You might have heard that an eCommerce frontend is where the entire digital customer journey happens. But, what is the frontend? This article answers all of your frontend-related questions. Keep reading to find out why it’s crucial for eCommerce businesses to invest in a high-quality frontend to drive more conversion and revenue.
What is a frontend?
Frontend or to put it simply a presentation layer is a part of a website that a user or a customer interacts with. The frontend consists of the web page’s HTML elements, styles and scripts for interactivity. It also includes the buttons, font, layout, text, images, menus, search bars, even as far as how the website loads, and the accessibility practices.
When customers visit eCommerce websites they don’t think about the backend portion of it (this is where the business logic sits). What they consider a website is what they see in front of them. That is why the frontend plays a crucial part in customer experience.
Frontend for eCommerce
Now that you know the definition of frontend, let’s dig deeper into the presentation layer world. When it comes to building an eCommerce website, you have two options to choose from.
The first one is to opt for a monolith legacy solution and the second one is to choose a composable commerce stack, starting with a storefront. Let’s find out what the difference between the two is, and what the best choice for your business would be.
Traditional eCommerce frontend: Monolith legacy platforms
Since the beginning of the eCommerce time, traditional legacy platforms (monolith solutions), were the only choice for building an online store. These platforms operate as all-in-one systems, where frontend and backend are heavily linked together in a coupled architecture.
There was a time when coupled frontend and backend were crucially beneficial. Traditional platforms have all the components needed for an eCommerce website with a single codebase. With its help brands could quickly deploy eCommerce websites and manage them without any problem by using templates. And a decade ago, monolith platforms were the only and the most convenient option for eCommerce businesses.
However, as the number of online stores grew and the competition became fierce, customers started to expect unique and smooth digital experiences. And that’s when the challenges with monolithic systems started to appear. Monolith, all-in-one platforms were designed to give full control of the system but, what they didn’t predict is that in modern eCommerce, control should go hand-in-hand with flexibility.
As we know, to be successful in any business it is crucial to be able to evolve. Monoliths restrict marketers from quickly introducing changes to the frontend, causing them to fall behind user expectations and lose conversions.
Headless commerce and new approach to frontend in eCommerce
Headless commerce solutions are part of the composable commerce approach in which eCommerce companies are free to select the perfect tech stack, and arrange them into a unique composition that meets their business requirements.
Headless commerce is becoming one of the most significant trends and is already changing eCommerce. This approach is based on the idea of separating the presentation layer (frontend) from the logic of the application (backend), which provides even the most mature enterprises with the agility and flexibility of a startup.
Since in headless commerce the frontend and backend exist independently there are no more interdependencies between these two layers. That gives businesses more freedom for creating and updating the presentation layer fast, without interfering with the backend (and without developer’s help).
Headless commerce, as a future proof solution, is becoming the standard for the eCommerce industry as businesses start to recognize that it is impossible to predict the future and prepare for what’s to come next. Separating the backend from the frontend and the freedom to move things in and out as needed, is the first step to becoming “future-ready.”
Core elements of the frontend layer
When working on the creation of the frontend of your website, it is a good idea to keep in mind the three core elements of the presentation layer. These elements are vital for building a successful eCommerce website with a top-notch customer experience.
1. Web performance
Another core element of frontend is web performance. First and foremost, a well-performing frontend is fast, positively influencing the customer experience.
The first five seconds of page loading time have a crucial influence on conversion rates. Also, conversion rates decrease by 4.42% with each additional second of loading. It means, performance is crucial for conversion optimization and revenue growth.
What’s more, excellent speed and website performance translates into better SEO results.Also, what is important for your eCommerce website performance is the Google Core Web Vitals (CWV). Since the 2021 update, Google uses page and image loading times as one of core ranking elements for websites.
User experience or UX is a part of the presentation layer that focuses on how people use or interact with a product. It adopts the user perspective and answers the question “How would a first-time customer approach this website?”. UX encompasses the part of the design from icons down to the animations that occur when a user makes a click.
There are many components to UX that need to be considered to ensure an excellent user experience. For example, let’s take a look at the UX honeycomb made by Peter Morville.
This diagram pretty much lays down the foundation for a good UX. It shows how each facet is important to answer users' needs given the product's technical capabilities while also driving business value. Remember, that a pleasant user experience is what can turn users into customers.
