Everything You Need To Know About Headless Commerce

Navneet Singh, Founder

Ecommerce SEO

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a lot many changes in how buyers behave. It ushered so many changes in the buying journey- from the way the customers engage to places where brands must show up. Retailers also need to understand how businesses must improve their brands to meet the right standards. Flexibility and agility are important are the best features in headless commerce.

eCommerce is also now losing its head. Users are now consuming more and more content for making purchases and using so many touchpoints — from IoT devices to progressive web apps. Contemporary eCommerce platforms are moving forward to take care of customer demands. And this has impacted SEO. Experts at a good e-commerce SEO agency can help you understand this deeply. 

The New Ways to Search Include: 

  • Amazon Dash buttons
  • Smart voice assistants 
  • In-store interfaces 

They are giving consumers more ways to read reviews, explore better product information for placing orders. This means that consumers are taking to the IoT era when most retailers aren’t doing the same yet.

eCommerce (like Amazon) brands are adapting to this trend are reaping the rewards. Many other brands are still wondering and scratching their heads on how they can move further without launching their own IoT device or building back-end solutions from scratch. The answer lies in headless content management — which is now expanded into headless commerce.

The Other Things To Learn About Headless E-Commerce.

So, What is Headless Commerce?

You’ve probably heard about headless commerce. It’s one of the most highly discussed and least understood buzzwords in e-commerce. It helps you set the record straight while uncovering certain components of the headless commerce system. Moreover, you can get several advantages and use many considerations to create the architecture.

The Advantages

Separating the front end and backend of the e-commerce applications offers brands high freedom of expression for building customized applications in any way they like. It also helps brands to provide a rich customer experience. 

The APIs present in headless models help experienced managers with certain tools useful for the IT partners. These resources are useful for motivating your company’s strategy for offering new functionality and experiences that can engage customers and match or exceed their expectations.

It is important to keep pace with emerging touchpoints and experiences. Moreover, COVID-19 has accelerated this process. The traditional e-commerce model offers new experiences and updates both in the front- and back-end system which turns small projects into a huge headache.

What Are the Benefits of Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce is typically meant for bigger enterprises with large development and IT teams and a DIY attitude. It obviously makes sense as custom programming is needed to produce and build a distinct front end and back end reliably. So, you need to invest a lot of development hours. When businesses have ambitious and creative long development queues and marketing teams, it helps in quick testing of Front end copies

Front end Designs

Front end templates. 

In a health crisis, it is imperative to have the right pace towards making a business change. Brands need to take to innovation more than ever. Every developer’s time is precious as the speed-to-market is typically associated with enhancing cash flow.

Switching to headless commerce helps you leverage four big benefits that are absolutely worthwhile to accelerate your business.

  1. Better employee adaption. Some organizations do not like to use new technologies due to their steep learning curves. A modern commerce platform may be simple and allows headless commerce to solve a problem as everyone in your team gets easy access to take care of the front end without the use of advanced skills.
  2. Moreover, you also require getting an insight into using the right tools for the job for tailoring experiences so that shoppers do not want to look at any other place. Importantly, APIs let you go for a coordinated and brand-consistent experience across various channels. Common e-commerce services will drive a brand-consistent experience. They include promotions, inventory, product information, and more.
  3. Time savings: Taking care of changes at the front end, you can do things with agility. Developers can save time related to user interface changes. Headless templates also help you to partner solutions where developers just need a few clicks to proceed with light coding. You will also need to take into account commerce apps that improve conversions.
  4. More time to market. Businesses can provide newer front-end experiences at a faster pace with minimal back-end development costs.

Several reasons reveal reasons why teams need a transition from traditional to headless e-commerce. Companies focus on improving the user experience to understand how headless e-commerce helps them go towards better customer-satisfaction rates.

Headless commerce offers top-quality eCommerce solutions for various purposes such as

  • To store
  • Manage

And deliver content without a front-end delivery layer. 

The headless commerce platform does not have a head or the front end which generally acts as a template or the theme. The head has been decoupled from the backend.

