Skip to content

Apr. 21st, 2023

Why innovators are going headless

Learn why headless architecture is a great fit for nimble organizations that want flexibility and speed, as well as a future-proof technology stack.

Outdated tech stack approach: Monolithic architecture

Legacy ecommerce platforms, also known as “monolithic” platforms, are the traditional one-size-fits-all solution. All the components and functions of the stack, including the user experience, are bundled together and intertwined with each other.

Because of this prepackaging of elements, developers can’t easily customize the frontend. Some other challenges caused by monolithic platforms include:

  • Slower site loads, leading to lower conversion rates and poor search ranking.
  • Tightly coupled components, which often bring unintended side effects throughout the stack when working on even the smallest changes.
  • Overly bloated codebases, which cause slow tests and builds and lead to slower iteration —which causes tech debt

Overall, monolithic platforms cause headaches for devs and let down users. They’re pricey to maintain (including the number of developers resources to do so), and roadblock your team’s creativity.

What is a headless architecture?

Headless architectures, also known as composable, is the decoupling of your backend and frontend. Rather than relying on a monolithic ecommerce platform with a built-in frontend, headless commerce gives you the ability to custom-build an application stack that best fits your needs—and the frontend and backend are kept separate.  

The “head” in headless signifies the user experience, like an app on your phone and tablet, or a website on a desktop computer. 

Headless architecture allows teams to work more independently of each other, which means faster iteration.
Headless architecture allows teams to work more independently of each other, which means faster iteration.

Want to add Vercel to your composable stack?

Talk to an expert to learn how you can get started with Vercel today.

Get in Touch

Why headless for enterprise?

Headless is a great fit for nimble organizations that want flexibility and speed, as well as a future-proof technology stack. Here are some of the key values:

Future-proof your business

Work on every aspect of your app at different times, and keep each individual piece modernized, separate from the condition of the others. If your business needs to keep their primary backend, you're still free swap around various frontend/backend services as needed.

Happy teams with framework-defined infrastructure

Your devs deal with less code and less configuration that comes with maintenance of an entire monolithic structure. Plus, they can write framework code and have all infrastructure provisioned automatically for them, saving everyone time and money.

Mobile web apps with high conversions

When you go headless, there’s more ability to use modern frameworks, so you can develop mobile apps directly alongside your desktop app in the same codebase. That is to say, you can build a mobile version of your website to your brand’s liking—and the only limit is your own creativity. 

Customization and UX 

Use your favorite frontend platform to create the best experiences for customers, without being hindered by one-size-fits-all monolithic solutions. 

Scalability When your frontend is separate from your backend, you have the opportunity to go serverless, giving you the power to scale to infinity and back to zero with no manual infrastructure, and only paying for what you use.


The use of a monolith’s frontend implies the same backend. As such, vulnerabilities can be exploited. Keep your backend infrastructure private by going headless.

Faster time-to-deployment 

Monolithic architecture is slow and difficult to scale. Out-of-the-box code on headless solutions is quick and creates a lighter workload for developers.

Less risk

When your business runs on a monolith, a small change to the user experience on the frontend will alter the backend, because the two are intertwined. This creates risk to your entire application.  


By adopting a headless architecture, companies can easily plug in the latest AI tools, so they can nimbly keep up with the changing landscape.

Types of businesses that go headless

From startups to enterprises, innovators are choosing to go headless. Let's dive into the reasons why these three business categories might go in this direction:

Enterprise tech

While a startup or growing company might be going headless from a full stack solution like BigCommerce or Salesforce Commerce Cloud, a large tech company will likely be overcoming a proprietary legacy tech stack.

When an enterprise team adopts a headless solution, they can save money on DevOps and attract the newest talent to their teams with flexible frameworks. Additionally, their B2B customers will appreciate the performance and speed of their websites and apps. 

Content and SEO

When content is your product, ads drive much of your revenue. Going headless allows content-based companies to experience the highest level ad conversions, because the preferred frontend framework is faster than a monolithic stack. 

These companies might also be getting subscription revenue. They can showcase the best version of their content with a frontend stack that unlocks creativity and style, retaining subscribers and attracting new ones.  


Ecommerce companies adopt headless architectures because it’s a great way to ensure their digital storefront is high-performing, scalable, and increasing in conversions each year.

In particular, ecommerce companies love having the freedom to choose their frontend framework because they can scale from zero to infinity, and back to zero–instantly–on high traffic shopping days like Black Friday.

Use case: KidSuper goes headless with Next.js and Vercel for faster time-to-market

"People ask, how are you doing this? Do you have a whole agency behind you? How did you build an entire website in a day? It kind of feels like're in there just whipping things up.”

Adham FodaKidSuper CTO

KidSuper is an NYC-based clothing and merch brand with strong ties to the fashion, music, art, sports, and tech communities. As a student at NYU, founder Colm Dillane linked up with developer friend Adham Foda who helped build the KidSuper website from hand doodles. The brand went viral after Mac Miller wore their apparel on the cover of iTunes. They quickly realized that they needed to branch out from their Shopify monolith.

Their site needed to be faster, handle their big merch drops, and most importantly, showcase the creativity of their brand. 

This is why they chose to go with Next.js on Vercel for their site’s frontend. They’ve been able to one-up competition with their highly interactive website and quick build and deploy times.  

Explore the Frontend Cloud

The Frontend Cloud provides the Managed Infrastructure and Developer Experience Platform to accelerate your headless journey. Take a spin of the platform today.

Explore The Product

Explore more