Headless Commerce

The ultimate guide to make informed decisions before and during your headless journey.

Introduction to Headless Commerce

Advantages and Disadvantages of Headless Commerce

Components of a Headless Commerce Infrastructure

What are the components of a robust headless infrastructure?

Tech Stack: Avoid the disruptive and wasteful expenditure caused by discarding your existing ecommerce platform, ERP, CRM, PIM, and OMS for “rip and replace” headless commerce solutions. Choosing a leading headless CMS however is a good investment, as it will enable easier management of the front end.

Cloud delivery: An important aspect to consider is delivery of your headless storefront in the cloud. Choose a cloud provider that has ecommerce and specifically headless expertise, has invested in automation and machine learning to offer you deep visibility and insight into your traffic and infrastructure, and above all, understands the time criticality of support.

In-house or outsource: Cloud and DevOps talent is in short supply and many ecommerce companies struggle to find the right personnel. Engaging a specialist digital agency in this situation will help ensure the success of your headless project. Webscale works with a global ecosystem of digital agency partners experienced in developing headless and PWA storefronts, and makes recommendations frequently to merchants embarking on these projects.

A decision for today and tomorrow: While making decisions on what components of your tech stack should be used or replaced, be realistic about the total cost of operations (acquisition/development plus maintenance) and be conscious of technical debt. Making good decisions today will deliver the best return on investment in the years to come.

What are Microservices?

The best way to build the headless back end is through a microservices approach. Microservices (or microservices architecture) are a cloud native architectural approach to software development in which a single application is composed of many loosely coupled and independently deployable smaller components, or services, that communicate with each other over well-defined APIs.

A microservices architecture makes it easier to design, build and deploy applications and to scale them rapidly, driving innovation and expediting time-to-market for new features and functionalities.

Characteristics of Microservices

Independent: Each microservice in a microservices architecture is an independent entity that does not require to share their code or implementation with the other microservices. Each microservice (catalog, search, cart, checkout, payment, CMS) can be developed, deployed, operated, and scaled without impacting the functioning of other microservices. 

Specialized: Each microservice is designed to deliver a set of capabilities to effectively solve a specific business problem.

What are Packaged Business Capabilities (PBCs)?

PBCs are used as building blocks for application product suites and custom-assembled application experiences in a headless build.

According to Gartner, a packaged business capability, is a “software component that represents a well-defined business capability, recognizable as such by a business user…[and] consists of a bounded collection comprising a data schema and a set of services, APIs and event channels.” 

A PBC is an application or service built around a specific business function. Rather than the function being one component of a larger, monolithic application (such as an ecommerce platform, CRM or CMS), a PBC is decoupled from other services and communicates with other components through APIs.

Sounds like microservices? A PBC involves a grouping of APIs that serve a specific business capability, whereas microservices are more tightly scoped and granular (though microservices may also have multiple APIs and endpoints within them). If a microservice represents a business capability in a way that is clear to a business user, it qualifies as a PBC.

PBCs can be considered aggregations of microservices. The number of microservices can be one or more.

Rip and Replace approach vs Best-of-Breed approach?

There are many headless point solutions becoming available, yet many advocate a rip and replace strategy for merchants wanting to go headless. Many merchants and developers agree that this is not the best approach from the merchant’s point of view, given the disruption, uncertainty and cost.

A headless strategy should adopt a “best-of-breed” approach in place of an “all-in-one” solution. This is what defines true flexibility.

Many merchants have already made significant investments in an ecommerce platform, ERP, and other systems, and writing off these investments is one of the key concerns of merchants wanting to go headless. An ideal headless approach will need to provide the type of flexibility that allows merchants to leverage existing technologies and incrementally move forward in their headless journey, taking advantage of the very best tools available for specific aspects of their business.

Challenges for Headless Hosting

Headless Commerce Use Cases

Advantages and Disadvantages of a PWA

Preferred Front End and Back End Applications for Building a Headless Storefront

Vue is a JavaScript framework for building user interfaces (UI) and UI components on the web. Unlike monolithic frameworks, Vue is designed to be incrementally adoptable. The open-source core library is focused on the view layer only, and can be seamlessly integrated with other libraries or existing projects. Vue can also power Single-Page Applications (SPA) when used along with other libraries and tools.

In May 2022, Webscale and Vue Storefront announced a strategic partnership to deliver fast and secure PWAs for merchants across multiple ecommerce platforms and shopping carts.

React is a JavaScript library developed for building fast and interactive user interfaces for web and mobile applications. Maintained by Meta (formerly Facebook) it is an open-source, component-based, front-end library responsible only for the application’s view layer. It can be used along with other JavaScript libraries and frameworks.

Angular is a TypeScript-based open-source component-based framework for building scalable web applications. It is a collection of well-integrated libraries that cover a wide variety of features, including routing, forms management, client-server communication, and more. It also includes a suite of developer tools to help develop, build, test, and update code.

Gatsby provides ecommerce development teams an open source front end framework (React) for creating dynamic, optimized websites and a cloud platform for delivering them on a blazing fast edge network that scales to manage increased traffic. It leverages the JAMstack to make sites lightning-fast. 

Adobe Commerce takes Magento Commerce (the enterprise version of Magento) a step further by making it fully managed and cloud-based, and possible to integrate with Adobe Experience Manager seamlessly.

