As the demand for faster, more seamless, and personalized digital experiences increases, so does the need for Headless Commerce. Headless Commerce refers to a decoupled approach to commerce, where the back-end systems that power eCommerce sites are not tied to the front-end user experience. This provides businesses with greater flexibility and control over their customer experience.
Shopify Plus is a popular eCommerce platform that offers a headless commerce option. This article will explore the pros and cons of using Shopify Plus for Headless Commerce. We’ll also provide tips on getting started with headless Shopify Plus. Let’s get started.
What Is Headless Shopify?
Headless Shopify is a term used to describe the decoupling of the front-end and back-end of a Shopify store. In a headless setup, the back-end (Shopify) powers the eCommerce functionality, while the front-end (usually a custom-built website or app) handles the presentation layer.
This separation of concerns allows for greater flexibility and creativity regarding the look and feel of your store and the user experience. Also, it allows you to tailor the user experience to your specific needs and brand. The available themes or apps do not limit you to creating a truly unique shopping experience for your customers. This can be a major selling point for businesses that want to stand out from the competition.
Pros of going headless with Shopify Plus
Several benefits come with going headless with Shopify Plus. Increased flexibility, decoupling the back-end from the front-end, and improved performance are some of the best.
1. More Content And Design Control
Utilize a headless architecture to have more control over site design and content. This way, you can create a truly unique and differentiated customer experience. Shopify’s native features and themes no longer limit you.
Headless eCommerce lets you manage content more effectively at scale if you’re selling internationally or have multiple brands or product lines. Gain more autonomy over site management without the need for extra coding.
Also, headless commerce allows you to personalize content more granularly. You can target specific audience segments with more relevant messaging and create better customer experiences overall.
2. Increased Site Speed
With a headless Shopify store, you can have an increased site speed. This is because there is no need to re-code or re-develop your website every time you want to make a change. You can simply use the visual experience manager and CMS to preview and implement changes on your website.
Also, with sales happening on mobile devices, a fast-loading website is crucial to providing a good user experience. Headless Shopify can help you achieve this. With a progressive web app, your browser loads a statically generated site that doesn’t make any dynamic database requests, which are typically very slow. Your page-to-page load time can be significantly higher than your original Shopify-only store.
3. Better SEO With Customizable URLs
It lets you control your URL structure to optimize your pages for better SEO performance. This is because headless eCommerce decouples the front-end from the back-end, giving you more flexibility to customize URLs to better meet your customers’ needs and Google’s search algorithm.
With Shopify’s headless CMS platform, you’re limited to four URL types, making it difficult to add the detail needed to help Google understand your pages. But with a headless eCommerce platform, you have complete control over your URLs, allowing you to create custom URLs optimized for both customers and search engines. This can lead to improved traffic and conversions from organic search.
4. Faster Time To Market
With headless commerce platforms, your marketing team can move faster and launch campaigns quickly. They can play with site layout and product placement without impacting the back-end processes. This means that marketing campaigns take less time from conception to execution.
Also, you’ll get precise design control over the look and feel to match your brand exactly. There will be no compromises. This also translates to faster expansion into other regional markets. So, scaling your brand globally can happen without any developmental hiccups.
5. Increased Flexibility
When you have a headless Shopify setup, your team has increased flexibility in choosing the technologies they want to use. For example, they can use React for the front-end, Node.js for the back-end, and GraphQL for data fetching. This increased flexibility can improve performance and user experience because the team can choose the best tools for the job. Also, a headless setup makes it easier to scale your website because you can add more front-end or back-end servers as needed.
Cons of going headless with Shopify Plus
Although headless Shopify provides many benefits, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider.
1. Some Apps Might Stop Working
One downside is that some apps might stop working. This is because headless Shopify uses the APIs of the various apps to function. So, if an app doesn’t have a functioning API, it won’t work. Also, if an app’s Shopify storefront API changes, it might break the functionality of your site. This is something to remember if you’re using many apps to power your Shopify Plus store.
2. Increased Complexity
With headless Shopify storefronts, there is increased complexity. This is because you must manage both the front-end and back-end of your site. However, you can partner with a company like Blue Owl Agency to help make the implementation process smoother.
How To Go Headless With Shopify Plus?
Several approaches are possible when it comes to going headless with Shopify, including:
1. Build From Scratch With Shopify’s Hydrogen
With Shopify’s Hydrogen, you have complete control over every aspect of your site if your team has the technical expertise to take on a headless build.
