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Headless Commerce: The Secret Weapon of Ecom Innovators

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

January 3, 2024

7 min read

The eCommerce industry has evolved since its initial days. The arrival of newer technologies, changes in customer expectations, market trends and business needs have reshaped how it operates. Of all these factors of change, the biggest challenge for retailers is responding to market trends and new technology changes. So, what is the most effective way for a retailer to remain ahead of these changes and be a leading eCommerce business? satisfying customer needs? 

While several options have been tried, one effective strategy has been the move to headless commerce. It is a modern approach in which the website architecture is changed so that the backend components of eCommerce, like pricing, security, and infrastructure, are separated from the frontend components, like the display of text and images, page layout and buttons. 

Headless eCommerce platforms are a new generation of software systems to manage online commercial functions. It enables businesses to plug in an eCommerce solution in their backend and build high-quality, attractive content using the latest frontend technology. The result is increased customer traffic and better sales rates. The success of headless commerce architecture has led to heavy investments for further software development in 2021, equalling USD 1.65 billion. Here, we explore the benefits of headless eCommerce platforms. 

Headless Commerce

How Does Adopting Headless Commerce Accelerate Businesses?

Most large-sized organisations and IT teams are focusing on developing headless commerce platforms. Custom programming is a critical aspect of modifying the architecture and requires the technical agility to separate the front and back ends reliably. The result of a well-designed headless commerce platform is that the business gets adopted to accelerate its growth multifold. Here are the benefits of headless commerce platforms:

  1. Quicker frontend updates: For most businesses, the biggest challenge to adapt to new technologies is the time it takes for their staff to master the latest technology. But headless eCommerce is different. Staff do not need advanced skills to update the front end. Hence, teams can update website creatives independently, quickening the marketing processes. 
  1. In-built tools: Headless commerce platforms typically have built-in tools to help businesses customise their buyers’ shopping experience. Developers can use advanced third-party APIs to create coordinated brand experiences for all the sales channels of a company. Hence, there is consistency in brand messages, voice, styles, inventory management, product information and other advantages.
  1. Save IT costs: Headless commerce eliminates the need for developers to spend time making interface changes. Such updates can be performed directly at the front end. Besides, several headless templates and vendor solutions enable developers to include aesthetic and customer-attracting displays and layouts in just a few clicks.  
  1. Quick to launch: Another advantage of headless commerce is that businesses can fast-track their app launches. The easy access to prepared templates and their rapid integration with the eCommerce platforms allows companies to have very short time-to-market timelines. They can react immediately to emerging market trends with a low-cost backend. 
  1. Saving costs: Headless commerce minimises the need for a long-drawn development process for every storefront change. It also eliminates the expenses involved in the strategy with fewer licensing,  hosting fees and minimal infrastructure spending.

In effect, headless commerce is a flexible development of websites that allows businesses to remain in complete creative control, improve site performance and use preferred tools and services.

Influence of Headless Commerce on Customer Experience

Headless commerce provides much-needed functionalities for businesses to improve the customer experience. Let’s check how the latest commerce architecture impacts customer experience: 

  1. Immediate changes: Headless commerce allows businesses to include frontend updates such as new content in the shortest possible timelines, ensuring no loss of time. Websites using traditional commerce architecture can take minutes to a couple of hours to reflect the latest updates and changes. However, with headless eCommerce, changes are instant, and optimisation is immediate.
  1. Enhanced user experience: The ease of using headless eCommerce lies in the high-level control brands retain in delivering the creatives. They can quickly redesign their creation and publish content as required, without needing expensive programming or longer time-to-market. 

Most importantly, the universal compatibility of headless commerce ensures customers have an uninterrupted and seamless shopping experience. The start-to-finish phases of online shopping across devices and viewing formats remain unified with headless commerce. Managers can now focus on responsive design aspects and minimise the risk of elements disappearing or incorrectly being displayed on different devices. 

The ability to create responsive design at the managerial level has been one of the most critical changes headless architecture has brought to platforms. They are seen as the driver for further expansion of new channels by nearly 75% compared to headless websites.

Examples of Headless eCommerce Platforms

Headless commerce is seen as a changemaker in the eCommerce industry because of the ability to separate the front end and the back end of sites on all types of CMS, DXPs, or PWA sites. To have your headless eCommerce platform running, all you need is an API that separates the presentation layer of the platform and plugs it back into the platform where it needs to work. But, it becomes more work to know if a website uses headless commerce. To understand how headless eCommerce platforms can make a difference, here are a few examples:  

  1. Burrow: A D2C furniture store, Burrow, focused on developing a modular product that was stylish, easy to ship, comfortable to use, and affordable. However, the rapid growth of the business could have been more manageable on the eCommerce platform. They needed a platform with the best eCommerce backend solution to scale their growth. They also needed a site that they could customise quickly and easily. After much research, they identified BigCommerce as their partner for headless commerce. Burrow needed a backend system for quick scaling. A reliable platform that only needed a little maintenance. With BigCommerce onboard, Burrow could focus on marketing their site and update the front end using customised CMS. 
  1. The Good and the Beautiful: School curriculum-producing global company, The Good and the Beautiful was listed on 1shoppingcart.com. After a few seasons, they had outgrown the website, and scaling to match business growth was also a challenge. The front end could have been more varied, but updating it was challenging. After some market research, the eCommerce business explored three key platforms – Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento and finally decided on BigCommerce to be its headless commerce partner. Apart from the technology, the business received extensive customer support from BigCommerce, leading to a satisfactory partnership. Their conversion rates increased by 72%, while their revenue shot up by 322%


Headless commerce is an essential approach that separates any commerce application’s front and back end. Developers can create unique brand expressions for the retailer and use different APIs or plugins to create a practical buyer experience.

As a result of using third-party function modules and other IT service partners, businesses are considering several innovations. They want to offer newer functionalities and experiences to engage customers and remain ahead of expectations. In a traditional eCommerce platform, updating a unique experience is slow, high-cost, and time-consuming. 

The use cases of headless eCommerce platforms include not having to worry about regulatory compliance for payment options. Since headless commerce uses third-party APIs, the software provider must strictly follow the compliance protocol. Some companies found that headless commerce vendors helped manage and reduce customer acquisition costs on two counts. First by creating content and then by publishing it on their channels to deliver a unified customer experience. 

Headless eCommerce solutions lower the total cost of ownership, improve security, and make the best online shopping experience.

1. What are the limitations of headless commerce?

Businesses need a strong IT partner, solution provider, or a sizable in-house tech team to manage headless commerce platforms. The initial investments in starting a headless website are higher than traditional eCommerce platforms but have more extended lifelines. Headless commerce sites are constantly updated, managed and maintained, trading off initial increased investment.

2. Is headless commerce scalable?

Yes, headless commerce is easily scalable, ensuring high performance. Its component-based approach uses a content delivery network feature to deliver to a server closest to the customer, shortening the loading time.

3. Does headless commerce impact SEO?

Headless commerce provides structured error records and fast load timings. This positively impacts the website’s search engine rankings.

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