We have arrived in the 3rd decade of the 21st century and are witnessing the peak of the ecommerce industry. Whether the rise is due to the current pandemic or people are just loving ecommerce shopping, it has led to massive improvements in the e-commerce world. The e-commerce industry is rapidly changing, and now it is going to lose its head. Yes! The next big thing in the ecommerce industry can be headless commerce. Headless commerce has popularity gradually has been increasing. Although not everyone is aware of this new technology, it has provided many benefits to online merchants and customers. Faster websites, more personalization choices, and rapid customization are just a few advantages of headless commerce.

Headless commerce can become a norm for both B2B & B2C businesses. As per a survey, 86% of business owners say they are experiencing rising customer acquisition costs. Thus, companies have to create such an online experience that can bring customers in. The strategy many retailers are using to accomplish a content-led online store is headless commerce. Headless commerce gives the frontend developers the freedom to develop an exciting frontend without dependency on the backend.

What Is Headless Commerce?

In headless commerce, the frontend presentation layers get decoupled from the backend interface, which was responsible for the overall functioning and features of the e-commerce store. This decoupling allows the e-commerce store developers to make changes without affecting the customer’s experience easier. The CMS store manages and delivers the content without any frontend layer.

Generally, the head or the frontend is a template or a theme decoupled or removed, leaving the only backend for delivering content like products, blog posts, reviews, and ratings, on a screen or device. In contrast, frontend developers focus on how to represent that content using any framework they wish.

How Does Headless Commerce Benefits Merchants?

benefits of headless commerce for ecommerce business

Online businesses must consider headless commerce as an evolutionary shift in their traditional e-commerce practice. The conventional e-commerce development platforms had a dependency on the backend to make changes in the backend. But now, the businesses want to remove the frontend training wheels. Here are the main benefits that headless commerce holds over traditional ecommerce platforms:

1. Omnichannel Experience

Omnichannel is a buzz you must have heard from your colleague or friend in sales or have read on your favorite marketing blog. In the omnichannel commerce approach, the aim is to provide a holistic and integrated customer experience. In this approach, there is an underlying assumption that most customers will engage with a brand through multiple channels before making a buying decision. In the omnichannel strategy, the customer experience will be the same regardless of the device they are using. Although many e-commerce development platforms boast of providing a highly omnichannel experience, it is not entirely true. As a business owner, if you want to add a sales channel, the legacy e-commerce platform doesn’t yet offer it.

Headless Commerce allows the developers to build a frontend for a new sales channel. They can configure the frontend as per their branding and provide an omnichannel experience without having to wait.

2. High Level Of Customization

The traditional e-commerce platforms also allow customizing but within the confines of the frontend tools of that platform. While in the headless approach, there is no limit on the frontend developers to make customization. This includes IoT-enabled tools that can be immediately integrated into the headless CX platform. A few examples are proximity marketing, intelligent cross-selling, and IoT-based loyalty programs.

3. Personalization

In the e-commerce industry, a personalized shopping experience is a common expectation of customers. With a headless commerce platform, you can tune frontend sales to match the preferences and tastes of customers. Businesses that want to stand apart from their competitors should personalize the initial online sales presentation experience. It includes providing features such as buying preferences, personalized recommendations, and promotions directed towards the customers on their previous usage behavior. Personalization builds a stronger bond between the store and the customers and can increase positive customer retention rates.

4. API Delivered Commerce

As there is no presentation layer in headless commerce, you can decide where the transaction will use APIs. Data is made available, no matter what device or channel users are on. There are many omnichannel networks, from web applications to IoT, which can be integrated with CMS. Mainly, REST APIs and GraphQL are used.

5. Powerful Agile Marketing

Do you want to design a new customer experience or promote your channel on a new social media platform? You can easily do this with headless commerce. The major e-commerce platforms such as Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce let you sell and promote products on different social media platforms. Hence, you can do campaigns within weeks on headless commerce.

6. Highly Futuristic

As there are no interdependencies, shop owners can quickly implement and develop new solutions faster. There is no need for reconfiguring any backend logic. Headless commerce also supports newer technologies so that innovation always drives up.