Developers can also use APIs to deliver things such as products, blog posts, and customer reviews to various devices and screens. Meanwhile, front-end developers can work on methods to present the content in a framework of their choice. 

Typically, there are various functional elements (including blogs, forms, banners, and products) that can be managed systematically. It involves the creation and management of various content components.

Headless commerce architecture is made for the IoT age. Traditional commerce platforms have a tightly screwed head. It means that they have a predefined front-end that is tightly coupled with the back-end. You may get several customization features offering you free access to code. This platform is designed to deliver content to websites and native mobile apps.

The headless e-commerce architecture provides a platform through a RESTful API leading to the back-end data model and cloud-based infrastructure. The front-end platform is not directly coupled with the back-end. Rather, eCommerce brands deliver things like content, products, and payment gateways to kiosk screens, smartwatches, Alexa Skills, and other things.

How Headless Commerce Works

Headless CMS is just like headless eCommerce which works by passing requests in the presentation and application layers for web services and application programming interface (API) calls.

headless architecture

When the user clicks the “Buy Now” button on the smartphone, you get a presentation layer in the headless eCommerce system that sends the API call to the application layer for order processing. The application layer sends another API call to the application layer which shows the customers their order status.

Headless Commerce Versus Traditional Commerce

Here is how you can compare headless commerce and traditional commerce. There are basically three differences:

1. Flexible Front-End Development

Traditional Commerce

Front-end developers work on the traditional commerce system taking care of several constraints when it comes to the overall process and the design. Such changes require a great deal of time to edit the database, code, and front-end platform. Moreover, developers are limited to things they can edit or update without undue risk to provide a warranty and get future upgrades.

Headless Commerce

A predefined front-end platform with headless commerce takes care of front-end developers in creating the best user experience from the basics. It fits exactly right with most of the important business needs. Front-end developers need not worry about modifying the backend databases. All they need to do is make a simple API call. Front-end developers do not face those problems that they face in the traditional commerce platform.

The only limitation is that they do not get a front-end presentation layer at all. Front-end developers are related to marketers who want to build such things from scratch, whether product pages or landing pages. Getting eCommerce web design is not a small thing.

So, a decoupled solution is so much more useful than a headless solution.

2. Personalization/Customization

Traditional Commerce

Traditional platforms provide a predefined experience to the customer and the administrative user. Such platforms offer only a small room for personalization or customization. When you like the traditional platform experience, it empowers you greatly.

Headless Commerce

Traditional commerce platforms limit the users and developers for things they define as the right user experience. Headless platforms mean that front-end developers can create a personalized user experience from scratch. It also offers you greater control over how your e-commerce platform appears and feels. Also, it offers you complete control over the user experience.

3. Adaptability

Traditional Commerce

The front-end is closely coupled with back-end coding and infrastructure present in the traditional architecture. It leaves no space for flexibility for customizations. Only single customization is most helpful. Developers need to edit multiple coding layers present between the front-end and the database layers at the back-end.

Headless Commerce

As headless commerce is characterized by decoupling of the front-end and the back-end, it creates so many possibilities for customization as and when required. All you need is having a front-end developer to make big or small changes, like implementing custom checkout flow. Make sure that you add a new field to every customer account. Headless commerce architecture is highly straightforward to execute.

Headless Commerce: The Key Benefits

Amazon is an important leader that shows entrepreneurs and visitors the right value to incorporate into a headless commerce platform. It saves the retailers from a great deal of frustration connected to the traditional commerce platform. Salmon has reports showing that 60 percent of consumers desire a service like Amazon Prime — but they can’t achieve this using traditional eCommerce solutions.

Here are six reasons Why Brands Need to Switch to Headless Commerce.

1. Going Truly Omnichannel Effortlessly

A headless content management system propels content anywhere and everywhere. For eCommerce brands, it means getting the right product delivery, product videos, and blog posts for every channel that emerges — or something which will tend to emerge.

So, ensure that you can sell through digital signage, Alexa Skills, progressive web apps, and sometimes even with the refrigerators with screens.

