Headless Commerce: The Complete Guide 2024

February 14, 2023

eCommerce is changing rapidly. It has even lost its head, if you can believe that.

From IoT devices to progressive web apps, consumers are consuming content and making purchases through a variety of touch points. Legacy eCommerce platforms can’t keep up with the demands of consumers.

Customers can explore product information, read reviews, and place orders using Amazon Dash buttons and voice assistants. Despite most retailers’ (yet) resistance to IoT, consumers have embraced the technology.

While some eCommerce brands are reaping the benefits (hi, Amazon), others are scratching their heads, wondering how they can join in without inventing their own IoT devices or building back-end solutions from scratch. A headless content management system – and therefore a headless eCommerce system – is the solution.


What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is the separation of the front end and back end of an eCommerce application. Headless stores operate independently of one another and interact through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). APIs enable developers to provide content to any screen or device, including goods, blog entries, or customer reviews. As a contrast, front-end developers can choose any framework they want to use to show that material.

With the separation of front-end and back-end platforms, shopping becomes quicker, more agile, adaptive, and consistent. Despite not being linked to a front-end delivery platform (or head), the back-end conducts all of the critical tasks of an eCommerce solution.

Due to this headlessness, direct-to-consumer companies are much more flexible when expanding. Headless eCommerce systems allow you to customize your front-end or presentation layer further than traditional eCommerce systems. Using your existing back-end, you can create a professionally branded, memorable shopping experience.

How does headless commerce works?

An application programming interface (API) or web service is used to transmit requests between the presentation and application levels in a headless CMS.

An API request is sent to the application layer when a consumer clicks a Buy Now button on their smartphone. In order to display the status of the customer’s order, the application layer makes another API call to the application layer.

Headless Commerce Vs. Traditional Commerce

Now that you know what headless commerce is, we hope you fully understand it. Furthermore, we have discussed the differences between traditional and headless commerce.

Traditional Commerce

Customary eCommerce is synonymous with traditional commerce in the digital world. Using this website, you can set up a traditional website with a front-end layer and a back-end layer. A design perspective, however, makes such eCommerce platforms challenging to build. They come with template designs and offer limited customer interaction options.

Both the front-end and the back-end are interdependent, so most features are interconnected as well. Because of this, a minor change in the layout of a website, the CMS, or the cart page can also affect other features. A traditional commerce platform makes it even harder to change the design for a better user experience.

Headless Commerce

The freedom offered by headless architecture is greater than that of traditional commerce. Headless commerce platforms are easy to set up. Additionally, you can integrate desired front-end and back-end solutions based on your business needs. You can customize your storefront quickly without changing the back-end layer, which is again a big plus. 

Traditional commerce differs from headless commerce in the following ways:

  • Increases the level of personalization
  • Customization is unlimited
  • Does not restrict front-end developers
  • Reduces response time and improves interaction

Headless Commerce Is the Future

It is becoming increasingly common for online businesses to follow a monolithic or full-stack eCommerce approach. The world has gone mobile now, so it’s good for desktop buyers. Consumers are no longer reliant on computers and instead use smartphones and apps to do their shopping. A staggering $431 billion USD will be spent in mobile retail e-commerce in the US alone in 2024.

It is for this reason that technology giants, eCommerce brands, and retailers are eager to invest in this type of commerce architecture. In 2022-23, headless technologies raised over 1.65 billion USD in funding. The purpose of headless commerce is to give online retailers an edge over their competitors.

In a headless commerce environment, retailers are able to offer a customized user experience across all channels. With a seamless experience across desktops, mobiles, and other devices, brands can ensure brand consistency across all devices. Because headless commerce offers a true omnichannel commerce experience, it is considered the future of eCommerce.

What Is The Biggest Challenge With Headless Commerce?

Perhaps the biggest challenge with headless commerce is the lack of out-of-the-box functionality. Retailers can customize their solutions through headless commerce, but it lacks built-in features. An all-in-one commerce solution can be overwhelming for companies that need it for their business.

If you are interested in features and want to let the provider know what your business needs, you can inquire about them. It is important to choose a headless commerce platform that covers your needs in advance.

