What is headless Shopify?


4 minute read // E-commerce

Headless Shopify is a new type of eCommerce architecture. Headless means there is no front-end (viewer) in the architecture. This new system allows you to sell your product anywhere online without being restricted by design and development. Everywhere can be your storefront.

According to the survey, 76% of large companies plan to adopt headless technology within 12 months. As this shows, headless system is a technology many business owners are now paying attention to.

In this article, we will explain headless Shopify and the pros & cons of this.

What is “headless”?

Before explaining headless Shopify, we need to discuss what headless is. Headless is a kind of system architecture that does not have a web page head or front-end. In other words, front-end and back-end are separated completely in headless architecture.

You can easily understand this word if you compare a headless system to a traditional system. Let’s compare headless CMS(content management system) and traditional CMS!

Traditional CMS

The viewer that shows content data (text, images, videos, etc.) and the back-end system that manages these content data are integrated into traditional CMS. Let’s take WordPress for example. The back-end of WordPress manages not only content data but also template data. Therefore, if you want to make changes to templates, you have to use the same language as the back-end system uses.

This traditional CMS architecture is usually referred to as “Coupled CMS”, as opposed to Headless CMS.

Headless CMS

Headless CMS does not have the viewer or the front-end. Hence, you can focus on the system development for the back-end. The front-end part is managed outside of CMS, and headless CMS delivers content data to the external front-end by using API(application programming interface).

As you can see, the front-end and the back-end are completely independent in headless system architecture. The developer does not have to be worried about the other side’s system architecture.

The difference between traditional CMS and headless CMS

What is headless Shopify?

Shopify is offering Shopify Plus for headless commerce. All information on Shopify is available on the other platforms so that your business can sell your product everywhere through Shopify Storefront API.

Without using headless Shopify, it is technically difficult to connect Shopify information to other platforms such as smartphone applications. Therefore, if your company wants to make an original smartphone application and sell your product on that application, it will take a huge amount of workload or impossible to integrate Shopify into your application.

The storefront API that Shopify offers is a solution to this situation. API (application programming interface) is a way to achieve communication between multiple computer programs. In other words, it is like a promise of how to store data for computer programs.

Your business can focus on the back-end management of the Shopify stores with headless Shopify. In this case, you need to prepare the viewers where the data is shown.

Headless Shopify – Storefront API

Pros of headless Shopify

1. Any front-end tech is available

The first pros of headless Shopify is no restrictions on supported devices. Headless Shopify outputs content data in API format that most front-end technology can understand. Therefore, once you create content on the back-end management system, you can show the data on any platform or viewer as you wish.

2. Better user experience

Headless Shopify enables users to open the website faster so they can enjoy your eCommerce without any stress. Moreover, since you can customize your viewer more freely on headless Shopify, the developers and designers can generate more stylish displayed designs and a better user experience.

Wherever the user purchases your products, one central back-end system stores the whole data that they provide. This makes it possible to offer a personalized customer experience regardless of where they buy it.

3. Separation of front-end and back-end

Headless system architecture clarifies the responsibilities of systems. In this system, the front-end and back-end are completely independent. Therefore, in case of any system trouble occurs, the development team can focus on one side of the system by identifying whether it is the back-end or the front-end problem.

Cons of headless Shopify

1. Necessity of additional engineers

Specialized knowledges such as knowledge of API implementation are required to work with headless Shopify because you need to develop the front-end system separately from the back-end system. Since the front-end and the back-end system architecture are different, the business must have several engineers who understand each system architecture. It is difficult for a non-engineer person to manage all content data in this system.

2. Higher cost

Headless Shopify can be more expensive to implement. You need to pay more for the developers and infrastructures to set up and so on. Also, the payment will be complicated because you need to pay them separately.


Thank you for reading our blog. As you may already know, headless Shopify is a new style of eCommerce. If you pursue a better user experience, you should consider implementing a headless Shopify system for your business.

If you are interested in a better user experience on your Shopify store, feel free to contact us. We can discuss how to improve your Shopify store.

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