Essential building blocks retailers consider when moving from Monolith to Headless architecture

A headless tech stack with the best-of-breed building blocks benefits ecommerce companies with multiple strategic capabilities, which they are unlikely to achieve when relying on a traditional Monolithic architecture. There are many reasons to move from a monolith to headless architecture. These include the flexibility in building and customizing their ecommerce platform solution for a specific use-case or need, the speed of launching new products and services, the ability to deliver the best experience to the customers regardless of platform or device. The transition unlocks future strategic growth opportunities. 

To unlock the benefits of Headless architecture, companies need to plan their digital transformation and consider every essential building block required for creating a state of the art ecommerce platform solution.

What building blocks are needed to move to Headless architecture?

According to the Mach Alliance, a typical Headless architecture of an ecommerce website will have the following building blocks:

mach alliance headless

On this diagram, each block represents an essential ecommerce functionality and not necessarily a separate tool. There might be several tools with overlapping functionalities or solutions. What we want to concentrate on when selecting the best-of-breed components is which functionalities deliver the most value to your specific use case and how they can be combined together effectively to ensure that your ecommerce business continuously achieves its business goals.

Front end – the first element of the architecture is a front-end framework. This is the presentation layer that is going to put your ecommerce platform user interface in front of your customers, to provide the best possible digital user experience

API layer – API layer is the access point to all your building blocks.

Experience management

  • CMS – A Content Management System allows your merchandising team to place content in a specific position on the website. For example, they can place a promotional Hero image at the top of your new category landing page for a sales event.
  • Campaigns – Campaign management tools allow marketing teams to promote products and events, and track each campaign’s success rates and metrics. For example, they can launch referral programs for existing customers through email marketing and then measure the percentage of new customers who came through the referral program. Another example is creating valuable content through blogs, social media, or video streaming to attract relevant leads and turn them into sales.
  • Loyalty – There are tools that help you track and manage your loyalty programs, including shopping rewards, discount codes, and more.

Cloud commerce

  • Cart/payment/accounts/orders – There are tools responsible for managing the data needed for performing ecommerce transactions.
  • Promotions/Merchandising – These are the tools that compose the core of your merchandising strategy (manual or AI-assisted). They help you manage the priority in which products will appear to every segment of your customers, incorporate your business data, and implement merchandising strategies across every area of your platform. This building block will let you ensure that the right products are placed in front of the right customer in the right order. 

Learn about how ecommerce industry leaders are implementing merchandising strategies:

How to increase online sales with Search merchandising

How to boost online sales with Category merchandising

Best ways to leverage AI to optimize a user conversion

Best practices for ecommerce personalization




  • It is common for such tools to offer an automated functionality in addition to manual merchandising, to better optimize the conversions and increase average order volume and frequency. These tools will often leverage AI capabilities to boost merchandising KPIs, with AI Re-ranking, AI synonyms suggestion, and Recommendations algorithms. 



  • Search – This is one of the most critical components of a successful ecommerce platform. The majority of users will go directly to the search bar to discover products. You will want to ensure that every keystroke surfaces the right search results and contributes to conversions and boosts your company’s revenue.



  • Payment – A tool responsible for the financial transaction processing on your ecommerce platform.


  • Personalization – A high importance element of your architecture that will allow you to personalize every user’s experience on the ecommerce platform and ensure that it matches their unique profile of behaviors and preferences.



  • Optimization – A/B testing tools allow you to test your business strategies and identify the best approach, based on data-driven analysis.



  • Targeting – Tools that allow segmentation of the customer base calculated by specific content or experience. If an internal research team discovers that women in a certain geographic area prefer a specific product or content, a dedicated segment can be created to target this specific group. For example, shoe retailer’s customers in Australia and New Zealand will see summer sandals promoted in December, while the customer segment in Canada will be presented with winter boots, instead.
  • Analysis – Tools that let you analyze user-behavior data and act on any insights you derive from it. Analytics are highly useful for ongoing evaluation of your merchandising efforts, identifying business opportunities and trends, and collecting and communicating data insights with relevant internal teams.



Data layer

  • PIM – The Product Information Management block allows ecommerce companies to collect, manage, and enrich product information, create a product catalog, and distribute it to multiple sales and ecommerce channels. PIM tools are able to import and manage a large volume of SKUs across multiple channels.
  • OMS – The Order Management System helps internal teams manage their ecommerce order, such as accurately viewing the inventory and tracking orders across multiple channels. An OMS serves as a single source of truth for order processing and fulfillment data.
  • DAM – The Digital Assets Management tools are used for management, collection, storage, cataloging, and sharing of content or digital media: images, video, branding materials, and documents.
  • Customer – This building block contains your customer service information. You can leverage it with the Search building block to create a superior customer experience on your platform.

Learn about how ecommerce industry leaders are implementing customer service solutions to increase brand loyalty:

How leading ecommerce companies increase brand loyalty by offering a fast, informative customer service




Systems of record

  • ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning tools are used by companies to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management and compliance, and supply chain operations.
  • Finance – This building block contains the financial tools used by companies for financial reporting, accounting, forecasting, and analytics.


The digital transformation from Monolith to Headless or Composable architecture is an essential and much needed step to prepare your ecommerce platform for future industry changes and technological advancements. 

To learn more about ways to select and implement best-of-breed composable building blocks, and unlock the benefits of a fast, scalable, and flexible architecture, contact our team, or visit the links below:

Composable Commerce: how to select best-of-breed components to meet your business needs

Composable Commerce: how to improve omnichannel product discovery experience

Composable Commerce: how to build an In-Store Product Search Kiosk and Store Locator

Composable Commerce: how to help in-store sales associates find products easily by optimizing inventory management

Composable Commerce: How to integrate your product catalog into WeChat, Google Home, and Alexa

How Composable Commerce can boost customer spending during Black Friday and Cyber Week

About the authorTanya Herman

Tanya Herman

Product Manager

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