Summary: In this series, we're introducing you to some of the companies we partner with when helping you find the right solution for your retail technology. In our first post, we explained how we choose who we partner with. In this post, we're excited to introduce you to our partners at Shogun.
In a traditional monolithic site build, the frontend (the part customers see and interact with) is fully entwined with the backend (the part that fulfills orders and facilitates sales). In other words, the two parts are coupled together.
"But wait!" you say. "Our monolithic site seems efficient!" The truth is: "Sort of, and only for a while." The coupled connectivity of a monolithic site means updating product information on the backend directly impacts the frontend.
For example, building a placeholder "Coming Soon" product page for an unreleased product and then "hydrating it" with information on launch day is complicated for monolithic sites since the placeholder either needs a record to account for it or needs to be a whole new page.
Additionally, it means that if your frontend gets hit by bots trying to grab a product drop, the system processing your orders is hit equally hard.
Sounds complicated, right? That’s where headless commerce comes into play.
A headless website is really a collection of systems called 'microservices' that work together to make a site functional. You need a system to hold your content, a system to get that content in front of customers, a system to serve up product and inventory information, a system to handle order management, an array of systems to connect with third-party apps used for reviews, or customer communication or returns, a system for… you get the picture.
Even still, building an e-commerce site this way can be complicated.
In a headless environment, the frontend is totally separate from the backend, allowing you to create templated placeholder pages with ease and apply rate limits from your frontend site to your backend order management system.
Shogun Frontend offers a bundled alternative that simplifies "going headless." Instead of wrangling multiple vendors and apps, Shogun Frontend’s bundled platform combines the best-in-breed technology to power your e-commerce site.
While Shogun Frontend does have patterns and functionality built into it, it also allows for fully custom development of your own experiences and keeps you from getting locked in on a set of components on your site that can’t be changed.
It also handles all the connections from your frontend to the various backend systems that support it. It handles the connections to Shopify or BigCommerce natively, as well as a suite of other out-of-the-box integrations—like Yotpo, Klaviyo, and Gorgias—which dramatically reduces the time to market.
The primary reason to enlist the help of a third-party like Assemble to implement Shogun Frontend is strategy. As seasoned engineers, we're well versed in tackling tech debt and retail tech stack automation. We think through your customer's experiences, supply chain logistics, and business intelligence needs and use these inputs to create a thoughtfully architected Shogun Frontend implementation that meets your unique needs.
As alluded to earlier, the implementation of Shogun Frontend still requires an engineering and technology team. This is because you’re not locked into a set of 'themes' that make you look like every other storefront, but have the flexibility to build your own unique set of components, configured to your liking.
It’s also because the sub-second page load times require optimization and expertise in modern web development languages to execute. In addition, your business is unique and a 'one-size-fits-all solution' almost always has compromises. Shogun Frontend leverages cutting-edge web development technologies to help your brand stand out.
Additionally, there’s a translation layer that happens between your backend (e.g., Shopify) and what your customer sees. This is the point where a variant ID gets translated into something meaningful to your customers like "Medium Pink Polo Shirt." There are dozens of ways this could be set up, and translating it to another tool outside of your backend, and then displaying that to your customer, and then also making sure that the inventory information shown is correct so you don’t sell a bunch of out of stock items, all takes a bit of finesse. This is one example of many, and something faced by every one of the providers and storefronts in this space. That said, it also allows for flexibility in terms of what you display, how creative you can get with caching information for faster display, etc., so it’s not inherently a problem to solve in the same way that deciding whether to take the highway or scenic route to your destination isn’t inherently a problem.
All of this is before we’ve even touched on the analytics layer. What Shogun Frontend puts in front of a customer is a React app. This enables the speed and rich experience customers expect, but means that you need to have a team that understands how React works in order to display the correct information in the correct way, optimize it for load time, making sure that all the different events that happen like mouse over add to bag, click on add to bag, click on checkout. All those different events need to be defined and presented to your analytics layer, e.g. Heap, Google Analytics, or Snowplow.
In our last post, we mentioned that one of the things we look for in our partners are those who create solutions that can be easily handed off to our clients to use because most of our clients don't have in-house technical teams.
With Shogun Frontend, once you're set up, your team can easily create new pages going forward. Shogun Frontend makes it so easy to set up templates, build product pages or marketing pages, and configure your pages for speed—creating the ultimate customer experience.
As certified Builders, we are one of a handful of agencies specializing in creating rock-solid web experiences in Shogun Frontend.
If you're considering a headless build or migration, we'd love to talk to you.