eCommerce continues to be a key strategic avenue for all consumer goods businesses. However, contrary to popular belief, eCommerce is not just about “online shops.” Companies are selling their products these days through multiple digital touchpoints. 

There will be even more dynamic and user-friendly shopping options in the future that will ultimately focus on customer engagement and creative services that will evolve around the world of online shopping. This constant evolution of technology looks promising and will open doors to many locked opportunities.

However, traditional eCommerce architectures won’t be able to handle this digital progression. Their structured, inflexible approach turns small adjustments into prolonged projects. That is why Headless eCommerce is the future. A headless interface divides core functionality into components interacting on standard interfaces.

What is Headless Commerce?


Headless commerce is an eCommerce application separating the front and back ends. eCommerce solutions with headless content management capabilities promote headless architecture. This architecture provides companies with the flexibility and freedom to scale quicker. Above everything, with headless eCommerce, companies can enhance their consumer experiences by personalizing each touch point in the buyer’s journey.

With a headless platform, Developers can use application programming interfaces

to deliver products, blog posts, or customer feedback on any device. Simultaneously, the front-end developers may opt for any framework in which they choose to display the content. 

You can implement quick updates without affecting your back-end system with a headless platform. Your front-end can easily be modified to meet the pace of consumer technology.

If a front end system is not linked to the back end, the whole system must not be modified if any changes are required, as you can edit/modify specific areas. You can grow more swiftly and continue to be able to provide what your consumers want.

Headless vs. Legacy Content Management Systems: Which one is better? 


Earlier, functional layers were considered to be a common trend in eCommerce platforms. Compact dedicated solutions were deemed to be stable and robust, providing steady solutions for the customers. Although this is accurate today, however, the shortfalls of legacy monolithic platforms started to increase with time, giving rise to numerous issues.

With the legacy CMS, customization and adapting to new business requirements proves to be complicated, and time intensive. It has a unified codebase which encompasses all areas of your website content management. Besides that, whenever new user journey touchpoints are introduced, these bulky systems require expensive re-architecturing.

Conventional CMS technologies do not easily integrate with new software stacks, software delivery pipelines, or cloud services. They are also known as legacy content management systems since they have been available in the market for almost a decade.

Headless Commerce, on the other hand, is at the forefront of eCommerce architecture. You can monitor, edit, upgrade, and publish your content in one place with it. An individual headless CMS instance can serve limitless digital channels rather than implement multiple parallel cases of content management systems.

Developers can make content engagement on all modern platforms achievable using all the latest technologies and frameworks without being forced to use outdated language or other restrictions on a specific content management system. A single source will automatically adjust to its publication environment and represent itself efficiently for its target.

Additionally, with headless systems, the API content is much easier to integrate, modify, and deliver, reducing the time it takes for content-based experiences to be created.

Why is Headless Commerce so popular these days?


Earlier, companies relied on the traditional content management systems, in which the back-end and front-end systems were linked together. This worked well as previously, the main focus was only on one medium, i.e., the desktop experience.

However, with the growing technological innovations, companies can no longer rely on the same systems as there are multiple platforms to monitor now like laptops, mobile devices, etc. So, they need to be able to customize experiences for various applications across all platforms while maintaining a seamless buying experience.

All the above reasons have offered the ideal chance for headless commerce to become an instrument for organizations to secure their strategic eCommerce advantages through creativity, development, and evaluation. Companies can achieve this on the front end without disturbing the back end, thanks to the decoupling nature of headless commerce.

The channel-specific user interfaces enhance the overall experience of customers and display the increasing channel range in a competitive technological world as the user interfaces need not depend upon each other. This implies that efficient companies can propel their eCommerce advancements without any problems.

Headless Commerce Architecture

Headless architecture is designed to transfer your data or content via APIs to all sorts of platforms. The architecture emphasizes on background processes solely in the headless approach, rendering data accessible through APIs to detach frontend applications. The backend and frontend communicate with one another by API calls.

Headless commerce needs a variety of other systems in contrast with headless designs . It uses a separate inventory management information following the backend database.

A headless CMS has distinct components and is part of building a headless architecture. The backend database contains various types of material, including images, text, etc.

Payment processing platforms, CRMs, multi-channel monitoring systems, and other systems are typically also included with other backend systems. This makes the API liable not only for supplying content for various channels but also for drawing information into specialized systems after certain activities are done.

Why should one opt for Headless Commerce Architecture?

Firms frequently comply with a single trade platform’s core competencies and locked vendor partner ecosystem. It impedes their ability to profit from trends, networks, and tactics. This is described as a business-led architecture, which involves most of today’s major digital SAAS platforms.

Trade architecture determines the ability to incorporate and build routes for the future. Failure to consider and recognize the weaknesses in your established market environment affects your business’s scalability and adaptability.

How Headless eCommerce helps Developers?

High-performance eCommerce sites are not merely product pages these days. They are diverse in material, have personalized features, and are flexible and dynamic. Using headless eCommerce, a developer is given the flexibility to develop new experiences on the frontend without restricting them from using specific technologies.

eCommerce developers need full autonomy to test various channels, prototypes, and interactions with their customers with the advances in AR, VR, Internet of Things, and retail technology.

