Headless Commerce – What is it?

Natalie Miller
Natalie Miller
February 4 · 6 min read
headless statue for headless commerce

It’s a term that I am sure you have heard of time and time again. You may have read about it in your latest ‘Bizarro Devs’ monthly newsletter, or heard about it whilst chatting to one of your tech-interested friends. Perhaps it’s even something that your digital agency or Shopify Support person recommended to you.

You’re struggling to understand what it is exactly and what it could mean for your business.

That’s where we come in. We’re here to help you understand what this buzzword ‘Headless Commerce’ means.


You have a brilliant business idea, and you want to get your products online. You may or may not already have an online store. If you don’t yet, then you’re probably feeling really overwhelmed with all the options out there and this added word that everyone in the tech field keeps bringing up, headless, isn’t making things easier for you.

Or you already have a store, but you are struggling with it because it’s slow, not easy to make adjustments to, has limited capabilities that you have outgrown, and you essentially just want to understand if perhaps taking the headless approach could make your work life a little bit easier.

What does the term ‘headless’ mean when we refer to it in tech?

It’s quite simple, but you need to read the next sentence over a few times for it to really sink in…

Headless is the act of decoupling the front-end of your store with the back-end so that these two are no longer as dependent on each other. This means that your front-end, the part of your store that your customers engage with, can run parallel to your back-end, where all the complicated business logic gets stored and processed.

The front-end of your website consists of your user interface and how it works and looks.

Having a headless front-end will help you on a few fronts (excuse the pun).

Great customer experience

You will be able to have a storefront that can be designed as you wish it to be. You will not be restricted by the features of a standard theme E-Commerce platform. This will allow you to design your website exactly as you wish to have it.

Incorporating certain functions will allow you to tailor your website to your specific needs. For example, you may want to include features your shop system of choice doesn’t support – like complicated pricing rules or an extensive content marketing approach, that stretches the CMS capabilities of the shop platform. A normal standard theme website wouldn’t be able to do this.

Right now, you may be starting to get the gist of this, but you’re still wondering what this means for your business model? Well, whilst we cannot guarantee an increase in sales, we can say that the easier your website is to engage with, the easier it is to find products and the niftier the tools, the higher your chances are of increasing your sales. On top of that, Headless will enable you to build your user experience and thus your business model exactly how you envision it.

Having a tailor made user interface will allow you to look different to your competitors. If you go the route of a standard theme store, you will be restricted by the limitations that this platform has. Your store will also look rather similar to other standard theme store holders. Should you want to stand out and really create something special, both for yourself and for the experience of your customers, then going headless is the right way for you.

Being flexible in the digital world is a massive benefit to all businesses nowadays. The headless approach is one of the most flexible, if not the most flexible, architecture that you can get when creating your store.

Flexibility and best-of-breed processes

Everything that we have summed up until now has had a lot to do with your customers and the unique experience that you can create for them. This is hugely important, which is why we put it first.

But what about your back-end? What about the server that your tech team spends a lot of time with? Everything that your users never see.

Let’s begin by asking, ‘What is your back-end?’

Your back-end is the server that receives requests from your clients and contains information that goes back and forth between your internal operations and reporting back to your clients, e.g. internal delivery and cart processes. It also includes the database which stores all of your data.

The reason that you want to separate the two is so that you can get the best out of your front-end and get the best out of your back-end. We live in a world where you no longer have to choose which one you want to improve on, you can improve on both! Whether you have an existing store or whether you want to build one from the ground up, going headless will be beneficial for you.

For those of you who have had an online store for a while now, it is highly likely that you have experienced something that is very common. You may have noticed that programs often become obsolete, which will leave you with an online store that runs on a back-end program that is about to be ‘deleted’ to put it simply.

You’ve spent all this time creating a website that runs smoothly for yourself and for your customers but with every back-end change, you are forced to make, this affects your customers' interaction with your site. For example, you may have to take your site down for maintenance because something happened in the back-end.

If you have a headless set-up, then this will never happen again. You will be able to make back-end changes galore without these affecting what your customers see in the front-end. You will be able to make changes, updates, and improvements without being scared that these will negatively impact the user’s experience. This will also allow you to change your back-end whenever you need to, which makes the future of our online store a lot more stable. We all know that consistency and stability are two things that customers place a lot of worth on.


Now I think you have probably understood what going headless means and what it could do for you. If you are a bit more of a visual person, though, then we’ve got just the things for you! We’d suggest taking a look at some of the headless online stores that we have mentioned in one of our previous blogs, ‘10 Exemplary Headless Online Shopping Experiences’. They will give you a nice idea of just how bespoke you can go with an online store and how enjoyable one of these experiences can be.

Going headless is a very beneficial route to take if you have an interest in creating something one-of-a-kind and perfectly tailored to your business’s needs. It comes with commitment on your end and has a higher price tag than a standard theme, but the benefits are endless.

We are a digital web development agency that specializes in going headless. The reason we specialize in this is because we have a group of talented software developers, engineers, and designers who like to push the envelope and create things that they dream of! At Especial we really enjoy a good challenge and enjoy being leaders in the digital development sphere. Which means that we want to be leaders in the headless space and have done so much research and training on the topic you wouldn't even believe! We would love to hear what exciting changes you’d like to make on your website and if going headless sounds like something interesting to you, please feel free to get in touch with us on hello@especial.digital or contact us through our contact form.

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Natalie Miller
Written by

Natalie Miller

Marketing Manager

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