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Difference Between Headless Commerce & Traditional Commerce

There are three significant differences between headless commerce and traditional ecommerce. Let’s know about each of them:

a) No Limitation on Frontend Developers

As we mentioned above, in traditional commerce, the frontend developers are restricted to the frontend design, which is in-built into the platform. If they wish to change the data or experience, they have to make changes in the database, code, and frontend. Thus, even a minor change creates considerable risk. But in headless, the frontend is not defined, and the developers can create a completely catered and unique UX as per the business niche without worrying about the database changes.

b) Limitless Customization

Traditional e-commerce has a predefined experience for both admin and end-users. On the other side, headless commerce allows businesses to define the exact experience they want for both buyers and administrative users.

c) Improve Time To Value

The backend, features, and functionalities comprise up to 85% of a software development process. In the headless approach, you are starting from the point of completion. Thus, you can focus on user experience and deliver a solution in less time.

Traditional CommerceHeadless Commerce
It takes more time to marketImproved time to market
Personalization is possible but also takes more timeBusinesses can focus on Personalization
Businesses are limited to using a specific technologyComplete control over technology selection
Modules are coupled, which means weak securityModules are decoupled means better security
Frontend changes lead to database changes as wellFrontend changes don’t lead to backend changes
More effort is required to integrate 3rd party appsLess time is needed to integrate 3rd party apps
More testing time is requiredLess testing time required

Key Features Of Headless Commerce

Regardless of the CMS platform, you are using, headless commerce will work in just about any use case. You need an API connection to decouple the presentation layer and then plug the platform into where you need it to work. The key features of headless commerce are:

1. Custom Solutions

In many scenarios, entrepreneurs prefer to use a headless approach as they are out-of-the-box ideas that no CMS or platform can provide. Maybe the customization provided by the traditional platforms works at the beginning of their online journey but now can’t handle the long development cycles and maintenance.
Headless allows them to keep the customization and lose the cost and upkeep. Headless can provide them the open SaaS experience that is the best of both worlds.

2. CMS Pairing

When headless commerce is paired with a CMS such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, etc., it results in a compelling combination. In this scenario, the e-commerce development platform gets decoupled from the presentation layer. Therefore, a brand can use a CMS for unparalleled customer experiences to increase conversion rates.

The e-commerce platform provides all the security and essential features in this platform and can be connected to additional ERPs, PIMs, or OMS tools.

3. DXP (Digital Experience Platform)

A DXP software allows companies to digitize and provide a better customer experience quickly. The combination of DXP software with a headless solution results in a strong foundation.

The core of this partnership comes from the flexible API-driven content and its capability of integration with other devices. The developers and marketers can work separately by this combination.

4. PWA (Progressive Web Application)

A progressive web application is a JavaScript application that runs on a mobile web browser. In easy words, PWAs are web apps or a webpage that provides the look of a general mobile application while running on a web browser. The advanced JS features employed in creating these PWAs provide:

  • Ultra-fast web pages.
  • Improved user experience.
  • Better engagement of visitors.
  • High conversion rates.

Headless PWA is a very major advancement in the e-commerce world. The Headless PWA follows the decoupling approach wherein the frontend is not intact with the backend. With the combination of Headless and PWA, the app builders will maintain proof of their builds. They can refresh the design without re-implementing the entire content.

Limitations Of Headless Commerce

Regardless of how many the pros of a platform are, there are always a few cons that should also be noted. So, let’s know about the drawback of headless commerce as well.

Cost Of Development

In headless commerce, you will not get a front end. The developers have to create it on their own. Although it is delicious since the developers can generate frontend as per their business niche and bespoken for every device, building frontend from scratch will be time-consuming and costly. Also, the developers have to troubleshoot their bugs which further increases the time.

Market Isolation

Since a headless commerce platform comes with no presentation layer, the marketers can’t:

  • Create content in a WYSIWYG environment
  • Can’t preview the content
  • Create and publish content quickly

Increases Complexity

Now you will deal with multiple vendors & technologies having their own set of bugs & security issues. They have their ways of installing, configuring, troubleshooting, and supporting. All these tasks require more work and increase complexity.

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Best Headless Commerce Platforms

Let’s know about the best e-commerce platforms that you can use to implement the headless approach. There are the best platforms:

  • Magento (Adobe Commerce)
  • Salesforce Commerce Cloud
  • Shopware 6
  • Shopify Plus
  • BigCommerce

We will discuss each of these platforms in detail.

