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Headless Shopify, what are the costs?

Last updated: 14 June 2022

This might be one of the most asked questions when it comes to headless commerce: “What are the costs of going headless with Shopify?”

The costs can be divided into 3 categories:

Software costs
Building costs
Maintenance costs

Software costs

As you know, going headless means saying goodbye to the all-in-one monolithic solution that is Shopify. Instead, you will couple the best-in-class technologies to your headless Shopify setup. 

The first cost to consider is therefore the additional software you will use. From a headless CMS like Storyblok ($99) to a site-search solution like Algolia ($100). Your recurring monthly costs, depending on your needs, will for sure be more expensive than before.

Let’s go over a typical headless commerce architecture:

  • Shopify - eCommerce backend - $299 p/month

  • Storyblok - Headless CMS - $99 p/month

  • Vercel - Deployment - $60 p/month

  • GitHub - Code management - $20 p/month

  • And of course any apps you used before such as Klaviyo, Yotpo, Gorgias, and others.

Building costs

The real costs of going headless are in building the new webshop. Building a headless Shopify store will require in-house developers or hiring an agency because you’ll need a team with high-level development skills. 

It's a long and complex process and headless Shopify builds cost anywhere from $100k - $500k + with your typical agency. 

The large investment exists because going headless basically means you need to rebuild all the eCommerce functionalities. In addition, moving to a headless commerce setup requires all the plugins and apps you used in your monolith Shopify solution to be rebuilt. 

Another question we get a lot is: “How long does it take to launch a headless Shopify solution?”. To answer this question we've interviewed a dozen agencies. What we've found is that the average duration of a headless Shopify project takes anywhere from 3 to 6+ months.

Maintenance costs

Last but not least there are maintenance costs. When you have gone headless you'll need to maintain a codebase that requires a deep skill set, therefore you will need to hire an agency or a senior in-house developer.

A senior in-house developer will cost you anywhere from $100K - $150K a year. The typical agency retainer will be $5K - $10K a month. 

The high costs of going headless is the reason why until now only larger brands made the leap to headless commerce. Luckily with the increasing popularity of headless commerce, software solutions arose that are democratizing headless commerce. These are so-called frontend as a service platforms.

More on that in the next chapter.

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