Headless Commerce: Definition, Architecture, and Benefits for Your Business

May 24, 2023 | visibility 351

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Have you heard of headless commerce and wondered what is it and what benefits it can deliver to your business? This blog got you covered with all your questions related to it.

Nowadays, the eCommerce business landscape is becoming immensely competitive. This leads eCommerce businesses to provide a personalized customer experience to sustain in the market and outshine the competition. However traditional eCommerce solutions are driven by limitations when it comes to creating personalized experiences.

This is what leads to the introduction of Salesforce headless commerce.

Headless commerce is a concept that is acquiring rapid popularity among eCommerce businesses to help them better address customers’ needs.

Ready to learn more about headless commerce? Let’s get started.

What is Headless Commerce?

Put simply, headless commerce refers to a concept that separates frontend customer experience (UI) from the backend components of an eCommerce platform.

This enables ecommerce businesses to build unique and personalized shopping experiences for their customers that can be easily integrated with the backend of the e-commerce platform.

Let’s take the help of the following example to better understand what is headless commerce:

What is headless commerce

Let’s say a business selling apparel online wants to create a customized website that displays its collection and allows the customer to filter the collection according to different parameters like size, colors, and styles. With its use businesses can customize the frontend to make the unique requirement of their apparel business. This customized front end of the website can be easily connected with the backend of the e-commerce platform to handle things like payment, shipping, and other logistical tasks.

In other words, headless commerce enables a business to create a front end using any technology like react.js, angular, Vue.js, or Next.js to offer an excellent customer experience. While using specialized ecommerce platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud to handle backend-related tasks like product management, order fulfillment, and so on.

Understand Headless Commerce Architecture

As said above, headless commerce architecture decouples the front-end or presentation from the backend functionality of an ecommerce platform. The architecture is categorized into the following three categories:


1. Based On API-Driven eCommerce Platform

API-based architecture as the name suggests refers to the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to administer the various components of an eCommerce platform.

APIs enable the frontend, backend, content, product data, or any other information of an ecommerce platform to communicate with each other to exchange information.

API-based architecture provides businesses with a customized experience tailored to their business while establishing and maintaining a strong connection with the backend.

This headless commerce architecture remains the right choice for you when you want more flexibility in the UI of your ecommerce business while ensuring the backend logic of your solutions remains pretty much standard.

With this architecture, your business can leverage the following features:

  • Pricing management
  • Content management
  • Basic order management
  • Monitoring and managing sales performance
  • Product catalog management

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2. Based on API- Driven CMS

This proved to be the best choice for you when you want to build a content-rich website that will be primarily used for soft-selling marketing. Furthermore, if you have an existing CMS-based website to which you want to add an e-commerce component.

With this architecture, you can unlock the following features for your eCommerce business:

  • Content templates that are configurable to tailor to your needs.
  • The management of digital assets.

3. Based on Microservices

It is ideal for planning multiple user journey scenarios and underlying business workflows that lead to complex ecommerce solutions.

The following are the advantages of the microservices:

  • Designed with business functions in mind.
  • Independently developed and deployed
  • Design, test, and deploy quickly
  • Interconnected using the API calls

Explore Headless Commerce Benefits:

Let’s figure out the headless commerce benefits to decide how it can provide value to your business:

benefits of headless commerce architecture

1. Greater Customization

The biggest benefit of headless commerce lies in its capability to help businesses to achieve the ideal look and feel they want. The capabilities of headless ecommerce platforms enable eCommerce businesses to create custom content and experience that are tailored to the specific needs of the customers to boost engagement.

Furthermore, Salesforce headless commerce decouples the front end and back end. As a result, changes in the front end won’t affect the site’s backend architecture.

2. Faster Page Loading Time

Faster page loading time is increasingly important for maintaining user experience and search engine optimization. Headless commerce is proven to be beneficial for businesses as it enables them to leverage the power of server-side rendering which contributes to faster loading time. Furthermore, headless commerce helps businesses to create a single-page application which reduces the page loading time. All these factors indicate that headless commerce is the preferred choice over traditional commerce.

3. Improved Scalability

Scalability is yet another benefit of ecommerce businesses behind the increased adaptation of headless commerce. Headless commerce helps businesses swiftly add features and functionalities to the eCommerce platform in response to growth. Since the front end and back end of the eCommerce platform are decoupled, businesses can easily make changes to one part without affecting the other part of the eCommerce platform. This makes it easy to scale the particular part of an eCommerce solution as and when needed to deliver better scalability.

