Headless Commerce 101

Everything you need to know about Headless Commerce, including what it is, comparisons to other eCommerce architecture types, and the benefits of headless.

headless 101

What is headless Commerce?

The term “Headless Commerce” is the concept of separating the frontend “head” from the backend “body” through the use of an API layer. A headless commerce solution is responsible for handling commerce logic, such as product, cart, and checkout, all via an API.

True headless commerce 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

Commerce Infrastructure vs Commerce Platforms

Learn why Commerce.js has taken an infrastructure led approach to commerce, and how this benefits businesses as they scale.

Commerce Infrastructure

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 technical literacy is at an all time high.

At Commerce.js, we are building commerce infrastructure for the next generation of businesses that demand control and flexibility over their commerce. Our infrastructure (not a platform) 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

Choosing headless commerce gives you granular control over both the frontend performance of your shopping experiences and the backend orchestration of services that power your business. Select providers for shipping, payments, inventory, storefronts, email and every other aspect of your eCommerce stack. With this level of control, you're able to make proactive decisions around where to optimize, what services to use, and when to make incremental changes as you grow.

What does this level of control mean for your business? The ability to easily action improvements to your business without making any tradeoffs to the customer experience, site performance, or project budget. If your business wants to level up its online presence, headless commerce gives you the ability to get there on your own terms.


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 than go beyond commerce and help you identify solutions for content, storefronts, payments, search, authentication, shipping, and more.


Visualizing Headless Commerce

Headless Commerce APIs

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.

Products API

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

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.