What is Headless Commerce?

Learn what it means, comparisons to other types of commerce, and why it's the future for eCommerce businesses.

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The meaning of Headless Commerce

The term “Headless Commerce” is the concept of separating the frontend presentation layer “head” from the backend processing layer “body” through the use of APIs. A headless commerce backend solution therefore does not have a frontend or head (leaving you to create your customer facing views) and is instead responsible for handling commerce logic, such as product data, cart actions, and checkout processing, all via APIs.

An eCommerce business that is truly "headless" utilizes APIs on the frontend and backend. For example, it is possible to use a headless frontend (API-driven) with a coupled backend (not API-driven). Headless frontends cater to the complexities around displaying data, whereas headless backends cater to the complexities around creating, managing, and customizing data.


Traditional eCommerce vs Headless Commerce

Traditional eCommerce platforms have coupled front and backends, are rigid in their architecture, and lack flexibility for complex business logic. These platforms are template driven and provide a proprietary plugin framework for customizations and extensions.

Headless commerce enables the decoupling of the frontend from the backend, allowing for deeper control over the customer experience, site speed, and integrations that support unique business logic. Headless commerce solutions are technology agnostic and so can be implemented into any device or channel where there are customers.

Traditional eCommerce vs Headless Commerce

A checkout that is headless can be deeply personalized, supports alternative payment methods, and can be placed virtually anywhere customers are.

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Evolution of the eCommerce platform

From the early days of the web, the dot com boom, to the rise of SaaS, how we do business and consume online has changed dramatically over the years.

In the early 00s, traditional eCommerce platforms were created to help retail businesses open new digital channels. This new frontier for businesses was a challenge, resulting in platforms making opinionated decisions on behalf of businesses.

Fast forward to 2020 and how things have changed. Most businesses have an online first distribution model, business use cases and requirements are increasingly varied, and customers expect to be able to buy anywhere easily.

At Commerce.js, we are building commerce infrastructure for the next generation of businesses that demand control and flexibility over their commerce. Our infrastructure is built to accomodate and scale with the complex nature of modern businesses, supporting open integrations, custom logic, specific workflows, and today's customer's expectations.

The benefits of headless

Headless commerce helps businesses:

The benefit of headless comes down to data and experience control, with the ability to move at the speed you need when making mission critical business decisons.

If your business needs to level up its online presence, headless commerce gives you the ability to get there on your own terms.

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Evaluating headless for your business

Evaluating the benefits and capabilities of a headless commerce solution can be difficult. Every business has different reasons to move away from an all-in-one, monolithic approach to commerce. We created HeadlessCommerce.org to help business builders configure a best-of-breed stack using API driven services.

Browse this list of curated services that go beyond commerce and help you identify solutions for content, storefronts, payments, search, authentication, shipping, and more.


Visualizing Headless Commerce

Headless Commerce stack visualisation

Your unified suite of Commerce APIs

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Start your integration — no contracts or banking details required. Contact us to create a custom package for your business.

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Products API

Store and request product data from any source to display on your frontend. Supports complex variants, physical products, and digital products.

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Checkout API

Capture data sent from the cart along with line item data, line item IDs, any shipping or billing information as well as tax and shipping rates.