Headless Approach to eCommerce Front-End Development

The ultimate goal of headless commerce is to provide the perfect customer experience to each audience cluster. This means that a company needs to have a variety of different channels with unique business logic on the same back end; meanwhile, it should be possible to add and change these channels quickly and at no risk.

Headless commerce is the only known way to be a 100% fit to your customers’ worldviews and to achieve the desired level of flexibility in multi-store, omnichannel, and multi-experience B2B/B2C/D2C and other selling models of the ecommerce world.

Meet Headless eCommerce

At Virto Commerce, we are apologists of Headless e-commerce approach which allows you to:

  • Delivery e-commerce experience to any channel
  • Easily make any changes to your front-end to coincide with the speed of consumer technology
  • Consolidate and enrich e-commerce data from different data-sources.

The exclude of business logic from client applications significantly reduces the cost of subsequent development of new front-end applications. You can change the design in old ones, connect new ones, run A / B UX tests, etc.

To make this machine working, the full-featured Headless e-commerce is based on five important things. These are the following ones and further, we will reveal them in more details:

  • API
  • Performance
  • Scalability
  • Extensibility
  • Security
headless commerce

Why the Term “Headless” Is Used in B2B eCommerce

Today it is not known for certain who first coined the term "headless trade," but it quickly became popular. In the fancy slang of software developers, online sales channels are called "heads", and the bulk of the back-end system is called the "body".

If you separate the work of the front end from the body in the code, then this approach becomes "headless". In a headless architecture, to publish desired content to a channel, the front end (aka storefront) interacts with the back end through an API.

Another less popular variation on the term “headless” is to bring the headless technology of the Chrome browser to commerce. In the context of a web browser interface, it is an important developer tool that allows you to test your code and check the quality and consistency of the layout.

headless terminology

Why Was Headless Architecture Invented?

If we look at headless software architecture, it is separating the front-end module(s) from the rest of a complex commerce application. This is a fairly effective trick, although it is not the newest invention. In science and industry, this architectural approach is known as modularity.

When a vendor develops a commercial e-commerce application, it will undoubtedly be very complex. The difficulty arises from the fact that this application must be able to interact well with different customers with different user experiences and expectations for the functionality of the online store. And for all these people, the vendor needs to satisfy their user experience (UX).

Accordingly, customers need different types of interfaces (website, mobile app, sales via social networks, etc.) in order for it to work as a consistent omnichannel and implement a single business logic.

Then, to simplify the development, testing, and updating processes in the application, the headless commerce architecture separates the user interface (UI) for the best customer experience in each online sales channel and uses the same business logic separately.

An additional benefit of headless architecture is that different development teams can work on interfaces in separate teams. It can even be outsourced to teams. This method of software development makes the most effective use of the skills and experience of developers and accelerates the development process itself.

By the way, when we talk about the principle of modularity in a headless architecture, we shouldn't confuse it with microservices. In headless, we separate the front end from the back end of the platform. And microservices are just small modules that are divided into larger chunks or levels of the platform. Moreover, large functional modules of both headless and monolithic architectures can be divided into microservices. We'll talk more about microservices below.

Headless Commerce vs. Traditional Commerce

Headless ecommerce allows you to decouple the business logic of the sales process from the implementation of the UI. But it's important for business people to decide if headless architecture is needed for their new e-commerce project.

Yes, for a new business idea, you can create an application from existing software. Headless architecture helps in the case of a new project to take existing components, in this case applications from the market, and use them to create a unique new product.

Take Lego as a reference and integrate ERP, PMI, front-end, and other applications into the ecommerce system so that customers can get acquainted and buy your product. Create a flexible UX by extending your business idea with different applications so that they work together to get the customer to click the “buy” button. Headless architecture allows for experimentation.

Otherwise, you need to duplicate all business logic for all types of front ends used or, in other words, touchpoints (e.g., website, mobile app, messenger, etc.). This is expensive to develop and can lead to chaos when the business rules are implemented separately at different touchpoints. Imagine the chaos of your sales team if, for example, the website has changed and updated these rules, but not at other touchpoints, so customers get confused about different catalog versions and prices.