Natively headless commerce platforms mean that you do not need to re-frame your platform to publish across channels. It will just be a part of a future-proof integrated package.

2. To Remain Competitive

A headless commerce platform helps you deploy important updates which do not impact the back-end system. It helps you to make changes to your system’s front-end easily to match the consumer’s technology speed.

Most commerce brands having a traditional platform will roll out an update every few weeks. Compared to Amazon, they will implement updates every 11.7 seconds on average. Ultimately, it lowers both the duration and number of outages.

If a front-end system is not completely coupled to the back-end, you do not have to roll out an update for the entire system, only a part of the system. You can deliver things that will let your consumers stay competitive and beat the competition quickly.

3. Agile Marketing

A headless commerce system supports new technology as the need arises. It is a perfect tool for designing new customer experiences. This will push the marketing teams into the driving seat, and they can work on multiple sites across various brands, portfolios, and digital signage.

agile marketing 1

Finally, due to the flexibility offered by a headless commerce system, marketing teams like to set up the new site in a few days in place of months. In a global brand, as time gets reduced, the time taken to launch a campaign ranges from some weeks to some days.

4. Giving the Customer a More Personalized Experience

Though customer needs change over time, they will get a consistent customer experience on all devices and channels.

Moreover, people like to buy from eCommerce brands that understand their needs across various channels. It will go further than the general things and suggest things like “people who bought X also purchased Y.” The back-end is intelligent and also understands what a consumer has bought. It utilizes this data to drive the personalization engines on CMS, mobile apps, and social channels.

5. For Seamless Integrations

A headless commerce solution must have an API (such as GraphQL) that makes it easier for you to communicate and integrate with other platforms. It is necessary to add your brand to a new device to enhance your outreach and opportunities towards more customers in one go. It just needs a few hours to integrate an e-commerce platform into a new device.

Using the headless commerce platform integration with Oracle and Slack, you can streamline the customer service workflows. You do not need to delve too deep into such a kind of integration. The app collects customer support requests, warranty claims, and other questions as it executes a customer lookup and rules out a duplicate request. The system forwards the request in this case. If a duplicate request is found, the system creates a new customer record. All gets done using the right tools like a Hooks Engine.

A support team will hook an engine again for monitoring the new transactions. Moreover, one can look out for orders above a certain limit, certain locations, and order for certain products. The best companies will also automatically hook to and check the contents of every purchase if it meets a specific criterion, for example, if it is shared on the relevant Slack channel.

6. For Better Conversion Optimization

With headless commerce in place, you can test different templates and approaches. For example, you can experiment with other back-end search solutions for running the same front-end search.

conversion rate

As a result, headless commerce allows you to run continuous tests and optimization cycles, helping you better understand your customer and improve your learning faster than most retailers.

7. Quicker Reach into the Market

Without an omnichannel or multichannel retail experience with a traditional eCommerce platform, your marketing time will be prolonged, and scaling will be hard. 

On the other hand, a headless commerce platform helps brands build necessary front-end experiences on various devices and touchpoints. The content and products are central and delivered through the API to all points. It lets you get more time to market for adapting to new channels as you enter new regions and go on further. 

Two Biggest Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

Headless commerce platforms involve several vital things that you must address.

1. Ongoing Costs

Headless commerce platforms do not provide you with a front end that developers build their own. On the one hand, it enables developers to build the front ends, which are bespoke for various devices and touchpoints. On the flip side, it is necessary to build templates and build user interfaces from scratch. It is costly and time-consuming. Therefore, developers need to troubleshoot the front-end creations, leading to ongoing costs for going further on the initial build.

The costs rise much more as you take care that the marketing team is isolated. Ultimately, things depend significantly on the IT team for launching landing pages and content on various devices. 

2. Marketer Isolation

A pure headless commerce system does not provide a front-end presentation layer not allowing marketers to:

  • Create content in the WYSIWYG environment.
  • Preview content to see how it looks on the end user’s device or screen.
  • Ideate, create, approve, and publish content and not rely on any department.

