Cristi Movilă, VTEX: Headless commerce is an approach that accelerates the evolution of digital commerce

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 03/11/2022 | 17:06

Business Review sat down for an exclusive interview with Cristi Movilă, Eastern Europe General Manager at VTEX, to talk about how headless commerce is set to change digital commerce, the future of online stores, live shopping and its impact on online sales, and the ecommerce industry as a whole.


What is headless commerce and how does it change digital commerce?

From a purely technical standpoint, headless commerce is the separation of the frontend (what the user sees) from the backend (what the store admins see). However, from a business perspective, being able to manage the customer-facing aspects of the brand separately from the technology behind them creates multiple opportunities. It allows brands to create and integrate a wide range of shopping experiences without the fear of disrupting the transactional aspects of the business.

Moreover, headless commerce is an approach that accelerates the evolution of digital commerce, as it allows retailers to integrate the latest available technologies without making massive changes to their infrastructure or business logic.

For a webstore, headless commerce is not just a new technology, it is a strong business strategy that helps it attract new customers and grow rapidly in a competitive market. It is the freedom to adapt to a growing market.


What functionalities will the online store of the future have?

The rise of headless means that the future will not be about what the online stores want to create, but about what the customers expect to see. In other words, the stores of the future will have to be everywhere the shopper is.

If the shopper prefers video content, then Live Shopping should be the standard. If their main activity is on social networks, then social commerce should be integrated. It’s that easy.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that traditional and online commerce will merge, and we will most probably only be talking about commerce. This means that omnichannel delivery will be the new normal.

Additionally, we would say that areas such as B2B will continue to grow and that these B2B stores will quickly outgrow the traditional limitations of their market: they will enhance the user experience, offering subscriptions and turning their websites into educational hubs for their business clients.


How will live shopping impact online sales? Are companies interested in adopting the Live Shopping solution?

If we are to look at China, which started the live shopping craze, we can see that the websites that implemented it correctly saw constant growth in both their conversion and their retention rates. For instance, if on a traditional webstore the average conversion rate would be anywhere between 1.5% and 2.5%, on a website that sells through live shopping the conversion rate can vary between 15% and 30% on average, according to a Gartner, KPMG and Alibaba study. Obviously, this applies to websites with constant live shopping programs, whose buyers are coming back for the content as much as they do for the products.

While we haven’t seen such high rates in Europe, almost 70% of customers say that they expect companies to communicate with them in real time, according to Salesforce. This means that live shopping is here to stay.


How mature is the ecommerce industry? What will convince Romanians to buy more online?

Recording an accelerated growth in the last two years, the digital commerce market will reach almost 7 billion euros this year, according to an Ecommerce Europe report. This means we are talking about a more mature market, but one that has yet to reach its full potential. In turn, this also means that there is still plenty of room for local players.

The pandemic and its restrictions were the events that convinced Romanians to buy online and also increased their confidence in established online retailers. The online adoption trend has decelerated a bit, but it’s still on an ascending slope. Through digital education and easy to use and friendly technology, the fear of buying online will disappear, even among those less familiar with this market. Moreover, Romanians are savvy buyers, always looking to save time and money, and online shopping will help them to accomplish their goals. From this point of view, digital commerce and its solutions will continue to make our life easier.


What is the evolution of B2B ecommerce?

B2B ecommerce is exploding in the local market. If until recently B2B products were sold by phone or email, nowadays the online segment is getting stronger, as more and more stores or marketplaces are launched in the Romanian online environment.

The B2B niche has started to adopt modern ecommerce technologies, from integrated marketplaces to omnichannel delivery and even Live Shopping. An example here would be Macromex, one of our clients, whose digital business yields great results, even if it is rather recent. This was in part due to the usage of cutting-edge technology, but also to excellent segmentation and their efforts of educating the market.

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