What is a frontend without design? The third but by no means the least element of the frontend is design. Design is what users see first when they visit your eCommerce website, and first impressions are crucial. Nobody wants to shop at a website that looks outdated, with a messy layout, or poor quality images.
Also, design plays an important role in business branding. The design part of the frontend is responsible for making your eCommerce website unique so it could easily stand out from the competitors.
The eCommerce frontend and your business goals
Let’s find out what a frontend’s value is from a business perspective.
The frontend is what your website visitors see and interact with during their purchase process. It is why the storefront-first approach is crucial for your business goals. But how can you make sure that your frontend is doing its job right?
Put customer experience first
The frontend and customer experience go hand in hand. If your storefront has poor web performance and is not mobile-friendly, the customer experience metrics will remain low.
This is why prioritizing customer experience should become one of the main goals of improving your eCommerce frontend. A high quality, fast and mobile-first storefront is crucial to deliver amazing customer experience, increase conversions and revenue.
Ensure fast load time
Today’s users can't stand slow websites. The frontend should load fast and respond quickly (within 1-2 seconds) to the website's user actions. For example, 1 to 5 seconds load time increases the bounce rate probability by 90%.
Implement responsive design
In the omnichannel era, customers use a huge variety of devices and operating systems on their buyer journey. The presentation layer of your website must be mobile-friendly to ensure that the purchase process is smooth and easy regardless of the device.
Take care of the UX
Customers opt for more convenient websites and demand that your eCommerce presentation layer is simple and user-friendly.
In addition, high-quality frontend solutions prioritize intuitive and seamless navigation to ensure that the purchase process is always frictionless. Remember that a cluttered graphical interface cannot offer a great user experience.
Frontend technologies for eCommerce
Here’s a quick overview of the most popular frontend technologies for you to choose from.
How can your frontend benefit from headless commerce?
At the beginning of this article, you were introduced to two options for creating a frontend for your eCommerce. Now the whole eCommerce world is leaning towards headless frontend. Why?
Going composable brings numerous benefits like driving web performance, customer satisfaction, and your revenue by:
- Excellent web performance and mobile-first architecture
- Quicker and safer upgrades
- Advanced personalization
Read more about the benefits of headless commerce.
To make a swift shift towards headless commerce, merchants can apply a cost- and time-effective approach, and instead of full-blown re-platforming, start with replacing just a frontend.
Frontend as a Service for eCommerce
Opting for headless commerce is a step to the future success of your online store, but you’ll need the right approach to do that. That’s where Frontend as a Service (FEaaS) comes into play.
Frontend-as-a-Service supplies eCommerce businesses with a one-stop-shop solution for creating performant storefronts from build to launch in one place, with one single tool.
FEaaS tools are separate from the commerce backend and focus solely on the frontend experience.
Vue Storefront Frontend as a Service
As a complete FEaaS solution, Vue Storefront offers pre-built and ready-to-optimize building blocks which allow you to customize the storefront instead of developing it from scratch.
Ready integrations with eCommerce platforms like commercetools, BigCommerce, and Elastic Path, and the API-first approach allows companies to merge Vue Storefront with any third-party tool like a CMS, payment gateway, or analytics.
The combination of these services in one product gets rid of disjointed customer experience and colossal performance problems of online shops.
In a standard headless approach, you need to take care of a dozen microservices and the middleware. In order to solve this issue, Vue Storefront takes care of all of those pieces in one place. Request a demo to find out how Vue Storefront can help you create a fast, mobile-first frontend to drive conversions and revenue.
FEaaS is an end-to-end ecosystem of services from design to connecting, developing all the way to deploying and analyzing. In the end, it is a serious piece of software. FEaaS takes on a holistic strategy to take care of the entire lifecycle of building a frontend.
Choosing frontend technologies is one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll have to face. As the frontend is where the actual customer experience comes from you should go for a solution that will make sense business-wise.
Here are a few things that you should pay attention to when choosing a frontend technology:
1. Focus on UX, SEO, and customization
2. Quick Time-To-Market due to ready-code
3. Performance-oriented architecture
4. The flexibility of start-ups for enterprises
5. Lightning-fast web performance