There is no doubt that eCommerce has become one of the fastest-growing industries.
Customers are getting more accustomed to consuming content and buying products online. This is why thousands of companies are deciding to launch their own online stores, which means the competition is increasing. eCommerce stores have to constantly strive for innovation and meet the demands of modern customers.
One way of doing so is to move away from traditional eCommerce and lean towards headless systems gaining speed, performance and a better SEO.
Read on to find out why using headless Shopify is the future of eCommerce.
What is headless Shopify?
Every eCommerce website is built from two components: the front-end and the back-end. As you may know, the front-end is everything visible for the users, while the back-end handles the “business” layer.
Headless Shopify means that the front-end of your Shopify store is separated from the back-end. This means that headless Shopify uses different technologies and frameworks for the front-end layer like ReactJS or GatsbyJS and pulls data from Shopify via Storefront API.
How does headless work?
A headless architecture consists of two layers: a presentation layer and a back-end layer. Those layers communicate via APIs. However, it is possible to complicate them by adding third-party tools and services.
The presentation layer we have a fast-loading website, mobile applications, KIOSK systems, IoT devices and other client-facing systems. The number of them depends on your strategy and needs. Any changes made to this layer do not affect the back-end. Moreover, there are no limitations to the technologies and strategies used to deliver the best user experience and conversion rate.
On the other hand, the back-end layer is where the business system lives. In the context of headless Shopify it might be Shopify itself with the inventory, orders, payments, product catalogues etc. A headless CMS is good to manage blogs, target landing or product pages.
Headless vs traditional commerce
In traditional eCommerce, since the front-end and the back-end are coupled, we are bounded by the existing design and database. If we want to introduce changes to the website’s design we also need to update the database and its code. Each small change will be far more time-consuming.
With a headless solution, the front-end design can be modified without modifying the database. Since the design is completely separate, it gives the developers flexibility and freedom.
Pros of going headless
1. Faster time-to-market
Going headless addresses the problems of finding front-end and back-end developers that are able to work together. This way, the customer-facing work can be done independently. This means quicker development and faster time-to-market.
Since the front-end is decoupled from Shopify it is easier to test and optimise a headless system. It gives us the freedom to test different integrations, website templates, design etc. Those systems are quick to adapt to customer demands without any impact on the back-end database.
Headless also gives the power to move at your own pace while protecting from unnecessary technology shifts.
3. Better SEO
With headless you have full control over the SEO tactics. There are no limitations. You can choose how to handle URLs and meta descriptions. A headless system allows a faster and cleaner browser-based experience by creating an app-like experience. Improved front-end performance is a huge ranking factor for SEO.
What is more, a headless approach can eliminate some URL issues of Shopify.
4. Seamless integration
Headless eCommerce systems are built on APIs. This means we are able to integrate them with other systems like marketing tools, CMS platforms, CRMs etc. It gives you all the advantages of using simple plug-ins without the need to constantly update them, fix security and integration issues.
API platforms integrate with each other much easier and you can attach new devices and platforms at any time.
With all that being said, there are a lot of examples of successful headless eCommerce out there. And we want to show you the most interesting ones.
Inbox is an e-commerce success story. Although they only have been present on the market for 3 years, their website is visited by over a million visitors each month. This innovative semi-permanent tattoo shop was built using Shopify and combined with a custom front-end. This approach allows them to serve hundreds of customers at once while maintaining seamless user experience and customer service.
This eco-friendly insulated bottles company decided to go headless and integrate Shopify Plus with DatoCMS. The former handles the commerce cart while the latter powers the content.
The solution provided a number of wins like improved speed and performance, better SEO, faster deployment. They are now leveraging a PWA and manage one store that serves multiple countries, supporting various currencies and languages from a single CMS. Chilly’s use CMS to build dynamic pages for new customers based on the acquisition path tailoring the post-click experience. Those efforts combined with an improved SEO resulted in delivering the most traffic and value.
In the past 12 months they moved from SME to an enterprise eCommerce business with revenue growing over 166%. On mobile, the revenue increased by 302%, transactions by 544% and conversion rate by 134%.