Marketers are entirely relying on the IT team to build a front-end presentation layer, update it, and populate it with content. This surpasses the need for a marketer-friendly environment.

There are various reasons for merchants to look headless as it gives new solutions to deliver the right customer experience. One must focus on performance, user experience, security, and content delivery. Headless provides e-commerce merchants great flexibility that they cannot achieve on simple platforms. It helps merchants deliver content in several ways rather than simply using smartphones and desktops because the front end gets handled separately on the back end. It delivers the customers great experiences on smartwatches, voice shopping, and vending machines. Also, you need to develop highly customized experiences on various touchpoints in a customer’s life. It focuses on user experience and performance to create an experience that works within a platform’s limitations.

Is Headless Good or Bad for SEO?

Now, let us talk about Search Engine Optimization and headless commerce. Headless commerce won’t negatively impact SEO, especially if you are pursuing headless commerce. The answer is quite much like “yes” and a “no”.

There are several ways whereby headless offers a great benefit in your store’s SEO. The most important thing is to understand how headless commerce provides lightning-fast stores that can outperform some of the highly monolithic eCommerce platforms. Google and various search engines will take care of speed and efficiency in user-experiences while providing headless deliveries.

“No”, because Shopify’s URL structure and site architecture can sometimes be inflexible. As you separate the customer-facing your store’s end, you will gain complete control over the URL structure and customize it to help it suit your SEO strategy. You require doing more manual work. A good e-commerce SEO agency can help you get all the benefits of SEO in the long run.

The only downside you’ll encounter in developing a headless CMS is a lack of training to develop a plan and a strategy. Also, it involves higher expenses. However, the costs are worthwhile because a headless site is ready to go. Plan your budget for finalizing your decision to go headless. Always ensure that you look into the legacy systems, apps, and integrations. Moreover, you require a new headless set-up and things your team needs to do manually. 

Generally, if you plan and follow SEO best practices, you can build a headless experience and leverage its advantages such as:

  • Inclusion of high-quality content. 
  • SERP-friendly URLs.
  • Smart internal linking.
  • Structured data.
  • Optimized metadata.

While few tasks such as metadata get slightly more hands-on, it gives your team a better understanding of how important they are and how they function within the new structure. There are several benefits to going headless to get a great store experience and performance, which outweigh the disadvantages over advantages on future business plans requiring extreme flexibility for customization.

Things to Optimize in Headless E-Commerce

URL Structure

The URL structure of the site is essential to get right, and it is both friendly for humans and robots. This means you need to take care of various categories in logical URL segments to the product URL.

URL Structure

For example, the URL’s category structure is connected with a product name and type. Suppose you want to implement an Elastic Path-powered site. In that case, you need to create a hierarchical category tree that reflects your website structure allowing for the organization of the products into separate categories. The Elastic Path objects comprise the “slug” resource with a lower case or a URL-friendly string (with no spaces). Use such slugs for building the site structure and the page URLs.

An SEO-friendly URL structure generally is divided into sub-elements.


Metadata includes page and meta titles and descriptions, which you can drive from data present in the backend. You can access it through APIs like the content and prominently render it to your customers on your page. The Elastic Path you use for the product title & description helps create and populate meta tags, which are mainly considered a fallback. You can go for detailed control or extend the basic product entity to create a product flow. This allows you to add custom fields for things including “title”, “meta description”, and more.

Though not just for SEO, the social and open graph content secures your place, manages your page from the backend, and pulls through to your website page view appropriately.

This gives you higher control over how your site links look on social networking sites such as Twitter cards or Facebook posts. Such sites pull out correctly optimized and aptly-sized image URLs and content for the medium.

Make Sure Website Remains Crawlable

In addition to having well-structured sites, pages, and content, one must ensure that the pages are crawlable to the search engine bots. But, these links may not run JavaScript. You must be cautious while depending upon technologies and the framework needed for site development.


