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Headless commerce

Headless Commerce: Create a Unique User Experience

Picture of Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub

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The eCommerce world is expanding exponentially with an estimated growth of 24.5%. The development process of eCommerce websites are experiencing tremendous changes from over the past few years.

However, the scope of standing out from the crowd is only possible when you are competitive, adaptive, futuristic and most importantly, design your eCommerce website while keeping in mind the serene user experience.

There are numerous traditional platforms available. However, these traditional platforms can limit your ability to create a truly unique user experience (UX). This is where Headless Commerce comes in!

In recent years, the concept of headless eCommerce has gained significant traction among businesses looking to provide a unique and personalised user experience. The Forbes study reveals that whooping $1.65 billion funding was realised through headless eCommerce alone in 2020-2021. That’s huge!

So how is Headless eCommerce beneficial for your business? Headless Commerce is an approach that allows decoupling of the frontend presentation layer from the backend commerce functionality, enabling greater flexibility, scalability, and customisation for your online store.

This approach enables businesses to create a seamless and immersive user experience that can set them apart from competitors.

In this blog, we’ll learn about headless eCommerce and explore how this concept can be leveraged to create a unique user experience. Let’s begin!

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce refers to unlinking the frontend presentation layer of an online store from the backend eCommerce functionality.

Unlike traditional eCommerce setups where the frontend and backend are tightly integrated, headless eCommerce is an architecture that allows businesses to use separate systems for content management and commerce operations.

This separation provides greater flexibility to your business as you can choose the customisation options and different technologies for each layer.

Components of Headless ecommerce

For example, you can use a headless content management system (CMS) or frontend framework to design the user interface while leveraging a backend eCommerce platform for transactional processes like inventory management, payments, and order fulfilment.

What’s “Headless” in Headless Commerce?

The term “headless” in headless eCommerce is a buzzword, derived from the concept of disassociating the frontend presentation layer (the “head”) from the backend functionality (the “body”). It means the absence of a pre-defined user interface (UI) that comes bundled with traditional eCommerce platforms.

Therefore, in headless eCommerce, the frontend is detached or “headless” from the backend. This separation allows businesses to replace or upgrade the frontend independently without affecting the backend functionality. 

In simpler terms, it’s like a body without a head!

Headless eCommerce V/s Traditional eCommerce

Traditional platforms are monolith in nature, typically combining the front-end and the back-end into a single unit. Headless commerce, on the other hand, decouples these two components. This allows businesses to build their own custom frontend on top of the existing backend functionality.

Monolith Vs Headless Ecommerce

Let us see the difference between two approaches below:

Difference Between Headless Commerce and Traditional Commerce
Feature Headless Commerce Traditional Commerce
Architecture Decoupled front-end and back-end Integrated front-end and back-end
Frontend Flexibility Highly customisable using any design tools Limited by platform templates
Integration Easy integration with various tools and platforms (CRM, AR/VR) Limited integration options
Omnichannel Experience Easier to create consistent experience across channels Can be challenging to maintain consistency
Scalability Scales well with business growth May require platform upgrades for large-scale growth
Development Complexity Requires more technical expertise for setup and maintenance Easier setup and maintenance
Cost Potentially higher due to custom development and integrations Lower upfront cost
Time to Market Faster experimentation and updates to front-end Slower updates due to platform dependencies
Example Users Large enterprises with complex needs, brands with unique design visions Small businesses, startups with limited technical resources

Benefits of Headless Commerce

Headless eCommerce enables businesses to deliver unique and personalised user experiences across various channels, including websites, mobile apps, and IoT devices, by optimising each layer independently and integrating them seamlessly through APIs and webhooks.

Benefits of Headless eCommerce

  • Unmatched Customisation

    Headless commerce allows you to use any design tools you prefer, resulting in a truly unique shopping experience.
    With headless architecture, businesses can use different technologies for the frontend and backend, allowing for greater flexibility in customising the user interface and optimising the overall user experience.

  • Omnichannel Capabilities

    Headless commerce empowers you to create a unified shopping journey regardless of the channel a customer interacts with.
    It makes delivering a consistent user experience easier across multiple channels such as websites, mobile apps, IoT devices, and social media platforms, ensuring seamless customer interactions regardless of the device or platform.

  • Scalability for Growth

    Headless commerce allows for independent scaling of the frontend and backend, so you can adjust the storefront without impacting its core functionalities.
    The architecture of Headless eCommerce allows your business to scale frontend and backend systems independently, making it easier to handle increased traffic, add new features, and adapt to changing business needs without disrupting the entire eCommerce ecosystem.