Headless seems to have been created precisely to support the principle of omnichannel sales. It is better to stick with no head, otherwise omnichannel may be broken when the synchronicity of the catalog of goods, prices and stocks is disrupted, and different channels may not coincide or even contradict each other.

monolith vs headless ecommerce

A Simple Example of Headless in Use

Here's an example of a very simple customer contact collection website that we at Virto Commerce built using Excel only (this application has its own API). Site visitors were unaware that Excel works under the hood. They went to the site and filled out the registration form, not seeing what it was built on and what was inside.

It was easier for us to do this headless trick, and then open the Excel file and see all the registration data in a classic presentation form. The collected contacts were later transferred to the sales department to start working with these clients.

The headless architecture allowed us to replace the standard Excel interface with one that is web-friendly. On the other hand, the headless approach is made possible by the availability of APIs in Office 365. This is how the headless architecture works even in simple cases.

Headless eCommerce Keeps Up with Technology Trends

We all know the meme: by the time a developer learned one front-end technology, three more new ones had been released to the market. Why is there such a high rate of change? Front-end technology follows trends for UX satisfaction and changes every 2-3 years as younger generations are rapidly changing their preferences.

Every year, online sellers launch new and hot sales channels for online communication with buyers. These are chat bots, instant messengers, new social networking services, sales of personalized ads in mobile applications, etc.

How can you keep the smooth business logic of sales processes in your company in such a rapidly changing market environment? With a headless architecture, the e-commerce business logic behind the front-end can conform to your tried-and-true rules, which are presented in a new form.

When you decide to launch a trendy new sales channel, it must be done quickly, easily, and flexibly within the same fundamental business logic as your existing sales channels. Typically, each new sales channel requires a lot of bug fixes and feature improvements from the development team within the first few months after launch. Headless commerce allows you to multiply these terms and the number of software fixes.

headless technology trends

Headless Commerce Performance Depends on API

It's time to name the benefits of headless trading. The first key criterion for successful headless e-commerce operations is API performance. The speed of data exchange is a very important thing.

To ensure the fastest data exchange over API, headless ecommerce needs the following:

  • Use real-time data sources, i.e. those have response time within 150 ms, the shorter the better.
  • Consolidate & cache data from non-real-time data sources, such as ERP or legacy systems like warehouse logistics / products in production, which are not ready for data uploading at the moment of a data exchange request.

By creating real-time connectors for legacy systems, you will achieve that your headless ecommerce platform becomes a good place for online trade data consolidation and enrichment.

GraphQL as a new type of API

Initially, Virto Commerce development team relied on the REST API. Front-end web services that comply with the REST architectural style, are known as RESTful web services with interoperability between software modules of various computer systems. The REST API approach really works, it allows to build access to business processes and data from external applications and other third-party sources. All data and business functions are available as modules and via API.

But development progress is moving very quickly. Since 2015 when Facebook provided publicly available GraphQL, an open-source data query and manipulation language for APIs, it becomes a new trend in API development. Built on new principles, it allows us to achieve new opportunities:

  • Speed ​​— because we indicate what data we need; it becomes possible to optimize queries over the network to data sources. For e-commerce related example, if no prices are requested, there is no need to load them to front-end.
  • Link tree — it is the presence of links between objects, allows you to get all the required data for one request. For example, request the cart, the number of products in it and user profile.
  • Harmonical integration into modern client applications. GraphQL already has client libraries for most modern front-end development tools.

Despite GraphQL has no integration development tools yet, we at Virto Commerce bet on GraphQL as the main API endpoint for a touchpoint.

Headless Commerce Benefit #1: Scalability

Every entrepreneur knows the basic rule of doing business as “Grow or fail”. Growth is usually rapid within the early years after business launch, especially when the selling business idea is fresh and the market share is not yet under pressure from competitors.

That is why the ability to scale must be the basis of a commerce platform, including online channels. Here, headless allows you to keep pace with any sales growth.