JAMstack architecture is a top choice when it comes to stack. It gives you access to several pages and URLs present at the build time. The bot crawls HTML/CSS/JS for the content, and there can be situations where the commerce data gets static and is snapshotted at the build. Dynamic page building, used in the JavaScript framework, helps let you find the pages present in the cached versions with the bots. A tool like https://prerender.io/ is compatible. with several JavaScript frameworks and libraries, allowing you to build websites dynamically. They also help the search engines to crawl the websites properly.

The e-commerce world is becoming more and more competitive for customers. Ultimately, it comes down to user experience. Headless commerce provides a perfect way allowing merchants to deliver customizable experiences putting customers in the spotlight. It indeed provides a significant boost to your business. With proper planning and consideration, your Shopify store’s SEO strategy will prove advantageous in a new set-up, bringing in more and more customers by rendering a great customer experience.

Headless Commerce Supports Omnichannel Retail.

The “omnichannel retail” allows shoppers to shop online and offline using the same online platforms, on any device, and at any time. Headless commerce platforms are mainly used to give users a seamless experience across various channels. You must consider such platforms for your omnichannel retail mission.

A Harvard Business Review study demonstrated that out of the nearly 46,000 shoppers who were surveyed, several used more than one channel to purchase things online in place of using a single channel. The shoppers using multiple online channels also used brick-and-mortar stores to a greater extent than those using just a single channel. 

Several important brands incorporate omnichannel marketing strategies in their high-end London showrooms. Customers require using tablets to scan item tags for creating a shopping list. They can then email the shopping list to themselves. The furniture store Made.com utilizes the items from the customer’s list and sends them important recommendations as per the preferences.

Three Headless Commerce Platforms to Consider

Headless commerce is an emerging platform, having a range of eCommerce platforms for APIs facilitating a decoupled approach to eCommerce. The three most important brands to consider in this regard include:

1. Magento 2

Magento 2 helps its users leverage Magento APIs they must rely on to get a third-party web content management system to handle huge quantities of content at scale. 

2. Core DNA

Core DNA offers an eCommerce functionality that gives you a digital experience platform (DXP) for web content management functionality using APIs. Now, you have an all-in-one headless commerce solution to power omnichannel eCommerce experiences. Several clients include the audio technology brand.

 3. Shopify Plus

Also, Shopify Plus accesses APIs to expose product information to third-party systems. But, CMS is needed to handle additional content at scale.

Headless and Shopify

Decoupled is the Future of Commerce.

Headless commerce solutions solve many problems in the constantly evolving landscape of IoT devices. But, it can lead to problems such as the ones discussed above. You need to understand why the future is decoupled and not just headless. 

A decoupled commerce system is just like a headless system in a sense whereby both front-end and back-end are decoupled. Unlike a headless CMS, the decoupled CMS won’t remove the front-end delivery layer from an equation entirely. Such architecture helps the marketers retain their power for content authoring and previewing. It also gives the brand headless freedom for delivering content to several applications, devices, and touchpoints using APIs. 

You may think that a decoupled CMS provides you with the best of both worlds. The future of eCommerce is decoupled.

You may think that eCommerce just lost its head. However, for people who are not tech-savvy, a decoupled commerce system offers easy to use, just like the traditional commerce system but has a flexible headless system. It’s the best of both worlds.

Core DNA Differentiation for Headless Commerce

Headless commerce platforms are arising every now and then and for several reasons. However, there’s a great difference between the good, not-so-good, and a top-class headless CMS platform. 

Combination Platform

Combining CMS and eCommerce with a simple and easy-to-use system, we have a platform offering a full-blown CMS platform that lets users take care of content without a knowledge and understanding of coding language. You might wonder why this is important? Commerce and content pages that engage highly are responsible for a high conversion rate for people, even if the customers are not tech-savvy. Visitors also provide answers to several inquiries.

Headless CMS uses an e-commerce platform enabling you to share content with various areas of engagement such as news, blogs, FAQs across multiple channels. It helps render rich and engaging content and product information. 