Benefits of Headless Commerce Strategy

Headless commerce has a number of benefits and beats traditional commerce in almost all fields. It’s the future of headless commerce, whether it’s agility, speed, or customization and integration.

There are several key benefits that it provides to your business across different departments.

Control over all aspects of customization

With a headless approach, businesses can design their websites however they like, unlike with traditional commerce. It is possible for retailers to achieve the exact look and feel they want for their brands. By doing so, they are able to control the customization process and provide online consumers with an on-brand experience.

Additionally, you don’t have to compromise on design. Make changes and customize everything as you wish without worrying about the time it will take. Making changes to the front-end architecture is not risky due to the separation of the back-end and front-end architectures.

Additionally, you can test changes in real-time as you make them. You can optimize your customer experience and analyze your conversion rates with headless commerce.

Faster Page Loading Times

For online stores to engage users and increase sales, they need a fast page speed. 70 percent of consumers’ decisions are affected by loading time, according to research. Using headless commerce, you can ensure that your website loads faster. The faster your eCommerce website loads, the higher the ranking it will achieve on Google.

A faster loading page also increases sales and conversions.

By only speeding up your website one second, you can generate 7% more revenue. You can benefit from headless commerce in this situation.

Flexibility for Developers

Your business can choose the best technological platform since front-end and back-end are not coupled. If you want to manage the front-end of your website, you can choose a CMS or build a custom solution. Developers have more flexibility to ensure that customers receive a more personalized experience.

A headless backend allows developers to manage different sales channels. By using a single platform, businesses can manage all their storefronts. You can also save resources since your development team won’t have to worry about technical details. It is up to developers to select the programming language or technology they are comfortable with.

Testing and Integrating New Technologies

When you integrate new technologies into your website, headless architecture commerce doesn’t affect the rest of it. In order to improve website management and performance, you can try new solutions and tools at the back-end. For example, you can easily change the colors and buttons of buttons to see what customers think. 

Scalability with Less Management Costs

Brands can also benefit from headless commerce because it makes them future-proof. User experience does not suffer when you add new technologies or upgrade to new solutions. Your existing architecture can be enhanced using APIs to add new features and functions. If you want to update your website, you won’t have to rebuild it every time.

You won’t have to pay much for developers to make changes since they can be done easily. Adding new features and making changes doesn’t require hiring extra programmers.

Effective Marketing

eCommerce brands and retailers can take advantage of new marketing trends through headless commerce.

It is possible to sell across multiple channels and to experiment through changes in the user experience. In addition, your marketing team can run campaigns on the sales platform based on audience segmentation.

By segmenting your audience based on demographic details and buying behavior, you can manage customer records. By using third-party apps, you can target the right audience based on their location, gender, age, and income.

After integrating them with a headless commerce solution, you can use the following marketing tools. 

  • Marketing via email
  • Saver for abandoned shopping carts.
  • Sharing on social media
  • Blog built-in
  • A loyalty program for customers

Select a Suitable Backend Headless Commerce Platform

After choosing the right headless commerce solution, the next step is to implement it on the back-end. We recommend choosing one that fits your current retail needs and can grow with your eCommerce business as it grows. Make sure the platform you choose integrates with all of the marketplaces where you sell.

To achieve ultimate flexibility and customization, it’s better to choose an open-source platform. By doing so, you will be able to add more features and functionalities in the future. For a comprehensive commerce experience, ensure it offers data security and third-party integration.

Sync Your Headless Architecture 

Now that you’ve chosen the front-end and back-end technologies and selected the headless commerce architecture, it’s time to sync them. To complete the setup, this is akin to connecting a head to a headless commerce platform. APIs will be used here to connect the two layers (front and back end).

It is better to connect small sections first rather than going all the way. To test whether the sync works, you can sync a few landing pages or categories. Sync, test, and optimize for assurance before scaling.

The benefits of working with a headless commerce provider include avoiding uncertainty and anxiety. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Headless backend solutions should be chosen
  • Choose a front-end technology
  • Implementing APIs for synchronizing front- and back-ends
  • Provide customers with winning shopping functionality