Shopify identified React.js as the future of online commerce, and Hydrogen uses this technology. The modular structure and development speed make it an excellent choice for making changes quickly and efficiently, resulting in highly performant and fast sites. Creating reusable components allows for more rapid development.
When starting with Hydrogen, you get a simple template that includes buttons, navigation, toggles, styling, etc. This is a great starting point for developers to build their unique store components.
Although it has many benefits, one downside is that it requires an ongoing developer-heavy workflow. If you don’t have a dedicated team or resources, it can be difficult to keep up with the maintenance and updates. Being a Shopify-partnered, Blue Owl Agency can help you with it if you lack internal capacity. We’ve built and launched several headless Shopify stores with our senior developers.
2. Go With JAMstack Approach
Another way to go headless with Shopify is by partnering with an agency like Blue Owl and assembling all the pieces of a headless solution yourself. This is known as going with the composable commerce, or JAMstack, approach.
With complete control, you don’t have to fit into anyone else’s system and can take the initiative with development and coding. However, it requires specialist knowledge and the right technical expertise to pull off successfully.
An agency like Blue Owl can help you take your store headless by going bespoke to choose all the right technologies for your brand while avoiding potential pitfalls.
3. Level Up With FEaaS
Many brands are turning to a front-end-as-a-service (FEaaS) platform to take advantage of headless commerce. This can be a great choice for those who want the benefits of going headless without all the extra work typically involved.
With bundled software and an intuitive Experience Manager, a FEaaS can offer a faster time to market and a lower cost of ownership. In addition, many platforms have partner agencies specializing in headless site builds, offering expert help and white-glove implementation services. Blue Owl is Shogun Fronted’s official and certified partner, the most popular FRaaS platform dedicated to Shopify Plus. With our help, you can be relieved knowing our managed solutions will help throughout the process.
1. How Much Does It Cost To Build Headless Commerce Shopify Store?
The cost to build a headless commerce Shopify store depends on your needs and the features you want to include. If you’re looking for a simple, basic store, you can expect to pay around $50,000 using FEaaS like Shogun Frontend. However, if you’re looking for a more complex store with custom features and integrations, you can expect to pay closer to $100,000, especially choosing Shopify’s Hydrogen.
2. How Long Does It Take To Build A Headless Commerce Shopify Store?
The timeline for building a headless commerce Shopify store depends on the size and complexity of your project. A small, simple store can be up and running in 3 months, while a larger, more complex store may take half a year or more to build. Also, remember that you’ll need to factor in time for testing and debugging before your store is ready for launch.
3. When Should You Go Headless With Shopify Plus?
If you’re looking for more flexibility and control over your Shopify store, then going headless may be the right choice. With a headless setup, you can customize every aspect of your store, from the checkout process to the customer experience. However, headless commerce comes with its own challenges, so consider the pros and cons before making the switch.
4. Should I Use Headless CMS?
For simple small-scale Shopify users, the answer is no. Headless Shopify can be complex and challenging to set up and manage. But if you’re a larger enterprise with the resources to invest in headless Shopify, the answer is yes. With headless Shopify, you’ll have greater flexibility, scalability, and control over your eCommerce platform.
5. What To Do Before You Start?
Do Analytics Audit: Before you start with anything, analyze where you stand. This will help you understand your business’s needs and requirements better. Conduct an audit of your current analytics setup. This will give you a clear idea of the gains of shifting to headless commerce work.
Audit Your Customer Journey: To get a hold of the customer experience you offer, it is important to audit your customer journey. Map out every customer touchpoint to better understand their needs.
Determine The Mobile Apps Needed: For existing Shopify storefronts to work, you must install and configure some apps. These apps will help connect Shopify with your Headless Commerce front-end.
Benchmark Your Store: Before you start with anything, it is important to know where your store stands. This will help you understand the areas that need improvement and where your store lacks.
Final Thoughts on Headless Shopify Plus
Headless Commerce provides many advantages for online businesses, but it’s not without its challenges. Before going headless, weigh the pros and cons carefully to see if it’s the right fit for your business. Careful planning and execution can help take your business and site performance to the next level.
Shopify Plus may be the perfect solution if you’re looking for a flexible and scalable headless eCommerce platform. It is a fully-managed enterprise solution that gives you all the power of Shopify, plus additional features and support to help you grow your business. Try Blue Owl Shopify partnered agency to get started. We can help you gain a competitive edge by increasing the efficiency and profitability of your business.
What are your thoughts on headless commerce? Have you considered it for your business? Let us know in the comments below.