Your headless technology architecture should use scalable storage sources and unrelated databases. Examples are Elasticsearch (multitenant-capable full-text search engine with an HTTP web interface and schema-free JSON), Redis (in-memory key–value database), Azure Cosmos DB (schema-agnostic, horizontally scalable and classified as a NoSQL database).

headless scalability

Headless Commerce Benefit #2: Extensibility

As an entrepreneur, you know that business logic is a slowly changing entity after you set it up in the early years of starting a company, but it must remain capable of progressive change to improve market competitiveness and trade profitability.

These changes are usually implemented through the launch of new related product niches and cost savings. These new product niches may require new applications, such as a separate promo website (landing page with sales functionality). Headless e-commerce allows you to develop new applications in the same ecosystem of business applications that the company has, but these new applications will operate in their own isolated space and in accordance with their own rules.

For example, you can run multiple Virto Commerce platforms with a different list of modules and configurations to improve scalability and take advantage of the Mesh Application and Services Architecture (MASA). As an extension function, you can replace the default business rule implementation with a custom one, for example: replace price list rules with dynamic pricing mechanisms or integration with your ERP.

— Oleg Zhuk, Technical Product Owner of Virto Commerce

Headless Commerce Benefit #3: Security

The biggest benefit in security is decoupling the front end from the rest of the commerce system. Hackers can shut down the site, but the back-end and ecosystem applications will remain intact. This is because шn a headless system, the APIs are mostly read-only, reducing the effectiveness of the intrusion. Restoring a front end website from a backup is not a difficult task for the administrator and it can be done quickly.

In contrast, for traditional monolithic systems all modules including microservices and functions are packaged together, whereby a small malicious change in one component can affect the security of the entire platform.

headless security

Headless Commerce Benefit #4: Fast Updates

Because the front-end works independently of the rest of the e-commerce software, the headless architecture allows individual technology upgrades to be implemented in any part of the e-commerce platform (front-end, back-end, middleware) independently and therefore can respond quickly to new technological trends.

In comparison, updates are a weak point of traditional monolithic architectures of commerce systems: when new technologies appear for a monolithic system, this system must be changed almost completely or requires complex and time-consuming redevelopment.

Headless Commerce Benefit #5: Multiple Instances

We have already said how the rate of updates affects the performance of an ecommerce portal. The next advantage is the ability to run the required number of application instances for different parts of the platform, or, in other words, provide the horizontal scalability.

It is often for an ecommerce platform to lack resources in some moments. In this case, the ability to easily add instances of software and server resources provides significant performance gains and flexibility in workload.

Adding instances is not as easy for every software architecture as it is for a headless one. For a headless e-commerce platform, you can add instances of the software to the desired level as much as needed without fear of system crash. Now you know that headless supports business continuity, allows faster delivery of product data to the end user, and increases customer loyalty through all of this.

headless multiple instances

How Headless Helps with Business Continuity In eCommerce

When you plan a long-term strategy for the development of your digital system in your company, you realize that technology is changing very quickly. Going headless helps maintain business continuity in a rapidly changing technology environment. In most cases, you want the main website of your online store to run for at least a few years, preferably longer without a major technology change under the hood.

To rely on these plans by decoupling the UI from the business logic, they can be changed independently. For example, many articles on the Internet say that in software development, front-end technologies change every 3 years, and their total lifespan is about 5 years. Then the technology becomes obsolete and needs to be replaced.

Accordingly, front-end and back-end technologies have different development cycles. To minimize the cost of labor for developers, it is necessary to synchronize the development cycles of the digital platform within the company with the global cycles of technology change. This is reasonable, since technologies have different rates of development.

Two Ways to Implement Headless eCommerce

If you ask an independent IT consultant, this guru will tell you two ways to run headless ecommerce. This assumes that the retailer already uses some kind of ecommerce platform, but this is a monolithic system. Another possible case is launching a project with a large-scale business idea and owner does not want to waste time on unpromising technologies.

The first way is to develop your own headless ecommerce architecture for your online store. Further, there may be a transition from the current monolithic e-commerce solution. It takes a long time (months, if not years), is very expensive and does not guarantee a successful result.