1. Magento (Adobe Commerce)

Magento commerce is a trendy e-commerce development platform for businesses looking for scalability. It is also a good fit for headless as it is highly extensible. The headless architecture in Magento Commerce allows companies to evaluate and deploy new customer experiences across different channels. Whether through a different framework or by a headless CMS, Magento is a good fit for the backend of a headless build.

The only thing to remember is that not every feature has built out APIs, resulting in some extra work. In Magento commerce, the headless architecture can drive innovation and be agile in the quickly evolving e-commerce world.

Benefits Of Magento Commerce In Headless Commerce

  • Unconstrained control
  • Uniformity Across Touchpoints
  • Improved Scalability
  • Futureproof Architecture
  • Innovation of New Touchpoints
  • Development Activities Separation

Magento Commerce gives you an option of flexibility with a traditional coupled storefront, a decoupled storefront in PWA Studio, Adobe Experience Manager compatibility, and robust APIs for building custom digital touchpoints.

  • PWA Studio
  • Adobe Experience Manager
  • Cross-Channel
  • 3rd Party Integration

2. Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce is a highly popular CRM used by multi-national companies and organizations. It has built a flexible headless commerce solution that is highly agile and innovative. It comes with scalable commerce APIs that separate the backend services from the frontend customer experience. The developers also get modern infrastructure and efficient tools to boost agility and productivity.

Benefits of Salesforce Commerce Cloud In Headless Commerce

  • Extreme flexibility for both frontend and backend users
  • Companies choose it for pairing their online experiences with customer touchpoints such as mobile, social media, app, user-generated content, in-store experiences, product experiences, etc.

Different vendors and solutions can use for different parts of the website.

Advantages For Companies

  • Better Employee adoption
  • Bespoke experiences
  • Consistency across channels
  • Increased audience and revenue

Benefits For Customers

  • Instant changes and optimization
  • Rich user experiences and interfaces

3. Shopware 6

The latest version of Shopware, Shopware 6, is a highly intuitive e-commerce development platform. Shopware 6, and especially Shopware 6.4, comes with new capabilities and fulfilling new goals. It has a flexible API approach by which it can manage multiple e-commerce advances. Shopware 6 has been designed to meet all headless requirements. Its flexible core is all about the idea of interconnectedness and is geared toward API first.

Benefits of Shopware 6 for Headless Commerce

  • Provides solid out-of-the-box commerce features
  • Robust API
  • PWA frontend built on Vue.js
  • Flexibility to create a presentation layer

4. Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is the enterprise-level edition of Shopify. Shopify Plus gives you tools and systems that your e-commerce store may require. Using Shopify Plus for headless allows you to publish content updates on your storefront. This platform can turn manual tasks into automated workflows with built-in e-commerce automation tools. There are numerous reasons to go headless with Shopify Plus.

Benefits Of Shopify Plus For Headless Commerce Are

  • Keeps up with digital trends by utilizing the most modern, lightweight frontend framework
  • Limitless possibilities for multilingual stores
  • Any number of currencies through just one single CMS
  • Headless sites only run through a single Shopify Plus store. Their URLs are always optimized for the best SEO results.

5. BigCommerce

Last but not least, BigCommerce is a very suitable e-commerce platform for large enterprises. BigCommerce has always focused on the “API-first” philosophy. Almost all the functionality of a stand-alone BigCommerce store (like catalog management, cart creation, order management, and checkout) can be accessed in a headless experience using APIs.

Advantage Of BigCommerce For Going Headless

  • Interactive ReactJS or VueJS interface
  • Availability of tools to create a custom design and turn it into a new theme
  • Headless setup in BigCommerce can run several tests each week
  • Option of choosing events to trigger actions in the CRM

Wrapping Up

This article has gone through multiple aspects of headless commerce, its benefits, key features, and the best headless commerce platforms. At Emizentech, the best ecommerce development company, we have expertise in developing ecommerce stores using the headless approach. We can build ecommerce stores from scratch, build new features and functionalities, improve UI, upgrade versions, improve speed, and much more. Let us know your requirements.

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CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.