“Headless e-commerce” has been generating a lot of buzz lately as a technical approach for deploying an e-commerce solution. As with any architectural approach, there are pros and cons to headless e-commerce that you must be aware of before you make the decision to ‘go headless’.
One of the common issues with the headless approach is that it requires store owners to build a custom front-end and tie that front-end into a e-commerce platform. This takes time and can end up becoming quite expensive. The good news is that with the right technical architecture and by using the right underlying technologies, you can find a solution that meets your needs while delivering a great user experience.
There are different ways to deploy headless e-commerce. In this article, we investigate 4 different approaches that apply primarily to Magento 2.
- Magento Driven Experience
- Side-by-Side Shop
- Integrated & Embedded
- API Pure Play
For these scenarios, we are assuming Magento 2.3.2+ is used to manage the customer experience as well as all e-commerce elements. Other platforms may have different options and deployment opportunities or constraints.
Magento Driven Experience
Magento is used to manage the customer experience as well as all e-commerce elements.
Good For: Companies that have a central content creation model where the same content (e.g. product details, reviews, Q&A) is distributed to multiple user interfaces (e.g. mobile app, PWA, or website).
CMS handles all content. Magento handles the e-commerce transactions and subsequent support interactions.
Presentation Layer manages all interactions up to the checkout. Checkout is done on a separate sub-domain (e.g. shop.yourco.com) within Magento.
Good For: Companies that want to manage their content and e-commerce side-by-side without having to do “real” integration between the different layers.
Integrated and Embedded
CMS manages the presentation of select parts of the customer experience. Product, checkout and customer support is managed in Magento.
Presentation Layer manages all interactions up to the PDP. Product data, cart, checkout, and “my-account” functionality is done in Magento.
Good For: Companies that want to add a shopping experience to their site via a cart and product functionality, without having all the layers be in one platform or another.
API Pure Play
CMS is used to manage the entire customer experience. Magento APIs are called for services.
CMS handles the entire user experience. E-commerce actions are triggered via service calls with Magento. 2.3.2+
The Presentation Layer manages all interactions with Magento to render product, cart, checkout interactions within the CMS.
Good For: Companies that want to manage the full user experience within a single platform. All commerce and account functions are done within the CMS / GLASS via API calls to Magento.
The Bottom Line
Before deciding on the most effective headless architectural approach, you need to assess your needs first. How you manage your content will be one of your biggest considerations in deciding on an architectural approach for your company. You also need to give some thought as to how much of the user experience is going to be managed by the CMS and what level of integration you want between the presentation layer and the services layer. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can implement an architectural approach that will allow you to get the results that you expect from a headless e-commerce solution.
If you need help mapping out your e-commerce strategy and technical underpinnings, get in touch with our team of e-commerce experts at Accorin and we will help you find the right e-commerce solution for your needs.