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What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify

eCommerce is undergoing a revolution, where businesses no longer need to strictly bind to traditional eCommerce models like Monolithic Commerce. Instead, they can create distinctive and adaptable customer experiences across a variety of digital channels through a methodology known as Headless Commerce.

Headless Commerce involves the separation of the frontend and backend of an eCommerce website. This allows the backend to transmit content through APIs to diverse frontends, including websites, mobile apps, IoT, POS, and more. Headless Commerce also gives you greater flexibility in customizing frontends compared to monolithic systems.

Learn more: Monolithic, Headless, Composable or MACH artchitecture

Among the prominent eCommerce platforms today, Shopify stands out with numerous effective solutions for headless deployment. This article on Headless Shopify delves into the concept, advantages and disadvantages, and solutions, and offers insights to help determine whether it is a suitable fit for every business.

What is Headless Shopify?

It is a way to build an eCommerce website using Shopify but separate the frontend (user interface) and backend (product management, order processing, payment system).

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify
What it is

With this headless solution, businesses have the flexibility to use their preferred content management system (CMS) or frontend technology and then connect it to Shopify’s backend through the Storefront API. 

Key features of a Headless Shopify store include:

  • Frontend: The freedom to utilize and customize preferred frontend technologies, such as HTML, React, Vue.js, to enhance the user experience.
  • Backend: Shopify handles the “commerce” aspects of the store, including product management, orders, payments, shipping, and more.
  • Headless CMS: Integration of Headless CMS platforms like Contentful, Storyblok, Builder.io to store and distribute content data.

Learn more:

Pros of Headless Shopify

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify
  • Full design control

Headless Shopify provides extensive customization for interface design and personalized user experiences. While the themes, including both free and premium options, boast attractive and modern designs with diverse choices for various business niches, these themes still come with constraints in terms of customization and features.

By using it, you can maximize customization for both interface design and user experience, creating a unique identity and enhancing your competitive edge.

  • Unlimited frontend technology

It imposes no limitations on the type of devices or platforms that can display content. Content created and managed on the backend system can be displayed on any device or platform that the business desires.

In other words, content data from the Headless Shopify system is distributed in API format to various modern frontend technologies, such as websites, mobile apps, IoT, POS, etc. This facilitates the distribution of user-tailored content across different devices and platforms, ensuring seamless and optimized multichannel selling.

  • Sell in the international market

With Headless Shopify, you can customize frontend interfaces, integrate Headless CMS, and incorporate local payment systems to distribute content and provide a shopping experience tailored to users in each market. This customization includes aspects such as domain, language, currency, payment gateways, and local payment methods.

Plus, you can leverage the Shopify Markets solution, which offers a full range of features, both basic and advanced, enabling you to expand your reach globally.

Cons of Headless Shopify

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify
  • Requires high programming knowledge and skills

Traditionally, Shopify has provided businesses with a ‘Plug-and-play’ solution, meaning that applications or utilities can be integrated into an online store and activated for easy use without the need for complex programming.

However, The headless solution provides you with advanced customization and scalability, requiring a higher level of technical expertise and complexity.

To address this challenge, you can partner with specialized developers like SECOMM for tailored guidance throughout deployment. These experts can provide insights on the recommended customizations to enhance system performance and user experience.

  • High cost

When deploying Headless architecture, there are three types of fees to consider: platform fees, development fees, and maintenance fees.

  • Platform fees: Using the platform, Headless CMS, or third-party platforms (ERP, PIM, CRM) incur monthly fees determined by each platform’s regulations.
  • Development fees: The cost you need to pay to collaborate with a development agency for Headless Shopify implementation ranges from $150,000 to $500,000 per project. Payments can be made in installments based on the agreement with the development agency.
  • Maintenance fees: Monthly maintenance fees, ranging from $100,000 to $150,000, are necessary for businesses to pay to the development agency.

As deploying Headless Commerce requires high technical expertise, the development cost will be significantly higher than implementing a Monolithic Commerce model.

Moreover, going Headless with SaaS platforms such as Shopify or CMS, ERP, PIM, and CRM requires monthly payment fees, making cash flow management challenging due to the potential fluctuations in platform usage, affecting monthly expenses.

Learn more:

Ways to deploy Headless Shopify

Throughout the evolution of eCommerce technology, Shopify has accurately anticipated and provided solutions to meet the deployment needs of businesses worldwide.

Notably, the trend of adopting Headless Commerce has been shaping the global landscape for several years, and Shopify has offered outstanding solutions for businesses to implement Headless based on its platform infrastructure.

