Building and shaping an ultra-fast online shopping experience that resonates with a diverse audience is the holy grail of eCommerce. Online performance relies on matters of speed and time, and the disintegration of monoliths into a headless architecture is the answer to the online retail landscape's challenges. Here you can find a cause-and-effect study of such use. Get to grips with when & how to blend the latest digital innovations to deliver performance, save time, resources, and unleash creative energies.

Enriching Shopify's performance with headless commerce - Vue Storefront and Contentful use case
Headless commerce with Vue Storefront + Shopify + Contentful

Shopify’s rise and shine 

Shopify, a leader in the US market, already exceeding 30% share, for many, has become the obvious choice for running eCommerce. Based on the idea for non-techies seeking to run their business online smoothly, Shopify became a good starting point for online presence and growth. 

However, in the wake of an increase, new needs pop up requiring speedy responsiveness and customization. And this is a turning point when you can make the best use of future-proofed tools, and make Shopify shine. Turning towards headless commerce enhances Shopify's capabilities, giving businesses the freedom and flexibility to act as they best desire. 

Shopify's core strength and capabilities

With over 15 years of presence and development in eCommerce, Shopify for many merchants became a synonym of online shopping, offering a quick setup requiring zero coding skills. Created as a response to the growing demand for online stores, provides customization, fast and hassle-free online service.

Key Shopify’s hallmarks, factors that account for its widespread recognition and referrals, are: 

According to Shopify, the abovementioned wide tool kit supports over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 different countries, keeping an average visitor over 3 minutes and visiting more than 3 stores. It is important to have in mind that, Shopify in its assumptions was aiming at small and medium initiatives, guaranteeing ease of use. This niche quickly gained global traction, and the most approval among merchants in the US, UK, and Australia.

However, these noble statistics don't always reflect the pain points fast-growing eCommerce face. Such as? Shopify merchants value the main idea, ease of use & quick jumpstart, that guides businesses online but find it difficult to provide a great user experience, ultra-fast performance, smooth cross-border sales, and agilely supply content. One more issue occurs when growing. It’s SEO relevancy. This applies in particular to the ability to define custom URLs. Shopify's dependencies don't supply enough flexibility in understanding and managing the target audience. 

However, facing these bumps does not necessarily equate to drastic and resource-consuming transformation. Technology evolves rapidly, making it impossible for a single vendor to meet all the needs of a vast range of individuals. And this is how the headless approach in eCommerce was born.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless Commerce is a relatively new approach that reshapes modern commerce. Born as a response to the needs of a rapidly changing market, and demanding audience, requiring top responsiveness, performance, and marketing flexibility capable of generating higher revenues.

In a nutshell, headless commerce means decoupling the front-end and back-end of an eCommerce website. Instead of being a monolith, the front-end and back-end are linked through APIs, which allow smooth data exchange. As a consequence, you can make changes at the front-end without harming the back-end. The front-end part interacts with the audience, and the back-end runs the eCommerce engine to operate a shopping cart and manage the catalog. 

Headless provides the agility essential to maintain pace with arising eCommerce trends. It's easier to implement new tactics, test new tools, and adapt actions to the specifics of a given area. 

What are the benefits of headless commerce?

Headless approach offers a high level of customization. Unlike monolithic platforms, headless updates or customizations can be handled with minimal or even no development effort, thanks to decoupled operations.

Another highly valued feature by marketers is a fast response to market trends. Having hands untied, marketers can quickly fine-tune the user experience, face new trends and expectations.

Lower dependency prevents huge failure points. Unlike fragile monolithic platforms, headless individual parts work independently, processing only relevant data without jeopardizing the essential eCommerce elements.

Freedom of choice, which means pairing with individual tools and features that suit best necessary operational work. Monoliths often offer a broad range of features that might never be in one’s specific use. With headless, one can add simply any suitable kit, forming at the same time a more efficient technology stack.

And this leads to yet another advantage, best alternatives. Rather than relying on one system, one can pick and customize the services and choose suitable specialized service providers. Being vendor agnostic will keep one focused on the accurate services that meet one's business needs.

What are the potential blockers of going headless?

Every direction change requires careful consideration and understanding of what is ahead. So, what to be aware of when choosing headless commerce?

  1. Some organizational reshuffling.

The benefits of being headless can be a blocker for some due to integration, but well-tailored documentation and convenient partnering plans create freedom of choice. It’s up to online retailers whether to go open-source, ready-made or custom. Once the decision is made, frustration and tedious operational tasks can fall by the wayside, setting a focus on delivering a creative and high-quality experience. 

  1. Some infrastructure modifications.

While you may gain flexibility, a certain degree of change to the existing systems may be inevitable.

  1. Some time & resources.

Tools that offer entirely decoupled architecture can be out of reach for some small and medium-sized eCommerce. But there can always be found an alternative. Large communities support everyday SMB growth, very open and eager to help, have no hesitancy to seek some. 

Does headless mean building from scratch?

Not necessarily. There are tools on the market that address the specific needs of the rapidly growing broad eCommerce market. All you have to do is research or rely on referrals. You can build or nourish an online store with ready-made and future-proofed components.

