Developing an online store in the past typically involved using one platform to cover all functionalities.
For instance, that one platform would store the database, present the shopping cart, and also provide frontend functionality and content creation tools.
This sounds OK on the surface. But the headless commerce architecture has made the overall process more streamlined and useful for online store owners. This is particularly true when talking about Shopify headless commerce.
What is Headless Commerce?
As a brief introduction to headless commerce, it's worth visualizing your online store as one entity. You may use a platform like Shopify or WordPress for all tasks, from blogging to ecommerce. But wouldn't it be better to take multiple platforms that excel at certain tasks and combine them all together?
That's what headless commerce is all about. Essentially, it's the idea of separating the frontend of your online store from the actual ecommerce functionality. So, you might use a different platform for customer service, user management and content creation.
Overall, a headless commerce platform provides greater flexibility in the realm of operations and performance. You're not limited to what one platform has to offer.
An example of this would be if you used Shopify for the ecommerce functionality but turned to an alternative for a CMS or frontend framework.
Some people consider Shopify apps to be a form of headless commerce, since you're integrating other tools with Shopify.
How to Get Started With a Shopify Headless Commerce Store
Shopify packs hosting, ecommerce, blogging, frontend design and much more into its platform. So, how do you achieve a Shopify headless commerce system?
It all depends on how you view headless commerce. The primary way to go about this is with the Shopify Storefront API. This is supported when you sign up for a Shopify account, and can pull content and site elements into your Shopify store with APIs.
What's The Deal With Shopify APIs?
In short, the Shopify Storefront API offers merchants the opportunity to work with outside channels while still utilizing powerful Shopify ecommerce tools.
The use of the Shopify Storefront API is gaining traction, seeing as how companies want complete customization that simple templates and apps can't achieve. With the help of Liquid coding customizations and API access, merchants are able to create a high-speed frontend experience or a one-page checkout module to increase conversions.
The problem with this is cost. You'll typically end up spending a significant amount of money to find a developer that'll complete the customizations and integrations for you.
The good news is Shopify has a marketplace for experts, so you can do your research on developers.
What About Shopify Apps?
A headless infrastructure with Shopify opens up support for other channels on the platform. Some argue that a true headless experience is reserved for the API, but Shopify already has a large library of apps that integrate with a standard store.
Yes, external apps can be combined with Shopify through the API, but the apps sold on the Shopify App Store are often just as effective and less expensive than paying for a developer.
An excellent example of this would be improving your blog and landing page creation process with a page builder app. For instance, the Shogun Page Builder offers templates for everything from product pages, blog posts and landing pages with drag-and-drop elements for videos, images, grids and more.
What's more is that Shopify apps cover all types of functionalities, such as:
- Social media
- Much more
The majority of these apps are from third-party developers who focus primarily on what they've built. Therefore, you're expanding the channels you use on your website and you don't have to constantly rely on only what Shopify has to offer.
The Benefits of Decoupling Your Ecommerce Frontend from the Backend
Is headless better than traditional commerce for your store?
It depends on what type of company you have and if it's in need of more flexible frontend interfaces. Sometimes the default Shopify tools are enough for smaller companies, especially when you're new to the game. In fact, a headless approach may cause too much confusion for a company just starting out.
But once you decide that Shopify headless commerce is right for you, there are a number of advantages.
1. Much More Personalization
Customer behavior is your primary measuring point when implementing headless commerce, especially with Shopify.
With headless, you're able to ensure that the experience is incredible no matter what device the user is on and what they're looking for on your website. Split testing is also a part of headless commerce, so you can ensure that conversion rates are high whenever you build something new.
In short, you're able to easily customize and personalize with headless commerce, and you can come to conclusions about your new designs more rapidly than before.
2. Increased Control Over Design and Functionality
A headless Shopify store offers flexibility and an overall pleasant experience for everyone. The Shopify API is ready for your company to get creative and ensure that the design creates a beautiful experience for your customers. Then, it combines well with the built-in ecommerce functionality so you don't have to worry much about things like high bounce rates or abandoned carts.
3. You Can Scale Faster
Shopify headless commerce doesn't only make processes better for consumers. It creates a well-balanced architecture for merging with a wide range of systems such as ERPs, CMSs and PIMs. In short, you're not limited to that one programming language, and shifts in technology won't cause a lag in your adaptation process.
Overall, your company is able to move at its own pace, whether that's slow and steady or as rapidly as possible.
4. Faster Speed to Market
Headless commerce eliminates the need for two teams to work in tandem at all times.
What are those teams?
The first one is the backend development team and the other would be front-facing content creators, such as bloggers, landing page creators and marketers. In the past, you'd have to work together for both backend and frontend issues. Now, headless commerce separates the two, meaning that one team can introduce new features or content to market without having to wait around for the other.
When Should You Consider Headless Commerce for Your Shopify Store?
Headless commerce isn't always the right idea for your brand. Although this type of commerce and technology is evolving every day, there are some downsides.
For instance, a new startup may think headless commerce is the right way to begin a company. However, this can cause problems due to complications from working with multiple platforms. You may also find that you don't have the money for third-party integrations or developers.
So, here are some thoughts on when you should start considering headless commerce:
- When your brand has the monetary resources and personnel to manage a system like headless commerce.
- If you'd like to start rapidly scaling.
- For when you decide that providing a unique experience to your customers is essential to your brand.
- For when you'd like to speed up the time to market for content and products.
- To improve your overall control over customization.
- When you're in need of rapid A/B testing and launching.
Shopify Plus and Headless Commerce
The Shopify API is ready for action, giving developers the freedom to integrate with all sorts of third-party apps. You can even create your own app and make it work on Shopify.
Shopify Plus is an enterprise-level solution designed for high-volume merchants who need more features and control over their online stores. Plan members have the option to transition to a headless system. Shopify even has a dedicated landing page about how Plus members can customize anything and get their brand and checkout module ready for any channel.
You'll receive additional resources and tools for designing a seamless customer experience and direct contact with dedicated support representatives who are there to improve your store. From quick A/B testing to integrations with technology such as wearables, smart mirrors and vending machines, the Shopify Plus headless system is worth looking into for some brands.
Ultimately, you need to decide what works for your store. Weigh the pros and cons, and see whether Shopify (Plus) headless commerce is right for you.