It’s the thing that keeps ecommerce executives awake at night. You’ve spent years growing your business on a reliable ecommerce platform, only to discover that as your business has grown, you’ve surpassed its original capabilities. But how do you make the transfer to something more adaptable without having to start over?
You’ve probably heard about the buzz surrounding headless commerce. And there are other advantages to be achieved, the most notable of which being increased site speed and improved user experience.
But what about headless Shopify? How are brands going headless with their Shopify storefronts? Is that even possible? Practical?
You can’t afford to lose Shopify’s powerful ecommerce features (payments processing, inventory, PCI compliance, and so on), but you may also want to adopt technology that dramatically improves the speed of your site, or you may have advanced content management needs, a complex product catalogue, or simply want to break free from your theme’s constraints and create a highly unique site experience.
Thankfully, using headless commerce with an existing Shopify site is absolutely viable, and there are numerous ways to make the move easier.
Here, we’ll look at the hows and whys of going headless with Shopify, as well as brands who have done so effectively, how they did it, and the benefits they’ve found as a consequence.
What is headless Shopify?
When you go headless with Shopify, you get all of Shopify’s fantastic backend ecommerce features; you just use a new frontend or “head” to run your site’s customer-facing side.
Shopify is a fantastic one-stop shop for all your ecommerce needs, including features such as:
- Apps that are simple to install from the app store Mobile-ready checkout that accepts other payment methods such as Apple Pay
- Built-in security and compliance, as well as advanced order management and inventory management
However, as your business grows, you may find that particular features or design options become less adaptable. The one-size-fits-all strategy can work up to a point, but as your business grows, you may find that you require more than what the Shopify Storefront can supply. Shopify headless is frequently used by brands to achieve the following goals:
- A faster-loading site with a page-to-page load time of less than a second
- More flexibility and easier content management, and more control over how your products are aesthetically displayed
- A URL structure that is completely customisable
If you want to build your business, you’ll need a storefront that’s adapted to your company’s evolving demands.
Fortunately, there’s no need to do a major revamp or start from scratch with a new ecommerce platform.
Shopify was designed with separation in mind, and if your business grows, you’ll be able to add a frontend that better meets your needs. This is where their API for storefronts comes in.
Is Shopify a headless CMS?
It would be more accurate to say that Shopify has a CMS with headless capability. Shopify’s integrated services are what draw people in and make it such a powerful tool for online companies. The Theme Layer and Editor, Shopify’s inbuilt CMS, which you may already be familiar with, sits well among the rest of the company’s ecommerce features.
These functions, on the other hand, are designed to work independently of one another if necessary.
If you need more flexibility in how you organize content in your CMS (Shopify only permits four predefined content types), you can use a more adaptable third-party CMS like Contentful or Prismic, configure your data however you want, and link it to Shopify via an API with headless.
Shopify and other vendors have created a robust toolkit that makes the process far less complicated than it appears.
If you’re a small online retailer, Shopify’s CMS may suffice, but if you’re scaling or have a mobile-first business model that prioritizes speed, presentation, and the customer experience, the relative ease of Shopify headless commerce and a more robust CMS option may make pursuing a PWA build worthwhile. You might use an experience platform or a frontend-as-a-service provider with a CMS built in to work with Shopify to do this.