What is Headless Commerce?

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The ecommerce world has changed over the years. With more and more consumers getting a feel of good quality content and the ability to purchase through various touchpoints, ecommerce platforms need to level up to meet rising demands. The solution to this new challenge is for brands to use headless commerce.

After reading this post, you’ll be able to understand what headless commerce entails, as well as its benefits for your business.

What exactly does headless commerce mean?

Headless commerce infographic

Headless commerce is an e-commerce approach that enables organizations to experiment and test their website’s features by separating or decoupling their front end and back end. Developers can then use any front-end technology to customize and deliver better content experiences while using an ecommerce solution to manage all the commerce functionalities at the back-end. With headless commerce, the front and back end function more separately; thus, merchants gain more freedom to customize their storefront. They can also design it so that it offers better content and support to customers without necessarily having to alter the back end.

When e-commerce technologies became a possibility, most businesses that emerged used a full-stack approach in building their online stores. With this, the front-end and back-end were closely interlinked. They didn’t have any significant issues with this approach because they focused on simple desktop experiences. However, as online shopping evolved, businesses needed to tailor users’ experiences across varying channels such as mobile devices. They also needed to keep the overall purchasing experience aligned with their brand, necessitating the use of headless commerce.

Using headless commerce, brands can gain a competitive advantage by innovating, improving, and testing experiences. Moreover, they can make all these changes on the front end without disrupting their back-end functionality and vice versa. This drastically reduces the workload while giving online retailers flexibility to improve their stores.

For this approach to work, an application programming interface (API) needs to be fixed between the front end and back end of a web store to manage the data exchanges. This creates the opportunity for developers to experiment and test within both systems separately. While both the front end and back end may be decoupled, it doesn’t mean that there is no connection between them. They can still be connected through API calls and web services, ensuring that data exchange between the systems remains intact. The main advantage is that brands can experiment with either front-end or back-end environments independently.

To better understand what headless commerce is, let’s look at how different it is from traditional commerce in these areas.

  • Flexibility and adaptability

With traditional commerce, the front-end system is coupled with the back-end, meaning there is little to no room for customization. On the other hand, headless commerce affords brands the ability to customize their systems endlessly and make significant changes to their front end.

  • Customization and Personalization

While traditional commerce offers a fixed experience for both admins and users, headless commerce allows businesses to create their own unique experiences for both users and admins.

  • Front-end Development

When front-end developers work on traditional commerce systems, they usually encounter challenges concerning its design. Making any changes would require a considerable amount of time to code, edit the database and modify the front-end platform. There is also a limit to the features they can update or revise if they want to maintain a warranty. However, headless commerce allows front-end developers to create a unique user experience right from scratch by decoupling the systems. In doing so, they can design it to fit perfectly with their business needs without worrying about disrupting the back-end system.

Benefits of Headless commerce

There are limitless possibilities and benefits brands can enjoy when they switch to headless commerce. We have outlined some of these benefits below.

Opportunity to create faster, idealistic, and more advanced websites

With the use of headless commerce, brands have the opportunity to test new and more advanced technology. Due to the decoupling of the back-end from the front-end, developers can easily design better websites since they are no longer confined to the settings of a traditional content management system. The front-end is the template or theme that determines what customers can see on your online store. As such, it is essential to match it with the organization’s brand and overall message. Headless commerce makes these organizations more flexible in delivering their content since they can connect an Internet of Things device, a CMS, or DXP on the front-end.

Getting the right tools to boost customer retention

Retaining customers demand that brands offer them a smooth and delightful experience. With headless commerce, brands can get the right tools to create unique customer experiences that benefit shoppers. With the use of APIs, you can easily create a well-organized, brand-consistent experience across different channels. Since you can design a specific marketing experience for your target audience with headless commerce, it is also easy to implement or improve the overall customer experience for their loyalty programs. Developers can integrate loyalty or referral program apps from scratch to suit the brand when designing the front-end.

Flexibility for Developers

Another critical benefit of headless commerce is that it allows organizations to select the ecommerce platforms that they deem best fit for their store while choosing the front-end solution of their choice to work with. Developers can feel free to use the programming language or technology they find comfortable while creating efficiencies. This will save more time, particularly when they are working on changes to the user interfaces. If developers have enough flexibility with headless solutions, only a few clicks or coding will be required to create apps that boost conversion.

Omnichannel Experience

A significant advantage of a headless CMS is that it can help you share your content anywhere and everywhere. It is highly crucial to ecommerce brands because they can now deliver their products and any other form of content in blog posts or product videos to any channel that exists or will exist. What this means is that you wouldn’t need to re-architect your platform to publish across different channels. You can sell your products through digital signage, mobile devices, Alexa skills, progressive web apps, and all other kinds of smart devices.

Optimizes conversion

Headless commerce allows retailers to test and experiment with different approaches and templates. Hence, you could decide to try a new back-end search solution while using a different front-end search solution. As you run these continuous experiments, you will gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs. This knowledge will set you ahead of your competitors and enable you to optimize conversions in your store. Again, you can also reduce the cost of acquiring new customers because the brand can rely more on creating a site that draws in organic traffic than relying heavily on paid traffic.

Control over site architecture

Business owners gain better control of their ecommerce website’s architecture when they switch to a headless platform. This comes from the decoupling of the front-end and back-end systems which results in being able to control and make changes to both the content delivery application and content management application systems in separate environments. Thus, merchants can easily keep the applications that work well for them and upgrade or add those that don’t for better results.

Examples of headless commerce software providers

Adapting the use of headless commerce can be pretty expensive and demanding for several ecommerce businesses. This is because it requires the expertise of a bigger development and IT team to get the best results. Headless commerce software providers step in at this point to make the switch easy on online business owners. Here are three examples of headless commerce software providers.

Magento Commerce

This platform is particularly noted for giving developers the flexibility to create tailor-made apps that can be highly customized based on your customer’s needs. In addition, Magento’s system allows for experimentation and offers you the opportunity to test new features and integrations faster. Its analytic dashboard, for instance, will enable you to export data to customer’s inboxes and gain insights on customer lifetime value, average order value, retention rates, among others.


With Shopify Plus’ headless platform, retailers have more creative control across various touchpoints and can publish to any channel of choice. In addition, this provider is known for its stability and efficient system, which can be integrated smoothly with significant marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon and work efficiently with various business growth apps.


BigCommerce offers a variety of full-service features for growing businesses, including a headless software service. With this, the platform has decoupled its presentation feature from its commerce engine. This enables businesses to create multiple online stores and manage them simultaneously across different front-end solutions from one account. In addition, it allows you to develop API-driven experiences and use them in customizing experiences such as the checkout process in your web store. BigCommerce’s headless commerce platform can also be integrated with the most significant marketplaces and a wide range of apps.

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