Headless Commerce: what is it, and how will it change your business?

Headless e-commerce describes an architecture where front-end and back-end software components operate independently of each other. That is, in such a case, the tools and data are no longer focused on one place. Although some basic data, such as prices or product catalogs, are stored on the back-end.

Posted on
August 16, 2023
Headless Commerce: what is it, and how will it change your business?

Product Information Management (PIM), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and Inventory Management System (IMS) do not necessarily need to be integrated in the back-end. With a headless architecture, many business tasks can be delegated to independent software, often hosted in the cloud. This opens up new opportunities for flexibility, scalability, and innovation in e-commerce.

Principle of headless e-commerce

In such a system, the back end is the central element, to which you can attach as many "heads" as you like. "Heads" can be customer touchpoints where sales and transactions take place, or they can be various systems and platforms that can be easily integrated.

You can even connect multiple individual systems for employees, merchandisers, and other staff. Headless site functions by passing requests between the front-end and back-end parts via web services or APIs.

Headless e-commerce VS traditional e-commerce

The problem with out-of-box solutions is that they are limited and closed to changes. Although, of course, there are open-source options, they also have disadvantages. Such platforms are only effective if your business is fully compliant with the established framework and principles of the platform. 

If you want to get a customized solution, you will meet with issues: from the complexity of implementing your ideas to the lack of opportunity to stand out in the market.  And it takes a lot of time to edit the database, code, and front-end to make changes. The front end is closely related to the back-end code and infrastructure. In some cases, to change even a small part of code, you need to edit several levels - from the front end to the back end.

In addition, you should also consider the design settings, for example, Shopify has certain restrictions on customizing the functionality and interface of the store. To achieve the desired result, there is exactly the concept of headless commerce. 

The concept is that you can create a custom user interface for your store, while all the business logic can be managed via API. You also get a full set of tools for managing products, and orders, and many other nice benefits.

Headless e-com splits the front end from the back end, which opens up unlimited possibilities for customization. And to change something, all you need is a front-end developer, regardless of the complexity and scope of work. That is, it's equally easy to implement a payment system or add a field to a customer's profile.

Headless online store also supports new technologies as soon as they are released. This is great for implementing innovative solutions for online store customers. API integrations are also worth special attention, so you can easily interact with other platforms and devices.

But if you're just a beginner in e-commerce, you shouldn't start with a Headless web site right away. Unless you have a specific need for customization, you probably shouldn't take this approach for your first online store. Because headless architecture is goal-oriented, which requires constant scaling.

When is headless architecture suitable?

If you are going to sell your products on different marketplaces besides your main web store, the headless approach opens up a wide range of opportunities. It allows you to integrate your products across different web platforms and devices, ensuring that both the front-end and back-end of your store run without any issues.

This architecture allows you to keep both parts of your website independent, which increases its stability and efficiency. And if there are problems with any service, such as a search engine, it's easy to fix without having to rebuild the entire store, as it communicates with the back-end part through APIs.

It's also an ideal solution for those whose business is specialized in several countries. As you know, every market has its peculiarities: somewhere it is more effective to use social media for sales, and somewhere it is better to have a website or a mobile app. Switching to headless e-commerce allows you to scale your online store quickly and easily, making it ready for the global market and multichannel sales. Flexibility and scalability are key benefits of moving to a headless web architecture.

Finally, this approach allows you the flexibility to choose a platform or system for the front-end part of your store, as well as a separate platform for the back-end. For example, you can use a CMS to manage your site's content and a separate e-commerce platform to provide a high level of store functionality.

Which Headless CMS to choose for online store?

You can use a lot of platforms that offer to import data through APIs to start an e-commerce business. However, the most convenient option is to work with Shopify CMS. This is primarily due to several advantages:

  1. CMS Shopify users have everything they need to manage their online store quickly, reliably, and easily.
  2. They also have access to an API, which in turn can provide product information to other systems.
  3. Shopify Headless can handle a high load, providing simultaneous work between front-end and back-end levels, as well as internal development between files on different sites.
  4. Headless Shopify is easily adaptable to business needs, providing the ability to create attractive storefronts for both web and mobile platforms.
  5. It also gives you the ability to integrate the tools and systems your business needs specifically, such as ERP, PIM, and CRM, and allows you to utilize your technology stack to quickly implement a headless architecture using the tools of your choice.
  6. It is also possible to integrate different payment methods such as Amazon Pay, PayPal One Touch, Apple Pay, and others without re-integrating every time you expand to new platforms.

Final thoughts about Headless e-commerce

Take advantage of new methods to expand your business and increase conversions. This flexible and leading approach to customer interaction is key to success in e-commerce. The traditional e-commerce format is becoming obsolete and you, as an online business owner, can prepare for the future by implementing more modern solutions.