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How to Build a Headless Commerce Website Using Vue Storefront & BigCommerce
Oct 17, 2023
MACH

How to Build a Headless Commerce Website Using Vue Storefront & BigCommerce

Forbes reported that headless technology secured approximately $1.65 billion in funding between 2020 and 2021. As businesses grow and modernize, the demand for headless commerce continues to rise. With an estimated 12 to 24 million active ecommerce sites worldwide, it’s crucial for an online store to stand out.  

The key is building an exceptional ecommerce website that delivers the experience customers seek. 

Ecommerce website development involves creating the technical aspects of your ecommerce site, including how it operates, processes payments, responds to user interactions, and looks aesthetically. 

With a value of $11 billion in 2022, the web development services industry offers opportunities for business owners to launch user-friendly websites and address their most pressing ecommerce challenges. These challenges may involve: 

  • Deciding on the right features and functionality for your ecommerce project. 
  • Figuring out which ecommerce framework suits your needs best. 
  • Integrating ecommerce into an existing website or website template. 

In this article, we’ll explore what ecommerce web development entails, how to find a developer or team to bring your vision to life, and the essential steps before launching. Let’s get started! 

Choosing the Right Approach for Building Your Ecommerce Website 

When it comes to setting up your ecommerce store, you’ll encounter three main options: 

  • Building your website from scratch (also known as open source). 
  • Customizing a SaaS (software-as-a-service) solution. 
  • Harnessing the power of MACH architecture. 

In this case, we’ll use MACH architecture, Vue Storefront, and BigCommerce to create an ecommerce website.    

Starting With Vue Storefront for Your Frontend 

The frontend is where the entire customer journey unfolds, making it crucial for enhancing customer experience, boosting conversions, and driving sales. Having a fast and mobile-friendly presentation layer is crucial. 

However, developing a custom frontend from the ground up is a time-consuming and daunting task. It involves managing numerous aspects and executing repetitive tasks to deliver a high-performing, mobile-friendly storefront.  

Fortunately, there’s a cost-effective solution to accelerate time to market and guarantee a high-class shopping experience: Kickstart your headless transformation with a Frontend as a Service (FEaaS), such as Vue Storefront. 

Thanks to Vue Storefront’s seamless integrations with platforms like SAP Commerce Cloud, BigCommerce, or Magento, you don’t have to undergo a complete re-platforming process to enjoy the advantages of headless commerce. Simply add a FEaaS-based frontend onto your existing platform to gain flexibility, faster page loads, and improved customer experience. 

Vue Storefront

Why You Should Consider Vue Storefront for Your Digital Commerce Project

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Importance of Headless Architecture & BigCommerce  

For years, the traditional ecommerce model tied together the frontend storefront and backend server-side into one integrated system, known as a monolith setup. 

While a monolith solution can be suitable for small and mid-sized businesses with limited needs, it can pose challenges as your business expands, requiring more complexity, such as launching multiple websites or growing into new regions. 

The answer? 

MACH architecture. 

MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless) follows a best-of-breed approach to building enterprise software tech stacks. Unlike monolithic architecture, MACH lets you choose the technology that aligns best with your business requirements and plans. 

MACH

To know more about MACH Architecture, read our article: What is MACH Architecture & Why It Is the Future of Ecommerce   

Moreover, headless has been generating a lot of buzz lately, and rightly so. 

It offers brands the best of both worlds—lightning-fast loading times and outstanding user experiences with no compromises. 

Approximately 92% of the BigCommerce platform can be accessed via APIs, allowing you to utilize nearly all of their ecommerce services in your headless environment. 

As your brand scales up, along with increased traffic, multichannel marketing efforts, and the desire for more immersive shopping experiences, you’ll need more than what BigCommerce offers right out of the box. 

BigCommerce Inner

BigCommerce understands the importance of enabling brands to scale their operations. They’ve designed their platform to integrate with various enterprise-level ecommerce components seamlessly. By adopting the headless approach with BigCommerce, you can bring together the finest elements to build an outstanding ecommerce store. 

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7 Steps for Developing a Custom Headless Ecommerce Website 

You don’t have to start from scratch to build your ecommerce site. Platforms like BigCommerce offer user-friendly options with minimal coding required. However, choosing a platform is just one step. Before diving into the development process, consider these important steps: 

7 Steps for Developing a Custom Headless Ecommerce Website

Step 1. Define Your Business Goals 

It’s crucial to understand why you want to sell online and what outcomes you aim to achieve.  

  • Are you looking to increase overall business revenue? 
  • Do you plan on focusing primarily on direct-to-consumer sales? 
  • Will your online presence complement your physical store, or will it be the primary sales channel? 
  • Are you considering expanding from B2C to B2B or vice versa? 

Set clear ecommerce metrics to measure success. Consider targets for weekly sales volume, local vs. international sales, and strategies for enhancing customer lifetime value. Determine the number of products you plan to offer. 

Step 2. Project Planning & Setup 

Next, select the technology stack that will form the backbone of your platform. Opt for Vue Storefront, a progressive web app (PWA) framework built on Vue.js, and pair it with BigCommerce, a versatile and scalable ecommerce platform.  

