The Ways and the Process of Migrating to Headless eCommerce

By Karolina Jakubowicz

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The popularity of headless technology has seen a remarkable rise over the past few years, leading more and more companies to migrate their online stores to it. Have you made your decision yet? If so, you are surely wondering what the next step is...

Migrating to this architecture is a complex process, but if done skillfully, it can go smoothly. In this article, we will discuss various ways to migrate to headless, analyzing the pros and cons of each and the process of transitioning to this architecture.

Headless eCommerce in a nutshell

Before we dive into discussing migration methods, it's essential to understand what headless eCommerce is. Traditional online stores often combine frontend (user interface) and backend (content management system and database) into one whole. Implementing headless eCommerce means separating these two components. The frontend becomes independent of the backend, providing more freedom in designing the user interface and adapting it to various devices and sales channels.

You can learn more about the headless approach and its benefits in another one of our articles. Click here to read!

Ways of migration to headless eCommerce

Big Bang

This approach involves fully migrating the entire online store to headless architecture in one significant step. This means that frontend and backend are separated simultaneously, and the old monolithic system is replaced by the new headless eCommerce system.

Advantages:

  • Quick results: After the migration is completed, the entire online store becomes fully headless, meaning you can immediately take advantage of new features and capabilities.

  • Instant transition: Big Bang migration involves a complete disconnect from the existing monolithic system and simultaneous implementation of the new headless eCommerce system.

  • One-time costs: The costs associated with this migration method are incurred only once, which can be beneficial for smaller companies with limited resources.

Disadvantages:

  • High risk of system failures: One of the main challenges of this approach is the high risk of system failures. If problems occur during the migration of the online store, the entire site can stop working, leading to loss of customers and revenue.

  • High workload: Big Bang requires significant involvement from the IT team, which can consume most of the employees' time and disrupt the company's daily operations.

Progressive

This migration method is based on making changes gradually. The frontend is the first component to be detached from the existing system, and the migration proceeds in stages. For example, the new system might handle order processing, while product information remains in the old system. Although the store temporarily runs on two systems, it is fully functional.

Advantages:

  • Lower risk of system failures: This approach minimizes the risk of system failures because each stage of migration is thoroughly tested and implemented independently.

  • Adaptation of pace: Companies can adjust the pace of migration to their capabilities and resources, allowing for business continuity.

  • Continued operation: Progressive migration does not disrupt the operation of the online store, allowing companies to continue serving customers during the process.

Disadvantages:

  • Longer migration time: The migration process may take longer compared to the "Big Bang" approach, which can result in delays in using new headless features.

  • Higher operational costs: The need to maintain two systems (old and new) can lead to higher operational costs.

Transitioning directly to a new backend involves the need to redesign the entire system. It is a time-consuming, costly process that carries risks. Additionally, irrespective of technical issues, mobilizing internal teams can be challenging, and the risk of revenue loss during migration becomes even more concerning. Opting for progressive migration in at least two stages allows for minimizing this risk, especially during critical periods for eCommerce owners.

However, the choice between these two strategies depends on the specific needs and priorities of the company. It is advisable to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option to make a decision that best suits the specific situation. In both cases, thorough planning, testing, and monitoring are key elements to ensure a successful migration to headless eCommerce.

The Headless eCommerce transition process

Implementing headless technology can lead to significant savings and exceptional growth for your business. However, the migration process requires precise strategic planning. We present 7 steps to consider when developing your eCommerce platform migration strategy:

  1. Priorities: The first step in any migration process is understanding the current state of your store. Get to know your customers, order flow, products, and integration needs. Identify current problems, limitations, and goals. This step is an opportunity to conduct an audit of your eCommerce.

  2. Goal setting: Examine the goals you want to achieve with headless eCommerce technology. Identify the most significant gaps and determine what needs to be accomplished immediately and what can be deferred or entirely ignored.

  3. Migration strategy selection: The next step is choosing the migration method, taking into account the specifics of the company and its resources.

  4. Planning: After completing the analysis and selecting the migration method, a crucial step is to develop a comprehensive action plan that will allow you to achieve your vision. Establish the order of changes, starting with those that will bring the most significant benefits to you and your customers.

  5. Infrastructure preparation: Prepare your infrastructure for the platform change. This may include server updates, database enhancements, and the implementation of the necessary tools and frameworks required for headless eCommerce.

  6. Data migration: Transfer data from the existing system to the new headless platform. Ensure that all customer data, product information, and orders are securely transferred, while unnecessary data is discarded.

  7. Testing and optimization: Conduct thorough testing of the new system. To avoid system failures or data loss, testing should be incorporated into regular operations. After each component is deployed, monitor performance indicators such as page load times, server response times, and transaction processing times. This allows you to identify areas that require optimization.

Headless eCommerce is a dynamic platform that enables continuous development and the introduction of new functionalities. Take advantage of these opportunities to continually improve your shopping experience and grow your business.

So, is it worth it?

Migrating to headless eCommerce can bring many benefits, but it is also a challenging undertaking that requires careful planning and implementation. The choice of migration strategy depends on the specific needs and resources of the company. It is worth thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons of each option and considering the migration process from start to finish. With the right approach and the involvement of the IT team, a company can achieve success and increase its influence in the eCommerce market.

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