  • Storefront API: It is a GraphQL-based API, enabling you to connect your frontend website to Shopify’s backend seamlessly, facilitating easy access to eCommerce data and functionality.
  • Hydrogen + Oxygen: This exceptional solution includes the Hydrogen framework based on React and the Oxygen hosting. It helps you build Headless Commerce websites rapidly and efficiently.
  • Commerce Components: This innovative tech stack, designed specifically for large enterprises adopting Headless Commerce or Composable Commerce, allows you to integrate independent ‘components’ to customize and enhance the eCommerce experience.

Brands deploy Headless Shopify successfully

  • Victoria Beckham Beauty

The beauty brand Victoria Beckham Beauty was launched in 2019, aiming to provide an optimal user experience across multiple global markets with high performance. To achieve this, the company deployed Headless Shopify Plus to manage products, orders, and payments.

It integrated Contentful as a Headless CMS to store and distribute content data to frontends, including the website and mobile app, through the Storefront API.

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify - Victoria Beckham Beauty
Victoria Beckham Beauty website
  • Paul Valentine

Since its establishment in 2015, Paul Valentine has become a major global jewelry brand with over 12 local stores, each with its dedicated sub-domain, to cater to diverse user demographics.

To streamline content management for these 12 stores within a centralized system, Paul Valentine has developed a Headless eCommerce website using the Vue.js framework on the Shopify Plus platform for backend management.

The Headless CMS platform, Contentful, is seamlessly integrated into the Shopify Plus backend system, enhancing the efficiency of content management and distribution across the interfaces of the 12 local stores, spanning both the website and mobile app through the Storefront API layer.

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify - Paul Valentine
Paul Valentine website
  • Vinamilk

To meet the requirement of integrating an eCommerce website and a corporate information website into a unified user experience, SECOMM has supported Vinamilk in restructuring the system with a Headless architecture. Shopify Plus manages the ‘eCommerce’ aspect, while a Headless CMS platform is utilized for storing, managing, and delivering content to user interfaces. This results in a comprehensive custom Headless Commerce + Headless CMS model.

Learn more: 15 brands deploy Headless Commerce with Shopify Plus

What is Headless Shopify? Pros & Cons of Headless Shopify - Vinamilk
Vinamilk website

Does Headless Shopify suit all types of businesses?

The answer is no.

While both the core and the Plus can implement Headless Commerce, the high flexibility of Shopify Plus makes the process easier, especially when utilizing the Headless solutions.

In essence, headless architecture is better suited for businesses with high demands for flexibility, customization, and scalability, as well as a desire for uniqueness to craft a diverse and seamless customer experience. If your business simply wishes to engage in straightforward online selling, core Shopify is sufficient.

On the other hand, for those seeking a balance between flexibility and stability, Plus is a viable option.

With a wealth of experience going headless for major enterprises like Vinamilk and Suzuverse, SECOMM boasts a highly skilled technical team with deep expertise in Shopify and the execution of Headless solutions on this platform.

Contact or call SECOMM’s hotline directly at (028 7108 9908) to receive advice on deploying Headless Shopify that is suitable for each business model. The team will also provide a detailed development roadmap divided into different stages.

3 Ways To Deploy Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus

Freedom in creativity and technical flexibility have ushered eCommerce into a new era with the Headless Commerce trend. In this scenario, Shopify Plus shines with its exceptional solutions that have positioned numerous businesses at the forefront of this trend.

Learn more: Brands go Headless with Shopify Plus

The combination of Shopify Plus infrastructure and the Headless architecture opens up various ways for businesses to create unique and customizable shopping experiences for their customers. Below are three common methods for implementing Headless Commerce with Shopify Plus.

Method 1: Employ the Storefront API

The Shopify Storefront API is a GraphQL-based API – a query language for APIs. It enables businesses to connect the frontend of their website to the backend of Shopify, facilitating easy access to data and eCommerce functionalities. Therefore, businesses can use the Storefront API to create unique and personalized customer experiences across various digital channels.

3 Ways To Deploy Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus
Shopify Storefront API


High flexibility: The Storefront API allows you to create independent websites. Instead of adhering to the constraints of pre-built themes, you can flexibly design product pages, homepages, and shopping carts in a style that accurately reflects your brand. The Storefront API also ensures flexibility in integrating with third-party systems while easily adapting the website to embrace new design trends.

Full data access: Through the Storefront API, you can access every aspect of the Shopify Plus database, including detailed information about products, orders, and customer data. This helps manage, monitor, assess trends, and optimize eCommerce data accurately.

