Your Guide to BigCommerce Headless Commerce and Its Advantages
A new era of ecommerce is upon us. The trend is called headless commerce, and it's built to ensure your online store has a superior level of flexibility and better content creation tools.
In the past, making an ecommerce store meant taking one of two routes. The first was a self-hosting approach with a content management system, like WordPress combined with the WooCommerce plugin. Or, you could opt for an all-in-one package like BigCommerce or Shopify, which gives you everything from hosting to ecommerce functionality for a monthly price.
This new form of ecommerce doesn't mean you have to choose one over the other. In fact, BigCommerce headless commerce is being offered through a direct integration with WordPress. This allows you to combine the benefits of WordPress and BigCommerce into a single solution.
So, it makes sense to decouple the content and ecommerce sections of your website for a more versatile infrastructure. Luckily, there are several options for developing a BigCommerce headless commerce system, and we'll outline the ins and outs of them in this article
BigCommerce is a SaaS solution for building an online store. Instead of finding your own hosting and building a website with multiple apps and plugins, you receive almost all of the needed functionality in one product. In exchange, you have to pay a monthly fee.
As for primary features, BigCommerce offers the following:
- Third-party apps
- A customizable shopping cart
- Ecommerce themes
- Social Media
- Product galleries and pages
- Connections to other channels like Amazon and eBay
- Multiple payment gateways
- Marketing tools
- Shipment and fulfillment options
- Direct customer support
This is a great example of how useful BigCommerce can be for online stores, regardless of how big the shop. You don't have to mess with things like hosting or security. In addition, design elements are provided, along with all ecommerce functionality. Therefore, you can focus on building your business, as opposed to maintaining your website.
What is Headless Commerce, and Why Should I Care?
If we were to define headless commerce, it would involve the separation of your frontend presentation layer from the backend ecommerce layer. Headless combines multiple systems so you have the best, most flexible ecommerce store possible.
And it doesn't have to stop there. Other apps and plugins are available for improving your scalability and flexibility. It all depends on what your company is trying to achieve when it comes to ecommerce and experience-building.
Many types of headless commerce are possible. Some are more complex, like a system that utilizes the BigCommerce API. Others are more for beginners who want to dabble in the headless commerce space. An example of this would be utilizing third-party BigCommerce apps.
Now, why should you care?
For some companies ,you shouldn't care. As we'll learn in the following sections, headless commerce can prove too complex or expensive, especially for startups and smaller businesses. At the same time, you may be just fine with a BigCommerce site and a simple content management system.
However, there are incredible advantages to headless commerce for many other companies. We'll cover the main points below, but headless commerce expands your current user experience and attempts to reconfigure it into a first-rate frontend content delivery solution.
What's Involved with a BigCommerce Headless Commerce Store?
Let's say you already own a BigCommerce store. How would a headless configuration differ from what you currently have? What about those who own Shopify or WooCommerce shops? How would an entirely new ecommerce platform like BigCommerce change the situation, especially with headless commerce elements?
Here's what a typical BigCommerce headless commerce store would look like:
What parts of the above chart are combined to make a complete ecommerce store with the content element?
- WordPress for content management and overall website control, including the blog posts and pages. Basically, you'd only be working in the WordPress backend.
- An integration with BigCommerce that delivers your products, product catalogs and other ecommerce items.
- An API for connecting any other custom apps.
- Access to the BigCommerce App Store for prebuilt apps.
Overall, it depends on how you'd like to approach headless commerce. BigCommerce provides a complete headless solution with the WordPress plugin, but that's not always what companies want.
So, you may only think about adding third-party prebuilt plugins to your already existent BigCommerce store. In terms of headless commerce, this is the smallest approach you can take.
The API is also available for developers and companies that want to hire developers. This way, all custom apps can integrate with BigCommerce for the utmost customization.
Finally, the most streamlined solution from BigCommerce is the WordPress integration. Some companies may not like this since your dashboard runs through WordPress. However, others may enjoy this configuration.
Keep in mind that BigCommerce isn't only limited to its WordPress plugin for headless commerce. In fact, all of the following are supported in some way:
BigCommerce Headless Commerce Support Through a WordPress Plugin
The WordPress/BigCommerce headless commerce combination is the most comprehensive option for achieving a top-notch user interface with incredible ecommerce tools. Not only that, but it's actually the closest you can get to a true headless commerce store.