There are a myriad of things that a developer can only do with a headless eCommerce platform as they are not possible with a conventional eCommerce platform, like building a Progressive Web Application for mobile and desktop using a similar code. It also lets them put eCommerce in an iOS app with very limited LOCs.

They can perform A/B testing to enhance conversions on various checkout designs, and design customized checkout experiences. Via headless eCommerce, developers can add eCommerce into a DX platform or any existing website. They may also add third-party tools in your cart and checkout for a better experience.

Benefits of Headless Commerce

The concept behind this headless approach is that one can effortlessly add or exchange heads without altering anything that backs it up. The isolation between the interaction with consumers and the back-end processes lets the companies reach a new level of liberty and incremental iterations that encourage an innovative environment and continuous improvement.

This architectural approach offers several market implications and a significant advantage over traditional solutions.  The following are the most important benefits of opting for headless commerce:

1)     Personalized Customer Experience

Headless provides you with the ability to make custom UX without holding on to the predefined prototypes and form the unique identity of your brand.  The front-end and back-end separation enable companies to concentrate resources on customer experience without affecting critical business systems.

2)     Flexibility

As a headless system’s front and back ends are segregated, changes to the content layer are feasible without upsetting the business. For instance, the marketing team decides to launch a new advertising campaign without designing and reconfiguring the entire structure. The headless implementation of eCommerce will easily accomplish this without any complications.

Headless eCommerce provides limitless versatility and adaptability to make any adjustments you want and needs only a front end developer. Furthermore, at any time, the marketing team can run any advertising campaign and make any updates without requiring the IT team to support these campaigns.

3)     Overall Cost Reduction

Vendors doing their business online who are not fully prepared to deal with high traffic may face organizational unrest and a substantial Public relations crisis that will impact their revenue.

E-trade platforms should be able to scale instantly to avoid bursting in traffic, but even the most prominent brands struggle to maintain consistent high-season website performance.

With dynamic scaling skills, a scalable, microservice-based headless architecture will support digital retailers tremendously and guarantee uninterrupted and perfect services even when the traffic booms. Headless architecture lets the addition of bandwidth to carts and payment systems during peaks easier, thus decreasing capacity during low traffic periods.

4)     Time-Saving

With agile improvements to the front end, developers can save time with user interface adjustments. Developers only require a couple of clicks or a few lines of code, with headless templates to start commercial applications that improve conversion.

Businesses can easily initiate new front end interactions with headless commerce. It makes reacting to a new market trend quicker and with a minimum back-end development cost.

5)     Agile Marketing

Modern tech can be assisted by a headless commerce mechanism. This is ideal for creating new consumer interactions. This enables the marketing team to take control and deploy various locations across various brands, units, and portfolios.

Also, the marketing teams can easily set up a new site in a matter of days owing to the flexibility given by the headless commerce system. It also lets you add your brand to any new device, hence increasing your business opportunities and reach to new customers.

6)     Easier Optimization

The ability to readily respond to changes in the customer technological scenario is minimal with the legacy, Monolithic platforms. It may take months to make updates and changes to your eCommerce store with legacy platforms. Consumer behavior changes rapidly, and your eCommerce company will struggle badly if you can’t keep up with what your customers want.

Testing and improving your user experience is the secret to customer satisfaction.  Headless commerce makes it very convenient for you to introduce changes to your system; as it lets you run several tests simultaneously and refine your business experience as rapidly as you want.

7)     Improved User Experiences

Brands can make their content more innovative to monitor all the elements so consumers can connect with them more easily. 

Also, the universal compatibility of headless commerce guarantees that all devices and viewing formats function smoothly and as expected. However, conventional eCommerce website managers must consider reactive architecture to mitigate the risk of elements being misrepresented or displayed on various devices.

Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

Even though it seems that headless eCommerce is the ultimate solution to all our business requirements, and is the future! Like every technology, it also comes up with some drawbacks. Do those drawbacks fall heavier than the benefits? Keep reading this article to unlock this secret.

1)     Initial Setup Costs

An initial configuration cost has to be taken into account for every new technology; the same goes for the case of Headless eCommerce. The developers need to build the front-end from scratch, all by themselves, to deliver content that is device-oriented.

However, this whole creation process is not just time-consuming but can get pretty heavy on your wallets. You will also need to pay high amounts to the IT teams for launching pages across multiple devices.

2)     It requires oversight

Not only is headless commerce heavy on the pocket to initiate, but it may get very costly when it comes to managing it. If you work on a restricted budget and with a small team, headless commerce is not a good choice.

A thorough analysis of your business requests is also needed as with the introduction of any new commercial solution. So, headless commerce is not suited for small unstable companies but is rather suitable for stable businesses with robust teams.

3)     It may limit the functionality

A headless setting can restrict certain main elements, such as how promotions are presented. The functionality of your CMS is restricted to many things, so you need to conduct thorough examinations. You need to verify that your CMS offers third-parties tools, a federated content and product results in search feature, and the ability to connect to an e-commerce solution for goods, catalogs, price, and promotions.

