The 2022 Ultimate Guide to Website Speed and Optimization

“Tech-savvy consumers looking for quick, seamless purchasing options will continue to lean on e-commerce throughout the next few years—and more consumers will jump on the bandwagon. We forecast US retail e-commerce sales will grow 13.7%, reaching $908.73 billion in 2021. Prior to the pandemic, we expected sales would grow just 12.8%.” 

Insider Intelligence 

A look at these growth stats shows that most consumer purchases will continue to move online in the future. This also brings about different initiatives on how to make every consumer’s purchasing experience seamless. For example, consumers used to shop only on desktop computers, but now, shopping is accessible from all devices. You can easily shop on your smartphone, smartwatch, and with smart devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, Dash Button, and Alexa. 

With all these changes in consumers’ purchasing behavior and interaction, the e-commerce world is shifting into headless e-commerce.

What is Headless E-Commerce?

Headless e-commerce is a digital marketing solution that decouples the front end of an e-commerce platform from its backend functionality to offer seamless flexibility in user experience. 

This means the front end (what your customers see) is separated from the back end (what makes your site function). This creates room for limitless customizations in website functionality and customer personalization. For example, the back-end developers can employ PCI compliance, inventory management, data security, payment integrations, and databases—while customers interact with the UI layer on the front end.  

The driving factor for headless e-commerce is easily creating and deploying working solutions to major e-commerce issues. This removes all sorts of dependency between what the customer sees and what makes the website function. So, when businesses release new features or do maintenance, the user experience is not in any way compromised. 

Why Should E-Commerce Businesses Go Headless?

The main reason to take your e-commerce business headless is performance. By separating the head from the platform, your e-commerce solution is now able to benefit from a myriad of performance advancements such as edge computing. By putting your website closer to your customers—and thereby making it faster—you’ll see increased conversion rates and lower customer abandonment. In a marketplace where competing for new customers is becoming more expensive—one thing rings true: #SpeedMatters!

In a recent survey by BigCommerce and Retail Drive on 106 marketing executives and managers, 86% said they saw an increase in their CAC over the past 5 years. 

According to BigCommerce, 

“When everything about an e-commerce site is built from the commerce function up, inventory data and site design elements are static and welded to that function. So when a brand attempts a robust content marketing campaign, they’re forced to choose between sacrificing their frontend experience because they’re limited to the capabilities of their e-commerce solution or fragmenting commerce and content between two platforms while losing valuable SEO and delivering a disjointed digital experience.”

Another survey from Marketing Sherpa shows the classification of the customer acquisition cost in e-commerce based on three categories: 

  • Steady

  • Rising

  • Falling

1. Steady

54% of e-commerce businesses reported a steady pattern in their acquisition cost with a mean of $82 and a median of $12 per customer.

2. Rising

31% of e-commerce businesses reported a rising pattern in their acquisition cost with a mean of $109 and a median of $25 per customer. 

3. Falling

16% of e-commerce businesses reported a falling pattern in their acquisition cost with a mean of $72 and a median of $14 per customer.  

You can see in the stats the increase in acquisition cost in a large portion of most e-commerce businesses. They’re spending up to $109 to acquire a single customer. Going headless is the best way to offset this customer acquisition cost by ensuring that your high-performance site doesn’t squander a single customer visit.

Six Benefits of Headless E-Commerce 

Making a switch from the traditional e-commerce process and approach to a headless solution can feel daunting, as that’s how the majority of today’s top brands were built and remain on it. 

Staying with the traditional method creates a gap only headless e-commerce can fill—that is, the personalized experiences it brings to customers. So if you’re deliberating switching, here are 6 benefits of enhancing your store with the next-generation headless performance today. 

1. Improved Customer Engagement

A good shopping experience creates an effect that makes people want more, bringing about good customer engagement. Headless e-commerce lets you create personalized features based on users’ preferences and shopping behavior. Doing this leads to better-personalized experiences, such as buying recommendations, discounts, and promotions. 

All of these create a bond between your business and customers—one that leads to improved engagement and high retention rates. 

2. Faster Integration Process

Think going headless will be difficult? It’s not. Next-generation headless solutions like Edgemesh Server allow you to keep your existing workflow and platform today but seamlessly enhance your storefront by adding the edge delivery and performance of a complete rebuild of the site. This ensures you get headless performance and flexibility benefits, but without the high costs and headaches.

3. Increased Website Speed and Performance

The average load time for an e-commerce store is 3 seconds, and each additional second leads to a 40% bounce rate. Keeping your website’s performance high on this level while maintaining a monolithic business structure can be difficult. 

Meanwhile, all of these can be solved using the headless approach by reducing the server’s database load. This is possible because detaching the front end from the back end allows browsers to process requests made on the front end without going to the backend to fetch a response from the server. With this, your website’s response time and latency are cut short, leading to increased website performance and speed perfectly fit for converting customers.

4. Competitive Advantage

The best e-commerce stores have one thing in common: They have the edge to provide an excellent user experience. It’s the same reason customers keep using them even though millions of online e-commerce stores sell the same product—some even offering lower prices. 

Becoming a headless e-commerce store gives you the upper hand in understanding what customers want, how they want them, and when they want them. Doing this lets you know what to build to solve your customers' problems. 

A quick example is when customers visiting your store from Europe have an issue checking out after shopping. If you’re using a monolithic process, you’ll likely have to fix the problem like it’s a general problem—thus affecting users in other regions who don’t have the problem. Customers in other regions will now experience issues while checking out—and worst of all, you might have to take your website offline to rectify this issue.  

