3 Benefits of Headless Websites for Ecommerce

Image of headless architecture

By Elle McSharry

Nov 21, 2022

Thanks to new technologies, having a headless website has never been more accessible.

But whether due to real concerns about fake headless or unfamiliarity with the concept, "going headless" may still be anxiety-provoking for some.

That's why we wanted to share the benefits of headless websites and assure our readers that any fingernail-biting you've been doing might be worth it!

While we've written this post with merchants and marketers in mind, we encourage devs to read it too.

In a quick rundown below, we've detailed three reasons we believe headless builds can give ecomm businesses a significant competitive advantage.

What is Headless?

When defining headless, it's easier to start with what most of us know: "traditional" or "legacy" systems. Traditional websites have their public-facing website and back-end data on the same server, reliant on the same core code.

On the other hand, a headless website is one in which there are two servers, not one. One server handles the public-facing part of your website, while the other holds your back-end data. The servers "talk" to each other via APIs and secure endpoints.

Sites developed with two such servers — headless websites — have an advantage in that they make security, speed, and flexibility easier to attain.

Most websites aren't headless. And while the topic may be trending, it can be quite a leap for merchants, marketers, and developers new to headless to make a move without understanding its benefits.

So, if you've heard about "headless ecommerce" and wondered if you should shrug it off as just another fad, then we're glad you're reading this.

While all headless sites are not equal (like any website, they can be built incorrectly!), they generally offer superior performance when adequately optimized.

At Foster Commerce, we've successfully built headless websites for a few years using Craft CMS and NuxtJS.

So, we're all in when it comes to headless websites for ecommerce.

3 Benefits of Headless Websites for Ecommerce

To help you understand why headless is an emerging trend in ecommerce, replace "headless" with "customer-centric" in the phrase "headless website," and you'll get it!

However, providing a superior customer experience is just one of many benefits a headless solution can provide.

Headless websites can also be an excellent solution for devs, marketers, and merchants seeking to innovate, be more creative, and save time and money.

1. Superior Speed

First on our list of benefits is performance. As we explained above, headless websites have two servers connected by an API. This dualism is transformative for ecomm businesses for a few reasons:

  • You can set up a headless site for high performance and low latency. With a headless site, you can design it to pre-render and cache pages (or even parts of them), making load times outrageously fast. Pre-rendering pages eliminates waiting for a page to load, so customers can browse or buy instantly, increasing conversions and engagement.

  • You can quickly swap out site components. You can construct your headless site using a "composable" approach. In a composable system, each component has strict boundaries. As a result, composable allows developers to more easily replace specific parts of a build without impacting all the other parts.

  • Developers can have more flexibility and freedom. With a split infrastructure, front-end and back-end devs can work independently of each other on a headless site. Letting specialists do their best work in their preferred domain creates team efficiencies, reduces development friction, and leads to better user experiences.

2. Omnichannel Marketing

One of the most exciting features of a headless website is that developers can easily create a variety of UIs through which to share content and business logic. This flexibility empowers marketers to share content wherever customers are, creating a seamless experience.

Benefits of omnichannel marketing include:

  • Promoting a unified customer experience at every touch point. With the power to push content to any screen, marketers can meet shoppers where they're at with unified messaging, whether in-person, online, via the internet of things, or with customer support. Providing this seamless experience enhances brand awareness, builds trust, and increases brand loyalty.

  • Personalizing content to improve the shopping experience. By collecting first-party data from each UI on shopping behavior, marketing teams can learn about and meet customer expectations, demonstrate knowledge of individuals' buying journeys, and better sell to customers in context.

  • Unlimited flexibility and freedom to respond to emerging trends in marketing. Unlike legacy websites, headless builds don't limit marketers to outdated marketing strategies. Instead, marketing teams can more easily adapt and experiment with new or updated customer touchpoints, creating limitless opportunities for innovation and growth.

3. Saves Time & Money

Our final and favorite reason we recommend headless builds is that they can save time and money because they future-proof your business. It's part of our core company standards to build websites that last. We know that when we do, companies ultimately win.

Headless websites allow merchants to:

  • Innovate new customer experiences with fewer costs and less risk. Flexibility in the face of changing market conditions and trends is the name of the game in ecommerce. But traditional monolithic builds make changes more costly and risky. In contrast, a headless site gives merchants endless opportunities for customization without ever having to worry about disruptions to data or expensive upgrades.

  • Reduce server costs. Whenever a traditional build gets a spike in traffic, all that traffic puts pressure on its one shared server, which can cause whole sites to slow to a crawl or even go offline. However, with headless websites, because the front and back end servers are separate, you can slam the front end with traffic, and the back end doesn't have to carry the burden. In other words, you don't need bigger databases or more of them to handle changes in traffic when you generate significant interest in your products and services.

Our Craft Commerce Headless Build

We're so excited about the possibilities of headless for innovative brands that we recently did a live headless ecommerce build on Twitter:

But to be clear, we aren't fans of just any platform. We build our headless sites using Craft CMS and NuxtJS.

For our headless solution, we've used Craft's commerce engine (Craft Commerce) to create a headless "Head Start."

For merchants eager to move to a new ecommerce platform, here are a few simple reasons to consider our Head Start:

  • Our Head Start build speeds up time to market. Because we've already created an optimized ecommerce headless boilerplate, you can have your new store up and running in weeks instead of months.

  • Our Head Start build saves merchants money. With our boilerplate, you don't have to start your customized build from scratch, so it's a fraction of the cost of a regular website.

  • Building on Craft is ideal for content marketing. According to HubSpot’s 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Trends Report, marketing teams continue to view content marketing as a "top priority." The Craft platform was explicitly built with content creators and marketers in mind to empower them with the flexibility and control they need to create and innovate.

  • You won’t have to re-platform in the future. Craft is a fully customizable CMS. This flexibility means you can develop your website to fit your specific business logic and grow with you as your business grows, making it future-proof.

Summary

Headless is a term used to describe platforms and systems where front-end functionality is separate from back-end data. Websites built as headless systems give merchants essential advantages.

We believe "going headless" is a better option, especially for businesses eager to invest in content marketing.

Headless sites offer the possibility of:

  • Superior Speed

  • Omnichannel Marketing

  • Saving Time & Money

In addition, our Craft Commerce headless "Head Start" saves merchants time and money and is future-proof.

In short, businesses that invest in a well-built content strategy, a robust first-party data acquisition funnel, and a flexible platform that supports both are setting themselves up to rock sales in 2023.

We know that headless builds aren't for everyone — and neither is Craft. But if you're ready for a change and wondering what headless might mean for the future of your business, it's worth a look!

We're a Craft Verified Partner. Find out what we can do for your website.