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What Is Headless Commerce?

Last updated: 14 June 2022

Headless commerce can be complicated to understand. However, it's not that the technology is complicated, it's more the way people are writing about it. In this guide, our goal is to simplify headless commerce and enable you to understand how it can benefit your business.

Headless commerce definition

Headless commerce is the separation of the frontend of your eCommerce store from the backend. The frontend is the part of the store customers see, the interface where they browse your catalog and select the items they want to buy. The backend is where all of the heavy lifting happens like processing orders, managing inventory and so on. 

Retail eCommerce sales worldwide are expected to surpass $5 trillion in 2022 and $7 trillion by 2025. As companies have shifted operations online, customers have been taking advantage of the ability to shop on channels they never previously considered. 

Nowadays, customers don’t need to visit your store from their computer. Instead, they can shop from their mobile devices and tablets, whether on your website or using a mobile app.

They can place an order using the smart speaker in their living room or go to a store and use the touchpad to pick out what they’re looking for and add it to a cart.

All of these things are made possible through headless commerce. The ability to deliver to these channels is precisely what enables businesses to deliver an omnichannel experience to their customers. They receive a seamless, high-quality shopping experience regardless of the channel where they initially start.

With most digital shopping experiences now omnichannel, businesses are searching for new opportunities to capitalize on the digital world. Headless commerce is growing in popularity due to these factors as organizations need the right technology to capitalize on these opportunities. 

Read more: Headless commerce explained in 5 minutes


How Headless Commerce Works

Understanding how headless commerce works requires us to compare it to the traditional approach to ecommerce stores. 

Traditional or monolithic eCommerce involves the tight coupling of the frontend and backend of the eCommerce store.

Platforms like Shopify templates and Magento use these traditional commerce approaches where an all-in-one platform handles everything related to your online store. On the surface, this might sound good, but in the modern digital environment, this can limit your brand’s flexibility and how you present yourself to customers. 

Headless separates the frontend and backend, decoupling them from each other. Instead, these two sections can communicate using APIs. This allows you to create different frontend experiences for various channels.

You can set up an eCommerce frontend where your users can shop via a mobile app, tablet or kiosk, or even a smart refrigerator. On the backend, you can connect an eCommerce platform, headless CMS, and a headless storefront builder to help make those experiences even better. You can also connect to a CRM, payment gateway, or other specialized tools to create a best-of-breed eCommerce tech stack. 

Read More: What is monolithic commerce vs headless commerce?

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