The second way is to migrate your online store to a new B2B ecommerce platform, which has already implemented the headless architecture. Virto Commerce is an example of a headless approach platform that fits the description above perfectly. For the Virto Commerce architecture reference diagram, please visit its documentation section. Among migrating cases, the second way is also great for starting a large online store from scratch.

headless implementation

eCommerce Replatforming to Headless

The platform of any large retailer contains at least dozens, and more often even hundreds of modules responsible for integration with third-party IT systems. There are probably legacy applications there.

Migrating e-commerce applications from a monolithic platform to a stand-alone platform while maintaining existing legacy integrations can be complex and costly because legacy systems typically provide limited integration options. This often includes cloud integration combined with on-premise integration over the Internet.

There are significant costs for the development team working on reintegration tasks. Other costs may arise due to the disruption of the online store and any security and performance issues that the integration may cause. On the other hand, on a tight budget, this allows most legacy integrations to remain intact until "better times".

The main idea behind the upgrade under the headless is to see all the ecosystems of your company and partners, divide into elements in real time and others not able to communicate in real time, determine the source of the main data and refine the data flow. And finally, provide maximum reusability and step-by-step digital transformation.

A to-do list for integration process usually includes:

• Identifying non-real-time services that need to be isolated from critical business processes to improve the stability of the e-commerce system. You can reuse existing legacy solutions, preserve your business process, and at the same time create a new e-commerce experience.

• Define the source of master data and data flows to isolate business units, simplify decisions, and avoid deadlocks.

eCommerce architecture with headless touchpoints and integration points

eCommerce architecture with headless touchpoints (left)
and integration points (upper right)


 

Determine Headless Commerce Platform Without Code Analyzing: Step #1

Below are some techniques for someone with business background to define a platform architecture: headless or monolithic. Why is this needed? For example, you research a list of available headless platforms to submit to the board of directors.

Of course, the easiest way that comes to mind is to ask each vendor if their platform is headless. There is one problem here. The vendor's response could be multi-word marketing text without directly answering your question about the platform architecture.

Therefore, here and below, we will consider several steps how you yourself can determine whether the platform is headless.

First, ask the vendor if you, as a customer, can remove or add certain features from / to the platform. Definitely, you shouldn't pay for unused features, which contradicts your rules to run your business economically. Moreover, redundant features mean extra code on the system that requires additional CPU power and server memory in the cloud or on-premises, which you also have to pay for, otherwise the system will be too slow.

If you get a response like “Well, you can't delete anything, just use the functions you want”, this most likely means that the platform is based on a monolithic architecture. By the way, when adding features is concerned, this is often possible as add-ons even in monoliths, albeit from a limited list of additional applications.

In a headless architecture, adding or removing functionality is possible by choosing any best-in-breed application available on the market without restrictions. But mind such applications from the market must have an external API for integration purposes.

Determine Headless Commerce Platform Without Code Analyzing: Step #2

Next, check the vendor’s add-ons ecosystem for the number of available apps. This is a second indirect sign if an ecommerce platform you are analyzing is headless or not. In the case of the headless platform, the ecosystem could potentially include all ecommerce applications in the market that have developer APIs designed to be used for touchpoint runtime.

Monoliths are characterized by a small number of add-on applications, since the requirements for their compatibility are very high. The use of third-party applications is possible only with companies that maintain partnership agreements with the vendor of the monolithic platform. The bad side of the story is that such agreements can be terminated at any time, and you will be faced with the fact that new versions of the platform will not be compatible with the applications you have previously integrated into the overall ecommerce solution.

Determine Headless Commerce Platform Without Code Analyzing: Step #3

Then find out how often the vendor provides updates. Frequent updates and scalability provide a better start for a headless ecommerce architecture. As mentioned above, the front end technology can be updated more often than the back end. Because headless uses a Lego-like system architecture style, it allows you to quickly implement new business ideas to develop a profitable business.

And here's how things are going on with updates for monoliths. Updates released for the monolithic commercial platform are relatively rare and usually do not come out more than once a quarter. Sometimes such updates have an ultimatum to "accept changes or stop using the platform". It is not surprising that monolithic platforms cannot support their users on several legacy versions.