4)     Restricted Changes In the Storefront

The Headless Commerce framework does not have a “what you see is what you get” environment and is designed exclusively using a JavaScript-based framework. Although it gives your website enough space to extend the site, it also limits you to redefine the frontend without depending too much on JavaScript developers.

Technologies required for building a Headless Commerce Solution

Headless commerce depends on some technologies, in addition to the APIs. We will be discussing those technologies as follows:

1)     SSR Framework

SSR is short for Server-size Rendering, implying that HTML from JavaScript modules can be generated using a server in response to a URL request. This is in comparison to customer-sided rendering by using a browser to build HTML using DOM.

SSR with JavaScript works like other PHP or. NET languages, but using Node.js in the runtime environment. The JavaScript modules and the information needed for a response are scanned, and an HTML page returned to your browser when the server receives a request.

In headless commerce, an SSR framework like Gatsby or Nuxt is utilized for the rendering of pages entirely on your server until they’re transmitted to the browser of the end-user, leading to faster loading times for pages. It is ideal for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as it enables the analysis of your pages by search engine crawlers.

2)     JavaScript Framework

JavaScript platform is a JavaScript programming framework where programmers can modify and use functions. To build the storefront to which your clients will successfully interact, you will need to use a suitable JavaScript framework like React or Vue.

Frameworks are more flexible for website design and thus favored by most of the developers. JavaScript frameworks are a tool that simplifies and makes it convenient to work with JavaScript.

3)     Content Delivery Network

A CDN is a distributed server system that provides a user with pages and Web content depending on the user’s locations, web site origin, and content server.

The physical distance between your users and your servers would be reduced by using a CDN for your website, which enables your page loading time even quicker. This service aims to speed up the distribution of high traffic and global content on websites. The closer the CDN server is to the user, the faster the information is sent to the user. CDNs also protect against major traffic spikes.

4)     Headless CMS

Headless Content Management System is a back-end only system designed as a content repository from the ground making content available to be viewed on any device via a RESTful API. 

Because of this strategy, a headless CMS does not get affected by how and where the content is displayed. A headless CMS is only focused on delivering and storing content that is well structured.

5)     Middleware

To provide centralized services for users, Middleware is a software that bridges differences between other applications, resources, and databases. It is widely known as the bond that combines various software platforms and devices.

Tech startups also put the significance of middleware at the forefront of the use of network applications. SaaS companies create enterprise-wide information systems through the use of middleware to include self-supporting applications with new software updates.

6) Third-party Integrations

One other inconvenience for full-stack systems is that your choice of third-party plug-ins is limited to applications developed exclusively for the platform you select. However, you can personalize an integration with headless commerce and integrate your site with any API app.

With the passage of time, new and innovative solutions that generate greater customer experiences are entering the marketplace, hence ultimately making headless commerce more efficient to operate.

The future of Headless Commerce

The steady rise in the use of interconnected devices and different digital touchpoints has contributed to the decoupled experience. To explore these changing possibilities, businesses need to ensure that user interactions are brought together across various touchpoints.

The concept of fixing disconnected interactions was born out of this headless approach. The ability to learn, implement, and interact with the latest web technologies and update the storefront without disrupting the whole environment enables you to present innovative new experiences. As a result, sales and customer loyalty can rise, ultimately benefiting your brand.

Headless is also a good choice for large conglomerates with many portfolio companies and brands or divisions that need to employ content and management expertise by implementing processes for workflow approval, content versioning, labeling and storage, and strict branding directives, and DAM processes. The greatest thing about it is that it puts together the best independent solutions but can fuse them effortlessly at the same time.

Since there are multiple headless solutions available in the market, it is important to take the help of an experienced integrator to opt for the architecture that will be ideal for your current and future business requirements.

Choosing the Best Headless eCommerce Platform

When you realize that traditional commerce platforms are not a practical and agile solution to your requirements, you can start thinking of shifting towards better and modern technology, i.e., the headless platforms. However, it is equally important to choose the best headless eCommerce platform ideal for your brand.

Some traditional eCommerce suppliers offer a variant of headless called “Retrofitted Headless Solutions.”  The company developed Retrofitted headless solutions to face conventional platform problems with linked architecture.

To cope with the problem, they changed their Platform to erase the front-end experience from the existing Platform. This change gained design freedom and enabled developers to customize their UI experiences. It does come up with a drawback as teams still won’t be able to modify the Platform’s restrictive business processes with this Platform.

A headless microservices solution has been built from the ground up to become independent and thus not connected to a rigid network in the backend and a web of autonomous APIs services. It is only possible with an entirely headless approach that teams can unlock independence to design and deploy diversified business experiences.

Final Words

Conventional eCommerce systems are a thing of the past; Headless is the future. Not every company is ready to be part of this bandwagon. However, in today’s circumstances, to stay ahead of your competitors, Companies need to adapt. 

In addition to saving costs, headless commerce allows for faster integrations, increased experimentation, customization, and speed.

Want to learn more? Shopdev has enabled headless eCommerce for hundreds of businesses, get in touch to get a free consultation on whether it’s time for your business to be “headless”. 

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