For a traditional e-commerce business to work, it needs three key elements: an online storefront for customers to browse, a warehouse in which to store products and a simple order fulfilment system to move products from A to B. For online grocery retailers, things are much more complex.
Grocers have a unique challenge when it comes to digital transformation. There are several complicating factors that set grocers apart from traditional retailers. They deal with very vulnerable products such as eggs and bananas which must be packed very carefully; they have to consider the logistics involved in shipping fresh and frozen goods; they must consider weight articles and substitutions and how final basket prices are affected, and delivery times are far more specific and critical to good customer service than in other sectors.
For the above reasons, customer trust is much harder to earn for e-grocers, and much easier to lose if things don’t go well. The sheer number of moving parts and variables makes setting up online seem like a difficult challenge for many grocers, particularly small to medium-sized enterprises with a small but growing number of branches. Fortunately, that challenge is getting much easier thanks to innovations in headless commerce and the use of microservices.
Headless commerce: The future for online grocers
Headless commerce isn’t as complex as it might first appear. It refers to the separation between the customer-facing front end, such as a website, and all of the back-end processes, such as the business logic and the storage of customer and product data.
But be aware that in order for cloud-native headless commerce solutions to work effectively, they must adopt microservices. Microservices are effectively small pieces of independent software designed to fulfil a very specific purpose, such as managing an online shopping cart or processing a customer payment. Those microservices can talk to one another thanks to the use of APIs, effectively bridges that group the various software elements together.
Building a solution made up of microservices and APIs means that a grocery business can cater individually for multiple customer touchpoints, including websites, mobile apps, payment services, online chat, email, SMS and more. If a particular touchpoint needs to be changed or updated, such as introducing a new payment system for instance, this can be done with minimal disruption to the service as a whole. This wouldn’t be possible with an expensive, custom-built proprietary solution, which would usually have to go offline for maintenance, disrupting the business and inconveniencing customers.
While it’s certainly difficult for grocers to produce a flawless online customer experience, particularly compared to more traditional retailers, headless commerce and microservices are making it easier all the time. We’re likely to see more rapid adoption of headless commerce solutions in 2021 and beyond as more grocers explore the limitless opportunities of e-commerce.
To learn more about how emporix can help with headless commerce, microservices and digital transformation for grocers, click here or get in touch using the form below.