What is Headless Commerce? A Complete Guide

Adeeb Malik

Blog / What is Headless Commerce? A Complete Guide

eCommerce has entered an era of limitless potential, with new technologies redefining shopping experiences every day.

Headless ecommerce aka Composable commerce is the breakthrough solution to meet these demands.

By decoupling the frontend presentation layer from the backend infrastructure, headless commerce provides brands with newfound speed, flexibility, and scalability.

Leading retailers like IKEA, Nike, and Sephora are already gaining a competitive edge by implementing a headless architecture. 

Explore how leading retailers are adopting headless it to create seamless and personalized customer journeys, achieving higher conversions, revenue, and growth.

Composable Commerce: Redefining Retail eCommerce

Headless commerce refers to an advanced e-commerce architecture that helps retailers provide an immersive and effective shopping experience.

This modern approach is fundamentally reshaping omnichannel strategies by offering e-commerce brands to deliver a consistent and personalized digital experience across diverse platforms.

In this context, it's worth noting the remarkable potential for growth within the e-commerce sector.

In 2023, global retail e-commerce sales reached an estimated 5.8 trillion U.S. dollars. Projections indicate a 39 percent growth in this figure over the coming years, with expectations to surpass 8 trillion dollars by 2027.

Projections indicate that this figure is poised to surge by 50% in the forthcoming years, catapulting the estimated value to a staggering $7.4 trillion by the year 2025. 


So, let’s understand the mechanics of a headless commerce platform and its transformative impact on the landscape of online shopping.

Before that, what does headless commerce mean and how does it re-architect online shopping?

Headless Commerce 101: Understanding Headless eCommerce

At its core, headless commerce architecture separates the storefront presentation layer from the backend ecommerce platform. The front-end and backend services are connected via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and receive data in a structured format like JSON.

This allows the front and backend to be built and managed independently, using entirely different tech stacks based on user requirements. But how does this work under the hood?

In a headless approach, the frontend is solely focused on the presentation layer and UI. The backend commerce platform handles all the heavy lifting – right from managing the product catalog to order processing, content, and everything in between.

The frontend application makes API requests to the backend for any information or action it needs to perform. For example, to show a product page, the frontend will call the backend API to fetch details like product title, description, pricing, images, etc.

The commerce platform receives this API request, queries the required data from the database, and returns it in a structured JSON format via the API endpoint. The frontend then uses this response data to render the product page.

Similar API requests and responses happen for other actions like adding items to the cart, applying discounts, completing checkout, etc. The frontend simply consumes backend API responses to dynamically update the UI.

If the backend needs any information from the frontend, like submitting a shipping address during checkout, the frontend sends that data as parameters in the API request.

A key benefit of this architecture is that the frontend and backend can be managed independently and scaled as per need. The frontend developers can choose whatever tech stack delivers the best experience, without any limitations imposed by the backend.

Meanwhile, the backend can flexibly manage traffic spikes by scaling up infrastructure for the APIs.

Even if the backend services require maintenance, the frontend can be kept live. Thus, using a headless commerce solution brings greater agility and flexibility to e-commerce website(s).

Headless Commerce Vs Traditional Commerce Platform

Monolithic commerce solutions have tight bundling of the frontend storefront and backend infrastructure. In contrast, headless commerce decouples them to deliver more agility, flexibility, and scalability.

Let's dive deeper into the difference between headless commerce and traditional e-commerce:

 Traditional CommerceHeadless Commerce
FrontendTraditional platforms have frontend templates and logic tightly coupled with the backend code. This makes the storefront rigid and hard to customize.Headless commerce has the frontend presentation layer completely separated from the backend. It focuses solely on the user interface and consumes data via APIs.

The frontend in Headless can leverage modern JS frameworks like React, Angular, and Vue for faster feature development.
BackendIn traditional, the backend is tightly integrated with frontend and templating systems. Any change impacts the entire platform.

The backend in headless commerce is API-driven with a microservices architecture. It can scale infrastructure flexibly and independently.

Headless allows best-of-breed backend technologies optimized for security, performance, and reliability.

Backend services and infrastructure can scale seamlessly and independently as per traffic demands.

Release CycleTraditional has longer release cycles for upgrades and new features, as frontend and backend changes have to be coordinated.Headless commerce also allows continuous deployment for the frontend app without being limited by backend release schedules.

The frontend innovation cycle is not limited by backend constraints. New features can be rolled out faster.
OmnichannelTraditional architectures make it challenging to have a unified commerce platform across channels.Headless platform provides consistent customer experiences across web, mobile, in-store, and IoT devices by delivering the same backend services.
SpeedTraditional ecommerce has slower page load times due to large bundled frontend code including templates, business logic, etc.

The headless architecture enables faster page loads by having a lean frontend app focused purely on UI presentation and user experience.

