The Rise of Headless E-commerce Technology & Best Platforms to Consider in 2024

Headless e-commerce platforms to future-proof your store

What is Headless eCommerce?

Headless e-commerce is like splitting the shop window from the storeroom. Normally, the part of the shop you see and the place where all the goods are stored are stuck together. But in headless commerce, they’re split up.

The shop window, where you see and buy stuff, is kept separate from the storeroom, where all the goods and details are kept. They talk to each other using a special system, kind of like walkie-talkies, so when you want to buy something, the shop window can quickly check with the storeroom to get it for you.

The Evolution of Headless eCommerce

Traditionally, eCommerce sites had their front and back ends closely linked together. However, this made them harder to customize, scale, and integrate with modern frontends. The shift to headless evolved as IT companies and retailers sought more flexibility:

  • Customer needs changed: Shoppers expect highly customized, fast, “app-like” experiences. Monolithic systems were too rigid for this.
  • Mobile commerce grew in importance: Optimized mobile experiences became vital to support shoppers on their phones and tablets. Headless allowed specialized mobile frontends.
  • Demand for flexibility increased: Brands wanted the ability to easily experiment with new interfaces, devices, and channels without having to rebuild entire platforms.
  • Microservices and APIs advanced: Architecture shifted towards componentization. Headless applies this “API first” thinking to e-commerce.conver

Market size: The global headless commerce market is expected to reach $32.1 billion by 2027, with a CAGR of 20.5% (Source: Magenest – Headless Commerce Statistics).

Why Headless Commerce is Gaining Popularity?

Headless tech is becoming popular because it’s flexible and works across many sales channels. It helps brands grow by offering more ways to sell.

  • Flexibility to build customized frontends optimized for web, mobile, wearables, home assistants, and emerging devices and interfaces.
  • Ability to readily experiment, iterate, and optimize shopping experiences for customer conversion.
  • Seamless omnichannel experiences across devices, as information is managed centrally via APIs.
  • Easy integration with external data sources like product catalogs to provide richer shopping experiences.
  • Technology decoupling that allows frontends and backends to be built with ideal technologies and scaled independently.

The Rise of Headless E-commerce Technology

Headless commerce architecture is rapidly emerging as a popular way for brands to deliver engaging, optimized shopping experiences. The key driver spurring the adoption of headless is the shift towards omni-channel commerce.

The Shift Towards Omni-channel Experiences

Today’s consumers expect seamless shopping experiences across web, mobile, wearables, home assistants, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Headless commerce supports this omni-channel experience through APIs that allow brands to connect any front end to a centralized commerce backend. This flexibility is critical in an era of channel and device proliferation.

Benefits of Adopting Headless E-commerce

There are several compelling benefits driving brands to adopt headless architecture:

Faster Website Performance

Decoupled frontends focused purely on the user interface can have faster page loads and response times, improving site performance.

Enhanced Customization and Flexibility

Teams can build frontends optimized for specific devices and channels without the constraints imposed by monolithic platforms. This allows incredible customization.

Improved Customer Experiences

With the flexibility to craft tailored frontends, brands can optimize experiences for engagement and conversion on every device. Headless also facilitates easier integration of emerging technologies to optimize e-commerce platforms.

In summary, headless commerce unshackles brands to provide winning customer experiences across channels in a rapidly evolving omni-channel retail world. Leading retailers are actively embracing headless to gain a competitive advantage.

Conversion rates: 69% of consumers prefer personalized shopping experiences, which headless platforms enable (Source: GitNux – Must-Know Headless Commerce Statistics).

Challenges in Implementing Headless E-commerce

While headless commerce provides substantial benefits, businesses should also be aware of some common challenges faced when transitioning to and implementing these architectures:

Technical Complexity

Headless systems add layers of separation between frontend and backends, which increases technical complexity. Instead of a single integrated stack, brands now need expertise working with decoupled frontends, APIs, integration middleware, and cloud infrastructure.

Managing this distributed environment also creates new operational, governance, and monitoring demands. Additional effort is required for technical coordination and issue resolution across stacks.

Higher Initial Investment

For retailers used to monolithic suites, headless introduces new components and integration costs that can increase initial investments. Ongoing subscription fees for cloud infrastructure and headless services further raise costs over time.

However, headless provides agility and total cost of ownership reduction over the longer term. The flexibility can also enable better optimization of margins and customer lifetime values.