For the monolith, the new features are only available in the latest version. This is a headache for the client's IT team, as all software has to be updated in order to access only one new feature coming with the update. Sometimes upgrades require additional internal testing and / or training across the platform, leading to even longer implementation times.

Check Memory Size and CPU Core Specs for Platform: Step #4

Why could the required server resources indirectly indicate the type of architecture of the ecommerce platform? It's simple, because the size of the RAM required for the minimum launch of the platform shows the amount of program code and the level of its optimization.

At the same time, remember that official platform specifications usually state the very minimum memory / CPU / disk specified. Often this means low load start when the platform does not contain real products. Ask your vendor about the memory size and recommended CPU power when the platform goes to scale from test to production and you will likely be unpleasantly surprised at the difference.

If you see in the spec that 16/32 + gigabytes of RAM are recommended to run an ecommerce platform, then this platform is most likely monolithic. Most likely, for a store with a large product catalog, even such 16/32 + gigabytes of RAM memory will not be enough.

At the same time, modern headless platforms can usually be installed on a server with only 1 to 4 gigabytes of RAM. Thus, the question of the amount of hardware resources is another way to determine the type of platform architecture.

Headless eCommerce Saves Your Hosting Budget

In the previous section, we talked about the importance of economical consumption of IT resources by an e-commerce platform. For business, it matters how much the hardware costs to run the platform on-premises or in a hosted service.

To run the monolith locally, you will have to spend more capital expenditure (CapEx) on hardware. By hosting the platform in the datacenter, monolith will incur higher operating costs (OpEx) than headless under a pay-as-you-go model [hourly or per-minute charges for the server resources you are currently using].

So, keep in mind that the price of a cloud server with 1 GB of RAM for a headless server is about ten times cheaper than for a monolithic server with 16 GB of RAM. If you look at these expenses for years, you will save a lot on renting a cloud server for a headless platform.

monolith vs headless server resources

Headless eCommerce Saves Your Resources for Flexibility Development

Let's now consider software development as area when headless is beneficial. The technology never remained in place, so you would need headless to have sales go better.

The world is changing rapidly; customers are getting new communication opportunities as new sales channels in online commerce. You can be creating a mobile application or connecting a chatbot as a new sales channel and come to your team with a business development plan.

Then you assign those tasks to your IT team, and if they don't use a headless approach, they'll just copy UX/UI from the website. All this logic will be duplicated to the mobile app. That is, you are actually copying your business, your product. Workload increases, the possibility of errors increases, and inefficiency arises because nothing can be reused. This is especially difficult for B2B, where there are contracts, their own special business logic, and so on.

Headless ecommerce allows you to decouple business logic from the implementation of front end options. Your app becomes like a fairytale multi-headed dragon capable of attacking the market more effectively. Attack the market with a flexible commerce platform to increase your market share and sray more resilient to competitors.

More importantly, such headless development is cheaper, but at the same time the principle of full omnichannel will be implemented. Any change to the business logic at the lower levels will automatically migrate to the touchpoints. It will not happen that prices change on the website, but not yet on the mobile application, and vice versa. After all, especially in B2B, when orders are large, the basket can contain up to 1000+ items. In this case, it is extremely hard to find the bug why displaying incorrect prices at one of the touchpoints.

Migrating to Headless Makes Your Development Team More Professional

If you already have an ecommerce website, even on WordPress/WooCommerce, there are certain approaches, techniques that allow you to transform to an advanced headless architecture. Of course, there will be costs initially, but then you will start to benefit from this transformation, which will allow you maintain omnichannel sales.

With headless architecture implemented, the people in your IT team will also have a more specialized and creative approach to their tasks. Simply because their area of ​​expertise is shrinking, and they grow as vertical niche professionals while helping your business grow. Each group in your IT team would have its own roadmap, allowing you to accelerate development and accelerate implementation.

It is especially useful to have such specialization of people in the IT team and such focus with the help of headless because it also makes the development cheaper. This leads to the fact that business is moving faster, which is one of the primary purposes of ecommerce strategy.