Essentially, you receive the following benefits:
- Multisite capabilities from WordPress, allowing you to run multiple websites from one backend interface.
- API-driven experiences with the help of your apps, different devices and content management system.
- Full site customization with the help of WordPress themes, custom code, APIs and more. You're suddenly able to construct anything you want such as beautiful landing pages, homepages and blog posts.
- A blog with limitless capabilities. WordPress was made for blogging, so it has drag and drop builders, WYSIWYG editors and more tools for boosting SEO and making your posts look great.
- Higher flexibility when it comes to your shopping cart and online store. This is achieved with the help of WordPress customization, APIs and the BigCommerce ecommerce functionality.
- Reduced IT overhead because of the more flexible system configuration. All of your channels are managed in one place, yet you're not left with one clunky platform that only does a few things well.
Pair all of these improvements with enterprise-grade security, 99.99% server uptime and protection for all customers, and you've found a versatile SaaS ecommerce platform with assistance from outside sources. And that's what headless commerce is all about!
The BigCommerce API
The BigCommerce API is open to anyone who wants to improve upon what BigCommerce already offers. For instance, you may create a custom app that speeds up your checkout process. You also have the opportunity to use the API for linking to previously created apps.
If you're a developer, or willing to hire a developer, the BigCommerce API is your first step toward getting to a headless interface.
The downside is this approach is more expensive than simply opting for a standard BigCommerce plan. However, it opens up all sorts of possibilities for BigCommerce users interested in scaling faster.
Overall, the BigCommerce API gives merchants the chance to work with outside channels or custom-built apps. These apps and integrations are then merged with the powerful BigCommerce tools you know and love.
BigCommerce API docs are provided here for your reference.
The documents are intermingled with information about BigCommerce headless commerce, outlining details about ways to implement headless commerce, custom login tools and understanding PCI compliance. You're also able to find sample integrations to guide you along your way and see how the implementation process works with documentation and images.
Feel free to also check out the Developer area on the BigCommerce website. It has buttons and quick tutorials on things like:
- API Docs
- Theme Docs
- API Reference
- Stencil Object Reference
- UI Components
BigCommerce Headless Commerce With Apps
When we define headless commerce, it typically involves tapping into the API and not simply installing prebuilt apps. However, it would be silly to claim that third-party apps don't have a place in the headless commerce world.
No, you're not completely revamping your frontend and decoupling it from your backend ecommerce interface. However, you're still embracing third-party tools that can completely transform your content creation and management process.
A good example of this is the Shogun Page Builder. Shogun provides templates for landing pages, product pages and blogs, and it's a drag and drop editor that turns the content creation process into a much easier task.
That's just one example. The BigCommerce App Store is filled with options for improving the user experience and turning your customers into engaged visitors at all times.
Apps that help improve your content creation and overall user experience fall into the following categories:
- Sales channels
- And much more
Most of the apps in the store are developed by third-party creators. Therefore, those companies are spending all their time on one tool. This way, you're getting the best of the best when you combine a few apps with the BigCommerce platform. You're more likely to have a smoother interface overall compared to only relying on BigCommerce for everything.
What are the Benefits of Decoupling Your BigCommerce Frontend from the Backend?
Here's what you have to look forward to when combining BigCommerce with outside tools like WordPress.
Increased Control Over Design and Functionality
BigCommerce headless commerce has the advantage of offering flexibility and an overall pleasant experience for everyone, including the admins running the site.
- You're no longer required to stick with one coding language.
- There's no need to stick with the features given to you.
- You don't have to worry about limitations on a blog design.
All your apps and plugins are combined onto one interface, and it lets you connect with your customers regardless of the devices being used.
You Can Scale Faster and Get to Market Faster
From ERPs to CMSs, all your systems are balanced into one infrastructure with headless commerce. Because of this, your content creation team doesn't have to wait for something to be implemented by the development team. Everything is still separated as different entities, but it's also combined for fluid interactions.
This way, content and product announcements can get introduced to customers faster. Not only that, but you won't have to worry about one technology weighing down the process.
Are You Ready for a BigCommerce Headless Commerce Store?
As discussed, headless commerce is for some companies and not for others. It also has many different definitions, depending on where you are in your development process and how much you'd like to decouple your content creation tools from BigCommerce.
Overall, we recommend looking into your finances to see if headless commerce is right for you. Smaller companies often can't benefit from the change, but brands looking to scale quickly should consider headless to beat the competition.
Regardless, it's worth looking into for your brand.