AIOPSGROUP: Dev.BG Interview with Ivan and Marush about Headless Commerce
Sofia, EU, October 28, 2021 – AIOPSGROUP‘s Senior Team Members, Marush Denchev and Ivan Nazurov, share their insights and experiences about Headless Commerce. With 60% new market acceleration and Amazon as a leader, Headless Commerce is here to stay.
What is Headless commerce and how can it accelerate the opening of a new market by 60%? Why do major global brands partner with AIOPSGROUP to implement their online sales solutions? And how do two of the leading figures in the company see the future of eCommerce?
We met with Ivan Nazarov and Marush Denchev from AIOPSGROUP, who told us in detail about their work and the business strategy they apply. Ivan is a senior software engineer at AIOPSGROUP with nearly ten years of experience in developing eCommerce solutions for giant companies. And Marush is a software development manager focused on Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Adobe Commerce / Magento Open Source, and Headless commerce. Here is what they shared with DEV.BG.
What is Headless Commerce and why did you decide to make it your practice?
Ivan: We live in a time when traders’ channels to reach their customers are constantly increasing. A time when the refrigerator can order milk and beer for you allows more and more consumers to choose how to shop. The dizzying market is asking, “How fast can the next trading channel be implemented?” The answer to this question is never easy, but here comes the advantage of the Headless Commerce paradigm.
What is Headless Commerce?
Simply put, Headless Commerce is an eCommerce solution that can store and provide data and functionality, but without a user interface. The user interface has been completely removed from the equation, and programmers are focusing on developing only application programming interfaces (APIs). The purpose of these interfaces is to be able to provide as much functionality and data access as possible to meet the need for multiple trading channels.
Headless commerce gives a completely different philosophy for presenting products to customers through different marketing channels. Here comes the role of AIOPSGROUP as a company that partners with some of the world’s major brands. We help our clients and partners to successfully implement this philosophy to quickly reach their clients through various technologies and techniques.
Could you give some specific examples to distinguish Headless commerce from traditional online sales methods?
Ivan: What sets Headless Commerce apart is the way the user interface is written. Let’s not forget that to have a complete solution, we also need a user interface, not just APIs. Traditional eCommerce solutions come with a ready-made user interface. This user interface is closely connected to the server part and the change requires more time and is not so easy. Thus, they also dictate how the customer will use the store, and largely restrict developers from providing a more interesting way to shop for their customers.
The technologies that developers can use are also predefined by traditional solutions, and changing the technologies used is not an easy task. And Headless commerce gives developers complete freedom to choose the technologies to use, the way the e-shop will be used, and the type of devices through which they will reach customers.
The method by which new functionality is developed significantly distinguishes the Headless Commerce paradigm from traditional solutions. In traditional solutions, developing new functionality, engineers must do so with the entire, basic codebase. The release of new functionality accordingly requires updating the entire solution – both the user interface and the server part. And in Headless Commerce, everything is separated from each other. And the development of a new payment method at the end of an order, for example, is completely independent of the rest of the ecosystem.
The development of Headless commerce over time significantly accelerates the implementation of new trading channels. Which in turn keeps the business up to date with innovations in retail.
Despite all the benefits that Headless Commerce offers for eCommerce development, it is not ready to work from day one and needs customization and setup. When we have a system that needs personalization and is quite flexible, we inevitably need constant technical support and management, both the development process itself and the entire ecosystem.
What are the technical challenges in this model of work at the programming level? What technologies are used?
Ivan: The Headless Commerce architecture comes down to providing a complete platform through the RESTFul API, which follows the data model defined by the various systems with which it is integrated and is implemented in a cloud-based infrastructure. Hence the challenges facing any cloud-based system such as security, cost management, productivity, internet access, etc.
What we use today in AIOPSGROUP successfully to implement the Headless Commerce paradigm is GraphQL + Apollo Server + NodeJs + ExpressJS, deployed on Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.
Which of your customers use this service and can you share current results from it?
Marush: With different clients, we are at different stages of the implementation of Headless Commerce solutions. Some need to upgrade their back-end systems first to allow proper use and expansion because of system APIs. Others are at an advanced stage and need advice on the user interface. Some customers want their solution – started entirely from scratch, to cover their needs more accurately, while others are more likely to use popular open-source solutions. Our role is to advise them, to show them which solution is more appropriate for their case and will allow business growth.
We are working on opening a new market with PUMA in sync with several other teams that are doing the same, but for other regions. These are different markets in nature, from payment and delivery methods to order management systems to marketing systems.
As a result of PUMA’s use of Headless Commerce as a philosophy, we hope to set records in how quickly a new market can open with an acceleration of approximately 60%.
What type of IT specialists are suitable for this type of work method and how is your company attractive to them?
Ivan: The realization of Headless Commerce requires a full range of IT specialists, as for any implementation of an e-commerce platform. Given the fact that it is deployed in cloud infrastructure, the good System Landscape Architect is a mandatory figure in the team, followed by an eCommerce Architect, who knows the processes and different scenarios for integration with the huge range of systems in eCommerce and particular eCommerce retail. From now on, the choice of technologies is endless, the developers themselves choose the technologies to use to implement Headless Commerce.
Marush: As Ivan has already pointed out, in AIOPSGROUP we have chosen to implement Headless Commerce GraphQL + Apollo Server + NodeJs + ExpressJS. We are also developing an “in-house” Headless commerce solution, the idea being to cover the integration with the more popular platforms – Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Adobe Commerce, as well as the more popular Headless CMS (Sanity, Amplience) and payment service providers.
Ivan: In addition to all this, we are developing a set of e-commerce components for user interfaces, striving even if it is Headless. That’s why we’ve chosen NextJS + React + Tailwind CSS, and we plan to add React Native for mobile application development.
The development language for all components we use is TypeScript.
What are your forecasts for the development of online sales on a wide horizon?
Ivan: When we talk about the future of online retail, there is always one name at the forefront – Amazon. To date, they provide a complete picture of how the Headless Commerce paradigm works and how quickly it allows the development of new markets and the use of new technologies such as Alexa Skills. The speed with which Amazon is dictating the future is staggering. They update their services every few seconds, while their competitors only once a week or month. This is possible thanks to the Headless Commerce philosophy.
Large-scale studies are showing that consumers who use more than one shopping channel buy more often, which makes them more valuable to merchants. The Multi-channel Commerce framework has long been lacking. Customers increasingly start searching while shopping for one device, go through another and place their order in a completely different way, sometimes even physically in the store. The trader’s goal is now to provide a unified way to shop between individual devices and shopping channels – “Omni-channel commerce”. Shopping allows customers to use their favorite ways as a complete shopping experience. To make all this happen, Headless Commerce gives the fastest recipe.