Chief Digital Officers Caveat Emptor! Industry reports on headless commerce often miss the point

October 15, 2021

I have a great deal of respect for the analysts that I know at Forrester, Gartner, and more. They must serve two masters with their reports; technology buyers who seek advice and insight into the products they need to serve their customers, and the vendors who have spent millions of dollars for that analyst coverage. It is a difficult balancing act. In the case of headless e-Commerce, there are far too many wolves in sheep’s clothing.

The big-name providers are all pretenders to the headless ecommerce throne. How on earth do Salesforce, Adobe and SAP get away with calling their offerings headless? Decapitated is more to the point. They aren’t API first; they aren’t micro-service based. If I read another report with a title such as “Headless Ecommerce Marketplace” that includes them I am going to scream!!! I would go so far as to say that they are being disingenuous in using that terminology at all to describe their entries in the category.

Their solutions all still lock the client into their clunky back-end frameworks and business logic from merchandising, search, personalization, PIM, to order management etc. None of them can de-couple or remove those functions. At best they sit inert, deactivated and unused, at worst they disrupt data flows, slow processing, create compliance issues, and throw out bugs.

That is exactly what every thoughtful CDO is looking to get away from with headless! Most are looking to empower their teams to use no code to stand up new sites in hours, not weeks! CDOs are looking to get away from rev-share, lagging load times, etc. Merchants are seeking the four-fold gain in performance, speed in new feature deployment, flexibility in site configuration. Marketers crave the freedom to choose which digital experience platform best creates memorable experiences for their shoppers.
How is Oracle’s commerce solution even showing up on anyone’s report when they can’t even give it away! It hardly matters if they did convince some Big Red house client to install because their army of platinum systems integrators around the globe can stand up the product in all its integrated functional glory with only a few hiccups. No one wants it!

Sorry for the rant, but I want to have a truly great online shopping experience. As my consumer, after giving away terabytes of free data away since that first pair of Levi’s through their online nightmare of a site in 2000, I deserve it!

So please, Brian Cornell, Corie Barry, Mitch Joel, if you’re listening, go big, go future proof, and go headless!