Finally, establish a robust development environment by installing essential tools and dependencies such as Node.js, npm (Node Package Manager), and Vue CLI (Command Line Interface) to facilitate the creation of Vue applications. This comprehensive foundation sets the stage for the seamless integration of Vue Storefront and BigCommerce. 

Step 3. Installation & Configuration 

Begin by setting up the Vue Storefront. Utilize Vue CLI to initiate a new Vue Storefront project, following the installation guidelines outlined in the official documentation. Next, seamlessly integrate BigCommerce into Vue Storefront by employing the connector, which serves as the bridge for communication between the two platforms, ensuring smooth operation.  

To facilitate this communication, establish and configure API endpoints between Vue Storefront and BigCommerce. This crucial step involves configuring these endpoints within Vue Storefront’s ‘local.json’ file, enabling seamless data exchange and functionality integration. 

Step 4: Design & Development 

In this step, the emphasis lies on crafting a tailored UI/UX experience. This involves the creation of custom layouts, components, and stylesheets that align seamlessly with your brand’s identity, delivering an intuitive and engaging interface.  

It’s imperative to develop functionalities like product browsing, search, filters, cart management, user authentication, checkout process, and other features specific to your eCommerce needs.  

To prioritize the optimization of your website’s performance, leverage techniques such as lazy loading, strategic code splitting, and image optimization to significantly enhance loading times, ensuring a swift and responsive user experience.

Step 5: Data Synchronization & Management 

Now, it’s crucial to establish a seamless flow of product information, involving setting up a synchronization mechanism to efficiently retrieve and update product data from BigCommerce to Vue Storefront. This process may entail implementing periodic data pulls or leveraging webhooks for real-time updates.  

Additionally, address the critical aspects of user authentication and the session management process. By implementing robust authentication protocols and effective session handling, you empower your platform to offer personalized features like tailored recommendations, accessible order history, and the convenience of saved shopping carts.

Step 6: Testing & Quality Assurance (QA) 

A thorough examination of the system is paramount, starting with implementing unit tests and ensuring individual components and functionalities work as expected.   

Furthermore, integration tests are conducted to evaluate the interactions between different parts of the application, ensuring seamless collaboration. To guarantee a consistent user experience, comprehensive cross-browser and device testing is required.

Lastly, leverage tools like Google Lighthouse or WebPageTest to fine-tune performance. These resources analyze and optimize the website’s performance, guaranteeing swift loading times and an overall efficient user interface. 

Step 7: Deployment & Launch 

As the deployment and launch phase approaches, optimize and minify the codebase, configure production environment settings, and ensure security measures are in place.   

Following this, the deployment process involves selecting a suitable hosting solution. This could range from a traditional server, or a cloud-based platform, to even leveraging a content delivery network (CDN) for enhanced performance and scalability.  

Once the platform is live, regularly monitor your website’s performance, user feedback, and sales metrics. Keep an eye on any issues that may arise and perform necessary maintenance tasks.  

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a custom headless commerce website using Vue Storefront and BigCommerce, providing a seamless and feature-rich shopping experience for your customers. 

Onboarding the Right Headless Commerce Website Development Partner for Your Needs! 

PWC research reveals that 73% of US consumers prioritize customer experience in online purchases. Surprisingly, only 49% feel brands deliver a satisfactory experience. To enhance your website’s user experience, hire a web development team skilled in ecommerce design and development whose expertise can significantly elevate the satisfaction of your online shoppers.   

Working with a partner like TechBlocks will make everything easier, no matter how complicated your ecommerce website is. At TechBlocks, we abide by principles that prioritize business problem-solving and ease of operation while providing flexibility for the future.  

And the best part is that TechBlocks has entered into a strategic partnership with BigCommerce, solidifying a dynamic alliance to revolutionize e-commerce endeavors. This collaboration is poised to bring innovative solutions and drive unparalleled growth for online businesses worldwide. 

If you’ve outgrown your current digital commerce platform, our ecommerce experts are ready to help. Join TechBlocks’ journey to leverage the potential of APIs and elevate your ecommerce business to global success! 

About the Author

Michael Chu

Michael is our VP of Digital Product & Strategy and has over 20 years of experience as a Solutions Architect, Product Manager, Technical Architect, and Digital Architect for companies globally, with a passion for creating delightful digital experiences and driving positive change using technology. It's a love affair that started because of his keen interest in understanding what drives people.  

Michael is a proven digital leader who joined the TechBlocks family in March 2023. He oversees digital transformation efforts and ensures our client's visions are brought to life. He also has extensive experience building ecommerce and healthcare technology solutions. He focuses on seeking the root cause to solve business and technology problems rather than just fixing symptoms.    

His thirst for knowledge keeps him at the forefront of technology and has translated well into conceptualizing and designing innovative tech solutions. Michael has built a reputation for being a 'creative technologist,' whether they're life-changing health tech challenges, developing new ways for consumers to discover and purchase goods, or building other enterprise solutions for complex use cases. 

Michael brings a wealth of experience from tech companies like Mekkano, Bowstreet, and Streebo. Before joining TechBlocks, he was a Digital Architect at Vasa Digital, helping enterprise customers realize business value via enterprise architecture and digital transformation. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Dalhousie University and an International Master of Business Administration degree from York University, among other certifications.   

Michael Chu