Headless Commerce in 200 words & 1 diagram

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless Commerce is an approach to implementing ecommerce software without dictating the screens through which the customer will interact with the store.

A Headless Commerce application provides a library of ecommerce functionality through a set of APIs, which are called by the ecommerce website, a mobile App, voice assistant, wearable technology or other smart device. The Headless Commerce engine itself has no user interface.

Headless Commerce Architecture Diagram  (Copyright Full On eCommerce)
Headless Commerce Architecture Diagram  (Copyright Full On eCommerce)

In the above diagram:

  1. A customer visits the ecommerce website using a browser, a page is retrieved from the web server.
  2. The web page contains references to components such as images, stylesheets, and JavaScript files, which the browser downloads from a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
  3. As the visitor interacts with the page, the browser executes JavaScript files to fetch data from, or to send data to, the ecommerce engine via its APIs. For example, when a customer clicks on a product, stock availability is fetched.
  4. The headless commerce engine integrates with other systems such as a search engine to build a list of products that match a customer's search query.

The web pages can be built using any technology, completely independently from the headless commerce engine.

This article was updated on June 20, 2021

M Ryan

M Ryan is an ecommerce consultant with twenty years experience working with retailers, consumer brand manufacturers and other consumer-facing businesses helping them to develop their ecommerce strategy, implement ecommerce technology and improve their ecommerce operations. He works extensively throughout US and Europe, with clients including global brands, large retailers and household names in consumer goods.