The Rise of Headless eCommerce

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COVID-19 has had an impact on everything, and businesses are no different. Ever since the pandemic, the trend has shifted from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. People refrain from going to the stores and instead order stuff online. With almost every retailer starting an online business, there is some serious competition in eCommerce. That is why it is necessary to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to better methods and new practices, the most recent of which is headless commerce. Stay with us till the conclusion to know how and why eCommerce is pivoting towards headless commerce.


What is Headless Commerce?

To better understand headless commerce and its implications, you need to have sound knowledge regarding a few technical terms like frontend, backend, and APIs.


Let us take the example of Amazon. The interface that loads on your screen when you type or open the app is called the frontend. It is the display interface that you or the user accesses, also called User Interface or UI. The chair or fridge, or table that the website or app displays constitute the frontend.


The frontend shows items or products that are saved or loaded in a database, which is one of the two main components of the backend. The other part is the API or the application programming interface, which is loaded with multiple endpoints and performs all the functional aspects of the website or app.


If you are still unclear or confused, this analogy might help you better understand these concepts. If someone touches any part of your body, let’s say the palm of your hand, you will instantly feel it. Specific nerves take the message from your hand to your brain. The brain realizes what is going on and produces the sensation of touch. The palm of your hand is the frontend or the user interface, accessible to the person who touched you. The nerves that take the message to the backend, or the brain, are the internet. The brain has a database that acts as a storage house and a functional part, or the API, that receives and processes the requests and elicits a response.


What is Headless eCommerce


Now, back to our business. Headless commerce is a relatively new approach to eCommerce in which there is significant decoupling between the frontend presentation and the backend functionality. The separation between the two components allows the business model to be more flexible and agile, which is why it is on everyone’s minds and future business agendas.


How does it Differ from Traditional Commerce?

Whether you traditionally run your eCommerce business or are just opening up shop, you will notice several differences between headless commerce and traditional commerce. Some of these are:


I.) Frontend Development

One of the most fundamental differences between the two types of eCommerce is the development of the frontend.


Traditional commerce is easier to start, as its front end takes less time, hassle, and money to develop. For this purpose, small enterprises and individual retailers opt for a traditional business model as this solution supports their intentions of launching a simple business as soon as possible. But the developers may have to face several design constraints and engineering limitations.


These constraints are absent in headless commerce, as all the developers have to make a simple API call. Other than that, the frontend of a headless online business is more challenging to develop than that of traditional commerce, as the developers have to build the entire frontend from scratch. These configurations based on personal needs take up the extra hours spent coding compared to the traditional commerce’s frontend. Getting rid of these restrictions creates the freedom for developers to innovate the frontend in whatever way they want to. The development of the front end of a headless business is also heavier on the wallet.


II.) Customization

Consider going to a shoe shop. While walking down each aisle, you will anticipate the experience you are about to have. The shopper has a clue about the specific variety of products they are about to purchase in a particular manner and way. Similarly, in traditional commerce, the developers who have set up the site and the consumers who visit the site have predefined experiences. These experiences have little room for personalization and customization within the boundaries of the available predefined frontend tools. Hence, while scrolling the website, the frontend user will see everything they expect to see in a specific order.


On the contrary, the developers of a headless business create, decide, and dictate the consumers’ experience in the way they want. As a result, the developers have an advantage when it comes to personalization and customization.


Headless Vs Traditional eCommerce


III.) Editing and Updates

A traditional eCommerce business model has a frontend that is very tightly coupled and dependent on the backend. Naturally, if the developers were to make any changes in the frontend, they would also have to do the same in the backend. As a result, traditional commerce hinders editing and flexibility, so the developers have to think twice before an update.


In comparison, the decoupled frontend and backend in a headless model make it extremely convenient and straightforward for the developers to update the frontend and make any changes without worrying about the backend.



IV.) Level of Technical Expertise

This difference might come as a surprise to many of you, but previous technical knowledge is essential and plays a vital part in choosing an online business model.


A traditional setup will require developers with minor expertise, as the objectives are not that complex and easier to achieve.


But, to develop a headless business structure, you are required to either have a high level of technical expertise or a skillful team of high technical knowledge and an ambitious attitude at your disposal. Creating and maintaining a headless online business is not child’s play and not something to opt for if you are new to it.


