An Introduction To Headless Commerce



This surging model of ecommerce is fast becoming popular among businesses seeking to spread their brand to as many touch points as possible.

Headless commerce is known as a commerce stack that is decoupled from the front-end applications. That means developers working on digital solutions can then use APIs to deliver assets such as products, blog posts or customer reviews to any screen or device. Meanwhile, front-end developers can focus on how to present that content using any framework they want.

Flexibility and personalization are two of many key benefits of headless commerce. Adding features to a digital shopping channel, such as building a custom checkout flow or adding a new field to a customer account, are made simpler when the business leverages a decoupled architecture. Or, an organization’s marketing team can launch any promotion campaign at any time and update content/design for these initiatives on its own without having to rely on any IT team for the support. In truth, for enterprises adopting headless architecture, the functionalities are pretty much blue-sky.


Because headless systems are decoupled, they allow brands to experiment without fear of disrupting the front-end experience. For example, teams within a brand can run continuous tests and optimization cycles, gaining a deeper understanding of the customer, and achieving the highest level of user personalization and conversion rates without interfering with shoppers.

Headless commerce is especially appealing for omnichannel experience-driven shopping journeys. As a CB Insights report explains, “By allowing customer interactions like message-based sales channels or 1-click checkouts to become more plug-and-play, this approach offers a way for brands and retailers to more easily tap into emerging ecommerce mediums like voice, text, mobile, and more.

One well-known model of headless commerce is voice-activated purchases. Look at how consumers clamour to use Alexa or Siri to tell the device what they want and to purchase the products directly from the voice-driven device. Consumers don’t have to visit a website’s front-end aka its head.

How does headless commerce work exactly? The platform sends customer requests between the presentation and application layers through web services or API calls. So when someone clicks a “Buy Now” button on their smartphone, the presentation layer of the headless ecommerce system shuttles an API call to the application layer to process the order. The application layer then sends another API request to the application layer to show the customer the status of their order.

What enterprise businesses enjoy about headless commerce is how it allows them to seamlessly integrate new user interfaces into their front-end ecosystem and also deploy changes to them independent of their back end. Such benefits engineer a faster time to market, a more agile business, and a digital-first approach to their overall business strategy.

Filippo Conforti, CEO at Commerce Layer, sums up the value of what headless can offer businesses, as he wrote in a Medium post from September 2020: “A headless commerce solution is for those merchants who believe that storytelling and content experiences distinguish their brand and therefore, don’t want to limit their creativity or their online execution. They want to use a robust, best of breed CMS solution and make this content completely shoppable across all touchpoints and devices — whether its PC, mobile, app, or IoT.”

Special thanks to our friends at Bold Commerce for their insights on this topic.

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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