Why Headless Commerce is The Future of Retail

headless commerce

In the past decade, the e-commerce landscape has witnessed a plethora of trends – from mobile shopping and social media integrations to hyper-personalization and the introduction of AI-powered virtual try-ons.

Statista reports that e-commerce will make up 24.5% of all B2B and B2C retail shopping worldwide by 2027.

To keep up with technological advancements and deliver seamless e-commerce experiences, online retailers must use an adaptive and intuitive platform that enables greater flexibility with separate changes to front-end and back-end systems.

They need an architecture that centralizes content and delivers it across channels via API, thereby ensuring faster delivery than traditional e-commerce platforms.

They need an e-commerce architecture that allows for more flexibility in creating the front end, giving developers the freedom to use any programming language or technology stack and deliver exceptional customer experience.

Enter Headless Commerce

A headless commerce solution involves an architecture where the front-end or presentation layer is decoupled from the back-end commerce functionality, with both parts communicating via API plugins.

The user interface that customers see and interact with, whether they’re accessing an e-commerce website, shopping app, or digital kiosk, operates independently from its back end, including the tools and systems that run in the background to store and manage the data that powers the front end.

Components of a headless commerce architecture

An e-commerce business can use back-end databases, with information from sources like CRM platforms, to handle features like product information, the marketing logic behind promotions, and checkout, among others.

In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about headless, including its pros and cons, top headless commerce platforms, and mistakes to avoid while implementing the technology.

Shift from Traditional E-Commerce to Agile Headless Commerce

Traditional (monolithic) e-commerce refers to the conventional method of conducting online business, in which a single platform handles both the front-end (customer-facing) and back-end (business operations) aspects of an online store.

In this model, any changes or updates made to the front end often call for modifications to the back end. This is expensive and time-consuming, especially when you want to adjust to trends and consumer preferences on different platforms quickly.

No wonder the headless commerce platform market is estimated to reach a valuation of $3,811 million by 2030. Moreover, 63% of retail companies plan to implement headless by 2024, with 22% already using it, enhancing the e-commerce customer experience.

Here’s some more convincing data for headless commerce from the Gitnux Market Data Report 2024.

With e-commerce adoption soaring, headless commerce platforms are helping brands like Amazon and Walmart stay competitive. The headless architecture separates the back-end nuts and bolts from how customers interact with shopping platforms.

Since the back-end and front-end components are decoupled, it is easier for e-commerce companies to enable shoppers to complete transactions through mediums like mobile apps, Instagram, or interactive kiosks.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

So, what are the benefits of headless commerce? Are there any downsides? Here’s a comparison – headless commerce vs traditional commerce.

Benefits of Headless Commerce

Improved time-to-value

Building an online store’s back end comprises 85% of the software development process. In headless commerce, separating front-end and back-end functionalities reduces the complexity of deploying changes and accelerates development.

As a result, you can implement updates and integrate new technologies faster without overhauling your entire system.

Minimized cost of ownership

Typically, monolithic e-commerce software vendors release new versions a few times a year, pushing you to constantly review and rewrite parts of the custom code to ensure your online store works fine.

Headless commerce allows you to choose and customize your tech stack according to your business requirements without extensive downtime or redevelopment. This reduces both direct costs, like purchasing new licenses, and indirect costs, such as developer time.

Improved scalability and performance

With headless commerce, you can optimize your back-end system for high-volume transactions by incorporating robust data handling and business logic. Also, resources can be scaled up or down as needed without compromising store performance.

Similarly, for the front end, independent use of modern, lightweight frameworks that improve load times and user interactions helps maintain favorable web vitals.

Extensive integration and customization

This decoupled architecture allows you to easily integrate third-party tools and plugins, such as payment gateways, SEO and shipping APIs, CRM systems, and Web Application Firewalls (WAFs), with your online store.

You can also personalize the front-end experience based on your specific branding, design, and user interface requirements without changing the back-end systems.

Drawbacks of Headless Commerce

Higher initial setup costs

While headless commerce can reduce costs over time, the initial setup burns a hole in the pocket. Developing a custom front end separate from the back end and integrating third-party services requires massive investment in development resources and expertise. This isn’t a feasible option for small online stores with limited budgets.

Dependency on technical expertise

Managing a headless online store requires a higher technical skill set than traditional e-commerce platforms. You must have access to experienced developers who can handle the complexities of a decoupled architecture.

Potential for increased security risks

With multiple systems and APIs interacting, there can be an increased risk of security vulnerabilities. Each integration and data exchange introduces potential entry points for security breaches, requiring reliance on fool-proof security protocols and constant vigilance.

Top Headless Commerce Platforms

If you are planning to shift from traditional web platforms to headless technology, you need to be aware of the most popular platforms that could benefit you.