BigCommerce is a cloud-based ecommerce platform that offers a set of online store management features (online payment methods, analytics, order fulfillment, etc.) as well as content management features, and hosting and security services for an online store. 

SAP Commerce Cloud is a proven commerce solution built mainly for large enterprises with advanced B2B, B2C, and B2B2C use cases. The solution can be customized to meet specific needs and manage even the most complex catalogs, products, and configurations for creating exceptional, hyper-personalized omnichannel experiences. 

Salesforce Commerce Cloud, formerly called Demandware, is a cloud-based service for unifying the way businesses engage with customers over any channel or device. While Demandware technology underlies Commerce Cloud, it is also strongly linked to other Salesforce products, including the Sales, Marketing and Service Clouds, and Salesforce Einstein, the artificial intelligence platform.

Shopify Plus is a fully hosted enterprise ecommerce platform designed for high growth merchants and brands. Shopify has added a robust set of features to their Plus offering – higher degree of customization with access to their theme language Liquid; greater customization and control over checkout; more API integrations; exclusive access to advanced Shopify apps like wholesale channel for B2B sales; and deeper visibility and analytics.

Shopware 6 is an enterprise-grade ecommerce platform and the market leader in Germany. They also have Shopware PWA created in partnership with Vue Storefront as a dedicated headless frontend for Shopware 6 that focuses on an API-first approach. 

Oracle Commerce is a unified B2B and B2C ecommerce platform that makes digital sales channels central to a merchant’s success by building personalized, online buyer experiences, innovating faster, and boosting sales. It easily integrates with Oracle and non-Oracle ERP, CPQ, content, and supply chain applications to support a variety of selling and business models.

HCL Commerce (formerly IBM WebSphere Commerce) is an enterprise ecommerce platform delivering powerful B2C and B2B experiences all on the same platform.

WooCommerce is an open-source, customizable plugin that adds an ecommerce functionality to a WordPress site so a merchant can have an online store. Here’s a detailed comparison of some of the leading back end applications.

Webscale for Headless and PWA

Few successful headless deployments powered by Webscale

Elemis is a leading luxury British skincare brand with award-winning products for face and body. In 2019, it was acquired by French beauty brand L’Occitane.

Ecommerce platform: Adobe Commerce

Monthly unique visitors (Traffic): 771K

Pain points to solve: Britain’s number one independent skincare brand was building a lightning-fast PWA. They needed extra security beyond what they could receive from Fastly/PerimeterX

Webscale offerings: PWA Delivery, CloudEDGE Security and Platinum Support Package

Outcome: Two mobile-first, 360-degree secure and equally fast PWAs to cater to both EU and US markets reported a 150% lift in transactions, with mobile conversion rates increasing an astounding 483% 


Salt Life is a lifestyle brand offering high quality apparel, performance gear and accessories for pursuing saltwater sports.

Ecommerce platform: Adobe Commerce

Monthly unique visitors (Traffic): 175K

Pain points to solve: The foremost ocean lifestyle brand wanted their new PWA build to be super-fast

Webscale offerings: Webscale Velocity and fully managed PWA Delivery on AWS

Outcome: After the switch to a PWA, Salt Life saw a 40% increase in organic traffic, 50% decrease in bounce rate, and a 15% percent increase in mobile conversion rate


Mud Pie is a home décor and lifestyle brand founded in 1988 in Atlanta GA. They design, manufacture and distribute thousands of new products across three divisions: Home, Kids and Women.

Ecommerce platform: Adobe Commerce

Monthly unique visitors (Traffic): 145K

Pain points to solve: The leading home décor and lifestyle brand was experiencing high traffic and was looking for much better site speed and timely support; also tired of self-managing their Azure environment

Webscale offerings: Webscale Velocity and fully managed PWA Delivery on AWS

Outcome: A brand-new PWA site netting 90% increase in users starting a checkout process while losing no search traffic during the website’s re-platform


Since 2009, Moose Knuckles has been protecting Canadians from the cold with luxury winter clothing and outerwear engineered for the tundra yet designed for the city.

Ecommerce platform: Adobe Commerce

Monthly unique visitors (Traffic): 293K

Pain points to solve: The iconic clothing brand protecting Canadians from the cold for over 100 years now, wanted deep observability into their production environment in Adobe Experience Cloud. They were also concerned about security

Webscale offerings: CloudEDGE Security, Webscale Velocity, and fully managed PWA Delivery on AWS

Outcome: Super-fast and secure PWA store with significantly reduced time to resolution by Webscale for support requests 


New York-based designer Roxanne Assoulin creates everyday jewelry like bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings and anklets, that celebrates the mood-lifting power of color.

Ecommerce platform: Shopify Plus

Monthly unique visitors (Traffic): 18.3K

Pain points to solve: With physical stores shut during the pandemic, the eponymous jewelry brand was urgently building an innovative web application to engage with customers in a fun way. They were particular about security and seamless routing of requests

Webscale offerings: Fully managed PWA Delivery on AWS 

Outcome: Since launch, RA YOUR WAY, the custom bracelet configurator app makes up 13.5% of product revenue and 9.95% of unique purchases. Additionally, AOV increased 10.5%

If you have any questions about going headless or delivering a PWA, contact us and one of our ecommerce experts would be happy to help you.