The backend can be scaled as needed to improve API response times independently of the frontend app.

Moreover, additional optimizations are possible to have a blazing fast.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)Traditional solutions lead to higher long-term TCO because of proprietary technologies, vendor lock-ins, inability to leverage cloud infrastructure optimally.Headless enables cost optimization by avoiding vendor lock-ins, all the wing use of best-of-breed cloud technologies, and scaling infrastructure on demand.
InnovationAdding new capabilities like PWAs, AR/VR, voice commerce, etc. is challenging with legacy commerce platforms as it requires extensive integration with frontend and backend.Headless commerce's API-driven flexibility enables seamless integration of emerging technologies to stay ahead in a digital world.

Innovation is faster as new experiences can be built just by modifying the frontend app without complex backend changes.

Key Benefits of Headless Commerce

Omnichannel Experience

Headless commerce decouples the frontend from the backend, allowing retailers to deliver consistent and optimized customer experiences across web, mobile, in-store, IoT devices, and more. The same backend services can power experiences across all touchpoints.


Teams have the flexibility to build the frontend using any modern framework like React, Vue, or Angular instead of being limited to proprietary platform-dependent templating systems.

This results in faster feature development. Also, designers can carve impeccable and modern digital experiences without any constraints.

Agility and Speed

The frontend can be updated and iterated rapidly without needing any backend changes. New features and optimizations can be rolled out to customers faster without backend bottlenecks.


The backend services and infrastructure can scale up and down independently and seamlessly to handle traffic spikes and fluctuations. The frontend remains unaffected by backend scaling.

Optimized Customer Experiences

Teams can completely customize and experiment with innovative frontend experiences to optimize unique customer journeys. Personalization can be tailored for every user segment.


Headless allows brands to leverage the latest web technologies and trends like PWAs, AR/VR, Metaverse, Web 3.0, etc. much faster without replacing core commerce systems.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

Headless reduces long-term costs by avoiding vendor lock-ins, maximizing the use of cloud infrastructure, and preventing rip-and-replace upgrades.

Future Proof

Brands can upgrade or switch frontend and backend components independently without being limited to a single platform. This future-proofs ecommerce investment(s).

Global Reach

The API-based headless architecture allows brands to easily launch across different regions and languages by just switching the frontend application.

Use Cases of Headless Commerce Solution

Diverse Digital  Experiences

Headless commerce solution allows retailers to build consistent and optimized customer journeys across the web, mobile, in-store devices, digital displays, kiosks, and more. The same backend services can power experiences across all touchpoints.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

PWAs powered by headless commerce provide app-like mobile experiences with capabilities like push notifications, fingerprint login, etc. This improves engagement and conversions. Offline support enables shopping even with low bandwidth.

Global Expansion

Launching in new countries and languages is simplified with headless. Just the frontend application needs to be localized, while the backend remains the same. This significantly accelerates the global go-to-market.


The flexibility of headless commerce allows brands to quickly experiment with and optimize new page designs, layouts, flows, and experiences. Testing ideas is easy by only changing the decoupled frontend app.


The headless architecture allows for building robust customer segmentation capabilities. Personalized product recommendations, offers, and experiences can be tailored for every user segment based on their behavior.

Internet of Things

Headless commerce seamlessly integrates with IoT ecosystems like smart mirrors, self-checkout kiosks, and in-store sensors. This bridges the physical and digital experience gap.

In-car Shopping

Shopping experiences can be built into vehicle dashboards by leveraging headless commerce backends. From reordering to payments, everything can be enabled.

B2B Purchases

Complex B2B buying workflows like bulk orders, quotes, approvals, etc. can be customized by exposing these as APIs in headless architecture.

Voice Commerce

Headless commerce allows for building conversational shopping experiences optimized for voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

Getting Started with a Headless Commerce Approach for Your Business

Migrating to headless commerce is a strategic move for retailers looking to deliver next-gen shopping experiences. But how do you get started on this journey?

WPSteroids is the answer, we are experts in building superfast headless websites optimized for performance and conversions.

Our team of developers leverages leading headless commerce frameworks like Hydrogen, Medusa, and Commerce.js to create customized solutions based on each client's requirements.

We take care of the entire headless implementation – from frontend UI/UX design to integrating APIs and microservices on the backend.

The result is a future-ready ecommerce platform that loads at lightning speed on all devices and seamlessly scales during traffic surges. Increase engagement, optimize experiences, lower operational costs, and amplify conversions!

Want to join the headless revolution? Get in touch with our ecommerce architects for a consultation.

We will assess your current tech stack, and business needs, and provide a personalized plan to shift towards headless commerce.

The time to unshackle your online store from legacy platforms, and take it to new heights is now!

End Slow Growth. Put your Success on Steroids