Born for Headless Commerce deployment: Embracing the Headless Commerce model, which decouples the frontend and backend, allows for significant flexibility in eCommerce development and operations. The Storefront API is strategically optimized to seamlessly connect Shopify Plus’ backend with diverse frontends, ensuring a cohesive user experience across various channels and devices.


High technical skills required: Deploying Headless Shopify Plus using the Storefront API is a complex process that demands in-depth knowledge of the Shopify Plus platform, programming languages, and frameworks, as well as problem-solving skills to quickly address technical requirements. Particularly, you need to understand the data structure of Shopify, including how customer data, product information, and transactions are organized and stored within the system.

Hard to manage: The flexibility of the Storefront API complicates the process of managing and maintaining the system. While the flexibility of the Storefront API allows to customize every aspect of the eCommerce website, from the homepage to the checkout process, these custom configurations need to be well-managed. When there are too many custom configurations, updates may lead to compatibility issues within the overall system.

Method 2: Utilize the Shopify Hydrogen solution

The Shopify Hydrogen + Oxygen solution was introduced in 2021, and designed for large enterprises implementing Headless Commerce with Shopify Plus. Specifically, Hydrogen is a React-based framework – a popular framework for building user interfaces, enabling businesses to construct unique and visually appealing storefronts.

On the other hand, Oxygen is a global hosting solution capable of storing custom content. Shopify Oxygen is backed by Shopify’s infrastructure with over 100 server locations positioned worldwide. You don’t need to worry about finding third-party hosting providers or managing technical issues.

3 Ways To Deploy Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus
Shopify Hydrogen + Oxygen


High customizability: Shopify Hydrogen allows you to customize the Headless website interface and implement necessary extensions. This means that merchants can use the latest technologies to build a Headless eCommerce website without worrying about impacting the system’s functionality.

Create personalized experiences: The Shopify Hydrogen solution offers high flexibility and customization, enabling you to implement Headless Commerce with this solution to easily create and deliver personalized shopping experiences for customers.

Diverse integrations: To help you create a seamless omnichannel experience, Shopify provides the capability to integrate the Headless Hydrogen website with various third-party applications such as Klaviyo, Gorgias, etc., as well as Headless CMS systems like Contentful, Sanity, Builder.io, etc.


High technical skills required: Shopify Hydrogen is a technically intensive solution and doesn’t have a drag-and-drop builder. Therefore, the process of implementing Headless Commerce with Shopify Hydrogen will demand a high level of technical expertise from the business.

Depend on Shopify API: This solution is developed exclusively for Shopify’s API. This means that the Hydrogen framework can only be used to build the Shopify website interface.

Third-party app integration: While Shopify allows you to easily integrate with 3rd-party apps and CMS, if you want to use a CMS or app for your online store that isn’t compatible with the Hydrogen framework, you’ll need to integrate it through a middleware app.

Method 3: Leverage the Commerce Components solution

The third method to adopt Headless Commerce with Shopify Plus is by using Shopify’s latest solution – Commerce Components. This is a modular component tech stack developed by Shopify specifically for large enterprises aiming to build Headless eCommerce websites. Shopify Commerce Components offer 30 components, encompassing core features across various business aspects such as Cart, Checkout, Data, Shipping, and more.

You can integrate these components based on deployment needs to create a customized solution for your Headless Shopify website. Since its launch, many world-leading businesses, including Mattel, JB Hifi, Glossier, Coty, Steve Madden, Spanx, and Staples, have utilized this new tech stack from Shopify.

3 Ways To Deploy Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus
Commerce Components by Shopify


Flexible modular architecture: Commerce Components with a modular architecture provide unlimited API connections. This means you can integrate and use an unlimited number of components, while also easily adding, removing, and customizing these components without fear of affecting the system.

Cost optimization: Commerce Components have a pricing model based on the number of components used, meaning businesses pay for exactly what they use. Additionally, the cost of Commerce Components is billed annually, making it easier for businesses to accurately predict the fees they will incur.


Complex Integration: The process of integrating multiple components can be complex and time-consuming. Businesses need to ensure that the components operate independently and seamlessly within the same system efficiently.

Planning required: To ensure the effective operation of the components on the system, you need to meticulously plan which eCommerce components will be integrated, choose suppliers, deployment solutions, and deployment stages.

High technical skills required: Building and maintaining a Headless website system using the Commerce Components solution will demand a certain level of technical expertise and knowledge of integration and technology. You can invest in developing an in-house technical team or collaborate with highly specialized agencies.

Security and Compliance: Each provider for each eCommerce component will have its security protocols and compliance rules. You must ensure compliance with these rules when integrating their components, while also ensuring that this compliance doesn’t impact the operation of the remaining components and the entire system.

