Headless Commerce: The Future of Multi-Channel E-Commerce

Headless commerce solutions are the perfect type of e-commerce platform for brands and retailers who sell in multiple channels (website, mobile app, in-store kiosks etc.). They help brands create better online shopping experiences, simplify technical architectures, and reduce the amount of merchandising effort needed to sell the same products in multiple channels.

If your customers have inconsistent experiences across channels or your e-commerce team is frustrated with duplicating merchandising, promotions and content across multiple platforms, and it’s become too expensive to have multiple storefront technologies, then it is time to explore the benefits of headless e-commerce.

As an award-winning e-commerce agency with over 20 years of experience, we can help you to build, optimise and scale your online business using headless commerce solutions. Contact Profound Digital today.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce is an ecommerce architecture in which the front-end is separate from the back-end, but the two are kept in communication via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), facilitating multichannel delivery.

eCommerce architecture before headless commerce was invented

Before going into detail about how headless works, it’s worth explaining how traditional software solutions operate. In these solutions (for example, a commerce platform or a content management system), the codebase of the back-end functions is tightly coupled with the channel’s front-end presentation layer. The content, design assets, product information, payment engine, search function and other components are all locked into a single structure with the front-end website.

Once fully developed and integrated, this enables organisations to quickly publish something to that single channel. This was an effective strategy when websites were the only major revenue-generating online platform, but that has long been a distant memory.

Alternative approach to headless commerce architecture

With headless, the front-end is separate from the back-end, but the two are kept in communication via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are a technology that enables one solution to make requests from or call on actions in another solution. Therefore, the front-end presentation layer is effectively decoupled from the back-end.

The back-end of your content management system (CMS), digital asset management (DAM) solution, product information management solution (PIMS) and other microservices are not locked into the front-end ‘head’, hence the name – headless.

So, with your back-end communicating with the front-end via individually developed APIs, you have the freedom and agility to transform your front-end. By facilitating multichannel delivery, headless opens up a whole new world, giving you the power to reshape your digital estate into a customer and cash magnet.

Headless commerce

Why “Go Headless”?

  • If your team spends too long updating the same e-commerce data in multiple systems
  • Your business needs to make selling in multiple channels a priority to stay competitive

A strategic move to a headless e-commerce platform is something you should be considering.

We’re Headless Commerce Pioneers

Our team has been pioneering e-commerce experiences for over 20 years and has been focused on headless e-commerce since 2018. If you manage an inflexible, ageing e-commerce platform that stifles innovation, we can help you plan your headless strategy using modern technology, ensuring its future-ready.

Composable commerce experience

Experienced Agency

We were one of the first UK digital agencies to specialise in headless technologies.

Proven track record

We have three fully referenceable headless ecommerce clients with combined online sales of over £120 million annually.

Composable commerce fast implementation

Industry pioneers

We modernised Interflora to a headless architecture in under 10 months!

Factors to Consider Before Going Headless

Migrating from one platform to another can be a challenging process, but for brands wanting to transform digitally and have any chance of remaining a serious player in their competitive space, this transition is a question of when, not if. So, what are the key factors that you should consider before going headless?

First, review your business objectives, and assess how headless technology could deliver value for your business. A workshop with an experienced external partner may help here. There are, in fact, a few digital strategies where a traditional monolithic approach remains a serious option. So, it is important not to choose headless because it is the latest shiny technology toy.

Then, undertake a digital audit and discover what your brand’s greatest digital pain points are. You will need a dedicated replatforming team to help you achieve this, who can then undertake the necessary research and gap analysis to shape your goals and milestones.

Part of this process involves analysing the marketplace. There are several cloud-native headless solutions available from vendors available on a SaaS / PaaS model for each function of your digital estate. With your replatforming committee, you need to decide which solutions best accommodate your business’ needs.

In addition, many legacy solutions now position themselves as ‘headless solutions’, making the marketplace even more difficult to navigate. Seek the support of an external partner to help you with this process, who can help steer your transition across this new terrain. Remember, solutions that are truly headless usually offer their products in the form of ‘as-a-service’, meaning you receive structured account management and access their development team’s expertise.

The benefits of headless commerce

The Benefits of Headless Commerce

The need for single-channel e-commerce software suites is over, and modern, multi-channel headless technology stacks, which Forrester and Gartner highly rate, are being widely adopted across the industry by forward-thinking brands; here’s why:


  1. Better shopping experiences


It’s obvious that a mobile app shopping experience needs to be different from a website’s shopping experience, but it is often impossible to achieve different experiences with traditional eCommerce platforms. With headless architectures, you can design and build tailored front-end experiences based on the needs of your shoppers in each channel.


