One of the e-commerce trends that is growing the quickest is headless commerce. The headless architecture’s strongest proponents point to a number of benefits for doing so, including noticeably better site performance and an unmatched ability to make changes instantly. Going headless appears to be a no-brainer, doesn’t it?

Brands may exercise complete creative control with headless commerce, and developers can create custom e-commerce experiences using the tools of their choice. Going headless isn’t the best option for every business for a variety of reasons, and establishing a headless architecture isn’t nearly as simple as it’s frequently portrayed to be.

Let’s make sure you have a thorough idea of what it means to go headless before you dive in headfirst. We’ll also show you how to utilise a headless architecture to its fullest potential and how Shopify has assisted hundreds of firms in doing so.

Headless commerce: what is it?

An e-commerce architecture known as headless commerce separates the front-end user experience from the back-end processes. Since the front and back ends interact via an API layer, headless commerce is often referred to as “API-first.”

Because it gives them the creative freedom to create distinctive storefront experiences that are often not achievable on monolithic platforms, brands adore its architecture. Because it offers a special level of development flexibility and enables them the ability to employ composable tech stacks with their preferred best-of-breed commerce solutions, developers are keen to go headless.

You may design numerous front-end experiences for various client touchpoints by going headless. The API layer enables your web, mobile, voice, and point of sale (POS) front-ends to communicate with a single backend system, enabling developing brands to be fully omnichannel and to grow quickly on a global scale.

To address the intricate operational requirements of your brand, you can deploy loosely linked, fine-grained services on the back end. Your tech stack is modular, so you can easily plug and play and integrate your choice CMS, CRM, or DXP. Additionally, there is no vendor lock-in, allowing you to choose between these best-of-breed services whenever your company’s needs alter. 

Four advantages of headless commerce 

The main advantage of headless commerce is that it is adaptable, expects that the market will change quickly, and places you in a position to follow where the market and new technologies take you. However, there are a number of additional factors why start-ups consider becoming headless.

Here are the top five advantages of headless commerce:

  • complete artistic control 
  • enhanced website performance
  • a plug-and-play environment for third-party applications
  • increased flexibility and freedom for developers
  1. Complete artistic control

Going headless gives you the freedom to create the exact appearance and feel that your brand wants. However, this is rarely where most firms begin their online journeys. 

A monolithic system is the best option for swiftly creating an online store and putting your products on the market since the presentation layer (also referred to as themes or templates) is well-defined and connected to the back office. Your shop will need more adjustments as your brand develops its online image in order to deliver more dynamic and unique user experiences. Certain amounts of customization are possible with sophisticated theme or template solutions. 

For instance, Shopify’s Online Store 2.0 provides a set of developer tools that create enormous chances to shatter the template mould and produce a customised, one-of-a-kind experience.

When a tightly connected architecture begins to expose trade-offs in selecting best-of-breed tools to complete customised experiences of any complexity level, headless commerce triumphs. With headless commerce, marketers can use their preferred tools to customise anything they can think of without having to make design compromises. 

Additionally, Headless enables you to quickly test your creations’ effectiveness in increasing conversion rates and improving client experience.

Since the back-end and front-end experiences are separate, it is easier and less dangerous to make modifications to the front end-since you know they won’t affect the site’s underlying back-end architecture. 

  1. Enhanced site efficiency

You just have a few seconds after a visitor lands on your website to guarantee that your page loads in order to keep their interest.

According to WebsiteBuilderExpert, a website’s load times can make or break it.

In about four seconds, 64% of smartphone users anticipate pages to load

40% of customers will visit a website for no more than three seconds before leaving.

Slow page speeds affect consumers’ purchasing decisions, according to 82% of users.

A headless architecture makes it simpler to design websites that load quickly on desktop and mobile devices. The complex back end is separated from the pages that clients interact with when your front end is designed separately. 

Customers will be able to quickly navigate between your homepage, blog, product pages, and checkout by transitioning to a headless architecture. 

Customers won’t be taught to be patient with slow-loading pages; instead, they will just leave and visit a rival website. By employing a headless architecture, brands enhance the user experience and lessen the chance that users would become disinterested due to sluggish page loading times.

A headless architecture makes it simpler to design websites that load quickly on desktop and mobile devices. The complex back end is separated from the pages that clients interact with when your front end is designed separately. 

Your bottom line may be affected by speeding up your website. The turning point where bounce rates dramatically increase is between two and three seconds.

Accordingly, if a website earns $100,000 per day, a one-second enhancement would bring in an additional $7,000 per day. The contrary is also true.

Customers won’t be taught to be patient with slow-loading pages; instead, they will just leave and visit a rival website. By employing a headless architecture, brands enhance the user experience and lessen the chance that users would become disinterested due to sluggish page loading times. 