Therefore, the next point to be noted is technical things such as automation, integration, testing. One of the benefits of headless is IT automation. The headless architecture is built on communication through standard protocols, REST, GraphQL, HTTP and others. The presence of protocols allows you to build and organize a development automation system.

Headless is the architecture that allows you to start building development automation and get the acceleration of work processes in the team until the product is completed. Using headless for DevOps automation could save you team resources, and you should bet that the cost of project development will be reduced.

headless development team

Headless Helps Adopt B2B Users to eCommerce

Let’s take the B2B commerce niche as an example. The company’s usual requirements in the early stages of the development of a B2B portal are that customers can see the online status of their orders [and will not to call the supplier's sales department asking on]. Also companies can connect employees of their organization to the B2B portal, enter a delivery address for ordering.

The shopping cart and automatic payment are mostly the final stages in the development of the B2B portal. We wrote a particular article on this topic, showing how customers can adapt from offline to make purchases on the B2B portal. They will get accustomed to ecommerce instead of calling a supplier or sending an email, all in 10 steps or just a few months.

Next, what about improving the user experience, UX? When your project grows and changes, it always contributes to sales; people react to changes; this is how our psyche works. People shop more actively, and conversions increase. Such new functions of the B2B portal as re-ordering or adding bulk goods to the cart via an Excel file can increase sales and can improve buyers’ productivity. By making improvements to the UI, you improve UX, increasing productivity for B2B users.

Are Shopify Plus, Salesforce, Magento, and BigCommerce Headless Platforms?

As we said above, the easiest way is to search on Google or ask vendors directly if their platform is headless. Vendors providing a headless platform will definitely write about this on their site and in blog articles as an advantage of their solution. If you don't find any mention of the term “headless” in the commerce platform brand name, then theirs will be a monolith.

From the above-mentioned four popular e-commerce platforms, including Shopify Plus, Salesforce, Magento and BigCommerce, we can categorize three of them by headless architecture.

  • Shopify Plus is a headless platform. By default, Shopify handles both the frontend and backend of the site.
  • Salesforce is also headless. As they write about themselves, Salesforce offers a headless commerce solution with scalable APIs that separate the back-end services from the front-end customer experience.
  • BigCommerce positions itself as a headless solution provider, supplying plugins for WordPress, Drupal and other CMS.

Regarding Magento, this is an example of a monolithic ecommerce platform. If you look at their reference architecture diagram from their official documentation, you'll see how much of the complex operational aspects are centered around performance. However, the Magento IT team is working, as they write, on the destruction of monoliths due to their lack of adaptation to rapidly changing technologies in ecommerce. The roadmap for Magento’s future will include breakdown of the monolith into individual components with the storefront API and GraphQL coverage.

Challenges of Using a Headless Approach

The well-known English proverb fits perfectly well for headless: “Easier said than done.”Headless is suitable for enterprise portals where businesses have sufficient resources to pay for their IT team or pay for implementation partner services.

A headless implementation can require additional team members and developers to manage and execute, which also affects the total cost of ownership. Small businesses are better off considering an off-the-shelf headless solution that meets most needs under one roof.

headless challenges

Do You Always Need Headless?

The bottom line is this: let's say a few words about situations where the principle of headless architecture is not necessary for you. There may be several situations, but one of the most common is when you want to make your application extremely fast, whether it is online commerce or another subject area. Suppose you want to build your system as quickly as possible to show to investors or key customers, demonstrate the viability of your idea, or test it for yourself.

One such situation is when you need to make an application faster and more straightforward. Then when commercializing the idea to the market, you can rebuild the application to headless.

In a situation where time is the main criterion, you can use such old architectural solutions as a monolith and temporarily forget about the latest trends. But it must be said a monolith is not a suitable architecture for a commercial system planned to be operated and updated for a long time. There is a huge amount of code in a commercially-ready monolith, which is hard to edit. It is difficult to change any technologies in the monolith.

I do not want to absolutize the headless. If you see technology changing very quickly, again, you can plan your strategy and realize that, after 3 years, all this needs to be thrown away. Even hiring new developers is possible. When another team comes to you with archived code, they can quickly learn what your business is logically and technically, even what your application ecosystem looks like. Thus, you can give the new team a technical task to rebuild the system using innovative technologies like headless, microservices, and serverless.

