Envisioning Your Brand With a Headless Architecture
3 Min Read
Everyone in ecommerce is talking about the enormous benefits of migrating to a headless architecture—one where front-end digital experiences are freed from the binds of legacy back-end technologies.
Headless commerce gives companies freedom over their user experiences (no more reliance on somebody else’s templates). They’re able to innovate faster—AND they also have the opportunity to launch lightning fast Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). A technology that enables stupendously higher conversion rates on mobile (up to 85% for a recent client of ours). That stat alone should be enough to have people losing their heads.
But there is another benefit of a headless architecture that we believe deserves a thoughtful approach: once you have a headless architecture, it’s easy to add new customer touch points on top of your existing back-end systems. Or in the parlance of the moment, add a “new head.”
Think of it this way: today your business likely has a few heads: your website, your retail store(s), your POS (point of sale) systems, your social media presence, your marketing channels, and maybe a mobile app. For most businesses, each of these heads are generally inseparable from corresponding legacy “bodies.” This type of monolithic architecture drives up costs, making innovation costly and slow.
But once you are headless, you’ll be able to add a head without having to build a whole new back end to go with it. In essence, you can turn your business into a multi-headed hydra overnight. Got any customers with an Alexa device? Building out an Alexa skill that can answer your customers’ most burning questions (where’s my order or what’s on sale?) is faster than ever before. Thinking of setting up a kiosk somewhere? It’s easy. Want to reach your customers while their Teslas (or Ford F150s for that matter) are on autopilot? It’s not a far off fantasy to see the automobile as a completely new customer touch point. In today’s rapidly changing world, the possibilities are bound only by the limits of our own imaginations.
This is why we believe going headless is also the perfect inflection point to meditate on the two most important questions any business leader can ask:
- What do our customers need?
- What value do we provide?
Simple enough, right? Actually, no. These are the hardest questions in business. Period. Smart business leaders ask them every day. To phrase them another way, these are brand questions. After all, your brand is much more than just your logo. As Jeff Bezos famously said, “your brand is what people say about you behind your back.” It’s the deepest, most inner definition of who your company really is. Because going headless will enable new possibilities for additional customer touchpoints, we believe implementing a headless architecture is the perfect opportunity for deep brand exploration—a time to affirm what your customers really need, and map those needs not only to the value you provide today, but the potential value you can provide tomorrow.
It used to be that a business could grow through advertising alone. But in this new era, the polarity of marketing has shifted from push to pull. Brands need a good reason and mechanism to pull in their customers. In the past, companies succeeded by mastering their sales channels, media behaviors, and category dynamics. But to succeed today you must think about human needs, omnichannels, and even being culturally relevant. Gone is the day when brands could simply spend money in media to promote claims about their product’s quality and value.
In today’s world, you have to prove it.
Brands that merely promise value are what my colleague Adrian Barrow would call “thin brands.” These thin brands are one of many players in a crowded space, with an offering that is hard to differentiate from their competitors. Thin brands are often companies with low margins, low loyalty, and subsequently, low growth prospects. They rely on advertising alone to try and stay relevant, which is cost prohibitive over time.
Meanwhile, a new generation of brands has emerged that are crafting connected experiences, collaborating with influencers, and co-creating with their customers to actually deliver real value. These “thick brands” are seen as unique in their industry. They generate positive emotions, attract tastemakers to them, and have a place in the larger cultural conversation. As a result, they command a higher price and margin, enjoy greater loyalty and have much stronger prospects for long term growth. Certain thick brands are easy to spot: Apple, Nike, and Warby Parker come to mind. Others that we admire for less obvious reasons include Yeti, Uniqlo, and H&M.
If this thick versus thin framework appeals to you, or if you’re considering moving to a headless architecture as a part of your digital transformation journey, then we’d be happy to discuss our headless commerce offering, PYLOT, as well as our brand consulting services with you.
We believe the two fit together as seamlessly as the words customer and value.