By Yvan Boisjoli, Bold Commerce
I remember nearly a decade ago when the idea of shopping from mobile seemed revolutionary. Retail and marketing experts regularly released consumer surveys and data showing consumers’ reluctance, but growing willingness, to purchase from their phones.
I don’t think I need to tell you how everything unfolded from there.
Having gotten over that hurdle to digital shopping adoption, consumers are embracing a groundbreaking generation of digital shopping experiences, and a growing number of enterprise brands are eager to turn more customer interactions into shoppable moments.
By groundbreaking, I mean that making a purchase doesn’t require them to leave their social, blog, or other digital experience to transact only on a website. As consumers continue to embrace digital everything, brands are called to meet shoppers on the digital channels where they’re most engaged, rather than employing shopping and experience strategies as if they’re two different things.
Historically, retailers have struggled to sell across all areas of the digital realm because traditional e-commerce platforms are built for shopping on a website and are not designed to support transactions in other digital or physical channels. This next phase of e-commerce will be defined by freeing the checkout from the e-commerce site and letting it power transactions anywhere.
How Can Checkout Be Anywhere?
Brands are introducing completely customized checkout experiences on digital channels, so they can connect with shoppers anywhere. But how is that even possible?
Enter headless commerce.
Headless commerce separates the frontend buying interface that the customer usually interacts with (or “the head”) from the backend or commerce layer of an e-commerce platform. This means that brands don’t have to have a traditional e-commerce website to sell things —but instead can empower shopping experiences to happen anywhere—all while seamlessly integrating with all of a brand’s back-of-house operational systems.
Once brands have gone headless with their checkout, they can build customer-facing experiences on any digital channel where they interact with customers. The possibilities of headless checkout are quite endless.
Here are five examples of the kinds of experiences brands can offer when checkout can be anywhere:
- Shop While You Work Out
Picture this: You’re taking a class on your Peloton and want to buy the outfit your instructor is wearing. Normally, you’d hop off your bike, make some lunch and then maybe remember to go onto Peloton’s website to browse, search, and hopefully purchase the workout gear your instructor was wearing, if it’s even available.
If Peloton’s checkout was “portable” with headless commerce and the digital screen was commerce-enabled, you’d be able to make the purchase right there on the Peloton screen. With the ability to meet shoppers where they are and place a checkout anywhere, brands can engage with consumers right when they’re thinking, “Wow, I really like that and want to buy it,” and increase the propensity to buy.
- Checkout In The Car
While there’s no shortage of features you can add to a car, those already pre-built into the car may require you to go to your account online to activate or even mean a trip to the car dealership. With headless checkout, drivers can upgrade these features on their digital dashboard — right in the car.
Upgrades to navigation systems, radio, cameras, and beyond can happen quickly and at the moment when drivers need them. For instance, a driver may want to upgrade their navigation system during a road trip. If they’re not able to make the purchase directly on their car dashboard, they’ll have to make a pit stop and make those upgrades on their phone or laptop, or, because of the hassle, decide to forget about it altogether.
Brands that can deliver what consumers are looking for — exactly when they want it — will be most successful in guiding them to purchase.
- Replenish Items With Ease
Checkout is possible on just about everything we use day-to-day. You can purchase ink from your printer when toner levels are low, re-purchase laundry detergent on your washer, or buy new camera lenses directly on your camera. And while some of these may sound futuristic, they’re all viable when enabled by headless checkout.
Shoppers have high expectations and are looking to brands to make it as easy as possible to shop — especially for the things they’re using more regularly. Forcing consumers to move away from the channel they’re most engaged on may cause them to not purchase at all. Instead, brands need to offer the option to repurchase when consumers are in the mindset of realizing they’re low on certain products.
- Let Your Voice Guide Your Purchase
Fifty-one percent (51%) of consumers that shop via voice use it to research products, followed by adding to their shopping list (36%) and tracking a package (30%). With shoppers’ growing interest in voice commerce, brands have a significant opportunity to tap into voice with headless commerce.
Today, you can order your Whole Food groceries through Alexa, but what if Siri could order shoes in your size from your favorite brand, Nespresso could swap products in your coffee subscription, or you could ask Google to fill up your cart by simply naming your favorite candle scents? And while integrating voice to be part of a shopper’s experience is the first step, brands need to make sure the checkout flow is designed specifically for the voice channel and the process for shoppers to go from researching a product to purchase is simple.
- Make Shopping In Store As Simple As Possible
How a shopper experiences a brand in-store, should not be disconnected from how they experience a brand on their website — or any other digital channel. Of course, the experience with the product itself will differ from channel to channel, but how the brand engages with a shopper should feel like seamless, connected experiences.
And while anywhere commerce means that brands can put a checkout on any digital platform, it also means — through headless commerce — that all these channels can work together. Because headless commerce is API-based rather than hard-wired, customer information can seamlessly be moved from one channel to the other.
This means at in-store kiosks, brands can provide a streamlined, convenient checkout flow for first-time buyers vs. regular buyers. For example, when a past customer enters in their information, their loyalty points will instantly come up, they can search through old purchases to determine sizing and their shipping address will be available to ship an out-of-stock item to their home. Pre-populating customers’ information and preferences in-store and online will keep customers coming back.
Anywhere Commerce is more than just being on every digital channel — it’s about connecting with shoppers where they are, with what they want, when they need it. With headless checkout, brands can differentiate themselves and integrate their vision into every part of the consumer journey, and on every digital channel they’re on.
About The Author
Yvan Boisjoli is CEO and Co-Founder of Bold Commerce.