— Oleg Zhuk, Technical Product Owner of Virto Commerce

Therefore, the message here is to evaluate your business challenge and choose the application architecture accordingly.

Conclusion

Flexibility to adapt to future technologies is the most significant advantage of headless. The business must understand this and use headless advantages for their own purposes:

  1. Take advantage of headless when you plan to develop multiple sales channels at the same time. If you see that you can increase the speed of development, reduce the cost of development, since specialization appears, then use headless. Employees begin to focus better due to team specialization. Thanks to headless, you can develop your application at the same pace as new technologies emerge.
  2. Headless architecture allows for faster product development. Since you can divide developers into groups, each of which deals with a specialized module, and then assemble a platform based on standard protocols, you can significantly reduce the time to market for a software product. If new channels of communication with customers emerge, you add such technology support to your platform, and everything continues to work within the framework of a single business logic.
  3. You must be practical. That is, for each point of investment in IT, you must have an understanding and criteria for assessing the technology that brings you and your business a corresponding advantage.
  4. Remember that to work with headless architecture, a company must have a development team, and an experienced one. Or you will have to sign a contract with an implementation partner (aka a system integrator) who will attend your team's meetings, write down your wishes and do the development work.

Thinking about a unique customer experience in every channel for every customer and need professional advice? Contact the Virto Commerce team to request a demo and get comprehensive answers.

FAQ

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is a new conceptual and technological approach to ecommerce. Technologically, the front end is separated from the back end of the ecommerce software platform, maintaining communications through the API. This allows you to add new touchpoints for interaction with clients within a single logic of business processes. Conceptual advantage is in maintaining omnichannel sales and complete flexibility in presentation of the product and customer service.

What is a headless commerce platform?

A headless commerce platform is a software solution in which the front end and the back end are separated at the architectural level. Headless platforms currently occupy almost half of the market and this share is constantly growing. Legacy platforms that do not have a front end and back end separation are called monoliths. Accordingly, the number of monolithic solutions offered by vendors is decreasing.

What is headless CMS used for?

A headless CMS includes only a content component without an implementation layer.It focuses entirely on the interface for creating content (admin panel), facilitating content and collaboration workflows. Content can be sent via APIs to several types of touchpoints, for example, to various types of mobile devices in addition to a website.

What is a headless commerce API?

An application programming interface (API) is a type of programming interface that allows data to be exchanged between parts of a large software ecommerce platform. The data exchange can take place in the common JSON format, which allows you to natively use the data for any new front end. The transfer is done through an external API using RESTful or GraphQL languages.

What does headless architecture mean?

Headless is an application architecture in which the front end is decoupled from the back-end code, but can interact only through API calls. The headless architecture allows all online sales channels and customer experience to be served with the same logic, catalog, pricing, and promotions.

What are the benefits of headless commerce?

A headless ecommerce platform has many advantages over a monolith. The most important ones are the ability to scale the number of touchpoints and set up new types of touchpoints without affecting the other parts of the platform. This provides huge savings in development and easy system updates for companies that use the headless platform for their online business.

What does headless checkout mean?

Headless checkout is the ability to pay for purchases in any application, not just in the website interface or the main mobile application. For example, if you received an email with a newsletter from your favorite brand, you can buy the product you like right away, without a redirect to the brand's website.

What is headless search?

We are talking about a search, in which the search query is sent over the API to the middleware or back end of an ecommerce platform. There is a search engine like Elasticsearch there — the real-time, distributed, and scalable full-text search engine.

What is a commerce cloud?

A commerce cloud is marketing jargon for an ecommerce platform that operates in the cloud as an SaaS (Software as a Service). It delivers licensed ecommerce software applications on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted in a data center.

What is a headless database?

Any software tool that is preceded by the word “headless” means working on the back-end side and transferring data through API calls. The same is true for a headless database. This is especially good for information security, since attackers cannot damage the database, as it is not directly connected to the front end (website, mobile app, etc.).

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Oleg Zhuk
Technical Product Owner