4. Improved Security

This platform puts a strong emphasis on security. It employs the API best practices and API gateways to ensure improved security for the customer’s data. It also offers improved access control and powerful authentication methods to ensure that customer data remains secure from unauthorized access. Since the headless commerce architecture is based on modularity, developers are in charge of deploying the security updates on the basis of business needs. For example, a headless commerce platform like Commerce Cloud offers authentication mechanisms like JSON Web Token (JWT) to ensure the privacy of customer credentials.

5. Improved Access to Customer Data and Insights

Understanding how customers use a product or service is essential for businesses to personalize their marketing efforts to yield better engagement and improved conversion rates. Headless eCommerce provides businesses with easy access to customer data and insights in the real-time power decision-making process of business. With APIs and microservices, businesses can easily access a variety of customer data such as purchase histories, preferences, and behaviors to gain actionable insights about the customers. The right utilization of these customer insights can help businesses to create personalized customer experiences, improve engagement rates, and optimize the customer journey. Furthermore, the modular architecture of headless ecommerce makes it easier for businesses to integrate third-party analytics and marketing tools with Headless to extend access to customer data and power the decision-making process.

You can also read here about the benefits of Salesforce Commerce Cloud for eCommerce Businesses.

Common Challenges in Headless Commerce Implementation

The benefit of headless commerce solutions inspires businesses to leverage their capabilities to unlock new growth opportunities. However, the implementation of a headless commerce solution is not an easy journey, it is full of challenges that need to be addressed to ensure its successful implementation.

Here we have outlined the most common challenges that come in the way of headless commerce implementation:

challenges in headless commerce implementation process

1. Securing Customer Data

Securing customer data is among the biggest challenges confronted by businesses considering implementing headless commerce solutions. This is because of its dependency on third-party services. There is a higher risk of customer data leak due to security vulnerabilities with third–party services. There is often the case when data privacy regulations may not be adequately enforced with third-party services which further enhance the chances of unauthorized access.

2. Integrating Third-Party Services

Even though it is compatible to be integrated with third-party services, there are various challenges that need to be addressed. Since these services are built on different architectures, it is a must for developers to ensure compatibility to lead to seamless integration and smooth operations. Headless commerce integration with third-party services involves additional time and resources, which contributes to increased costs. It is also imperative that businesses adopt systems to ensure that third-party services are regularly updated so that their smooth operation can be maintained. Another challenge would be to maintain the flexibility and scalability of third-party services to help businesses meet the growing demand of customers.

3. Customization Cost

Headless commerce offers greater flexibility in terms of customization. However, the customization requires extra time and resources to ensure compatibility with the various third-party services and headless commerce architecture. It is costly and time-consuming for the business to build customized front ends for the different devices.

Furthermore, the maintenance of third-party services is also complex and difficult which results in the improved cost of headless commerce solutions implementation.

4. Implementing Microservices

Implementing microservices requires businesses to have a complete understanding of the business objectives. Since microservice implementation is a complex process specialized resources are required with technical skills to integrate microservices with headless commerce solutions.

5. Testing and Quality Assurance

The decoupled system of it helps businesses offer great flexibility to help businesses to create an excellent customer experience. However, this also leads to rigorous testing and quality assurance. It is essential to test the different components of headless eCommerce solutions to make sure the different components are working seamlessly.

How to Implement Headless Commerce: Step-by-Step Guide

Headless commerce is a rapidly growing trend in the eCommerce industry that enables businesses to create excellent and personalized customer experiences. Here we have shared a step-by-step guide on how to implement headless commerce for your business:

1. Research & Planning

The very first step in the headless commerce implementation process is research and planning. It helps businesses to comprehend a strong understanding of their business objective and customer requirements. Research also helps you outline the selection of the best third-party services that are suited to your business. Furthermore, the research and planning ensure that the implementation process remains aligned with the business needs and that potential challenges are addressed to ensure successful implementation.

2. Choose a Headless Commerce Platform

Once you have identified the business requirements, the next step would be to choose the headless commerce platform that is aligned with your business needs.

There are various headless commerce platforms available to select such as:

I. Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a flexible and trusted platform to help you meet all your headless commerce needs. This platform employs scalable commerce APIs, developer efficiency tools, AI-powered personalization, a progressive web app storefront, and a proven partner ecosystem. Furthermore, it is a highly scalable platform making it capable to help businesses to add new features or products in response to customer’s needs. Salesforce Commerce Cloud also offers a unified customer experience across multiple devices allowing customers to have a seamless shopping experience.

