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5 reasons why retailers move from a monolithic to headless architecture

Feb 2nd 2022 product

5 reasons why retailers move from a monolithic to headless architecture

Ecommerce industry has undergone major shifts in recent years, resulting in tremendous changes that require future-ready tech stack architectures. Many traditional retailers found themselves in stiff competition with digital-only retailers, competing in a different space than what they were used to. Such a shift came with a new set of capabilities, industry standards, and requirements.

A retailer with a monolithic ecommerce platform architecture is faced with functionality and scalability limitations. Moreover, future growth opportunities become unreachable for any company not able to transition to Headless or Composable architectures.

Monolithic architecture

A typical monolithic architecture is very restrictive in its nature. On the one hand, it gives the user “everything in one place”; on the other hand, it offers less than optimal performance for a modern ecommerce platform to stay competitive and provide the exceptional digital experience needed in a fast paced retail industry. With business logic trapped in a monolith framework, every small change requires extensive cross-team coordination, slows down responsiveness, and introduces multiple failure opportunities and unnecessary complexity.

Headless architecture

Headless architecture decouples the front end from the back end (the logic provided by an ecommerce solution), allowing companies to focus on customer experience and interaction without worrying about the impact of each iteration on critical back-end systems. Headless architecture means that the commerce logic behind the ecommerce platform serves as a “core body”, delivered through an API. This body is then attached to many “heads”, which represent the customer-facing touch-points (where the transactions take place) and the employee-facing interfaces of the internal systems.

Composable architecture

Composable architecture takes the flexibility offered by Headless one step further. The business logic of the Headless commerce can sometimes still be trapped in the monolith if the main platform currently used is still a full-stack, which can limit the functionality of the platform. Composable commerce offers an architecture in which each element works completely independently from one another and can be replaced without causing any impact on the rest of the system. Each element is called a “Packaged Business Capability (PBC)”. The goal of each PBC is to solve a very specific problem, be easily implemented, and to connect through an API layer to other pieces in the system. This setup allows ecommerce companies to combine best-of-breed elements in one system and to achieve the optimal architecture for their unique use-case and business needs. 

Why move to Headless?

monolithic to headless architecture

The benefits of a digital transformation towards a Headless architecture are sprouting from decoupling the front end from the back end. A decoupled architecture enables companies to pick and choose best-of-breed building blocks and allows them to quickly iterate and adapt to any internal or external changes.

As a result of adopting the Headless approach, retailers gain:

    • Flexibility – eliminating the dependency on a single solution with limited capabilities
    • Speed – fast and easy deployment, changes, iterations, and strategy modifications
    • Customization – choosing the best building blocks to create a custom solution, to fit each unique use-case
    • Omnichannel capabilities – delivering the best end-user experience on any platform or device
  • Future growth and opportunities
    • Accessing and concurring new trends, such as mobile & voice channels, social commerce, or live-streaming commerce which are quickly growing in popularity
    • Increasing your expected revenue by providing a better user experience
    • Increasing user engagement & loyalty through multi-channel offerings by serving customers on their platform of choice, following any consumer habit change.

Learn from the successful transformations of ecommerce industry leaders:

From stale monolith to Headless PaaS: CHRONEXT’s journey to a future-proof e-commerce PWA

Gymshark’s journey to MACH: The practical case for search and navigation


There are multiple benefits ecommerce companies can gain by transitioning from a Monolith to a Headless or Composable architecture: flexibility of building an optimal solution and customizing it for a specific use-case or need, without being restricted to a single tool; speed of iteration and launching new products and services: ability to deliver the best experience to the customers regardless of platform or device. The transition unlocks future strategic growth opportunities. 

If you’re planning to make the move to headless architecture, but aren’t sure where to start or need more information, feel free to contact our team today.

About the author
Tanya Herman

Product Manager

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