Headless Commerce Guide

Headless Commerce Architecture: How It's Built

Learn about the more technical aspects of headless commerce architecture and how specific commerce elements perform.

Design & Experience Vs. Business Logic

In headless architecture, the frontend is completely separated from the backend. In a more technical sense, it separates the business logic layer from the content presentation layer, decoupling the two and opening up flexibility in both.

Separating the cogs and gears from the presentation layer means that the interconnected processes (which govern traditional, full-stack architecture) aren’t restricted by each other. This is an important distinction in how the eCommerce experience is handled, as it creates more customization options and more granular insights into how specific commerce elements perform.

Separating Content Presentation from Business Logic

Generally speaking, the frontend of your platform is related more to customer-centric concerns:

  • User interface
  • Navigational elements
  • Information hierarchy
  • UX and ease of use

The backend, on the other hand, is more involved with business-facing concerns:

  • Account management
  • Product information management
  • Marketing/promotions
  • Order management
  • Reporting and analytics
  • API integrations

Connecting It All

When these two are connected under full-stack architecture, companies are limited in what types of eCommerce experiences they can provide. The eCommerce platform bolted onto a CMS is limited–far from enterprise-ready–and will be missing critical functionality. It’s also possible that your eCommerce platform offers a CMS, but it’s not robust enough for your marketing and eCommerce teams would prefer.

For example, a team may want to integrate an extensive product catalog that includes specific items, subscriptions, and memberships hidden behind a paywall. However, their legacy system offers only basic functionality for listing specific products. To include the extra eCommerce features that this company needs, they’d need to perform a major overhaul of both the front and back ends.

This applies to any aspect of your eCommerce experience, not just your products. For example, consider the growing trend of content production and the CMS systems companies use to manage it.

It has always been common for companies to launch websites and realize shortly thereafter that their business has changed. They may need to incorporate new brands, products, or changes in strategy, and eCommerce operations need to respond accordingly. These brands usually start on a single system that works well. At least, at that point in time. But when change comes around, they need to move to more advanced solutions. And generally speaking, companies find it far easier to manage this process through a headless approach than most traditional integrations.

Under full-stack eCommerce architecture, a company like this would need to build an entirely new eCommerce platform from scratch, weaving together their front/backend elements as needed (and reworking many of their content elements to fit within this new framework). But under a headless approach, a vendor would need to build only the backend layer and then migrate the existing assets into the decoupled interface.

In this way, a headless approach doesn’t just open up customization. It gives the company entirely new ways to sell at a fraction of the cost of a re-platforming project. And when you find a headless eCommerce option that suits your business, it’s easy to connect it to your favorite CMS to give your business the best of both worlds.