  1. Reduced administration


Merchandising teams will be more productive because they no longer need to enter the same data in multiple systems just to list the same products in every channel.

  1. Consistent data


Your product data and content will always be consistent across every channel because it will be managed and distributed from one place.

  1. Hyper-fast front-ends


Because headless front-ends are decoupled from the back-end, they load faster and do not require high levels of server processing power to compile the front-end for users.


  1. Faster innovation


Headless technologies are easier to work with, meaning you can increase the rate of development your teams can deliver. This is vital in keeping up with your competitors, responding to customer feedback and delivering business outcomes.


  1. Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)


Headless eCommerce platforms are cloud-native, SaaS-based technologies. This means the vendor will be responsible for maintaining and upgrading your commerce platform as part of your subscription fee. This releases budget and resources that previously would have been ringfenced for keeping your platform online and up to date to be used for more innovative activities. It also means your hosting infrastructure can scale up and down automatically according to demand so that you are only paying for the levels of cloud services that you are consuming.


  1. Happier business users


Business users want to be free to trade their eCommerce channels without a dependency on development teams. But many traditional eCommerce solutions cannot support this independence or meet the expectations of the business without significant customisation. And the more you customise a platform, the harder it is to maintain or customise in the future.


In a recent market survey by commercetools, more than two-thirds of respondents (68%) said it takes their company three months or longer to take new commerce solutions to market, and half of the respondents (50%) reported that their organisation’s technologies had limited their ability to innovate as quickly as needed.


Modern, headless technologies are built to fully enable business users with their powerful back-office tooling and featured rich APIs, meaning they can manipulate front-end experiences with greater independence than ever before. And when they do need developer support, the speed of delivery is much faster because the development only happens in the front-end, without impacting any back-end system.

Headless Commerce Solutions - The Profound Way

Moving to a headless platform requires a strategic approach, and it’s easy to get it wrong, especially if an existing eCommerce platform exists. The last thing anyone wants is for online sales to suffer through the process. We can help create your headless migration strategy, select the right platform and design and implement the new experiences; here’s how we do it…

Customer-First E-Commerce Agency

At Profound Digital, everything starts with the customer. Only once we understand the experiences your customers and business users want, and what the strategic goals of your business are, can we start having insightful conversations about the right technology mix for the future and the operational change required. This is why our e-commerce agency team will begin with a tailored, consultative Discovery engagement before starting any implementation work. Learn more about Profound Digital.

Discovery and definition

Delivered by our experienced Strategy and Consulting team, our Discovery phase typically lasts around a month and will focus on five key areas:

• Your customers
• Your brand
• Your business
• Your technology landscape
• Your data.

At the end of Discovery, we will have defined the future state customer experience, the headless technology to enable it, the operational changes and investment required to get there, and any technical proof of concepts needed before making any significant investment in technology licensing or implementation.

Discovery for headless commerce

Digital transformation and implementation

Our high-calibre, cross-functional delivery team will design and build your new headless commerce solution. The size and shape of your delivery team will depend on the outcomes of Discovery, the speed of transformation required, the complexity of integrations and the level of involvement from your delivery teams – we are incredibly comfortable augmenting our team with clients' delivery teams.

Headless commerce implementation

Support and continuous improvement

Modern eCommerce websites should continuously evolve using insight and customer feedback to improve experiences and stay ahead of competitors. Our Support team is here to keep your site performing smoothly post-launch, whilst our eCommerce Optimisation team will help you plan and execute a strategic roadmap of continuous improvements and CRO initiatives.

Supporting and improving headless commerce implementation

Our headless technology partners

We will only recommend technology that’s right for your business. However, we only partner with next-generation, best-of-breed headless platforms (often called composable or MACH technologies). This principle enables us to design unconstrained experiences whilst architecting flexible eCommerce ecosystems that can scale and adapt as your business grows or changes.

  • Commerce platforms

    commercetools white logo
  • Search and discovery

  • Order management

  • PIM and DAM

  • Loyalty & reviews

  • Conversational commerce

  • Content management

We help digital teams design great experiences, make smart technology choices, and deliver successful digital transformations.

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Attend Our Headless Commerce Adoption Bootcamp

Do you need help understanding if headless is suitable for you or how you can make the switch? Sign up for our headless commerce adoption bootcamp.

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