Developers have two options for templates, which are useful for sharing important information you do not want to get from an external application for rendering the content. Several headless platforms generating information in JSON Forms rely on the front-end stack for offering a great user experience. Such an approach may require more money, time, and energy. But as time is money, it is better to speed up creating applications or connections to applications. 

Admin System

Adding a unique admin system helps make the most out of the user’s online stores. Any commerce platform user understands the great need to market, manage, and administrate tasks. Adding an admin system to a platform helps to enhance marketing using tools such as: 

  • Marketing Campaign Trackers
  • Tools to Drive Engagement
  • SEO
  • A/B Testing
  • And Email Integration, among others. 

Additionally, content managers and eCommerce managers need to leverage a native administration system for using unique techniques. You also need to get free plug-ins, add-ons, or upgrades. 

Hooks Engine

Using a decoupled queuing engine helps you take care of the 3rd party systems. Developers use a sophisticated workflow engine connecting the external systems with the platform. Moreover, the legacy platforms use the engine to offer email and file transfer compatibility. 

Here are some examples of how an engine can enhance your daily operations. 

Conditional logic is used to create workflows in multiple steps. Moreover, an engine offers you the ability to take care of external APIs to give more information.

The scheduler gives a great way to integrate content to and from various systems effortlessly. 

For Developers

Developers can use multiple ways to extract the highest value from a platform. They may also use their regular IDE. 

Headless commerce is related to Shopify because it gives an insight into the merchants’ future. You need to work out the current situation to get a headless experience managed in Shopify itself. So, you require a framework that allows developers to build custom storefronts using the Storefront API. This is important if you need a platform to host custom storefronts on Shopify.

Moreover, you need to make significant improvements in your global infrastructure to deliver, such as having storefronts within a 50m radius for every buyer present anywhere across the globe. There are nearly 100 global servers that directly serve requests on personalized storefronts. They will help you get fast load times, showing a commitment allowing Shopify to facilitate headless commerce for merchants.

Shopify Plus supports headless, and it becomes a Shopify Plus merchant. Using plug-in tools such as ERP and CRM brings you a personalized tech stack.

Impact of Headless Commerce on Your Customers

One requires shifting quickly to meet new societal and customer expectations. Branded manufacturers also offer direct-to-consumer initially with QuickStart Commerce Solutions. Companies like Michaels are going for operation models that provide new fulfillment options in just a few weeks. 

Customers also take care of the best ways to interact with brands in the post-COVID arena to leverage the transition from headless applications and websites:

1. Instantaneous Changes and Optimization

As businesses introduce new content n their front end, such updates get reflected almost instantly. Sites may be built with traditional commerce architecture. Also, it can take a few minutes, if not hours, before users may experience the latest brand design. 

2.  Interfaces to Give Rich User Experiences

You can finally control the different elements allowing users to interact easily. Brands can get more highly creative with their content on their websites with an experimental design. Additionally, you need universal compatibility with headless commerce to ensure that your website works seamlessly in the way it is required for all devices in viewing formats. Managers of various traditional e-commerce websites need to account for a responsive design for minimizing the risk of the elements that may disappear or get displayed incorrectly on multiple devices.

Getting Started with Headless Commerce

Most developers are not designers, and most designers aren’t developers. E-Commerce platforms offer APIs the right tools helping developers to build coordinated and brand-consistent experiences across channels due to a single view of data. At the same time, creative teams focus on things they do best, including optimizing the user experience and interface, which improves customer engagement and conversions. 

An e-commerce platform provides great flexibility to ensure that your developers can build a website with speed and full autonomy using tools, code, APIs, and all such third-party integrations. Secondly, you need to take care of the innovation curve and then cross the competition. This means that you should consider headless commerce to create a great customer experience. You must also check if it is right for you to use a two-minute assessment tool. 

Moreover, your developers must have the right tools and education in their Commerce Cloud Developer Center. You can build, discover, and share commerce applications. Developers generally use this as a vital source of information to create innovative experiences on your Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

You can learn more about headless commerce and how you can use it to your advantage, reaching the experts at Visibility Gurus.