With headless, you can easily pinpoint the problem’s source and create a fix only for Europe-based customers. This way, no one experiences downtime in any other region except customers from the EU (provided you have to take the website offline before fixing it).

In comparison, big companies like Amazon and Etsy have adopted headless e-commerce to provide seamless experiences to their customers regularly. According to TechBacon:  

  • Amazon updates its website every 11.7seconds 
  • Etsy does more than 50 on-site deployments per day

All of these happen without noticeable outages or downtime while ensuring that all customers are delivered experiences tailored for them. In addition, for businesses adopting headless, rolling out advanced functionalities for your apps and websites becomes faster and effective compared to others on traditional platforms. 

5. Better Business Stability and Scalability

As your e-commerce business grows, scaling without compromising your business stability is your next priority. For example, if your website’s traffic moved from 10k monthly visitors to 100k, maintaining your previous website speed (let’s say 2.5 seconds load time) using traditional websites becomes challenging to maintain. You might have to lose your homepage’s animation to increase load time, which might negatively affect customers already familiar with your homepage. 

Meanwhile, you can do the same on headless without losing your brand’s personality—all while delivering top speed to customers from anywhere in the world regardless of traffic. Solutions like Edgemesh Server ensure on-demand global scale by deep integration with CDN partners like Cloudflare and Fastly to ensure your frontend is available in more than 300 regions around the globe!

6. Reduced Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) Through Personalization

Early in the article, we discussed the increase in CAC for most e-commerce businesses—and the only working solution to fix these high costs is to ensure you make every customer experience magical. That means delivering seamless, high-performance experiences to customers. The more visitors you can turn into customers, the lower your overall CAC becomes!

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using Headless E-Commerce? 

Yes, there are a few drawbacks to using first-generation headless solutions (which require a complete rebuild of your site). Here are 2 disadvantages to using first-generation headless e-commerce. 

1. Complexity in Setup

Due to the number of providers currently offering headless e-commerce to businesses, each one has different setup processes. Every provider has its way of onboarding, deploying, installing, configuring, supporting, and troubleshooting any problem you might likely encounter.

This means you’ll constantly have to reach out to their support system when you run into an issue. There are few possibilities of constantly experiencing problems while using headless e-commerce due to how intelligent the APIs are in updating and smoothly integrating with other web apps. 

Next-generation headless solutions like Edgemesh Server eliminate this complexity by allowing you to continue to work with the platform, not against it. Edgemesh Server ensures you can continue to use the design tools built into your platform (Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento, Salesforce Commerce, etc.) but automatically push these changes to the edge. No muss, no fuss - just a seamless performance enhancement.

2. High Cost

Due to the nature of headless e-commerce, taking your business requires an investment up-front—one that pays for itself in the long term. Unfortunately, this also comes with losing your default front end, as programs have to be rewritten from scratch in most cases. On the plus side, this allows you to customize your front end—either for you or your customers.  

Depending on the headless e-commerce platform you choose, pick one that addresses: 

  • Security
  • Maintenance 
  • Support

The average cost of implementing a legacy headless experience was 2.6 million dollars - driven mainly by the outsourcing costs required to rebuild the existing site. Headless 2.0, or next-generation headless solutions like Edgemesh Server, eliminate more than 95% of these costs by simply working with the existing platform.

Next Generation Headless with Edgemesh Server

Choosing a platform to take your e-commerce business headless is challenging, especially if you’re not doing it with the right one. That’s why we at Edgemesh believe going headless should be with a single click. 

With Edgemesh Server, you can enable one-click headless performance for your e-commerce websites. In addition, we provide seamless web acceleration to give headless-style deployments zero developer effort. This allows us to eliminate high costs, risks, and an unpredictable timeline that plagues headless e-commerce migrations. 

We also understand your fear of having to likely rebuild your existing website when you go headless. However, unlike other complex legacy headless projects, Edgemesh Server is fully automated and takes only minutes to set up—without losing your front end.  

Benefits of Edgemesh Server include: 

  • A seamless integration that works with the existing platform and takes only minutes to set up, unlike the months-long process of traditional headless implementations.
  • Significant performance improvements, providing 4x overall faster site speed and 10x fast server response time for an accelerated customer experience.
  • Complete control over the user experience and flexibility to extend beyond the current platform's limitations, with the ability to add additional pages such as JAM Stack, React, and Next.js.
  • Enterprise-grade user experience extensions like A/B testing, personalization, and Bot protection enhance any platform without requiring a complete design.

Planning on Going Headless Yet?

Moving your e-commerce business to a headless platform is the best decision to improve your overall business growth. In a move to adapt to new technologies, companies incorporate PWAs, CDNs, JAMstack, Gatsby, Sanity to make their e-commerce websites load faster and provide users with the best possible experience. 

If you made it to the end of this article, then you’d be interested in the rest of this series.

Below are related articles we think you’ll find helpful: 

The Complete Guide to Google’s Core Web Vitals: What is Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)?  

Difference Between Server-Side and Client-Side Caching, And Which Is Good For Your Website

Complete Guide on First Input Delay (FID)

What is Start Render Time, and How Can You Improve It?

5 Reasons Why Client-Side Caching Is Best For Your E-Commerce Website

What Role Does CRO Play In Your Growth Strategy

Do customer experience, good conversions, low bounce rates and overall, speed matter to you? Then you’ll love Edgemesh’s Enterprise-Grade Web Acceleration

Our intelligent, automated, and next-generation client-side caching readies your website to move at full speed—with just a single line of code. 

Plus, it takes less than 5 minutes to set up. What do you say?

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