As a consumer, you might not be thinking about what fuels your online shopping and payment experience when you switch between Amazon, Wayfair, and Etsy. But you are certainly aware of the experience you have in finding what you want, paying for it, and receiving it.
According to April 2021 Prosper Insights & Analytics Online shopping survey, 42.5% of consumers said they shop more online thanks to Covid-19. Despite the inevitable rebound in the economy and the return of people to the world, consumers will continue to embrace digital all and their expectations for their shopping experiences will become more and more sophisticated.
I sat down with Yvan Boisjoli, CEO and co-founder, Bold trade, a tech company that builds specialized e-commerce apps for more than 90,000 direct-to-consumer brands, to talk about how retailers are adapting to the onslaught of change, and to learn once and for all what is headless commerce.
Gary Drenik: Tell me a bit about Bold Commerce.
Yvan Boisjoli: We’re working with brands to introduce fully personalized payments on any digital channel, so they’re not tied to a specific ecommerce platform.
Once we make brand payments ‘portable’, they are free to create customer-connected shopping experiences on any digital channel where they interact with consumers (for example, via a bike display. Platoon where a consumer can purchase their trainer’s outfit, or via a digital car dashboard where they could activate new features).
Instead of taking consumers out of these experiences and sending them to their online stores to buy, they can let consumers check it out on the spot.
This introduces major flexibility for brands that have historically relied on restrictive payment experiences on e-commerce channels.
Drenik: You recently completed your Series B fundraiser and are aggressively hiring in the US and Canadian markets. Can you talk about your growth?
Boisjoli: We’re growing like crazy right now, which we attribute to several things.
Covid-19 has increased e-commerce adoption more in the past year than the industry had predicted in the next few years, and consumers have started to expect new ways to shop that retailers weren’t quite ready to offer.
Take advantage of the ability to buy online and pick up in store. This is a relatively complicated offering that requires integrating new delivery and pickup options into the online payment experience, and then presenting those new options transparently to buyers. Yet it quickly became a table issue for consumers. DTC brands have also come in force to sell directly to customers. Subscription models emerged in response to consumers being more willing than ever to have their regular purchases delivered automatically. And consumers’ appetite for shopping on social media or via voice commerce is also on the rise.
Fundamentally, the world has gone digital – and consumers are demanding convenient and intuitive shopping experiences, all of which depend on a better payment solution.
This new reality has propelled our growth. We have hired approximately 100 people in the past 90 days, with a focus on development, product management and customer success roles across Canada and the United States.
Drenik: What is headless commerce and what benefits does it offer retailers / brands that they cannot achieve with traditional ecommerce platforms?
Boisjoli: Headless commerce dissociates the purchasing interface with which the customer usually interacts (or “the head”) from the backend that feeds it. This means that brands don’t need to have a traditional e-commerce website to sell things. They can make any digital channel purchasable if their payment is headless.
A brand can now determine how they want their customers’ payment experience to go. They control whether buyers can, for example, be able to pick up certain items in store and the rest delivered to their homes, which payment methods to take, whether their loyal members can use points or earn offers on purchase , introduce subscriptions … the list is long.
Drenik: How much does Bold Commerce play in âgoing headlessâ?
Boisjoli: Bold Commerce focuses specifically on the cashier part of the Headless Passage, which isn’t a small part, given that the cashier is essential at almost any touchpoint you can think of. This is also essential because it sits between brands and more income. Currently, over 70% of shoppers always abandon their cart before completing their order. Thus, improving the payment experience can dramatically increase revenue.
The tools we give brands to work beyond the main checkout include subscription capabilities to increase recurring revenue and our price rules engine, which allows them to turn complex pricing capabilities into sales strategy. .
Brands can manage B2B and direct-to-consumer prices across all their channels from a centralized source, offer tiered pricing based on buyer profiles and behaviors, automatically display location-specific prices to offset costs logistics in different regions, accept different currencies, run promotions with or without discount codes, set different tax rates and introduce the desired pricing logic.
We call it all âthe Checkout Experience Suiteâ and it is a central pillar of our role in Headless Commerce.
Drenik: How does the idea of âââtrade from anywhereâ fit into the conversation about headless trading?
Boisjoli: We want brands to ‘own their business’, which means not only can they offer transaction experiences anywhere, but that those experiences reflect what makes their brand unique.
By making our solutions fully customizable, brands can create headless and branded transaction experiences that reflect their vision, and have the agility to continue to evolve them as needs change.
The Peloton example I mentioned is a good example of trading everywhere. Our technology powers the transaction, but instead of the retailer being tied to having to transact on their website, Headless Commerce allows them to transact all over the world.
Drenik: What do consumers demand from retailers that they cannot currently offer?
Boisjoli: Features that would have been seen as differentiators or fringe use cases in the past, such as curbside pickup, split order shipments, and installment payments are now becoming the norm. And for regulated industries like alcohol and cannabis that have now moved online, retailers need to incorporate age verification or special fees and taxes.
If you think about it, retailers have always competed in three main areas: speed, convenience, and experience. Brands primarily master speed and convenience, and consumers now expect them without compromise. We see âbest experiencesâ as the blue ocean that will drive brands forward.
Drenik: Can you give an example of brands you have worked with?
One of our clients, a men’s clothing retailer Harry rosen, really illustrates what is possible with our technology. They have a fleet of clothing advisers (or stylists) who send curated collections to their clientele. If the customer likes what they sent, then with one click, all the items in their personalized collection are added to the cart with their sizes pre-filled for each item. Customers can choose from the same preferred payment methods they use in-store, including paying with loyalty points. They also offer BOPIS (online purchase, in-store pickup), and their online payment is integrated into their store systems for fast, contactless processing of online in-store returns, among other customizations.
This is a very specific use case designed around the exact experience they want to deliver to customers … but that’s really the point.
Drenik: According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics Survey on online purchases, 32.6% of respondents say they prefer a contactless checkout when visiting a business. Is this something that a headless crate could provide?
Boisjoli: Yes, during the pandemic we implemented an online shopping, store pickup (BOPIS) solution for many retailers including Staples Canada. One of the benefits of headless payment is that brands can quickly adapt to a new environment and offer customers new ways to buy, depending on their needs.
Drenik: What should brands focus on heading into the second half of 2021?
Boisjoli: In 2020, brands and retailers focused on adapting to forced changes in their business models and sudden changes in consumer purchasing behavior. Now they need to audit the tech changes they made in 2020 and upgrade some of the awkward temporary fixes with improved solutions to successfully compete with the new reality of retail.
Once they have done this, they can become more visionary and should focus on turning every interaction with the brand into a moment of purchase.
Drenik: Bold Commerce recently partnered with the leader in headless commerce business tools to advance its âtrade everywhereâ mission. I want to thank Yvan for sharing with me his thoughts on Headless Trading and Headless Payment.