  • Seamless Integration

    The headless architecture allows for smooth integration with various third-party services, such as marketing automation tools, analytics platforms, payment gateways, and CRM systems, enabling businesses to create a more comprehensive and integrated eCommerce ecosystem.
    It seamlessly integrates with cutting-edge technologies, such as AR/VR product visualisations or voice-enabled shopping, to create a more interactive and engaging customer experience.

  • Personalisation Capabilities

    Headless commerce enables you to deliver targeted product recommendations, promotions, and content for increased conversions.
    This approach allows advanced personalisation capabilities by leveraging data analytics, machine learning algorithms, and AI to deliver personalised product recommendations, targeted content, and tailored experiences based on customer preferences and behaviour.

    However, it’s important to consider these points as well:

    • Technical Expertise Needed: Headless commerce requires more technical knowledge for implementation and ongoing maintenance than traditional platforms.
    • Potential Cost Increase: Custom development and integrations can lead to higher upfront costs than traditional platforms.

    eCommerce development services

How Does Headless Commerce Work?

Headless commerce works by decoupling the frontend presentation layer from the backend commerce functionality, allowing for greater flexibility, customisation, and scalability in designing and delivering digital shopping experiences.

Hence, let us now understand how the headless technology works in a simplified manner:

How Does Headless Commerce Work?

  • Decoupling Frontend and Backend

    In a traditional or monolithic eCommerce setup, the frontend (UI/UX) and backend (commerce logic, databases, etc.) are tightly integrated.
    However, these layers are separated in headless commerce, meaning the frontend no longer depends on the backend’s technology stack or infrastructure.
    Thus, it involves choosing the front-end framework (React, AngularJS, etc.), headless commerce platform (Commercetools, Prismic, etc.), and back-end approach (headless platform’s back-end or existing system integration) in alignment with the user experience design for your audiences.

  • Frontend Presentation Layer (Headless Frontend)

    The frontend, also known as the headless frontend, is responsible for rendering the user interface, displaying content, and managing user interactions.
    Frontend development is done using various tech stacks, such as static site generators (Gatsby, Next.js), JavaScript frameworks (React, Angular, Vue.js), or headless CMS platforms (Contentful, Strapi).
    The headless frontend communicates with the backend via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to fetch data, process transactions, and manage business logic.

    Frontend Development

    Frontend development under headless commerce involves creating product listings, shopping cart functionality, a checkout process, and other customer-facing elements. Ensure the website design aligns with your UX goals and brand identity.
    Strategies for creating unique user experience
    It is important to develop a responsive frontend that adapts seamlessly to different devices (desktop, mobile, tablet). Also, to ensure a smooth user experience (UX), keeping a close eye on optimising for speed and performance is essential.

  • Backend Commerce Functionality (Headless Backend)

    The backend, or headless backend, houses the core eCommerce functionality such as product catalogue management, inventory control, order processing, payments, and customer management.

    It can be built using eCommerce platforms (Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce) or custom solutions that provide APIs for communication with the frontend.

    Popular Headless eCommerce Platform
    Platform Target User Key Features
    Commercetools Enterprise-Grade Robust APIs, MACH architecture focus, scalability
    Salesforce Commerce Cloud Enterprise-Grade Comprehensive suite of features, ideal for large businesses
    Adobe Commerce (Magento Commerce) Enterprise-Grade Highly customizable, scalable for complex needs
    BigCommerce Mid-Market, SMB Headless capabilities & traditional features, user-friendly
    Shopify Plus Mid-Market Scalable solution, vast app marketplace for extensions
    Prismic (Open-Source) Content Management Headless CMS, often used with headless commerce platforms

    The headless backend exposes APIs that the headless frontend uses to retrieve data, perform operations, and integrate with third-party services.

    Backend Development

    The backend development starts with implementing core eCommerce functionalities such as product management, inventory control, order processing, payments, and user management.

    The backend development includes:

    (a). Designing data models.
    (b). Creating the database schema.
    (c).Implementing business logic.
    (d).Defining RESTful or GraphQL APIs

    Integration with third-party services for functionalities like payment processing and shipping logistics, implementing security measures, performance optimisation, and scalability planning is also crucial.

  • API Communication

    APIs serve as the bridge between the headless frontend and backend systems, facilitating data exchange, communication, and integration.

    RESTful APIs or GraphQL APIs are commonly used to fetch product information, process orders, manage user accounts, and handle other eCommerce functionalities.

    API Integration

    APIs provided by the headless commerce platform connect the frontend and backend processes. These APIs allow for data exchange between the two systems (e.g., product data, order details, customer information).