A brand new brand created by Victoria Beckham - a celebrity, influencer and fashion icon. The website is based on Shopify Plus working with a Contentful CMS aiming to engage the customers in a direct way.
The developers faced a challenge to deliver a platform that will be able to handle big traffic, high-resolution images and video content with zero downtime. Going headless gave them a high performant single page application in a short amount of time. Contentful CMS handles fully organic and constantly evolving content. The platform supports fast page loads and zero downtime during launch and throughout the holiday season.
In 2018, Impossible Foods (maker of the Impossible Burger) faced a challenge of redesigning their website as the old one did not perform as expected. Users were frustrated with the lack of useful information, which resulted in the lack of generated leads, therefore, becoming a barrier of growth.
Impossible Foods decided to turn their minimal website with static functionality into a highly performant, flexible and performance-focused platform.
They decided to combine Gatsby, Shopify Plus and Contentful CMS, which resulted in increasing the customer engagement by more than 40%. The new website is SEO friendly and performance-optimized and includes A/B testing and dynamic pages. Impossible Foods managed to reduce the bounce rate by 30-40% per month, increased the number of unique users by 60% and are planning to expand internationally in the upcoming months.
A clean skincare brand with a cult-like following created their platform using Shopify with some help from WP. A headless eCommerce solution brought a high number of direct and search traffic.
The website stands out with its unusual design and attractive UX. It is extremely compelling and easy to use. The content is customer-generated and focused on engaging them as much as possible.
Australia’s highest-rated mattress brand that used Shopify Plus with Contentful to transform their web identity. Koala relies on a third-party CMS to customize and tailor user experience.
Koala’s head of technology, Richard Bremner, says: “By decoupling the content from the code, we have been able to free the content from the engineers so that they can focus on code while writers focus on content.” A headless architecture enables the company to offer an engaging experience through a flexible PWA. It allows creating new pages, products and content much faster. The architecture also allowed Koala to get rid of unnecessary features that slowed it down.
A website and online shop providing you with everything yoga-related. The website uses Contentful CMS integrated with Shopify, which gives it speed, a clean look and lots of functionalities.
Thanks to Contentful, product information is pulled via APIs while customers enter the normal Shopify checkout as they progress through the cart. Yoga Girl managed to create specific templates for different pages and meet the commerce requirements through Shopify and its APIs.
‘The better way to shop for paint’. A beautiful website built with React and headless Shopify as well as Now and Contentful.
The platform allowed Clare to introduce features like Color Genius quiz, which aids in finding the perfect paint meeting user’s specific requirements.
‘Solutions for worry-free watering’ - an intelligent sprinkler controllers shop created with Shopify and GatsbyJS.
The switch from a traditional to a headless approach enabled Rachio to offer an excellent user and shopping experience. The website is clean-looking and the content-rich landing pages provide detailed product descriptions.
Headless gave Rachio a highly customizable theme and made it easy to launch campaigns and keep a record of them. It also gave the team the freedom to automatically source and manage influencers from their customer base.
A family farm’s store developed with Shopify Plus and Contentful. The founders wanted to achieve the best user experience possible and choosing headless Shopify gave them that.
As the CEO of Grassroots Farmers’ Cooperative, Cody Hopkins, says: The progressive web app significantly increased our mobile average order value. With the increase in revenue, we support our sustainability efforts.
A website of a big almond-based products manufacturer was redesigned after over 10 years on the market.
The developers faced a challenge of organizing multiple products and years of content into an engaging and purposeful website. They chose React for the website and headless Shopify integrated with Contentful to support the store in order to unify the brand representation while maintaining the uniqueness of each product.
The final product brought over 85% increase in organic traffic to both the website and store. The bounce rate decreased by 15% thanks to the new structure of the website that supports a variety of complex information like recipes, product data and shoppable links.
A custom Vue.js front-end working hand-in-hand with Shopify. The Seedlip Drink website is content-driven. The templates are nicely designed and do not follow a convention.
The cartloads as an overlay to then take you to a Shopify checkout. The key functions of the store are super fast, which makes it a perfect example of how a headless Shopify can be approached.