Need for Specialized Skills

From developers to infrastructure engineers, specialized roles are required to build and run distributed headless environments. Retraining or hiring these skills takes considerable time.

Designers also need expanded skills for crafting experiences across channels and devices in the absence of pre-built templates. Customer operations must be reoriented towards APIs and services vs packaged suites.

In summary, while the benefits outweigh the challenges for most brands, some simplification and maturation of headless offerings over time will further accelerate adoption. Despite some initial hurdles, leading retailers are increasingly making the move.

As more brands adopt headless systems and cloud technologies advance, we are likely to see some interesting trends emerge:

AI and Machine Learning Integration

Headless architecture lends itself extremely well to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning models. With independent frontends, advanced algorithms can be trained on customer patterns and optimize experiences in a targeted, channel-appropriate way in real time.

Personalization and Customer Engagement

Related to AI adoption, we are likely to see new levels of personalization and contextualization matching intent to offers via headless models. Advanced algorithms will predict filters and promotions providing hyper-relevant shopping experiences.

Expansion into New Markets

Headless flexibility fuels rapid global expansion. Once local interfaces are built, entire product catalogs, CRM systems, and order/inventory engines in the commerce backend can be leveraged across any new market by simply launching new frontends.

As connectivity continues growing via 5G and expanding device ecosystems, headless positions retailers to capitalize on these shifts through endless interface experimentation paired with centralized commerce engines.

Best Platforms to Consider in 2024

When selecting a headless commerce platform, retailers should evaluate options across a few key criteria while accounting for business needs and growth plans.

Criteria for Choosing a Headless E-commerce Platform

Key considerations include:

  • Flexibility & Customization: Ability to customize storefronts and account for complex product catalogs or promotions.
  • Omnichannel Capabilities: Support for web, mobile, in-store, IoT devices, and emerging channels.
  • Performance & Scalability: Handling traffic spikes and seasons via auto-scaling infrastructure.
  • SEO Features: CMS integration for managing metadata, URLs, and indexing.
  • Security: Protection against attacks, reliable uptime, and redundancies.
  • Total Cost of Ownership: Both implementation and ongoing subscription costs.

Top Headless E-commerce Platforms in 2024

Leading options that meet the above criteria include:

1. Commercetools

Commercetools is a modern online store platform that’s flexible, thanks to its use of microservices, which are like small, specialized building blocks. It’s designed for both businesses selling to consumers and those selling to other businesses, making it versatile for global sales across different channels.

What sets it apart are its powerful tools for managing products and deals, easy integration with other marketing technologies, and a cloud system that grows with your business, handling more traffic smoothly when needed.

Key Features:

  • Global commerce engine exposed via flexible APIs
  • Advanced promotion and catalog management functions
  • Multi-tenant SaaS infrastructure that auto-scales
  • Seamless integrations with leading CMS, CRM, and ERPs


  • Proven ability to handle large product catalogs and traffic spikes
  • Excellent flexibility for building customized storefronts
  • Omnichannel commerce capabilities across channels


  • Can have a steep learning curve at the outset
  • Premium pricing that scales per usage volumes

2. Elastic Path

Elastic Path is an advanced, enterprise-focused headless commerce platform offered as a SaaS solution. It specializes in handling global, complex B2B and B2C scenarios with advanced personalization, promotions, subscriptions, and product configurators.

Unique capabilities include personalized merchandising workflows and AI recommendations out-of-the-box to drive conversion.

Key Features:

  • Robust personalization, segmentation, and campaign capabilities
  • Highly configurable merchandising workflows
  • Integrated CMS, PIM, and search capabilities
  • Global taxation, promotions, and discounts built-in


  • Feature-packed to handle pricing/product complexity
  • Strong catalog management and merchandising
  • Proven reliability and security with cloud SaaS


  • Can have a steep learning curve at the outset
  • Premium pricing that scales per usage volumes

3. Swell

Swell is an extendable, developers-first headless commerce platform built in Ruby on Rails. It takes a modular code-based approach for ultimate flexibility to customize experiences.

Users can tap into an array of pre-built extensions or build their own integrations to surrounding systems like CMS, CRM, payments, and infrastructures. Unique value props include bring-your-own hosting and composable architecture.

