Headless Commerce as a main trend in the eCommerce
Headless Commerce is currently one of the main trends in the entire eCommerce industry from the perspective of both the world and Poland. More and more store engines offer the possibility of connecting an independent frontend, which guarantees a number of benefits for the online store. There are also a number of technologies that have been built around the microservice architecture to enable this connection. However, it is worth remembering that Headless Commerce is not really for every eco-friend. In the article below, we will try to show and explain the key differences between the headless technology and the traditional approach to creating eCommerce websites. We invite you to read the content of the article.
How traditional (monolithic) eCommerce works
With traditional (monolithic) platforms, the eCommerce front-end is tightly connected to the back-end, meaning there is little room for easy front-end customization. UI updates require changes to the code, moreover, each addition of new user interfaces also requires programming work, often impossible due to the capabilities of the SaaS template management system. The traditional approach allows for any shaping of the user experience, while due to the necessary, simultaneous changes to the back-end and front-end layers, it increases the cost of introducing changes, and sometimes makes them impossible.
In this context, the front-end and back-end layers are closely related, and performing any operation on one of them produces results on the other. To sum up, in order to introduce changes to the platform, it is necessary to involve more people, which ultimately significantly increases the costs of the changes carried out.
In the case of traditional eCommerce systems based on monolithic architecture, the purchasing process takes place in every area of the platform. This means that CMS, cart, checkout, subscription function and site layout / design are interdependent. Changes in one part of the store require changes elsewhere – which can make updates slow and painful. The content of the store visible to the customer is generated by the back-end of the store, which means that each query is made using the code and database of the store platform.
How Headless Commerce works?
With Headless Commerce, the front-end and back-end of the eCommerce sites are separated from each other, giving the graphic layer space for endless design possibilities. Everything happens thanks to the API interface that provides data between the front-end and the back-end. The API carries most of the load, making it easier for organizations to manage changes and improvements to the eCommerce website UI.
Separation of the front-end, back-end and database layers gives great opportunities to edit the website without involving large resources at the same time. Put simply, if a store owner wants to make changes to the graphical layer that are suggested by users, he does not have to involve back-end developers. In this case, the front-end layer is completely independent, so changes can be carried out by smaller teams, which ultimately means savings for the eCommerce owner.
At the same time, the layer visible to the customer of the store (front-end) downloads the content earlier, so that the user almost never waits for the page to be generated.
In a very simplified way, the store in Headless Commerce technology has all the information ready to be displayed to the user without connecting to the platform (this is done by downloading and synchronizing the content before the connection occurs).
Headless technologies are designed so that the speed of the website is as high as possible. They change the design of websites from the model, download the data that the client wants from the database and display them on the model, generate them in advance to the „static (ready)” form and deliver them using a specially adapted server infrastructure in an extremely short time.
How headless cms architecture works
As can be seen from the diagram, in the case of standard solutions – one application is responsible for the total result displayed to the user. In the case of headless architecture, the store platform is responsible for all operations related to product management, orders, content, but is not responsible for displaying this content. An independent code queries the store platform for all the necessary data using the API. Renders them in the best possible way for the user. Content for different devices can be handled by completely independent applications, so we can easily deliver different optimized content to a dedicated audience.
Traditional (monolithic) eCommerce vs Headless Commerce – comparison
|Monolithic Commerce||Headless Commerce|
|(-) Combination of the front-end and back-end layers.||(+) Independence of the front-end layer from the back-end layer.|
|(-) Slower loading time of the website due to technical limitations of technology.||(+) High performance of the website thanks to the CDN (Content Delivery Network) approach.|
|(-) Changes to the graphic layer of the eCommerce website require a lot of involvement on the front-end and back-end.||(+) Changes in the graphic layer of the eCommerce website, thanks to the independent front-end layer, require the involvement of only the front-end team.|
|(+) A large number of paid and free modules and plugs adapted to the engine and CMS.||(-) The need to prepare modules and plugins for the front-end layer of a given Headless template.|
|(+) Hosting the entire website in one place, which lowers maintenance costs.||(-) Necessity of dedicated hosting separately for the front-end and back-end layers.|
|(-) Lower level of security due to the monolithic structure and the lack of division of front-end and back-end layer instances.||(+) High level of security due to the headless architecture and the division of the front-end and back-end instances.|
|(-) Front-end changes, due to the monolithic structure, require changes in the entire website, hence the need to involve programming teams both on the front-end and back-end. Which increases the costs of changes made within the store.||(+) Front-end changes, due to the headless structure, do not require the involvement of programming teams apart from front-end teams. Which reduces the costs of changes made within the store.|
|(+) No API compliance required.||(-) Need to maintain API compliance.|
Headless Commerce or Monolithic Commerce – what to choose?
As can be seen from the above, both in the case of the traditional approach, which is characterized by monolithic eCommerce, as well as in the case of headless technology, there are both advantages and disadvantages of these solutions.
Before you, as a merchant, make a decision about the implementation of Headless Commerce technology, think about whether this is the right moment. As with all investments, implementation costs must pay off in the short or long term. It is therefore worthwhile to carefully plan the ROI for the investment before implementation and consult it with a specialist in this field.
As Blue Owl, we are at your disposal and we will be happy to advise you if and when it is worth changing from traditional eCommerce to the one based on Headless Commerce. Contact us for a free quote or consultation.