  1. An experience with third-party apps that are plug-and-play

Different languages used to code existing systems can obstruct crucial integrations, even those that have a bad effect on the user experience. Everyone gets along well with Headless. 

Using the programming language of your choice and strong APIs, headless enables you to combine all of your current systems (ERP, PIM, IMS, etc.) to create a shopping experience. In addition to shielding you from technological changes, headless allows you the freedom to move at your own pace and adapt as quickly as business itself.

  1. More flexibility and freedom for developers

Developers can employ composable tech stacks with headless commerce, offering an unrivalled degree of flexibility. Anytime you decide a component no longer serves your purposes, you can replace it or remove it. Best-of-breed applications and modular integrations enable developers to change or add functionalities without affecting the platform as a whole.

Does headless commerce make sense for your company?

The effort and money required to invest in headless architecture might not be worthwhile if your company is successful with a traditional design. Everything relies on the goal you’re pursuing.

However, headless may be the best option for you if you want to provide a more customised and distinctive customer experience together with more flexible development and you have the necessary development resources to support a headless transformation.

Brands investigating headless architecture frequently identify with the following situations: 

  • I already have a system in place, and adding a new tool to our current technology isn’t always simple.
  • I believe we are progressing more slowly than our rivals because I am unable to make both front-end and back-end improvements at the same time.
  • I want to have more control over the factors that affect performance and site speed so that everyone who shops with me has a quick experience.
  • With a creative vision that goes beyond the adjustments my present theme or template supports, I want to envision a distinctive experience. 
  • I want to create a distinctive storefront e-commerce experience that isn’t possible with my present platform because I don’t have a native mobile app for iOS or Android or because my mobile shopping app isn’t as user-friendly as I’d like it to

Examine your expenses

Take time and cost into account while choosing how to go headless. Depending on the functionality, supporting tools, and level of customization, the price for an enterprise headless project could range from hundreds of thousands to millions up front, plus annual maintenance fees.

If you use an app to create your bespoke shop, further channels built on a headless platform (such as a mobile app, audio stream, or video game integration) may cost as little as $99 a month

In the end, the price of headless fluctuates according to how intricate your build is. Construction and implementation costs are only one type of expense. Don’t forget to look into any fees paid to outside companies or ongoing expenses like monthly hosting fees or subscriptions to a headless CMS platform. 

Going headless with Shopify

Shopify has helped countless companies who wanted to switch to a headless infrastructure. Shopify’s comprehensive set of headless development tools is used by developers and retailers to quickly and cheaply create best-in-class custom experiences. Shopify’s headless solutions give developers and merchants the ability to select the best tools for the task and expand shop capabilities with a stack of technologies that can be easily assembled.

These are the headless options offered by Shopify:

  • Storefront API, the Shopify headless API layer 
  • Hydrogen and Oxygen, the official Shopify headless commerce development stack

Storefront API

Their headless platform is built on the Storefront API. It gives users access to all of Shopify’s commerce features, which are essential for any customer-facing interactions, such as:

  • improved product and collection pages for the cart
  • Lookups and suggestions
  • Contextual pricing, such as an improved cart
  • Subscriptions and other B2B features

    The Storefront API is independent of all devices, frameworks, and service platforms. Because of this, developers are able to experiment with new technologies while still using the tools they currently know and love. Developers can use any development framework, including Next.js, Gatsby, and Astro, to create their projects, deploy them to their preferred hosting provider, and integrate them with any external systems that offer an API

    Hydrogen and Oxygen

    The official development stack for Shopify comprises Hydrogen and Oxygen, a set of tools that make it easy to create dynamic, effective, infinitely scalable headless commerce sites on Shopify. 

    Built on top of the Remix framework, which is based on React, Hydrogen takes use of its user-friendliness, high standards for web development, and performance enhancements including Optimistic UI, Nested Routes, and Progressive Enhancement. Although Hydrogen’s development stack has strong opinions, it is also modular and offers parts, hooks, and utilities that are already set up to work with Shopify’s APIs. It is possible to create quickly without sacrificing performance or maintainability because of the stack’s optimised individual components, which also provide you the option to integrate with the tools and services you already use.

    While any cloud hosting provider can host Hydrogen stores, Oxygen, Shopify’s globally distributed hosting solution, offers the quickest and easiest option to launch Hydrogen stores. With 285+ points of presence worldwide, Oxygen is delivered at the edge and gives development teams complete deployment control. Additionally, it is a free addition to any Shopify account, ensuring top speed and uptime around the world while keeping prices low for businesses. 

    Ready to go headless?

    If your company checks several of the above boxes, regardless of whether you’re an established company with existing infrastructure or you’re still developing your enterprise architecture, a headless commerce method may be the best choice for you.

    Similar to this, you can indeed face a headless future if your company’s processes are becoming more complex and you want to stand out by competing on experience rather than price. 


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