Headless Magento - is it worth losing your head?

23 September 2020

For several years we have been dealing with the mobile first trend in e-commerce. There wasn’t a breakthrough in which it happened. The silent revolution was a gradual increase in the share of Internet users’ traffic from mobile devices. Successive algorithm updates by Google also made it clear that mobile is no longer a choice, but a necessity. The development of PWA (Progressive Web App) is another evolution of e-commerce, and even a standard in 2020. It has undoubtedly added its contribution to the “Headless Magento” trend.

How does Headless differ from the approach you know?

Until recently, we were convinced that in order to provide the most effective sales architecture – it is necessary to create an all-in-one dedicated system. The ERP systems were extended with additional functions to improve – i.e. management of contractors, products etc. One system was to guarantee consistent experience of users of all communication and sales channels. However, the situation required more and more flexibility in the approach to the conversion track, which caused the costs related to system maintenance to increase.

Old technologies required expensive servicing and dependence on 1 supplier. As the result, certain changes in the business were adjusted to the tools available in the organization. The situation should be quite the opposite. Concept of headless is breaking the shackles and limitations of the “old” approach.

What is it exactly? 

To fully understand the approach in question, the structure of the online store needs explanation. It usually consist of 3 elements:

  1. Databases where information about prices, names, descriptions, product photos, etc. are stored.
  2. Backend, which is the part responsible for data collection and processing. It usually consists of CMS, (Content Management System) which acts as an admin panel, by means of which we can edit information on the store.
  3. Frontend – it is everything that the end customer sees. All elements on the website, which are visible in the browser.

In the current new e-commerce approach these elements work together. In Headless, the “front” is cut off (the head system is removed) and attached with the help of an API. Thus, information can be transferred in two directions – between head and body.

An example of using this solution in practice is the Alibaba service.

What can you get from Headless Magento?

  • A uniform design on every device.  

Thanks to the CMS, the type and amount of information can be transmitted to the “head” at choice. In practice, this means that you can create a completely separate design for your store, mobile application, and even a smartphone version. All with one system. What is more, it also implies that all devices are managed from one place.

  • Yo show what you want.

Thanks to the fact that the front is separate from the backend – developers can use any language and framework, depending on the needs. This is important because more modern e-commerce solutions cannot be presented without new frameworks. Depending on the place where we need to present an application a different technology can be used.

  • Limiting requests to the database.

Headless more often leads to the execution of scripts and calculations on the browser side. Browsers can now store a lot of data that can be operated while navigating between pages. Therefore, some requests are  handled in the “headless” section without involving databases unnecessarily.

  • Acceleration of your website.

Another advantage of headless systems is additional “acceleration” of your store.
This has to do with the use of the browser and not the database load.

  • Website security.

Separating the front layer from the backend layer also has an additional advantage. By using this system we obtain a barrier that protects the data of users (customers). It is stored in a different place (server) than the domain of the website.

What are the disadvantages of Headless Magento?

Among the positives, there are also negatives of using this technology.

  • Changing the skills/ profile of your team. 

The front and back end division existed and will exist, but to apply headless you need people specialized in new technologies. This either involves hiring specialists or training your team. This is the cost you have to bear to get the best out of the later smooth functioning of e-commerce.

  • Less possibilities for marketing department.

Headless also means limiting the possibilities of the store’s CMS. You can recreate all the functions known and used by marketing departments, but it will be very time-consuming and expensive. And so there may be a problem with creating dedicated one-pagers for various products from your assortment directly by marketing.

For whom will Headless concept be the best?

Headless eCommerce is certainly the technology of the future.  More and more stores use this solution, some platforms (e.g. Magento 2) strongly promote this approach by creating their own headless templates. Definitely investment in headless will work if you think about a store for years, which you want to develop in terms of conversion, with a simplified and aesthetic appearance.

Headless will surely be used by Magento software users, because Adobe has developed an offer of headless services that allow companies to secure their infrastructure for the future. An example is the popularization of Progressive Web App Studio, where you can create a front to PWA. Adobe meets the needs of users by adapting its tools to entrepreneurs / users at various levels of business development.

The era of e-commerce is a constant challenge for business owners. More and more often, shoppers are so strongly associated with technologies that they expect the easiest possible shopping and experience in the store. PWA and headless are the answer to their growing demands. Full platform store operation has its operational limitations, hence the spread of API-based trading approach, which reduces or eliminates the creative limitations imposed by systems with deeply integrated front- and back-end systems.

Like every revolution in e-commerce, the adoption of headless is not a decision you can make overnight. In order to do that you must realistically assess the maturity of your organization and technical capabilities.

Is Headless Magento worth losing your head? 

We think it’s worth it. The introduction of new technological solutions is an investment in development and business. The Headless system will develop further and soon its introduction will become a necessity. Because of that it will be associated with greater assimilation to the mainstream. Starting investments earlier – you will be in this privileged position.


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Gate-Software is a team of Magento e-commerce experts. We secure the continuity of online sales in e-commerce through effective technical care and maximize the potential of online stores through modern technological solutions.