What Is Headless Commerce?

(All Your Questions Answered)

If you’re looking to build an eCommerce store, you’ve likely come across a ton of buzzwords.

And we’re sure one of them has been “headless commerce.”

There’s no escaping it in 2022!

But what is headless commerce, and why is it all the rage now? More importantly, is it the right solution for your online store?

This guide answers all your questions!

We’ll take a detailed look at headless commerce and how it works. From there, we’ll explore why this eCommerce solution is becoming popular, its benefits, and more.

We’ll then explore how a convenient solution can instantly take care of all your headless commerce needs.

Let’s get started.

This Article Contains

What Is Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce is a solution that separates the front-end and back-end of your eCommerce website. 

But why would you want to separate the frontend from the backend?

Aren’t they supposed to work together?

That’s because headless commerce offers benefits like:

We’ll explore all the benefits of headless commerce later on. 

For now, let’s discover what “front end” and “back end” mean.

The front end (presentation layer), or the “head,” is the part of your website or app that your customers see and interact with. For example, this would be the theme or template of a Shopify eCommerce store.

Meanwhile, the back end is the infrastructure that supports the front end. 

Known as the “body” of your website, the back end includes the server, the database, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and more.

It provides all the information (such as pricing and product lists) required for the front end.

Is a headless CMS the same as headless commerce?


A headless CMS (content management system) also stores the content in a database that’s separate from the presentation layer (the head.) The content is displayed on the front end via an API.

However, a headless CMS only focuses on managing and deploying the content (such as product catalogs) from the back end to the front end. In other words, it’s one-way traffic.

So, what’s the difference?

How Does Headless Commerce Work?

A headless commerce platform uses an API to deliver information back and forth between the backend and the frontend.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you buy a watch from an eCommerce mobile app. 

When you click the “Buy” button, the app interface (the head) sends an API call to the backend. 

In the back end, the payment gateway and order management tools process your order. Once done, it returns a response regarding the order status.

Let’s now explore why headless commerce platforms are growing in popularity.

When eCommerce became popular in the 1990s, most website traffic came from desktop browsers. 

Naturally, eCommerce platforms were optimized for desktop devices only.

Online stores were also built using traditional eCommerce (monolithic) solutions that coupled the front-end and back-end. This meant there was no flexibility to change the frontend without altering the backend.

However, technology evolved, and people changed the way they shop. 

Customers started shopping on multiple channels (such as social media) and devices (such as smartphones, tablets, and wearables).

The problem?

Traditional eCommerce platforms didn’t offer customers a seamless shopping experience.

This meant the old monolithic approach wasn’t going to work anymore.

Enter: headless commerce.  

A headless platform decouples the frontend from the backend — allowing you to provide a smooth customer experience across multiple channels and digital devices. 

(More on headless vs traditional e commerce platforms in a minute.)

But that’s not all — there are some other benefits.

5 Amazing Benefits of Headless Commerce for Companies

Here are the benefits of using a headless commerce system:

  1. Omnichannel Capabilities
  2. Seamless Integrations
  3. Conversion Optimization
  4. Faster Time to Market and Scalability
  5. Cost Savings

1. Omnichannel Capabilities

A Harvard Business Review study says that 73% of customers use multiple channels when shopping online. This means taking the single-channel approach is no longer worth it.

With the omnichannel approach, you provide a smooth shopping experience across in-store and online channels, and through various digital devices.

A headless solution allows you to add and integrate various channels with your back end, helping you establish an omnichannel presence.

For example, a customer can place an order on your eCommerce store using their mobile device. Later on, they can finalize their order on a social media platform using a different device.

This means you can reach your customers through the channels and devices of their choice — helping improve the shopping experience. 

And what if your omnichannel efforts aren’t working out?

A headless solution helps you make rapid updates to your e commerce platform so you can meet your customers’ needs!

2. Seamless Integrations

The front-end and back-end of a headless platform communicate through APIs that allow the platform to integrate with various channels and tools.

The good news? 

There are no vendor lock-in issues when using a headless solution! 

This means you can switch your frontend any time you want. (For example, if it doesn’t let you integrate certain technologies.)

3. Conversion Optimization

Headless architecture allows you to easily run various tests and optimization cycles to understand your customers better. 

For example, you could A/B test multiple checkout experiences and see what works best, aiding in optimizing your conversions.

Fun fact: By using a headless commerce system, Sand Cloud (a fashion company) increased its conversions by up to 43%!

4. Faster Time to Market and Scalability

Customizing a traditional eCommerce solution is hard because the frontend and backend are coupled. This makes it difficult for you to integrate new technologies or add new products to your eCommerce platform.