Key Features:

  • Modular extensions for ultimate flexibility
  • Bring-your-own hosting and infrastructure
  • Developer-focused extensibility
  • Integrates natively with various CMS, payments


  • Open source extensibility means no vendor lock-in
  • Excellent blended content and commerce capabilities
  • Developer efficiency through reusable components


  • DIY infrastructure hosting and management
  • Currently lacks a turnkey SaaS option

4. Spryker

Spryker is an enterprise-grade, composable headless commerce platform renowned for its unified commerce and content approach. Integrated tightly with the Sphinx headless CMS, it brings together core commerce functionality with extensive capabilities to manage, deliver, and optimize product content.

The modular design and marketplace/subscription commerce support also make it ideal for large B2B scenarios.

Key Features:

  • Tight CMS integration with Sphinx
  • Modular components for composable commerce
  • Scales to handle massive enterprise datasets
  • Marketplace, subscription, smart promotions


  • Excels at unified content and commerce
  • Enterprise-grade security, CDN built-in
  • Proven track record with huge catalogs


  • Fairly new entrant to North America
  • Starter licenses have constraints

5. Amplience

Amplience takes a specialized “headless CMS + headless storefront” approach offered via SaaS. It decouples content management from storefront development for greater flexibility.

Dynamic content optimization and CDN delivery integrate natively to perfect media and product experiences. The self-serve CMS and extensible storefront builder accelerate rollout.

Key Features:

  • Decoupled CMS with marketer-friendly UX
  • Separate storefront builder with templates
  • Dynamic optimization of content
  • Global CDN for content delivery


  • Flexible best-of-breed CMS and storefront
  • Developer experience and extensibility
  • Performant omnichannel content leveraging CDN


  • Not a full end-to-end commerce platform
  • Additional services are required for order processing, etc.

The headless commerce market provides a range of cutting-edge platforms like Commercetools, Elastic Path, Swell, Spryker, and Amplience that enable retailers to deliver optimized, omni-channel customer experiences.

These leading solutions offer the flexibility, customization, and scalability required for the next era of digital commerce. 

When identifying the right fit, brands should assess both current and future needs around business models, architecture, and capability requirements. Though vendor consolidation will continue, retailers that architect the optimal headless foundation now will retain the agility to fuel innovation ahead in our rapidly evolving retail ecosystem.


How does headless eCommerce improve customer experience?

Headless e-commerce improves customer experience by allowing brands to customize and optimize shopping interfaces for every device and touchpoint. Instead of a one-size-fits-all website, headless makes it easy to craft tailored mobile apps, web stores, voice apps, in-car interfaces, and more. This omnichannel experience keeps customers engaged. Headless also facilitates easier integration of emerging technologies like AI recommendations and virtual reality to take experiences to the next level.

What are the challenges of adopting headless eCommerce?

Key challenges with headless e-commerce include increased technical complexity from integrating multiple systems, higher initial investment as new components are required, and accessing specialized skills to assemble and run headless architecture. There is also a learning curve in shifting design away from monolithic templates to tailored experiences across channels.

How to choose the right headless eCommerce platform?

The right headless platform depends on your business needs and growth plans. Outline must-have capabilities like omnichannel flexibility, SEO management, catalog qualities, and scalability needs. This ensures the platform can support those well. Focus on solutions that provide great ecosystem integration and developer experience to fuel customization. Comparing pricing models is also wise to accurately project the total cost of ownership. Carefully review headless customer case studies in your industry to validate real-world performance and results.


Headless commerce has become one of the most transformative architectures for modern retail, enacting a much-needed decoupling of outdated monolithic commerce platforms.

By separating frontends from backends, headless gives brands newfound flexibility to continuously experiment, iterate, and create highly customized and optimized customer experiences across channels.

Touchpoints ranging from web and mobile to wearables, AR interfaces, and beyond can readily connect to scalable backends via reusable APIs. Headless commerce opens endless doors for innovation.

As consumer crossover across devices surges alongside demands for personalized journeys, seamless omni-channel engagement will be vital for building loyalty and conversion. Progressive retailers are future-proofing for this reality by proactively moving to modular, API-driven headless models.

Composable solutions that choreograph the ideal customer interface technologies with scalable backends uniquely establish a foundation for brands to cost-effectively deliver experiential commerce to their shoppers today – and rapidly enable the next innovations of tomorrow and beyond.

The future vision of retail will be defined by possibilities unlocked through headless.

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