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5 Painful Truths About Headless Commerce

May 12, 2022 | Oro Team

A version of this article has been published in Industrial Distribution, contributed by Yoav Kutner, CEO and Co-Founder of Oro Inc.

Ecommerce strategies and technologies continue to evolve as businesses strive to create more responsive, user-friendly, and modern eCommerce websites.

Headless commerce is one such technology. And while it’s not a new concept, it remains hard, especially for non-technical decision-makers, to make sense of headless and why it’s important. More often than not, conversations around headless spiral into hype and hyperbole.

To start demystifying headless eCommerce, Forrester senior digital commerce analyst, Joe Cicman, shared some critical observations about headless that vendors and merchants should be aware of:

1. Headless is not the unique selling point. Vendors often market their tech as headless, but the reality is that headless is no longer a differentiator for today’s eCommerce software. So if a potential solution provider tells you their platform is the best because it’s headless, be careful: being headless is just no longer enough to make a convincing case for an eCommerce product.

2. Not all headless tools are equal. As it often is, some vendors are better at headless than others. Creating an API for an eCommerce platform technically means going headless – but some APIs are more powerful than others. If you don’t know how to figure out the differences between APIs, find an expert who does before committing to a headless solution.

3. Headless is impossible to explain. “I’ve never heard a single pitch for headless that would work on a non-technical audience,” Joe says. Instead of pitching headless tech, vendors should focus on the benefits of headless for the eCommerce business and its users.

4. Headless isn’t for everyone. It shouldn’t be the default solution to every challenge. For example, when a company wants to get their catalog online and make it searchable, going headless won’t be an answer – because it really has nothing to do with digitizing their product listing.

5. Headless is a tool, not a solution. While headless can be a powerful approach, it’s still just one of the many tools in the toolbox. It won’t automatically solve every problem. Don’t invest in headless tech unless you understand the specific problems you’re solving. Use headless where it makes sense – this way, you can extract the full value from it.

Joe Cicman on headless eCommerce:
"Headless is real, but it's a little bit difficult for people who aren't technical to wrap their heads around." 

The great decoupling

Companies are moving away from software that’s tightly connected to a fixed set of touchpoints and toward more flexible and dynamic approaches, like composable commerce. Headless is a part of this “decoupling” movement transforming digital commerce.

As such, it’s crucial to understand the potential and the limitations of headless to use it as an opportunity to advance eCommerce for the benefit of all.

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