Highlights from head-to-head on headless with Devin Saxon
November 8, 2021
Engineers and technical decision makers who want to talk headless commerce - Devin Saxon is your go-to guy. Devin is Nacelle’s Senior Sales Engineer and an expert on the thought process of technical buyers who are considering a headless commerce solution.
We tapped Devin to join Nacelle CEO Brian Anderson in our Head-to-Head on Headless Video Series. Devin's conversations offer unique insight into the questions engineers are asking and the solutions they need when thinking about a headless build for their brand.
This video series is a must-watch for engineers driving innovation at their company and merchants with a technology-first mindset for growth. Here are some highlights from his series.
Moving from monolithic to microservices
Devin’s advice to merchants interested in moving from a monolithic architecture to a microservices stack, is not to do everything all at once. It would be like doing a heart and lung transplant at the same time.
The right headless commerce platform can help make this transition easier. You don’t need to do a big backend data migration into a different eCommerce, PIM, or OMS platform to achieve your desired results. By having an abstraction layer you don’t have to worry about setting up multiple APIs for your frontend, making the process simpler and safer.
How technical decision-makers should approach a headless build
“One of my favorite questions is the build vs. buy question,” says Devin. “The customer is typically forgetting a lot of things when they're bringing up that question in the first place. The first thing that comes to mind is maintenance. When it comes to scalability and the maintenance around it, and the costs come with it—it’s a lot.”
A headless build can sound simple initially, but customers often forget about the maintenance that comes with it, for instance coordinating databases or webhook systems and the accompanying authentication. It ends up being around 3,000 developer hours just for the initial headless build, not including the resources that a merchant will require when they want to scale, add new systems, swap out their PIM, or even adjust to a new framework on the frontend.
Justifying the price of a headless commerce solution
There can be sticker shock when researching headless commerce solutions, and often brands of a certain size and revenue threshold are the best fit. That said, similar to the "build vs. buy" conversation, long-term costs of building a solution in-house or the incurring of technical debt from a monolithic solution are often underestimated.
In Volume III, Devin explains the discussion he has with technical buyers around the price of a headless commerce solution, including factors they often overlook and the ROI that needs to be considered.
Advantages of headless commerce besides site speed
Improved site speed and eCommerce KPIs are often the headlining benefits when discussing headless commerce, but engineers reap several dev-specific benefits including consolidation of your frontend across devices and improved developer workflows.
Brian and Devin continue the conversation in Volume IV to discuss why a best-of-breed strategy is important to dev teams in headless commerce, the role of your backend codebase, and opportunities for growth and flexibility.
Understanding eventual consistency
Eventual consistency refers to the lag time that merchants experience between backend updates and what’s displayed on the frontend. Traditionally, due to API rate limits, changes made on the backend may not be reflected on the frontend for hours or even days.
In Volume V of his series, Devin discusses eventual consistency in depth and explains how merchants can leverage static site generation with a progressive web app to significantly improve issues with eventual consistency and ensure data cohesion between the frontend and backend.
More experts go head-to-head on headless commerce
More expert perspectives and bite-sized conversations on headless commerce are just a click away. Meet the all-star lineup of eCommerce experts as they share their unique view on headless commerce best practices, trends, predictions, technology, and more.