Rigid ecommerce platforms featuring drag-and-drop templates and limited customization won’t cut it anymore. Data from Emplifi shows that 52% of U.S. consumers “sometimes” or “always” abandon purchases due to a bad customer experience.
Customers now shop on various digital channels — mobile devices, social media networks, in-store kiosks and more — necessitating new content solutions to provide an omnichannel retail experience.
Commerce-as-a-Service (CaaS) is a full-stack ecommerce technology package that lets small businesses take advantage of scalable cloud computing resources once exclusive to major enterprises. It unifies your technology, marketing, data and operations on a single, powerful platform — making it easier to push new content across different channels and obtain a single source of truth for all organizational data, from sales to customer relationship management (CRM).
Additionally, a scalable CaaS tech stack can allow businesses to fully customize the frontend (i.e. the storefront) without compromising backend functionality such as inventory management, security and payment processing.
Here’s what you need to know about CaaS and how to choose the right provider for your business.
Important Commerce-as-a-Service Ecosystem Components
Commerce-as-a-Service vendors provide a range of composable ecommerce functionalities such as payment processing and storefront design that can be combined with third-party tools or used as an end-to-end e-commerce solution.
A CaaS storefront is a pre-built, customizable online store that lets businesses quickly set up and manage an online store at a lower cost than purchasing a domain and maintaining ecommerce infrastructure.
These platforms typically offer features such as:
Product catalogs and categories.
Shopping carts and checkout pages.
Payment processing and order management.
Customer data management.
Data analytics and reporting.
Content management and social media integrations.
CaaS storefronts are designed to be highly customizable, enabling brands to tailor the look and feel of their online store. More importantly, platforms are generally optimized for scale: they can handle increased usage (i.e. site traffic and new content) as your ecommerce operation grows.
The backend or server side of a CaaS platform is the data access layer that holds products, orders, customer information and the overall infrastructure that powers your ecommerce site’s functionality.
A CaaS backend typically includes the following features:
CaaS providers ensure their platforms can be easily integrated with third-party tools such as CRM systems, email marketing software and more, making it easier to analyze customer data and introduce marketing automation.
Data reporting features offer insights into customer behavior and business performance. This includes customer demographics, purchase history, website traffic and other metrics. Data integrations merge data from multiple sources such as your CRM system, social media networks, marketing automation software and inventory management systems.
The integration provides a single source of truth to improve business decision-making, such as which products to restock or how to improve the online shopping experience.
CaaS tools typically include the following data reporting features:
Real-time data collection and analysis.
Dashboards, reports and data visualizations.
Predictive analytics to identify trends and patterns.
Integration with other data sources such as CRM and marketing automation tools.
Tools to track customer behavior and engagement on the website.
Commerce-as-a-service platforms feature API integrations with third-party software solutions to enhance the platform’s capabilities and maintain a unified solution.
These integrations include tools such as social media management, search engine optimization (SEO), affiliate marketing, creative content tools, email marketing solutions and more. Integrations allow you to manage your content from a single interface and see an aggregate view of your data.
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How Content-as-a-Service Helps Online Stores Succeed
While commerce-as-a-service delivers a full suite of cloud-based ecommerce services, content-as-a-service is a specialized, cloud-based content management system that stores and delivers content in a format that can be consumed on various channels using APIs.
CaaS uses an API-first and content-first architecture to provide a single interface for creating, storing and updating cross-channel content. Content gets pulled from the backend repository and delivered to the presentation layer where it’s required— such as a mobile app, Internet of Things (IoT) device or kiosk — instead of building content for one channel at a time.
Content-as-a-service providers can repurpose content for any channel. For example, a chatbot can index a snippet from a whitepaper to answer a customer query without being programmed manually.
By inputting a structured query, users can find the information they need, making it easier to reuse and repurpose content. CaaS automatically distinguishes between text, images and videos, making it easy to design engaging digital experiences across channels.
Additionally, CaaS solutions allow for multichannel publishing. This means the content is automatically formatted to properly display on smartphones, desktop computers and other devices for a superior user experience.
Content-as-a-service stores content securely in a cloud-based content management system (CMS), which is accessed and delivered through APIs. In other words, the content is not stored on your device, making it more secure.
Additionally, CaaS solutions give organizations the option to use encryption and authentication protocols to protect their content from unauthorized access and malicious attacks.
By nature, CaaS platforms are designed for scalability because the content is centralized in a single repository. CaaS providers typically use cloud-based infrastructure, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform to store and distribute content.
This allows them to easily scale up or down the number of servers and storage capacity as needed to handle changes in demand. The use of content delivery networks (CDN) — a network of servers that distribute content to the end user — further speeds page load times while increasing capacity.
Share data across multiple platforms.
Content-as-a-service enables cross-platforming data sharing using a REST-based API. This means you can analyze how content is consumed across digital channels. By unifying this data on one platform, ecommerce companies no longer need to gather and analyze data from multiple sources manually.
Data standardization and visualization tools allow you to make cross-platform comparisons and gather insights on content performance. For example, comparing website bounce rates on mobile devices vs. desktop computers.
Content-as-a-service helps with faster time to market because content can be created once and reused across multiple channels, eliminating the need to recreate content for each platform. This saves time and improves consistency.
Additionally, CaaS solutions can automate content creation and management, further speeding up the process.
Content can be quickly and easily distributed and updated across multiple channels, allowing organizations to respond to customer needs and market changes quickly.
For example, if a customer reports a bug and the dev team fixes it, you can update customers regarding the bug fix on all channels — as a website popup, in an email, SMS or app notification.
Many CaaS providers offer collaboration tools, such as document sharing and editing, that allow multiple users to work on the same content simultaneously so teams can swiftly respond to changing business requirements.
Multi-channel inventory management.
Selling across channels requires an integrated inventory management system that updates inventory data with each new sale, regardless of whether it occurs in-store or through a shoppable social media post.
CaaS platforms provide a central repository for inventory data and a single platform for updating product information and pricing.
For example, if you update a product listing on your website, these changes will be pushed to your social media channels (if you sell on social media) and any external marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon where you also list your products.
Key Ways Enterprise Businesses Benefit from CaaS
Businesses can benefit from content-as-a-service in several ways. First, it provides a centralized approach to content creation, management and delivery, making it easier to quickly and efficiently distribute and update content across channels.
Additionally, CaaS can provide insights into customer behavior, helping ecommerce businesses better understand their customers and develop new strategies.
Finally, CaaS solutions can automate processes such as product updates, providing a more efficient and cost-effective content management solution.
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The Final Word
The main advantage of partnering with content-as-a-service and commerce-as-a-service providers is outsourcing the job of setting up and maintaining expensive ecommerce infrastructure, such as servers, encryption devices and order management software.
CaaS providers offer both composable and out-of-the-box solutions users can constitute and reconstitute in virtually limitless ways while maintaining full control over their storefront.
The scalability and agility these platforms offer are key to boosting online sales and profitability for any ecommerce commerce startup — especially direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses that compete on the customer experience more so than product differentiation.
BigCommerce enables partners to create and sell customized commerce solutions powered by our platform technology. You can serve more merchants in more places with Commerce-as-a-Service.