Headless allows you to scale up easily since it requires minimal effort on the back end. 

Development can be done independently from the back end — allowing you to customize your online store quickly.

The result?

You can expand your e commerce platform, implement new technologies, and stay ahead of competitors.

And since introducing new technologies to your headless eCommerce solution is quicker with integrations, you can speed up your time to market too. 

All in all, a headless commerce approach will help you keep pace with the forever-evolving consumer trends.

5. Cost Savings

Going headless can more than make up for the cost of the switch-over in the long run. 

For one, you don’t need to change your backend or build your frontend from scratch. You can get a composable front-end layer from Pack— a Front-end-as-a-Service (FaaS) provider. 

But, what exactly is a composable front-end layer?

It’s an option that allows you to compose and customize best-of-breed commerce solutions. It leverages powerful technologies like JAMstack (JavaScript, APIs, and Markup) to improve site speed and performance.

The added benefits of a headless architecture — such as site speed, easier international SEO reach, and cutting-edge user experience — will generate way more revenue than a traditional eCommerce platform. 

Simply put, headless architecture gives you more bang for your buck!

But you may be wondering how all of this translates into a better experience for your end user:

How Does a Headless Commerce Platform Benefit Your Customers?

Here are the reasons customers will love your headless commerce platform:

1. Improved Customer Experiences

Customers want a consistent, personalized experience across various channels and devices.

With a headless solution, your customers can:

  • Reach you through channels and devices of their choice
  • Engage well with a site customized for their preferences
  • Enjoy smoother navigation, checkouts, and more.

2. Smoother Site Navigation

Let’s face it — nobody wants to spend their time on a slow website. 

In fact, site speed is one of the top factors that impact your customers’ willingness to buy.

And since about 70%-90% of eCommerce traffic will likely come from mobile devices, that’s where your website needs to be fastest.

A headless commerce platform, especially one powered by PWA (progressive web app) technologies, usually delivers fast-loading pages — even in areas with a poor connection.

Side note: A progressive web app (PWA) is an app you can use either as a web page or mobile app on any digital device. It lets you interact with a web page the same way you’d interact with a mobile app.

So, what makes the headless approach different from your traditional commerce platform?

Headless vs Traditional Commerce Solutions: 2 Key Differences

Let’s check out two key differences between headless and traditional eCommerce platforms:

Traditional CommerceHeadless Commerce
CustomizationIn a traditional eCommerce platform, the back-end and front-end parts are tightly coupled. So, if you want to change the frontend, you also have to alter the backend. It’s also hard to integrate the store with the latest technologies.In headless eCommerce platforms, you can customize your entire front-end layer without worrying about the back-end — thanks to APIs. You can easily integrate the store with various channels and digital platforms.
FlexibilityIf you want to make changes to the front-end layer on traditional e commerce platforms, you must also tweak the back-end. This means you must be familiar with the coding language and systems the back end runs on. As a result, it’s difficult to make changes to your traditional commerce platform should the need arise.Unlike in traditional e commerce platforms, the backend and frontend are decoupled. So, this gives you the flexibility to make changes to the frontend at any time.

Still on the fence about headless?

Don’t believe these myths that you may have come across:

3 Common Headless Commerce Myths You Should Ignore

Here are some misconceptions about headless commerce architecture:

Myth #1: You Have to Re-Platform Your Entire eCommerce Site When Going Headless

Simply put, re-platforming means switching your current platform (back-end) for another one. But it’s not a prerequisite for going headless.

When you go headless, you can keep your back-end and add APIs and a flexible front-end layer. However, if you’re unhappy with your current back-end, you might need to re-platform entirely.

Myth #2: Headless Commerce Architecture Is a One-Size-Fits-All Model

You can either build your front end from scratch or get a composable front end.

The model that you pick depends on what your current architecture looks like and the level of flexibility you need.

Before going headless, determine your goals and pick a suitable solution that meets them. 

Myth #3: Going Headless Is a Complex Process

The entire process depends on how you want to build your eCommerce store.

Ask yourself these three questions before going headless:

  • Do you want to re-platform and migrate from one back-end to another?
  • Do you want to keep your back-end and build your front-end from scratch?
  • Do you want to get a composable front-end layer?

An easy way out is to get a composable front-end layer so that you don’t have to worry about building the front end. 

To get started, contact Pack to find out about our incredible, composable front-end solution.

When Should You Consider Using a Headless Commerce Platform?

Consider the headless commerce approach if:

  • You want to build an eCommerce platform that can scale up fast and provide a personalized customer experience.
  • You want to reach your customers through various channels and digital devices.
  • You aim to integrate various technologies into your eCommerce platform.