SFCC also offers an open-source Progressive Web App (PWA) kit. Salesforce Commerce APIs and React are used to build this new storefront for headless commerce. PWA kit provides developers with the ability to build a modern, decoupled, headless commerce storefront using React. PWA kit empowers developers to create immersive and engaging ecommerce experiences by combining its flexibility of it with the advantages of PWAs, such as offline capabilities, fast loading times, and native-like features.

II. Shopify Plus:

Shopify is the most renowned headless commerce platform. The platform employs a multitude of features and tools to help businesses to create engaging and personalized experiences that become strong advocates for their growth.

Shopify Plus offers easy and secure integration with business systems like ERP, PIM, CRM, CMS, and more. It is an ideal choice for both mid and enterprise businesses.

Check here how Salesforce Commerce Cloud is better than Shopify.

III. BigCommerce

BigCommerce is yet another highly capable headless ecommerce platform driven by the API-first philosophy. It offers front-end frameworks like Next.js, Gatsby.js, and Nuxt.js to help you achieve the user experience you’ve dreamed of. Offering support for content management systems like WordPress, Contentful, Prismic, and Contentstack, BigCommerce enables next-generation headless commerce solutions quickly and effectively.

IV. Adobe Commerce (Formerly Known As Magento)

Adobe Commerce is one of the highly customizable headless commerce platforms. Previously known as Magento, it established its market presence for steady performance. The platform employs the PWA Studio tools to help businesses to build a PWA-powered front-end.

3. Create Frontend

With your headless commerce platform in place, the next step would be to create the front end of the headless solution. The front end should be designed to offer customers a friendly, seamless, and holistic experience. You can choose the front-end frameworks like React, Vue, or Angular to be more efficient with your front-end creation. These front-end frameworks provide the structure and functionality required to create the front end of a headless solution.

4. Configure Backend

Configure the backend of your solution by ensuring the correct integrations of APIs offered by your chosen ecommerce platform. Backend configuration also includes database setup, server setup, and authentication mechanism. For example, Salesforce Commerce Cloud makes it easy to configure the backend of your headless solution easily. It offers the pre-built setup of a database, server, and authentication mechanism to get started with headless commerce.

5. Connect Frontend and Backend

Once the frontend and backend setup are completed, the next step would be to tie the two together. You can rely on the APIs provided by the platform to ensure a seamless and secure connection between the front end and back end. For example, the Salesforce Commerce Cloud headless API enables businesses to connect their frontend applications with their backend product catalog, inventory, order management, and payment processing systems. This allows businesses to create custom applications with a variety of features and functionalities.

6. Test Your Implementation

Headless commerce solutions should be tested thoroughly to ensure everything is working as expected. Testing can be accomplished by testing the user experience and making sure that the data is retrieved successfully from the backend. You should also test the security of your headless solution to make sure customer data is secure.

7. Deploy Your Headless Commerce Solution

Now you’re ready to deploy your headless commerce solutions to serve your customers. You should keep monitoring the performance of the solution and customer feedback to optimize your solution to better serve your customers.

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Final Take on Headless Commerce

Headless commerce brings many benefits over traditional commerce. According to the survey conducted by BigCommerce, nearly 66% of ecommerce businesses have shown interest in adopting it to stay competitive in this today’s ever-changing market.

Do you envision adopting headless commerce to create a comprehensive, customized, and unified shopping experience for your customers? Cyntexa is there to move your ecommerce business to headless. Let us know your business goals, and we will assist you in achieving them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Headless commerce decouples the front end with the back end, enabling businesses to create a unified shopping experience for their customers across multiple platforms backed by a similar backend. However, traditional commerce, on the other hand, confides in a single, monolithic platform to manage frontend and backend.

Salesforce enables businesses to go headless by offering scalable Commerce APIs that separate the front end from the back end. Salesforce enables businesses to select the best-fit headless architecture for their businesses that align with their business needs and goals.

Headless commerce prioritizes the customer experience which is the key to improving the conversion rate. Businesses have the flexibility to incorporate changes in the frontend to deliver amazing customer experience.

The best practice to choose a headless implementation partner is to put a strong emphasis on prior experience in building and deploying headless solutions. The partner’s expertise in modern technologies such as APIs, microservices, and serverless architectures can also be used as a selection criterion. The partner’s ability to customize the solution to meet your specific needs can also help you pick the right one for your business.

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