Headless, No-Code Commerce
Our Investment in Builder
Over the past decade, no-code tools have transformed ecommerce. “The Shopify effect” has removed much friction to creating an online store, spurring a wave of millions of new ecommerce entrepreneurs.
While merchants have been able to scale with few, if any engineering resources — due in part to robust third-party app ecosystems on ecommerce platforms — site performance has taken a hit. Across the $5T ecommerce industry, less than 3% of visits convert to a purchase. And as traffic costs continue to skyrocket, conversion is oxygen for merchants.
Herein lies the dilemma — moving the needle on conversion requires an ability to iterate quickly on pages. It also requires speed. Yet most ecommerce teams have been able to effectively scale without considerable engineering headcount.
Once they realize the impact of sluggish site speed and slowness in generating performant pages, merchants are left with a few options — hire an agency, hire more engineers, or explore no-code solutions. Some will also consider “going headless” and build a modular stack, which can be great for performance but typically leads to an even greater engineering burden.
Until now, “no-code” and “enterprise grade” have been squarely at odds. In my previous experience running growth functions, I used a number of no-code page builders. They were great for tinkering, but typically shunned by engineering leaders as not production-grade. Yet it is the larger businesses who need this flexibility and performance most.
This is why I had conviction to lead Builder’s initial seed financing after our first demo. Builder’s visual development platform was precisely what I needed in my previous life. Builder helps businesses create commerce experiences without relying on developers. And it does this without any performance tradeoffs (actually, Builder’s Qwik Framework is at the forefront of optimizing web content for site speed). Builder integrates with any tech stack or headless architecture, allowing customers to start editing and creating front-end experiences without replatforming. Marketers, product managers, and designers can use existing components, or create their own, to collaboratively build and customize content, target content at different audiences, run A/B tests, and more.
I first met Steve and Brent in late 2019. They were obsessed about the mission to bring ‘visual software development’ to the masses, and understood ecommerce was the perfect wedge to do so. They were pioneers in the headless commerce space, having taken Shopstyle headless in 2014. And they were obsessed about performance and flexibility, but were not dogmatic about how to get there.
In the time since, Steve and Brent have recruited a stellar team, including Misko Hevery (founder of Angular, one of the most adopted web frameworks) and Adam Bradley (creator of Ionic/StencilJS, a popular progressive web app framework).
Without an outbound sales function or significant marketing resources, they have signed hundreds of larger merchants including Everlane, Alo Yoga, Atoms, and Afterpay who use Builder as their default front-end solution. They have also continued to build community in the open-source world, via projects like Mitosis and Partytown.
And they have firmly embedded their platform in the fabric of the Shopify ecosystem, via agencies and other app integration partners, as well as in the alliance of headless players.
I’m thrilled to double down on our partnership with Builder and lead their Series A. I have joined the board on behalf of Greylock, and look forward to continuing to partner with the team in their next phase of growth. If you’re interested in the headless commerce movement or Builder’s approach to professional-grade no-code solutions, check out their open roles.