make you successful. Worrying over whether or not you have the best-in-breed technology powering your store should not be on your to-do list. Or, in our opinion, something you need to assemble yourself.
With a frontend-as-a-service solution that contains all the best-in-breed parts, you can focus on growing your brand confidently knowing you are running on the top-tier software that will scale with you, and you’ll have far fewer complex decisions to make.
You’ll get the flexibility you want with headless, without the massive upfront investment or risk.
So, even though some businesses will still benefit from composable commerce, what kind of ecommerce stores might be right for a unified headless frontend platform?
One thing is for sure: Headless isn’t just for big-name brands anymore. Packaging it up like this has made it increasingly accessible.
Take luxury lifestyle goods brand, Nomad, for example. Their team wanted to create ecommerce experiences with rich features like real-time personalization, background videos, and their Product Finder catalog search. They wanted to go headless so they could scale even faster as their ecommerce business grew.
Nomad was a great fit for a unified frontend platform because their main focus is bringing their creative ideas to life fast, while maintaining incredible site performance.
They want a site that looks and feels like their brand but don’t necessarily see the frontend software as something they need to build from scratch.
#cta-mini-fe#Want to learn more about how Nomad went headless with Shogun Frontend?See the case study
Another example of a brand that’s fit for a bundled frontend platform is the nutrition marketplace, The Feed. The Feed wanted to build a headless site that’s not only fast, but flexible for developing new store interactions when inspiration strikes.
The Feed’s CTO, Ben Kennedy, said it best:
“Despite the cautionary tales you hear about headless, my experience has been: It’s even easier and faster for us to develop new features now. No more themekit and Liquid code. It’s all React components, lazy-loaded, and fast.”
Your brand might be a good fit for a packaged frontend solution if:
All ecommerce teams have unique goals, but if you identify with any of the above statements, a provider like Shogun Frontend is worth looking into.
Choosing a frontend platform doesn’t mean giving up picking the technology powering your store. With a packaged provider like Shogun Frontend, there’s a degree of composability still possible with our growing ecosystem of powerful integrations.
For example, if you use Klayvio for email marketing or Recharge to manage your subscriptions or recurring payments, these can be connected to your Shogun Frontend store. See the full list of best-in-class integrations.
The bottom line: A packaged solution simplifies your build process while also enabling you a degree of composability as you do discovery on your build and grow your brand.
If you’re an ecommerce brand that’s rapidly growing, want greater creative and UX freedom with your site while maintaining exceptional site performance, and your team understands how your website plays a role in the growth of your business, a packaged solution might be just the ticket for you.
#cta-visual-fe#<cta-title>See the impact headless commerce can have on your brand.<cta-title>Learn more