Separate your product catalog from commerce.

Headless commerce

Ecommerce is a game-changer that brought evolution to the commerce industry. Yet, the early commerce solutions are limited and fail to satisfy the evolving needs of 21st-century customers. In this guide, you will learn about the challenges with traditional commerce, how headless commerce solves those challenges, and how Commerce Layer supports headless commerce.

Modern commerce has changed, and there is an increasing demand for faster and more efficient ecommerce solutions. More technologies are arising, more online stores are erupting, and customers make purchases on more devices. Businesses need to keep up with emerging technologies, competitions, and increasing customer demands. Failure to keep up with these demands will result in unsatisfied customers, affecting conversions and sales.

It's dangerous to have unsatisfied customers in this modern, competitive, and fast-evolving age. Hence, new and modern architectures are needed to eliminate factors causing dissatisfaction and improve the business and technical logic in commerce.

Want to understand what headless commerce is and if it's the right solution for your business? Check out our comprehensive headless commerce guide, which will walk you through the benefits of headless commerce compared to the traditional one and show you how Commerce Layer can help you go headless without pain.

The challenge with traditional commerce

Traditional commerce is built on a monolithic architecture. This is a way of designing software where all components (presentation layer, business logic, server, database, integrations, etc.) are tightly coupled into one independent and deployable application. This is great until a component in the entire software needs to be updated, and the complex monolithic application becomes hard to manage. The large and complex setup leads to slow load speed and the overall performance of the platform. Customers are satisfied when your platform respects their time. Any little delay will instill a negative impression and make them switch to alternative stores (your competitors).

The traditional ecommerce solution is limited and fails to satisfy the evolving needs of 21st-century customers. Generally, traditional commerce encounter challenges in the following respects:

Speed and Flexibility

A complex application has several components, a large code, and a large file size. Due to the codebase's complexity, this application's components can require high processing time, I/O, CPU, and memory. This affects several web services' startup times, causing the application to experience slow load speed. With many customers shopping on mobile devices, the demand for a fast experience will not be met.

All teams have to work on one large codebase simultaneously, which can be hard to understand. The large code causes IDE overload, which affects builds time and the productivity of developers. It becomes harder every day for developers to make new changes or adopt new technologies as required.

Cost and Scalability

Developing and managing a large-scale application requires many time and engineering resources. When even the smallest change is made in any monolithic application, the entire application must be redeployed. This is time-consuming and will lead to frequent downtimes and production bugs. Any update, system upgrade, or system failure will affect the entire application.

It's also hard to adopt emerging technologies as any upgrade will require testing and redeploying the entire platform. As your platform grows, your customer base will increase, and your platform needs to work efficiently as it did with fewer customers. Scaling to handle growth becomes hard in traditional commerce as different components will have different resource requirements for scaling (CPU or memory). Components cannot be scaled independently based on their requirements. Hence, the entire complex application needs to be upgraded, affecting the moving parts and several internal components.

Security and Reliability

Security is one of the most significant concerns in software engineering today. If any security issue (either caused by a memory leak or attack) arises in one component of a monolith application, the entire application can be vulnerable or affected. This will make it hard to quickly solve security issues or bugs as the whole application can be down instantly and needs to be debugged. If one component is down, the entire application goes down. This is not good for development and business.


Modularity allows components of large systems to be separated into modular components that can be reused. With the monolithic architecture, code functionalities cannot be encapsulated and reused as modules. This hinders flexibility, easier implementation of features, easier testing of features, and faster processing.

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is a new approach that solves all the challenges in traditional commerce. This approach decouples components, as seen in the monolithic ecommerce application, into independent modules. Hence, the frontend layer (the head) is separated from the backend, allowing more flexibility, better performance, and efficient development.

With the headless approach, developers independently build the presentation layer, backend (business logic), database layer, integrations and utilize the various headless commerce API solutions. Since the presentation layer is decoupled from the backend, developers can serve omnichannel experiences to users on several platforms with the same code and content. One great advantage of the headless commerce approach is deploying changes frequently, with little or no work required on the backend and no interruption to the customer experience.

Benefits of headless commerce

The headless commerce approach fixes the issues of traditional commerce. It brings better performance, easier scaling, higher security, increased conversions, increased sales, and more. Some of the benefits of headless commerce include:

Speed and Flexibility

Since the presentation layer is decoupled from the backend, the code becomes reduced and less complicated. Issues with slow load speed in the monolithic approach become resolved as each component will be deployed individually, communicate via APIs, and require less processing time. User interface developers can now develop independently with their favorite technologies; content managers can work effectively using best-of-breed CMS. Backend developers can build business logic without any friction.

Cost and Scalability

With static site generators, the presentation layer pages can be generated during build time, cached, and served on CDNs (Content Delivery Networks). This leads to better performance and less expensive architecture. Additional features and more presentation layers can be added easily without any friction with the backend. Increased usage can easily be managed using several headless solutions by default. You can also integrate with existing headless API solutions (CMS, ERP, CRM, etc.) to improve your platform and adapt to growth. Adopting emerging technologies becomes much easier as any change can be deployed continuously without stress.

Security and Reliability

Security issues can be detected and managed easily without affecting the entire application. Although the APIs in the headless commerce architecture are still prone to minimal attacks, you can leverage third-party security experts' to monitor your services and ensure top security.


With the headless commerce architecture, components of large systems can be encapsulated and reused as modules. New features can be implemented easily, and existing features can be improved by reusing functionalities from other modules. This ensures more flexibility, easier implementation of features, easier testing of features, and faster processing.

How Commerce Layer supports headless commerce

Commerce Layer was built with a vision to solve a problem, one that was prominent in the traditional ecommerce platforms. As an API-first platform that supports headless commerce natively, Commerce Layer provides commerce APIs for inventory, orders, shopping carts, payments, prices, checkout, promotions, shipments, customers, and more. Ecommerce businesses can integrate Commerce Layer with a single backend serving all presentation layers on desktop, mobile, watch, IoT, chatbot, and more.

The transactional functionalities of your ecommerce platform will be managed by Commerce Layer. Hence you will manage your content on any best-of-breed CMS you choose and integrate with Commerce Layer. This results in better content management and better order management.