    Therefore, carefully study the platform’s API documentation to understand its functionalities and data structures, and rigorously test all API calls to ensure accurate data transfer between the frontend and backend.

    The Magic of APIs

    Here’s where the headless approach truly shines. APIs act as messengers, carrying requests and responses between the frontend and backend. When a customer clicks “Add to Cart” on the frontend, an API call is sent to the backend to update the shopping cart. Similarly, the frontend retrieves product information and displays it on the storefront using APIs.

Headless Commerce Use Cases

Headless commerce empowers businesses to create unique and engaging online experiences. It has a wide range of use cases across different industries and business scenarios. Here are some compelling use cases that showcase its potential:

  • Luxury Retail: Headless commerce allows high-end fashion brands to build a custom front-end with 360° product views, AR try-on features, and personalised recommendations based on browsing history. This creates an interactive, immersive shopping journey reflecting the brand’s exclusivity.
  • B2B Commerce: A company selling industrial machinery can leverage headless commerce to create a secure and personalised B2B portal.
    The custom front-end can integrate with their CRM system, displaying relevant product catalogues and pricing based on a customer’s purchase history and industry needs. This streamlines the ordering process and fosters stronger customer relationships.
  • Voice-Activated Shopping: Headless commerce integrates seamlessly with voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant.
    Imagine a customer saying, “Hey Google, add organic groceries to my cart.” The headless system connects with the back-end inventory and fulfils the order through a voice-activated interface, catering to the growing trend of voice-based commerce.
  • Personalised Mobile Apps: A beauty brand can use headless eCommerce to integrate its app with loyalty programs and offer personalised product recommendations based on past purchases and browsing behaviour, catering a convenient and engaging shopping experience for on-the-go customers.

Case Study: Sephora

To understand the use case of headless eCommerce better, let us read about this case study of a beauty and cosmetics brand, Sephora.
Company Name: Sephora
Industry: Beauty and Cosmetics Brand
Challenges: Sephora, a global leader in beauty retail, wanted to enhance its online shopping experience by delivering personalised and interactive content to customers across multiple channels.
They faced challenges in customising their frontend interface, integrating with third-party services, and optimising performance while maintaining a consistent brand experience.
Solution: Sephora adopted a headless eCommerce approach to address these challenges. They decoupled their frontend presentation layer from the backend commerce functionality, allowing greater flexibility, customisation, and scalability.
Sephora implemented a headless content management system (CMS) to design and deliver highly tailored user experiences, such as personalised product recommendations, interactive tutorials, and virtual try-on tools.
Results: By implementing the key features of headless eCommerce Sephora started receiving magnificent results as below:

  • Improved User Engagement: Sephora saw increased user engagement metrics such as time spent on the site, click-through rates, and conversion rates due to personalised and interactive content.
  • Enhanced Customer Experience: Customers appreciated the seamless and consistent experience across channels, leading to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Agility and Innovation: Thanks to the flexibility of the headless architecture, Sephora could iterate and experiment more rapidly with new features, promotions, and campaigns.
  • Scalability: The headless eCommerce platform allowed Sephora to scale its online operations efficiently during peak seasons and promotional events without compromising performance.
  • Business Growth: Sephora experienced growth in online sales, customer retention, and market share, positioning it as a leader in digital beauty retail.

Future of Headless Commerce

The future of the eCommerce industry is promising and the major contribution shall be made by the headless Commerce. Headless Commerce is expected to continue evolving to meet the changing demands of modern digital commerce and revolutionise the eCommerce landscape.
Let us take a look at some key trends and developments that are shaping the future of headless eCommerce:

trends and developments that are shaping the future of headless eCommerce

  • Microservices Architecture

    Headless eCommerce is moving towards a microservices architecture, where different functionalities are broken down into independent services that can be developed, deployed, and scaled individually. This approach improves the agility, scalability, and maintainability of eCommerce systems.

  • Deeper Integration with Emerging Technologies

    Expect seamless integration with cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These integrations blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds, creating immersive and interactive shopping experiences.

  • AI and Machine Learning Integration

    The integration of AI is revolutionising the eCommerce landscape. The machine learning algorithms and AI is enhancing personalisation, customer segmentation, predictive analytics, and recommendation engines in headless eCommerce enabling businesses to deliver more targeted and relevant experiences to customers.

  • Voice Commerce and IoT Integration

    With the rise of voice assistants and IoT devices, headless eCommerce is exploring new frontiers in voice commerce, smart devices integration, and omnichannel experiences. Voice-enabled shopping, smart home integrations, and contextual interactions are becoming more prevalent.