Additionally, you’ll need to decide on the type of headless commerce platform.

You could assemble your front-end layer from scratch if:

  • You want flexibility in your tech stack.
  • You have a large team of front end developers.

Meanwhile, you could consider the composable Front-end-as-a-Service headless approach if:

  • You want a solution you can implement with little to no coding knowledge.
    You want to spare yourself the effort of building your infrastructure and workflow from scratch.
  • You want the flexibility to make changes to your front end quickly and easily.

So, how do you pick a suitable headless eCommerce platform?

5 Rock-Solid Tips for Choosing the Right Headless Commerce Solution

Here are the things to consider when picking a headless commerce platform:

  • Check your budget and assess the cost of implementing a headless platform
  • Familiarize yourself with different headless commerce platforms
  • Pick a solution that meets your business goals
  • Choose a solution with suitable APIs
  • Decide on how you will implement the front end (in-house or partnering with an agency)

Fortunately, this is very easy with Pack:       

The Answer to All Your Headless Commerce Needs

Going headless can be a great choice for most eCommerce brands. However, building your headless front end from scratch can be daunting.

Additionally, managing and scaling the platform on your own can be a nightmare.

What’s the best solution? Partner with Pack — a Front-end-as-a-Service provider.

Pack offers you a brilliant composable front-end solution. The best part about this is that you don’t have to build your front-end infrastructure from scratch.

Perfect, right?

Here are the other benefits of using Pack’s composable front-end:

  • More admin control for content management, landing page building, and component reusability
  • Build complex features more efficiently with React!
  • Open framework to integrate new and modern technologies
  • Scalable workflow and developer experience
  • Complete control for custom design experiences

Some of the composable front-end’s special features include:

  • Product grouping for complex catalogs
  • Product bundling for bundle management
  • Pre-integrated Shopify checkout, accounts, third parties, and more
  • Documentation for knowledge sharing

Ready to start building an incredible eCommerce business? Contact Pack and start your headless commerce journey today!

Oh, and if you’re still on the fence about going headless, check out these case studies of successful headless eCommerce stores!

3 Powerful Headless eCommerce Case Studies

Here are some headless commerce case studies from Pack:

  1. Cuts Clothing
  2. Sand Cloud
  3. Liquid I.V.

1. Cuts Clothing

Cuts Clothing is one of the best eCommerce brands in the clothing space. It specializes in premium sweatshirts, T-shirts, hats, and bottoms.

The Challenge

Cuts Clothing used to sell men’s clothing on an eCommerce store built using a Shopify theme.  However, its eCommerce store didn’t let it scale up fast to include women’s clothing too.

The Solution

With Pack, Cuts Clothing now has an scalable front-end that’s easily customizable. It can now expand its product range and offer a seamless customer experience.

Cuts Clothing’s results:

  • 200% year-on-year (YOY) growth
  • 21% increase in conversion
  • 9% increase in average order value (AOV)

2. Sand Cloud

Sand Cloud is a sustainable products company specializing in beach towels, accessories, and apparel. 

The Challenge

Sand Cloud built and grew its brand using a Shopify eCommerce store theme. However, their site speed was slow, and the eCommerce business couldn’t scale up fast.

The Solution

Pack built a Headless Shopify PWA storefront platform for Sand Cloud. This solution improved site speed and accelerated the brand’s growth.

Sand Cloud’s results:

  • 500% YOY growth
  • 43% increase in conversion
  • 47% increase in AOV

3. Liquid I.V.

Liquid I.V. is a nutrition and wellness company specializing in electrolyte powder products.

The Challenge

Liquid I.V.’s tech stack was initially built on Shopify. However, it was hard to expand the product line with their existing stack.

The Solution

Liquid I.V. partnered with Pack to redesign its storefront. 

Pack built a headless Shopify PWA storefront for Liquid I.V with omnichannel capabilities and improved user experience.

Liquid I.V.’s results:

  • 400% YOY growth
  • 24% increase in conversion
  • 12% increase in AOV

Build a Scalable eCommerce Store With Pack 

The eCommerce space is forever evolving — and it has to!

After all, customer expectations, business needs, and market trends keep changing. The only way to get customers’ attention is by creating personalized and seamless experiences.

A headless eCommerce platform is an ideal solution to help you scale up fast.

However, building your headless commerce platform from scratch can be stressful and time-consuming. 

To make things easier, partner with a Front-end-as-a-Service provider like Pack that offers a composable front-end optimized for your business.

Get in touch with Pack to start building a scalable, user-friendly eCommerce store.