[eBook] The Spectrum of Headless eCommerce

July 14, 2020

Category: Best Practices

Forrester, the leading technology research firm, predicts that in 2020, headless will become the new default technology choice for B2B or complex eCommerce.  

Forward-thinking enterprise teams are customer-obsessed and focused on future-proof technology strategies. Oftentimes, monolithic platforms don’t work for these businesses and these strategies. Headless eCommerce platforms, with their flexibility, scalability, and agility, are becoming the go-to option.

The spectrum of headless eCommerce became more clear and defined as more eCommerce vendors added “headless” options. But, it also became clear that not all headless eCommerce platforms are created equal. 

The Spectrum of Headless eCommerce

On one end of the spectrum, you have API’s that have been added to a platform that can be called “headless” but can only enable the development of front-ends with restricted functionality. On the other end, you have true API-first platforms that are also called ‘headless” but they enable virtually unrestricted front-end customization.

  • Headless eCommerce Platforms with Bolt-on APIs: Headless eCommerce platforms with traditional API’s that are “bolted on” are built around existing applications, primarily to exchange data with other third-party integrations. These types of API’s typically offer less customization flexibility because the API is restricted by the underlying platform core.  In other words, the API does not allow access to the entire functionality of the underlying platform which limits the customization opportunities.
  • API-First, Headless eCommerce Platforms: On the other end of the spectrum, you have true, API-first platforms. API-first means the entire platform has been designed from the ground up to be consumed via APIs. This leads to a much larger customization opportunity because you have access to virtually ALL of the functionality of the back-end code to create your front-end application. It’s with these API-first platforms that you get a pure headless experience because you really can create and customize the entire user interface and user experience from the ground up.

The degree of customization you need should help you decide on the type of API, and therefore the type of headless eCommerce platform, to pursue.  You can get customization with both types, but you should also weigh the amount of work it will take to get the customization you need. 

To get more information on the spectrum of headless eCommerce, you can download our free eBook today!