And to get to the essence of this piece, here is a real-life example of a perfect blend of tech and visionary stack that has changed the eCommerce game for Pure Daily Care. 

Brief background info to outline their story: Pure Daily Care is an American brand selling high-end, affordable, at-home spa equipment. They started on Amazon, but eager to expand their branding force and marketing options; they turned to Shopify. Rather than abandon one sale channel, they wanted to combine forces to unlock customer experience in favor of the other. That's when they hit upon the limitations of Shopify's UI. However, being ok with Shopify’s backend, thanks to Aureate Labs, they managed to provide modern eCommerce standards across all the possible channels with a headless approach. By decoupling the frontend with Vue Storefront and nourishing it with Contentful, they were able to quickly and nimbly integrate and start operating with no boundaries. 

Read Pure Daily Care Case Study

Vue Storefront improving Shopify performance
Headless experience with Shopify and Vue Storefront

How does Vue Storefront improve Shopify’s performance?

Vue Storefront is a PWA frontend boilerplate tailored to work with any eCommerce backend API. As platform-agnostic, VSF is built with agencies & developers in mind, allowing to use it as a front foundation while remaining open to further customization. 

Shopify is a great option to start with an eCommerce, as it offers a broad range of services. However, as the vibrant eComm market changes at an incredibly fast pace, Shopify can become a blocker for ultra-fast user experiences and performance. Nevertheless, taking the best of what Shopify offers and enhancing it with ultra-modern technology unlocks endless possibilities.

Boosting Shopify’s performance and proofing SEO ranks with VSF

Vue Storefront fuels Shopify’s performance. Although the default speed for a Shopify store is fast, page speed decreases significantly when adding extra apps, affecting SEO ranks. With the attention span gradually getting shorter and shorter, visitors are more likely to bounce. Vue Storefront addresses a whole set of components regarding better performance for SSR, optimization, lazy loading, lazy hydrate, and other PWA-related issues. All to secure future stability in the changing search engine ranking factors. 

As performance is inextricably linked with SEO, aiming to deliver the best optimization, Vue Storefront backs up and future-proofs aspects of technical SEO and beyond, like structuring custom URLs. Standing upfront tech SEO issues, Vue Storefront gives fast, unrestricted feasibilities and is a practical resource-effective remedy for uniting other stack components.

Unlocking Shopify's flexibility with VSF

Getting to know your audience and interacting becomes much easier when your hands are untied and the timing for implementing changes shifts from days to minutes. Vue Storefront’s flexibility speeds up UX and marketing activities. Advancing segmentation and audience responsiveness with Vue Storefront helps effectively measure and remove biases. Via VSF’s API, merchants can make the best use of an unfettered frontend. Add any headless CMS, the dominant payment method in a given market, create a stellar loyalty program, change the UI freely as desired. Simply, VSF provides a future-proofed suite of possibilities to drive revenue, eliminate frustration, and grant tremendous flexibility. 

Contentful enriching Shopify's performance with headless Vue Storefront
Headless experience with Shopify and Contentful

How does Contentful enrich Shopify’s shopping experience?

Here comes the icing on the eCommerce cake - a future-proofed CMS for modern business - Contentful. Having unlocked potential at the front, the one missing piece was content. Shopify’s default content marketing options are not of high value for users. Content marketing plays a vital role for eCommerce, it boosts organic traffic, interacts and educates shoppers, builds and distinguishes brands, and boosts the emotional layer of the buying process. Although Shopify provides a blogging feature, it is very basic. 

Contentful, a cherry-pick when it comes to building innovative content experiences, resolves content localization issues and allows flexibly adjusting images and enrich text to make wholesome visually pleasing. In addition to outstanding visual satisfaction, there are also practical aspects. Contentful allows you to schedule activities. Advanced scheduling allows users up to 200 entries in each environment within a space. So, planning and executing operational work can be made in advance. Scheduled publishing means launching a new campaign, product, or closing out published content according to set timing rather than at a given moment.

Contentful also covers language and localization issues. A set of language options allows integrating with translation management systems. As a consequence, international expansion within the same intuitive tool enables interacting with shoppers on a cross-border level.

What is the price of headless commerce?

It has become a common belief that headless commerce is reserved only for the big players. This is a misconception, as from the rise of the idea to its current state it took some reworking and many development hours. It's all in the eye of the beholder. Going headless from scratch involves costs of discovery, integration, feature development, hosting, and ongoing maintenance. However, with a proper frame and cloud support headless is accessible. You can get the same results faster and aligned with the changing market. VSF strengthens its front-end platform with cloud, so you can benefit from out-of-the-box integrations, smooth development flow thanks to CI/CD, future-proofed practice, 24/7 support, competitive pricing, and steady improvement of Shopify and many 3rd party integrations.

Headless commerce covers time & speed matters, but it doesn't stop there. In the case of Pure Daily Care, the outcomes, one month after switching to headless with Vue Storefront and Contentful, were +132% transactions, +270% revenue from mobile, +95% users, +114% page views. What else? The complete integration with all 3rd party services took Aureate Labs just eight weeks. The entire venture is also a testimony to the power of partnership. Vue Storefront and Contentful cooperate to ease the quick headless adoption, provide rapid native integration, thus speeding up time-to-market and future-proofing the merchant's performance.