Today, a number of technical eCommerce agencies such as Scoutside, partner with Nacelle when it comes to developing a headless commerce architecture and looking to take full advantage of the modern commerce stack.
To understand why, we interviewed Thomas McCutchen, Founder at Scoutside, to understand the value of headless commerce, and also to hear why they prefer working with Nacelle.
Can you tell us a little more about Scoutside? How did you decide to start offering headless commerce to eCommerce merchants?
I should start by saying that headless commerce is not always the right decision for all merchants. So when we work with our clients, we look and listen for specific cues to understand their requirements and growth plans. From there, we really try to see if they’re the right match for headless commerce.
While Nacelle definitely makes headless so much easier to build and maintain, it is still an important and sensitive decision to make with a merchant.
Scoutside’s mission is to partner with brands and merchants that want to build unique experiences. We want to drive the future of commerce. So we didn’t necessarily gravitate towards headless just to capitalize on site speed and conversion rates, although those are obviously great benefits.
Instead, we went in search of true separation of the visual layer from the data layer. This allowed us to build a more integrated user experience that pulls data from multiple data sources, including Shopify.
Our clients’ demand for richer, more dynamic content–things like bigger, higher-quality images, GIFs, videos, more–will only continue to grow. To put it another way, no one is asking for less content!
And of course, site speed, conversion, and revenue are always high on their priority list. A headless site can help a merchant achieve these growth and business goals, especially when combined with a great marketing plan.
What was the experience like attempting to do headless commerce builds before working with the Nacelle platform?
Before we started working with Nacelle, we built a few headless solutions. We rolled our own data layer. We learned a lot, enjoyed the challenge, and even had a little fun along the way.
While we launched successfully and saw some amazing results, we quickly realized that the maintenance was crippling. Remember, Scoutside is not a software vendor. We have a couple of small multi-tenant applications and we tend to build a lot of middleware, but the data layer for a headless commerce architecture is a whole different animal.
Some months the maintenance was easy, but in some months it was really hard. This meant that there were a few months where all we could accomplish was maintenance and stability. I should rephrase that: There were some months where we couldn't roll out new features since it was too time-consuming and too risky. This is a major problem, and one that we decided we would never allow again. This is why we use Nacelle.
Why did you choose Nacelle as your partner for headless commerce?
Nacelle has so much to offer. It’s probably important to point out that there is Nacelle the platform, which is an incredibly robust and impressive technology for headless commerce. At the same time, there is Nacelle the team, which is an equally impressive group of people dedicated to making headless commerce easier and the best it can be for our clients.
Nacelle’s founder, Brian Anderson, has been in eCommerce for many years and has extensive experience running a Shopify agency. I have always respected Brian and his knowledge of eCommerce, so it was a natural decision to trust his leadership and the team he built at Nacelle. We also know many other Nacelle employees so we can easily vouch for their technical expertise in the industry.
Also, when it comes to relationships and integrations, this industry is not about who you happen to know, but how deep the relationship goes. This is complex technology so there will always be questions and even struggles. That’s why we do it. But when we go out to fight these battles, we need partnerships that promote patience and understanding and demonstrate an appetite for problem-solving.
Can you tell us how it’s been different developing headless with a “build your own data layer” as opposed to developing them with Nacelle? For example, have you benefited in terms of implementation times, resources needed, new efficiencies, or other areas?
Developing builds with our data layer led to significant ongoing maintenance costs. Some companies may rationalize it as part of the cost of doing business, but you need to be aware that in months of high maintenance needs, you might not be able to release new features. That’s devastating to a merchant trying to grow, react to the market, or roll out new products and features.
Do you have advice for other merchants who are just beginning to think about headless commerce and a potential custom implementation?
Prepare to spend more than you think. Whatever you’re planning to spend, increase it and then increase it again. Chances are that your estimate is wrong. Headless is more than just a complex problem; it’s not just a skill but it’s also an art.
Also, to reinforce my earlier point, when working with Nacelle, you get a platform and a team. If you attempt to build your own data orchestration layer, you lose both.
Tell us about some of your merchants that are going headless with Nacelle as the data layer in headless commerce architecture. What is the process like and what types of results are they achieving so far?
With Nacelle on our side, both Scoutside and our clients have access to the best minds in the industry to answer complex questions and provide technical best practices. For example, a recent project with a hair and beauty brand, Gimme Beauty, was slightly under budget and delivered on time. These were both entirely due to using Nacelle the platform and Nacelle the team.
When working with Nacelle, it’s clear that they are equally invested in the success of the project. In fact, Nacelle is so committed to the project’s success that they perform regular code audits with us to ensure the best possible architecture and codebase. I have never seen such dedication from a partner.
We’ve launched several headless sites with Nacelle, and all of them are virtually maintenance-free. We are able to use our time and skills to focus on new initiatives in functionality and marketing. So instead of troubleshooting server issues and maintaining the data layer, we can focus on growing the brand.
Scoutside is a creative technology agency that creates unique experiences that turn visitors into loyal customers. The agency develops full-service solutions that enhance business operations and drive revenue. Learn more at www.scoutside.com.