  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

    PWAs are gaining traction in headless eCommerce as they offer fast, app-like experiences on the web, improved performance, offline capabilities, and seamless cross-platform compatibility. PWAs are ideal for businesses for delivering engaging user experiences in headless architecture.

  • Rise of the MACH Architecture

    Headless commerce is a vital component of the MACH architecture (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) as businesses strive for greater agility and flexibility. This approach emphasises modularity and scalability, allowing businesses to easily adapt their eCommerce infrastructure to changing needs.

Challenges and Considerations

Headless commerce unlocks a world of customization and flexibility for online stores. However, its freedom comes with a few hurdles to consider before taking the plunge. Let us understand three most prominent challenges faced if you opt for headless commerce for your website development:

  • Complexity of Integration

    One of the primary challenges of headless commerce is the complexity of integrating various systems, APIs, and third-party services.
    Ensuring compatibility, reliability, and scalability across different systems can be daunting, requiring careful planning, testing, and collaboration between development teams.

  • Maintenance and Upkeep

    Another challenge is the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the system. With multiple components, technologies, and integrations involved, maintaining the headless architecture requires regular updates, security patches, bug fixes, and performance optimisations.
    This can be challenging as changes in one component may impact others, requiring coordination and testing to avoid disruptions.

  • User Experience Consistency

    Since the frontend is independent of the backend in headless commerce, ensuring consistent branding, design elements, navigation flows, and functionality across web, mobile, and other touchpoints is essential for a seamless customer journey.
    This requires careful UI/UX design, content management, and personalization strategies that align with the brand identity and customer expectations.

Important Tips for Designing a Headless Storefront

Headless commerce empowers you to craft a truly unique online shopping experience. But with great freedom comes great responsibility. A responsibility to design a unique storefront that captivates users’ interest and allures them to become a repeat customer.
Hence, here we compiled a list of important tips that will navigate you to achieve your objective:

Important Tips for Designing a Headless Storefront

  • User Experience (UX) First

    Mapping the customer journey is the first and foremost step in ensuring a smooth user experience. Thus, outline the ideal path customers should take through your store, from browsing to checkout. Consider their needs and pain points at each stage.
    Design a transparent, user-friendly, intuitive navigation system that allows customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and effortlessly.
    An estimate says that nearly 45% of global consumers use their mobile phones to shop daily. Therefore, take advantage of this opportunity and optimise your storefront for seamless mobile browsing and purchasing experiences.
    Remember, this mobile-first approach in eCommerce will definitely give you a breakthrough in your online business.

  • Visual Storytelling

    Website design for an eCommerce store is a great way to capture the targeted audiences. Therefore, go beyond functionality and create a visually appealing storefront that reflects your brand identity. Use high-quality images, engaging product descriptions, and a cohesive colour scheme.
    Showcase your products in the best light possible for the perfect visualisation. Consider using high-resolution product photos, 360-degree views, and even AR/VR integrations if they align with your brand.
    Another important tip is to craft compelling content, including engaging product descriptions, blog posts, and other content that informs, educates, and inspires your customers.

  • Personalisation

    Personalisation is a powerful tool in headless commerce that allows you to leverage Customer Data when appropriate.
    By personalising the shopping experience, you can provide an amazing user experience to your audience by recommending products based on browsing history or past purchases (with customer consent, of course).
    Moving forward with this approach requires delivering targeted content and promotions to different customer segments based on their preferences and purchase history.
    In addition to the above, implement robust search functionality that allows customers to easily find what they’re looking for using relevant filters and suggestions.

Headless commerce offers a powerful solution, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Carefully weigh the benefits against the technical requirements and your team’s capabilities to determine if it fits your eCommerce needs correctly.


Embracing headless eCommerce is not just a technological evolution but a strategic imperative for businesses looking to stay ahead in today’s digital marketplace.

Headless commerce offers immense potential to create a unique and tailored user experience that can drive customer engagement, conversions, and business growth. However, navigating the complexities of headless architecture requires expertise and technical know-how.

Therefore, businesses should consider hiring a professional eCommerce website design and development company with experience in headless eCommerce solutions to ensure a successful headless commerce project.

They can provide strategic guidance, technical expertise, and best practices for designing, developing, and optimising a headless commerce platform that meets business objectives and exceeds user expectations.

Picture of Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub
CEO of Enterprise Monkey
Aamir Qutub is the founder and CEO of Enterprise Monkey, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With an experience of around a decade, he is a proud co-founder of 4 technology startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. He also loves to cook and spend time with his onlyborn.
Picture of Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub
Aamir Qutub is the founder and CEO of Enterprise Monkey, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With an experience of around a decade, he is a proud co-founder of 4 technology startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. He also loves to cook and spend time with his onlyborn.

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