An enterprise retailer using Shopify with Contentful and Akeno.
The headless approach allowed them for more complexity on the front-end. This way they met a number of complex requirements for product pages and user experience.
An online store for shoes made from recycled plastic developed with headless Shopify and Contentful. From the very beginning, the company has been focused on delivering a premium customer experience and create a solid relationship with them.
This is why they needed to have a completely responsive website with an amazing design that would be able to integrate with their accounting systems. Choosing a headless approach allowed them to not only that but also strategize operational and enhance revenue-generating funnels focusing on mobile design.
Rothy’s experienced a 100% uptime with no incidents, 0.5 second first page load and a great increase in annual revenue, reaching $140M in 2018.
Organic body care, ethical loungewear company that was seeking a website to reflect the customer experience of their stores and spas. All that had to be achieved while maintaining a simple communication, navigation and shopping experience.
Bamford moved away from WooCommerce and re-platformed their website using Contentful as a headless CMS and Shopify as the headless eCommerce platform. This gave the developers unlimited creativity for the front-end, improved speed, security and performance for users. Its minimal and clean UX and design is a perfect example of a ‘less is better’ approach.
A skincare brand with an online shop based on Prismic, GatsbyJS and headless Shopify. The website was moved from Magento to gain speed and improve user experience. It also had a visible impact on organic SEO. Among advantages, they also mention the fact that Google Play Store accepts PWA as applications.
StriVectin managed to better their Google Performance score and integrate lots of amazing 3rd party solutions.
Australia’s leading electronics retailer that is said to be one of the biggest Shopify Plus stores. It is also integrated with Contentful CMS.
Again, JB Hi-fi uses Shopify’s storefront API to gain freedom on the front-end and also improve its performance.
A cosmetic brand store developed with Shopify Plus and Contentful. By choosing headless Shopify the shop increased revenue by 107%, conversion rate by 10% and experienced a 171% increase in transactions.
They moved from Magento to Shopify for the freedom to update and customize their eCommerce content without any reliance on code. The website now allows subscriptions, so the customers can set up regular payments for ongoing deliveries.
A simple online store selling GatsbyJS merchandise. It is obviously based on GatsbyJS together with Shopify. The website displays products along with an add to cart. Once you add an item to your cart you progress to the Shopify checkout page.
This Autodesk Platinum Partner together with their development team selected Shopify to power product and purchases and rely on Wordpress for the content management.
Thanks to the headless approach they were able to use separate subdomains for each of the five businesses for SEO purposes while deploying global search and add to cart functionality.
Cadline now supports a simple and easy to understand experience for their users leveraging the power of Shopify’s commerce management and Wordpress’ content management. The end result was a net gain for Cadline together with better management of internal operations.
Rue Des Mille is an Italian brand of jewellery. They strove for a renewal of their eCommerce website and a headless approach. The website was rebuilt from scratch with a third-party CMS combined with Shopify.
The switch resulted in extremely fast load time and thanks to a custom front-end Rue Des Mille gained the possibility to quickly adopt new technologies. Their refreshed website now supports a responsive and fluid user experience, is optimized for mobile devices while supporting desktop features and ensures scalability needed for traffic peaks.
A global restaurant delivery service was looking for a solution that could support their riders kit store as well as packaging stores. They chose to use Shopify Plus in order to better their onboarding user experience and allow personal content creation.
Deliveroo’s website now is able to handle order and stock processing on multiple stores, checkout and payment processes as well as currency exchange and VAT. A headless approach means flexibility in visual layouts and assets as well as the consolidation of all stores on one central hub.
A jewellery store developed using Shopify Plus combined with Contentful.
An online clothing store. It was built using Shopify Plus and Contentful CMS.
Clothes from the best brands and cultural icons developed based on headless Shopify.
Obviously, going headless is not the only one and the best option out there for eCommerce platforms. However, it offers lots of benefits from better website performance, SEO to easier development and freedom of customization.
Whatever you choose, make sure it meets your needs and provides you with functionalities, design and user experience the shop requires.
If you are looking for help with your headless Shopify development, contact our experts here.