What is Headless Shopify?
Headless Shopify is an approach to building and managing e-commerce websites. Unlike traditional Shopify setups, headless architecture decouples the front-end presentation layer from the back-end commerce functionality. This separation enables a business to use Shopify for its robust backend, which includes managing products, processing orders, and handling payments, while using a powerful modern framework for the frontend, such as React or SvelteKit. Headless commerce allows for much more customization, flexibility, and efficiency.
The Headless Speed Advantage
Headless Shopify offers significant performance advantages over traditional e-commerce setups. By separating the front-end layer from the commerce backend, you can optimize the performance of your website by implementing lightweight and lightning-fast front-end frameworks like SvelteKit.
SvelteKit will allow you to pre-render some pages, rather than waiting until a visitor requests a page to generate it and then send it to them. Cutting out this rendering step allows for faster page load times, improved user experiences, and reduced bounce rates, leading to higher conversions and happier customers. For any pages where pre-rendering is not practical, SvelteKit is flexible enough to allow us to render those at request time as normal.
While Shopify has its own Hydrogen framework built on React and Remix, we avoid it in favor of the better-performing and more productive SvelteKit.
Increase Conversions With Netlify Server-Side A/B Testing
One of the key advantages of headless Shopify is the ability to leverage powerful server-side A/B testing with platforms like Netlify. By conducting A/B tests at the server level, you can experiment with different variations of your website's user interface, content, and promotional strategies, all without affecting the performance. Other A/B testing tools are client-side, which hurts performance, reducing conversions.
Better Content Management With Sanity CMS
Sanity, a platform for structured content, can be paired with headless Shopify to provide a better content management experience. Sanity offers an intuitive editing interface, real-time collaboration, and version tracking. It allows for more complex content structures than traditional CMSs, which is ideal for e-commerce sites with many different types of content.
The flexibility a headless CMS like Sanity gives you means you won’t be stuck with a restricted content structure for your product pages, blog posts, collection pages and other parts of your storefront.
We’ve tried many headless CMSs, and Sanity stands above the rest. They also received a big investment from Shopify themselves, so the integration between the two will continue to be seamless.
Move Faster With A More Productive Tech Stack
Headless Shopify provides us developers with flexibility in choosing our preferred tech stack. By using SvelteKit for the frontend, we can achieve faster development cycles for new features.
Use Best -In-Class Tools For Each Job
The decoupled architecture allows you to use the best tools for each feature of your store. We already mentioned Sanity above for content management, but there are others worth noting too, like the search provider Algolia. Being able to pick and choose tools that specialize in one thing, and build them all into one store is a big advantage of headless.
CI Testing - Catch Issues Before They Go Live
Continuous Integration (CI) testing is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy, efficient e-commerce site. In a headless Shopify setup, automated CI tests can be set up to catch any issues before they go live, reducing downtime and maintaining a seamless shopping experience for customers. CI testing improves the reliability of your site and catches any bugs early in the development process, saving time and money in the long run.
Headless Shopify offers flexible URL structures, allowing you to create custom URLs that align with your brand and SEO strategies. With the ability to define your own URL patterns, you can optimize your website's visibility in search engine results and improve organic traffic. Additionally, flexible URLs enable you to create landing pages, campaign-specific pages, or localized versions of your website easily, empowering you to target specific audiences and drive more targeted traffic.
Requirements - Shopify Plus for Some Features
While headless Shopify provides a multitude of advantages, certain features and capabilities are exclusive to Shopify Plus. If you require advanced functionalities like exclusive APIs, dedicated support, higher scalability, or additional customizations, upgrading to Shopify Plus is necessary. The Shopify Plus plan unlocks the full potential of headless Shopify, enabling you to harness its power to drive your business forward.
One of the key features that is not available for headless stores without Shopify Plus, is the ability for customers to create accounts on the store and login to those accounts while shopping.