3 Ways To Deploy Headless Commerce Using Shopify Plus
Pros & Cons of 3 Headless deployment methods

Choose your best-fit Headless Commerce deployment!

On the journey of building a Headless eCommerce website with Shopify Plus, choosing the deployment method is a crucial decision to ensure system flexibility and performance while providing the optimal customer experience.

If you need detailed guidance or want to explore how Shopify Plus can support your Headless deployment strategy, please contact SECOMM or call directly at (+84)28 7108 9908 to receive advice and assistance from our experts in choosing the right Headless Shopify Plus deployment method for the business model and goals.

What is Headless Commerce? Explained in 5 Minutes

When learning the significant changes in eCommerce over the past decade, one concept that cannot be ignored is Headless Commerce. It isn’t a mere trend; rather, it presents a revolutionary solution for how businesses implement eCommerce, aiming to provide flexibility and enhanced efficiency in delivering a seamless shopping experience for customers.

The following statistics contribute to proving that Headless Commerce is one of the fastest-growing trends in eCommerce:

  • Headless Commerce deployment has increased by 50% in the past two years.
  • By 2025, 35% of businesses plan to transition from the Traditional Commerce model to Headless Commerce.
  • 60% of top retailers in North America are predicted to implement Headless by 2025.
  • Headless Commerce platforms have seen a 40% increase in usage during the Covid period.
  • Businesses implementing Headless report a 20% reduction in website loading time and an average revenue increase of 24%.

So, what is Headless Commerce, and why is it considered a modern and flexible approach to eCommerce deployment? Let’s explore this in the following article.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless Commerce is an eCommerce architecture that separates the user interface (Frontend) from the data management and functionality (Backend) of an eCommerce website. This separation allows the frontend and backend to be built entirely independently and connected through eCommerce Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Going Headless allows you to use any technology or tool you prefer to design and customize the user interface without being dependent on the existing eCommerce platform. You can also update and modify the backend without affecting the frontend.

Learn more: Everything to know about eCommerce APIs

What is Headless Commerce? Explained in 5 Minutes
What is Headless Commerce?

What is the difference between Headless Commerce and Monolithic Commerce?

Trước khi giải pháp Headless Commerce, hầu hết các website thương mại điện tử đều được xây dựng với kiến trúc Monolithic – tức là phần frontend và backend được liên kết chặt chẽ với nhau trong một hệ thống duy nhất. Đây là cách tiếp cận truyền thống và đơn giản, giúp doanh nghiệp dễ dàng xây dựng và quản lý website thương mại điện tử của mình.

However, Monolithic Commerce comes with several limitations, especially when you aim to develop and scale your eCommerce systems. Some common issues encountered when implementing Monolithic Commerce include:

  • Limited Customizations: The tight integration between the frontend and backend in Monolithic Commerce imposes constraints when you want to redesign or modify features on your website. So, you have to customize both parts which leads to compatibility and performance issues.
  • Limited Scalability: When an eCommerce website experiences a significant increase in the number of products, transactions, and traffic, you need to upgrade and expand the system to meet the growth requirements. The Monolithic architecture makes this process difficult and expensive, as you are required to update the entire system, potentially resulting in a temporary suspension of eCommerce website operations
  • Lack of innovation and competition: In the digital age, you should update your eCommerce websites with new technological trends to innovate and enhance, aiming to attract and retain customers while gaining a competitive edge. However, the Monolithic Commerce model hinders this process, as any minor change can affect the entire system, potentially causing unintended errors or issues and requiring a slow and cautious approach.

In contrast to Monolithic Commerce, Headless architecture brings several benefits when developing eCommerce. Some of these include: 

  • Easy Customization: In the Headless Commerce model, you are free to use your preferred development technologies and tools to build a comprehensive eCommerce system from frontend to backend, aiming to deliver a unique and appealing shopping experience for customers. Plus, you can easily modify either the frontend or backend without affecting the other or the overall operation of the entire system.
  • Easy Scalability:  Headless Commerce provides you with a seamless way to scale your eCommerce website. You can effortlessly adjust or streamline integrations in the backend to meet demand or integrate with diverse sales channels, creating multiple frontends (websites, mobile apps, IoT) that operate seamlessly on a unified backend system through APIs. This flexibility allows you to reach a wider audience, boost conversion rates, and drive increased revenue.
  • Boost Innovation & Competition: Going Headless allows you to swiftly and flexibly innovate and enhance your eCommerce websites. You can freely experiment with new features or integrate with diverse third-party systems without concerns about compatibility and performance issues. Moreover, you can integrate cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and virtual reality (AR/VR) to deliver an optimized experience for customers.
What is Headless Commerce? Explained in 5 Minutes
Headless Commerce vs Monolithic Commerce: Key differences

Top 5 Benefits of Headless Commerce

What is Headless Commerce? Explained in 5 Minutes
Headless Commerce Benefits

Offer Omnichannel Experience

The Headless Commerce model allows you to customize and create a unique user experience across various channels (website, mobile app, IoT). This not only avoids impacting the backend system but also helps you reach more potential customers and boost conversion capabilities.

