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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Outdated tech stack approach: monolithic architecture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
  • Components are tightly coupled, so small changes can take longer and affect entire stack
  • Large code bases and tech debt, overwhelming dev teams and underwhelming user expectations 
  • Poor SEO performance and rankings 

Overall, monolithic platforms cause headaches for devs and let down users. They’re pricey to set up and maintain, and roadblock your team’s creativity.

What is a headless architecture?

Headless architectures are tech stacks that do not have a frontend user experience. 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. 

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

If your business needs to change ecommerce platforms (or other areas of your stack), you can smoothly switch the backend and make a clean migration. The frontend would only require minor changes to adapt to the API of the new provider, and your users will never notice the difference.

Happy teams

Your devs deal with less code and less configuration that comes with maintenance of an entire monolithic structure. Plus, they don’t have to maintain infrastructure for things like content delivery or product stock, (and you don’t have to pay for it).

Mobile apps with high conversions

When you go headless, there’s less risk for building a mobile application to your brand’s liking—and the only limit is your own creativity. Build a dynamic and fast mobile app that your customers will love. 

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. 

Security

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.  

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

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

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.

Decouple: get started with a headless architecture

With modern headless architectures, you can decouple your frontend from the backend. The result is a backend that’s agnostic to the frontend. Through a series of APIs, it can work with any structure you want. 

How to add Next.js to a Shopify backend in less than 15 minutes

Innovative engineering teams love to build content-rich websites using the Next.js frontend framework—one of the most popular frontend frameworks today. Created by Vercel, the platform for frontend developers, Next.js allows teams to use React to build lighting-fast apps and websites. End users enjoy speed and visually appealing sites, developers enjoy a framework that’s easy-to-use, and businesses enjoy cost savings and talent retention.

Adding a Next.js frontend to your Shopify backend is seamless. Here are the steps:

  1. Visit vercel.com/new, select the Next.js Commerce template, and let Vercel set up a repository in your Git account.
  2. Next, add the Shopify integration to your project. Your Shopify environment variables will automatically be brought into your store to make the template reflect your products, images, stock, and other store information.
  3. Vercel will now build and deploy your project.
  4. Visit your newly created git repo, pull down your code, and design your pages to showcase your brand.

Check out our other backend integrations

From Salesforce Commerce Cloud to BigCommerce, adding a Next.js frontend to your preferred ecommerce backend is seamless.

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Use case: KidSuper goes headless with Next.js and Vercel for creative brand expression 

"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 superpowers...you'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 time-to-deployment. 

Break down the monolith

Unlock your brand & business by going headless. Contact our experts today for a bespoke deployment walkthrough.

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