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Author's profile photo Manimozhi Rathinam

Deliver outstanding customer experience with headless commerce using Spartacus

Introduction

Today, In traditional commerce the frontend is tightly coupled with the application and database layer.  Any customizations to the UX can require end-to-end changes, which can slow the release cycle and severely affect time to market. Selling across multiple channels requires a unique, efficient technology landscape and deployment strategy, enabling consistent customer experience and engagement.

Headless commerce decouples the frontend storefront development from the backend and gives the marketing team the ability to develop online storefronts with greater agility and flexibility, free from the backend dependency. SAP provides businesses with Spartacus, an Angular-based storefront for SAP Commerce Cloud. Spartacus is a strategic approach for replacing the traditional, tightly coupled Accelerator model, and published as a set of libraries with B2C and B2B storefront features. Its baseline features work out-of-the-box, and allows the merchandising team to add, customize and extend the frontend.

This article addresses some key considerations that can help the business team to decide on, and then strategize for, their Spartacus implementation

Spartacus%20Overview

To learn more, please refer the following

Business Value of Spartacus

The business needs to consider the following before making the decision to migrate to headless commerce, analyzing the capabilities and value of Spartacus to align with their strategy, plan, and roadmap.

What are the business objectives for an engaging, omnichannel experience, and how can it be aligned with Spartacus?

  1. What is the implementation strategy? Will the Business switch over to Spartacus all at once, or take a step-by-step approach, possibly having Accelerator- and Spartacus-based storefronts running side-by-side for a time?
  2. What is the plan for release cycles? Does the Business need faster and more independent release cycles for the frontend?
  3. What is the impact analysis on SEO and Google Analytics? How can the Business improve its SEO ranking during this storefront migration?
  4. What are the features available out-of-the-box? What will be the future roadmap (B2C and / or B2B)?
  5. What Support does SAP provide and how flexible is the solution?
  6. What is the CMS approach?
  7. Will we support multisite (if applicable)?
  8. What is the support plan for the SAP for the Accelerator Storefront?

Once the business has prepared and discussed their strategic questions, they can map business demands to the benefits/values offered by the Spartacus. Here is the key business value Spartacus offers:

  • Spartacus comes with ready to use B2C and B2B commerce template libraries
  • The templates are easily extensible and upgradeable and will speed up time-to-market.
  • Progressive Web App is the technology of choice for enabling multiple touchpoints seamlessly.
  • Support for Spartacus is automatically included with the SAP Commerce Cloud license
  • Spartacus is an open-source package and Single Page Application (SPA)
  • Flexibility to use API-based services
  • CMS-driven, using SmartEdit
  • Faster development and deployment of frontend
  • SEO-friendly
  • Supported by SAP Commerce Cloud Automation
  • SAP Commerce Cloud supports a Hybrid model, wherein Accelerator- and Spartacus-based storefronts can be deployed side-by side

Strategic Planning

Feature Gap Analysis

The availability of the features will vary based on the storefront used and the version of the Commerce Cloud. The team can verify the following in order to strategize a Spartacus upgrade plan.

  • Prepare a list of features they implemented already or would like to implement in the future
  • Compare the list with the Spartacus feature list and identify the gaps.

These gaps can be three categories based on availability. Based on the status business and tech teams can decide on the implementation roadmap

  1. Most of the features are available, fully functional and integrated with back-end via OCC (Omni Commerce Connect)
  2. In some cases, the OCC API layer is available, but the related frontend has yet to be released. This is true for some B2B cases, and will enable the business to develop their own UI storefront for the feature and go live quickly, without necessarily waiting for UI to be released.
  3. There are some features that will be released in near future. Please refer the roadmap explorer for the details , SAP Road Map Explorer. The Business may want to avoid developing features closely related to those that are to be released soon.

 

Version of commerce It is recommended to start migrating to Spartacus from Commerce Cloud version 1905 onwards
Accelerator / Business feature compatibility (B2B or B2C)

Based on the Accelerator storefront used, the features supported in Spartacus might differ. In B2C, almost major the features are supported and enabled.

Most of major features are supported in B2B. The Business can verify the Feature compatibility list, which gives the detail of each feature and the supported Spartacus version, as well as commerce Cloud version

The Business can also verify the release notes for supported features  in the Spartacus documentation.

Feature compatibility list

Feature Compatibility

Release notes

Release Information for All Versions

Implementation and deployment strategy 

Migration to Spartacus can be planned in two different approaches

  • Full migration to Spartacus – This approach targets a frontend based entirely on Spartacus, and is the recommend path for any Business beginning a truly new Commerce Cloud storefront
  • Hybrid approach -This is a combination of Accelerator- and Spartacus-based storefront implementation. Accelerator(s) and Spartacus are used in one or more channels, and the end customer switches between them seamlessly. This is recommended for phased migration from Accelerator(s) to Spartacus by the Business in a progressive manner. In many cases, this can be a more cost-effective way of migration.

Deployment cycles

Spartacus storefronts, along with SAP Commerce Cloud’s RESTful OCC APIs, allow the tech team to separate frontend and backend development. With a decoupled architecture, the frontend and backend teams can work independently within their own release cycles. For example, the marketing team may need to make many changes to the UI that they would like to develop, test, and deploy in production frequently, and the backend team may not need such frequent releases. In that case, SAP Commerce Cloud deployment can have two different release cycles. For example. The frontend may release every two weeks, while the backend may release every four weeks.

From within the SAP Commerce Cloud Portal, the team can deploy the Spartacus storefront onto the public cloud infrastructure. The build automation that comes standard with SAP Commerce Cloud in the Public Cloud supports the deployment of JavaScript storefronts, which can be built independently from the SAP Commerce Cloud solution and deployed on dedicated nodes.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an advanced and powerful element of the Spartacus storefront. The implementation of SEO in Spartacus is focused on the underlying architecture, so that a solid foundation exists for adding a wide range of SEO capabilities. Spartacus is a “SPA” (Single-Page Application), which natively improves performance and flexibility while only loading one page. To support SEO, Spartacus also supports Server-Side Rendering (SSR), which builds entire pages on the server-side before providing content to the client. SSR provides web crawlers with access to individual pages for search indexing purposes. SSR also allows users to share a link to a page on social media, for example, and Spartacus further allows the configuration of social media meta tags. Please refer SEO Capabilities , SEO Features – Microlearning

Google Analytics

The Spartacus tag management system (TMS) allows you to set up a tag manager, and to specify which Spartacus events should be passed to the configured TMS. Both Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Adobe Experience Platform Launch (AEPL) are supported by Spartacus out-of-the-box, while other tag managers can easily be plugged in.

Please refer Tag Management System

Conclusion

This article was developed to address some key considerations to help the business team which plan and strategize their implementation roadmap for headless architecture using a Spartacus storefront. This may help to perform a gap analysis, evaluating dependencies and available options for the implementation. For more information, please refer to the resources referred to in each section of this article.

Once the planning strategy is completed, the next step is to look at the technical documents and aids which support the implementation phase. Part two of this article provide one page of access to all resources for the development team. Please refer Part 2 – Enabling Implementation of Headless Commerce Using Spartacus

 

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