Guest Column | April 27, 2020

Headless Commerce: Empowering Brands With Front-End Flexibility

By Alex Soncini, VTEX


Online shopping is booming like never before: Worldwide digital commerce sales reached nearly $3.5 trillion in 2019, while the industry is expected to nearly double by 2023 to more than $6.5 billion. 

Much of this skyward swing is due to shifts in how consumers choose to purchase online. The biggest game-changer, of course, is mobile, as shoppers move from simply browsing on their smartphones to checking out on their small screens. Mobile commerce is predicted to make up 49 percent of total online retail commerce in 2020, a significant increase from 29 percent just five years ago. In addition, customers have come to expect omni-channel options, whether they browse on a mobile and use a laptop to make a purchase; buy online and pick up in a brick-and-mortar store (known as BOPIS); or try on items in a physical location and then to find the best deal, end up purchasing via a mobile marketplace. 

But with the continued, soaring success of digital commerce comes increased pressure to meet growing consumer expectations. These days, modern commerce retailers constantly have to work to improve their customer experience with digital innovations that make CX more seamless, flexible, and intuitive. 

The New Wave Of Commerce Is Headless

That’s where the rise of “headless” commerce comes in. “Headless” simply means a modern commerce architecture in which the front and back ends of an application are separated and can operate independently, so changes on one end do not require reciprocal changes on the other. This can create exciting flexibility to change and scale the customer-facing experience, by attaching multiple “heads”, or touchpoints (such as mobile, kiosks or POS) and connecting them to the backend via APIs.

Certainly, implementing this kind of API-first approach is most powerful when there’s a skilled IT team at the helm and a trusted technical partner. Headless commerce is also the wave of the near-future: As digital business technology platforms continue to emerge and evolve, the shift toward API-oriented architecture will accelerate. Commerce is no longer a stand-alone application; rather, it is a component of a wider technological ecosystem. It is the platform with fully functioning commerce APIs that will be best positioned to lead in this new landscape.

Here are four reasons to consider going “headless”: 

  1. Headless commerce helps you pick up speed. Thanks to the decoupling of the front end and back end, headless commerce allows organizations to make rapid changes to multiple “heads” without disrupting the business logic on the back end. That means they can move quickly to update with new releases at any touchpoint or add integrations to any API-based system. 
  2. Headless commerce is more flexible and agile. Headless adds significant flexibility by encouraging designers and developers to define what they see as the correct user experience from scratch and allows for updates and personalization at any time. Fully customized user experiences can be built and delivered to the screen of any device, while developers can choose to present content with any framework they see fit.
  3. Headless commerce improves CX. With headless commerce, content updates across multiple touchpoints can happen regularly and easily. This creates more potential for a seamless, customized, convenient customer experience, no matter what device or channel a shopper uses. With quality APIs, third-party software can be easily integrated, while teams can focus on digital innovation to support future devices and operating systems. 
  4. Headless commerce ease testing and experimentation. Want to A/B test a particular area of your commerce website, or try out new options for your mobile app? Headless commerce allows teams to experiment with new customer options on the front end without disrupting the entire system’s backend. The reverse is also true: a new search solution could be tried on the backend, for example, while running the existing search on the frontend. 

The Freedom To Shift And Expand, Thanks To Headless Commerce 

For companies looking to provide seamless customer experiences across channels and devices, headless commerce offers exciting opportunities. With an API-driven, modern commerce architecture, the customer-facing experience can be changed and scaled quickly and effectively. It also means unprecedented freedom to add new frontend touchpoints and shift toward new business opportunities. 

Headless commerce was designed for the quickly evolving, constantly changing digital age. With its endless options for agile customization, it is flexible, adaptable, and empowers retailers to take their commerce offerings to the next level. The only question is, are you ready to wrap your head around headless commerce? 

About The Author

Alex Soncini is the Co-founder of VTEX, the leading global commerce platform that unifies customer experience into one comprehensive enterprise solution. Alexandre brings over 20 years of experience in the digital commerce industry and a passion and appreciation for the accelerated transformation of brands and retailers. As a founding employee, he has successfully propelled the company’s expansion and dominance in Latin America, currently serving over 2,500 online stores in 30 countries. Alexandre is now leading the company's strategic North American expansion. For more information visit:, or follow on Twitter @vtextruecloud.