Benefits of Headless Commerce

There must be something about headless commerce that is making everyone’s heads spin. Compared to other business models, a headless structure is far more suitable and preferable because of its numerous advantages. If you are curious about them, here are some of these benefits:


a.) Increased Flexibility

Because of the decoupled frontend and backend of the website or app, you can easily change the user interface and add, remove, or substitute any feature without tinkering with things at the backend and affecting the system’s functionality. This increased flexibility is hugely advantageous in a competitive environment and gives any headless business model an extra edge over a traditional structure. For instance, if a customer’s base preferences change overnight, you will need headless commerce’s increased flexibility to keep up with it. You will not have to edit multiple layers of code down to the backend to change something in the frontend. Moreover, the customers will not have to suffer from a technical timeout on the website while making changes to it.


b.) Faster Integration

Headless commerce uses APIs in their backend, which makes integration seamless and data transfer quite simple. APIs allow the developers to use various software platforms such as ERPs, CRM, and CMS that help make the integrations faster and easier to implement.


Benefits of Headless eCommerce


c.) Lower Running Costs

While starting a headless online business, you might have to spend more than the amount for setting up a traditional model. We just talked about how much more it will cost for the developers to develop the front end of a headless website or app. But if you look at things in the long run, headless commerce will cost you far less than traditional commerce. A great businessman understands why prioritizing long-term cost savings is better than giving more importance to lower initial investment. The extra money spent at the start will significantly help attract new customers and keep the old ones loyal to you and your online business. The long-term effects of a monogamous traditional business setup are highly detrimental to the Total Cost of Ownership.


d.) Decreased Loading Time

The architecture of a headless website is a vital factor in determining the loading time. With the help of APIs, the developers can decouple the website’s frontend and backend. For this reason, even if traffic floods the website’s frontend, it does not cause the backend to get bogged down. This individual scaling ensures the website continues to run smoothly and does not crash. According to research, 40 percent of the customers will close the website if the loading time is more than 3 seconds. If you are still not convinced, this statistic will tilt the balance in favor of headless commerce. If you are making 100,000 dollars through your online website per day, a 1-second page delay can cost you a yearly deficit of 2.5 million dollars.


Disadvantages of Headless Commerce

Nothing note-worthy and essential is ever wholly one-sided, as a coin has two sides. Even though headless commerce has numerous advantages, some of its implications are disadvantageous to several users, so it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some online retailers adhere to the traditional monolithic system. Here, we will talk about some of those disadvantages:


1.) Increased Complexity

The thing that makes headless commerce so effective can sometimes be its bane. With enhanced flexibility comes increased complexity. Some retailers are more comfortable with the templates and software they already use and are not that well equipped to deal with the technicalities of a headless solution. Furthermore, the entire structure requires developers with high technical knowledge and great skill, and not everyone has that kind of talent or technical prowess.


2.) Higher Initial Investment

As we discussed, a headless business model has lower running costs and generates higher revenue in the long run. But for that, you will have to spend more while setting up shop, and some business owners do not have a wallet fat enough to make that high initial investment. For this reason, small business owners stick to their traditional online models.



Whether we like it or not, headless commerce is the new trend in the market. In simple words, headless commerce is an example of an online business model in which the developers do not tightly couple the frontend and backend of the website or app. Due to its numerous benefits and advantages over traditional online businesses, you can say without a doubt that eCommerce development is pivoting towards headless commerce. Some aspects of headless commerce might not suit every online retailer, tiny business owners, who will stick to the monogamous traditional system. We hope that whether or not you opt for headless commerce, the decision bears fruit and brings you great success.

Ready to Take the Next Step?


Hariom Tiwari

Associate Project Manager

A dynamic professional with strengths in both project and time management. With strong analytical skills and the ability to provide tremendous business solutions, he made his way to a Project Manager in a short span of time. He is collaborative and highly skilled in working as a team member, incorporating best practices in successfully executing complex projects. His expertise includes analyzing the technical needs of the clients, proposing effective solutions and delivering large scale projects on time. He possesses strong communication skills as well as interpersonal skills with the ability to interact with people at all levels. In leisure time, Hari Om enjoys cooking and roving with his loved ones.

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