Easy Integration

You can effortlessly integrate and merge various third-party systems (CRM, CMS, ERP, DXP) into the backend using APIs. This integration enhances the efficiency of managing and executing eCommerce activities, enabling you to leverage the superior capabilities of multiple services without concerns about website compatibility or performance issues.

Offer Personalized Experience

Through seamless integration with various systems, you can collect and consolidate customer data from various sources such as CRM, advertising campaigns, or data from previous shopping experiences.

Going Headless, you can create a customized interface based on customer data and personal information, displaying unique content, products, and messages for each customer based on their preferences, shopping behavior, and transaction history.

Sell Internationally

Deploying Headless Commerce enables you to expand your operations into international markets by adapting their activities to effectively cater to diverse markets. Specifically, you can customize the user interface, manage content, and offer distinct views for each customer segment in various markets.

Moreover, you can seamlessly integrate local options for payment, delivery, language, and currency to enhance the local customer experience.

Optimized Performance

In the Headless architecture, the frontend and backend operate independently through APIs, allowing businesses to optimize the performance of both parts. For example, you can enhance the navigation and page loading speed of frontends (website, mobile app, IoT) without heavily relying on the backend’s performance.

Similarly, you can optimize the backend to efficiently handle product requests, transactions, or inventory without impacting the page loading speed of the frontends

Does Headless Commerce suit all types of businesses?

Headless Commerce is a highly innovative eCommerce solution. However, that doesn’t mean this solution is suitable for every business. Therefore, before deciding to implement Headless for an eCommerce website, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Business objectives: You need to clearly define your business objectives and determine whether Headless Commerce can help achieve those goals. If the objective is to establish a straightforward and efficient eCommerce website, the Monolithic architecture might be sufficient and a more fitting choice. However, if the goal involves delivering customers a distinctive and seamless shopping experience across diverse sales channels, going Headless is recommended..
  • Budget & Resources: You should carefully assess your budget and resources when implementing Headless Commerce. Since deploying Headless requires utilizing eCommerce APIs to connect the frontend and backend, you will need an experienced and highly skilled technical team to design, develop, and maintain these APIs, as well as to handle complex customizations. You also need to allocate funds for API services, hosting, security, and the integrations in use. Without sufficient budget and resources, businesses may face difficulties and risks of failure when implementing this model.
  • Deployment & Golive: The Headless architecture is quite complex, so it will take a considerable amount of time to build, customize, and perfect an eCommerce website, potentially extending the planned go-live time. To mitigate this risk, you should schedule a detailed deployment timeline for each task that needs to be completed. Plus, you need to regularly monitor and update the APIs, frontend, and backend to ensure the system operates smoothly. Therefore, if you require a quick website go-live and have minimal need for extensive system adjustments, it may not be necessary to implement Headless Commerce at this time.

Ready to go Headless?

Over time, Headless Commerce has played a crucial role in reshaping how businesses implement eCommerce. This model provides you with many benefits in terms of customization, scalability, and delivering a multi-channel experience for customers. However, before deciding to deploy Headless, you’ll need to consider issues related to business goals, budget and resources, development needs, and the go-live timeline.

When ready to implement Headless, you’ll choose top platforms supporting Headless Commerce. One of these platforms is Shopify, a renowned SaaS platform that has introduced several solutions for businesses to deploy Headless.

  • Shopify Hydrogen + Oxygen: This superior solution includes the Hydrogen framework based on React and the Oxygen hosting. It helps quickly and efficiently deploy a Headless eCommerce website.
  • Commerce Components: This groundbreaking tech stack is developed specifically for large enterprises deploying Headless Commerce or Composable Commerce. This solution allows you to combine independent components to customize and enhance the eCommerce experience.

With extensive technical expertise and high specialization in the eCommerce domain, SECOMM has successfully consulted and implemented Headless Commerce using one of Shopify’s three solutions for leading enterprises such as Vinamilk, Suzuverse, and more.

Contact SECOMM or call directly at the hotline (02871089908) to explore how we can support businesses in maximizing the potential of Headless Commerce and enhancing competitiveness in the eCommerce market.


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