Shopify Plus

Shopify’s GraphQL API makes it compatible with headless commerce through Shopify Plus, which offers enterprise-level features for large-scale online stores and accommodates businesses handling fewer orders. Shopify Plus offers an unparalleled level of customization that allows you to make changes at the codebase level.

This involves writing lines of code that modify your site theme’s appearance without hampering your back-end systems.

You can personalize your checkout experience by incorporating progressive offers and coupons based on the items in the shopping cart, customer presets, and cart totals. The Shopify Plus APIs let you integrate with third-party ERP, CRM, PIM, or WMS systems.


BigCommerce’s open API headless architecture and its ever-growing base of apps for email, SEO, payment, shipping, and inventory management enables you to innovate and adapt your online store flexibly.

You can decouple the back-end engine from the front-end interface to run several stores across different channels, all from a centralized location. BigCommerce offers many front-end framework solutions, such as Next.js, Gatsby.js, and Nuxt.js.

Get fully customizable themes with built-in HTML, Javascript, and CSS. Personalize every aspect of the checkout experience with a server-to-server checkout API and SDK.

Adobe Commerce

Adobe Cloud Headless Commerce

Previously known as Magento, this flexible and scalable e-commerce platform allows you to avail omnichannel solutions that combine digital and brick-and-mortar shopping. Adobe Commerce uses AI to deliver custom site search, browsing, and product recommendations.

It comes with a unified developer platform and an integration starter kit. Adobe Commerce’s analytics equip you to leverage data-driven customer experience insights for strategic decision-making.

Customer lifetime value, number of orders per month, churn rate, cart abandonment rate, and purchase frequency are some of the e-commerce KPIs and metrics you should track for your online store. Adobe Commerce enables custom integrations through the REST and SOAP web API frameworks.

What to Be Aware of During a Headless Implementation

Understanding and addressing the following challenges is crucial for successfully deploying and maintaining a headless commerce system:

  • Decoupling requires massive changes in how data is handled, services are integrated, and the user interface is developed. Building a lot of functionality from scratch or incorporating multiple external services can increase development costs.
  • Don’t choose a tech stack based on current trends, as that can result in performance issues, higher maintenance costs, and limitations in functionality. Make a decision based on your specific business needs, scalability, and compatibility with other systems.
  • In a headless environment, common SEO strategies such as server-side rendering may not be inherently available, and you may need to manually populate metadata, make dynamic content accessible to Google crawlers, and structure URLs.
  • If APIs are poorly designed, they can limit what the front end can do. For instance, if the API doesn’t provide detailed product information or cannot handle complicated transactions smoothly, the user experience on your online store will suffer.
  • Lack of continuous testing during an e-commerce replatforming risks introducing a host of problems—for example, bugs that lead to transaction failures, incorrect pricing displays, or security vulnerabilities. These issues cause interruptions in sales, damage customer trust, and hurt your revenue.

That’s where Noibu comes in.

Designed specifically for e-commerce teams, the Noibu platform is built to detect and help resolve 100% of technical errors that cause friction on your e-commerce site.

When replatforming, you can set up a staging domain to deploy Noibu’s script and test your e-commerce website before launching. You’ll be able to monitor errors on both the staging and live domains. This will ensure that any anticipated errors on your new site are addressed before they cause friction in the customer journey.

The e-commerce error detection and resolution software captures all JS, HTTP, GQL, and image errors, and pinpoints funnel step issues. It collects and shares data visualizations about your site’s health. That way, you’ll know exactly where and how to resolve issues.

Noibu error resolution

Headless Commerce: Who Should Consider It?

Every e-commerce store has unique needs and goals, meaning that not all technologies suit every store.

So, for whom are headless commerce solutions best suited?

They’re ideal for businesses that are:

  • Are content-led and mobile-first retailers
  • Want to offer a superior omnichannel user experience
  • Feel their current e-commerce platform is too restrictive or rigid
  • Have multiple sales channels (online, mobile, social media, in-store)
  • Operate globally and must be able to adjust to diverse regulatory environments and cultural differences in presentation and functionality

Fuel Your E-Commerce Transformation with Headless

Sixty percent of e-commerce businesses consider improving their digital experience critical to minimizing customer acquisition costs. And what’s better than harnessing the power of headless architecture to achieve this goal?

Blended with commerce and engineered for a superior user experience, this technology empowers your e-commerce store to be more agile and adaptive.

This architecture is perfect for improving your UX, capitalizing on omnichannel opportunities, and making personalization the center of the shopping experience.

Moreover, with Noibu as your co-pilot in transforming your e-commerce website experience, you can rest assured of a seamless transition. Sign up for a demo of the Noibu platform today to explore how it detects and helps resolve revenue-impacting errors on e-commerce websites.

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