What is headless e-commerce? And why do you need it?

“Headless” is today’s digital trend. The modern consumer shift has made many businesses turn digital, and B2B businesses might want to consider investing in e-commerce platforms. 


Headless e-commerce is merely a separation of the front-end and back-end of an e-commerce application. With headless, the data, business logic, and commerce engine are separated from the front-end commerce. 


‘Going headless’ with e-commerce is therefore something that can determine online growth for the years to come. Headless e-commerce can be divided into 3 main sections – CMS, API and back-end commerce. A front-layer of CMS apps and chats, a middle-layer of API calls and structured communication, and a bottom-layer of back-end commerce that includes cart, catalogues and promotions in an integrated, one-click access platform. These resources are a critical part of every company’s innovation strategy, delivering new functionality and experiences that engage customers and stay ahead of their expectations.


Yes, having a website is important, but does it encompass the necessary infrastructure for growth? Adding features, updates and front-end structures can be as restricting as it can be costly. Custom programming needed to produce and build a separate front-end and back-end could lead to a major time investment for development. In other words, building on your website constantly could be a downfall, whereas investing in an already established, headless platform could be an improvement. To paraphrase the popular Kimberly Sweet Browns, ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’. 

Brand websites need to be more robust and enterprise-ready than ever before. Covid-19 has only accelerated this notion. Today, B2B businesses have to incorporate more and more buyer touchpoints and have the ability to adapt and respond to buyer’s needs in an almost immediate time frame. This means that shifting your business to headless e-commerce is a must in order to create a fluid online store and be able to streamline all buying processes all on a single-view platform. Referring to a single-view platform, this is what we mean. A retail buyer will place an order from the CMS based on the inventory reflected from the linked API’s, the post order is received, and API then pushes the order in their back-end system. The retailer has their own back-end dashboard to approve, reject or modify any order, thus having full visibility on the order flow.


Other benefits include;

  1. Better structure for employees. Headless e-commerce allows for all employees and teams to access the platform at any time as it is shared between all devices. 
  2. Digital tools. Headless e-commerce provides the right tools for building a better, personalised customer experience. API’s ensure consistent customer experiences and one-click access to view promotions, inventory and product information. 
  3. Savings. There is no longer a need for developers and IT partners. 
  4. Fast-paced changes and optimization. Headless e-commerce means that changes can be done instantly, eliminating the long development hours.  


‘There is a huge need in the B2B market to build a digital presence, to create at least a website and a mobile app, so that customers have a self-service option and can order what they need 24/7 no matter where they are.’ says Carla Gonzales, e-commerce mogul. 


She’s definitely not wrong there. To get ahead of the innovation curve and outstrip competition, a business should consider ‘going headless’. Nevertheless, a headless B2B e-commerce does not necessarily mean that all pain points are resolved. The journey of approaching and converting customers offline is still eminent. Orders made from the Middle East, for example, still need to work on shipments to the customer and monitoring payment receivables respectively. However, it takes absolutely no investment to try out a B2B marketplace like Kingpin, to get a taste of what streamlined B2B sales look and feel like.