How headless via API can future-proof your company

APIs have been around for several years, but the headless approach makes your software platform more agile & dynamic than ever. Explore how headless via API supports dynamic content publishing and unlocks omnichannel commerce.


A headless approach to software architecture helps companies develop more agile and robust applications that are easily scalable and can be shaped to changing market demands. At the very heart of a decoupled headless approach is the use of APIs to facilitate the exchange of data – that’s orders, prices, stock information, logins, account information, etc. – between a decoupled front end and back end.

An API-first approach isn’t anything new – the software development ethos that places high importance on APIs has been commonplace since the early 2000s. However, a truly headless application is a relatively new approach. It wasn’t until the number of touchpoints began to increase with the popularization of mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT) in the 2010s, that the headless approach became crucial for providing omnichannel experiences and connecting with an audience.

Headless connections, facilitated via APIs, now seem more crucial than ever before for businesses to thrive. According to a report by Vanson Bourne, over 90% of companies plan on implementing a headless approach in the next 12 months. Why is this approach so important for future-proofing? Increasingly, consumers are demanding inter-connected digital experiences everywhere – or more commonly referred to as an omnichannel experience. 92% of companies believe that a headless approach is integral to providing these consistent digital experiences.

What is the ‘headless approach’? How do APIs facilitate this exciting architecture? What are the benefits of adopting a headless approach? In this article, we’ll explore the exciting world of headless software and discuss some applications of this approach such as headless commerce. Ultimately, we’ll give you the tools you need to select the right headless provider for your business.

What is Headless Architecture?

In traditional monolithic applications, the front-end and back-end code are tightly coupled. That is, the user interface of an application cannot be deployed independently from the business logic. The effect is that businesses cannot update or introduce new front-end experiences without changing back-end code and redeploying the entire stack.

The headless approach, by contrast, decouples the front end from the back end. Business logic is handled by a strong back-end platform, whereas the UI for touchpoints (such as web apps or mobile experiences) can remain independent and agile. Businesses can redesign storefronts and remove UI applications without modifying any of the back-end code.

Headless architecture is particularly popular in e-commerce. Given the shift to omnichannel experiences, commerce businesses will need to adapt their existing touchpoints and add new front-end experiences to respond to changing consumer demands.

Headless is also brilliant for content management systems (CMS). Why? The dynamic posting or publishing of content to different types of platforms, such as websites and web applications ensures all content remains up-to-date and easily accessible from any touchpoint.

If headless applications decouple the front end from the back end, how are data and information transferred between each end? That’s handled by an API layer.

What is an API?

An Application Programming Interface or API acts as the bridge between applications, allowing them to communicate with each other and send data. An API ensures that front-end modules remain compatible with the back-end engine.

The use of APIs is essential to headless applications as they’re the way front-end apps like storefronts or mobile apps can request data (such as login information) from back-end platforms.

In the case of a headless CMS, an API acts as the ‘delivery driver’, sending content instantaneously to a variety of front-end touchpoints. As long as a front-end module supports the API protocol used by the back end, it can be integrated into a commerce solution or CMS.

This allows businesses to develop new experiences in response to changing market demands quicker than ever – and also reduces the likelihood of the entire system going down. 

Advantages of a headless approach

The primary advantages of the headless approach via APIs lie in the personalization, customizability, and agility of software platforms:

  • Headless applications are more dynamic and agile. Independent front-end applications can be easily deployed and maintained without affecting the back-end platform. Features can be released quickly – reducing the time needed for innovation and allowing businesses to rapidly adapt to market trends.
  • Front-end experiences can be customized and personalized to individuals and use cases. For instance, an in-store touchpoint can have the necessary features and capabilities needed to function using a touch panel, without needing the code found on a desktop website.
  • Going headless improves performance by streamlining front-end applications. Furthermore, the headless approach encourages more robust back-end engines.
  • It’s easier to scale your application with a headless approach by simply adding front-end modules when new touchpoints or features are required. Similarly, upgrading your back end won’t affect your front end as long as the new system supports the same APIs.

Headless via API in action: Opportunities for your business

As you can see, headless applications provide a promising opportunity for organizations and e-commerce businesses to separate the back-end and front-end of their applications, allowing both components to function independently and opening up new doors for customization and personalization.

With that said, let's take a look at what headless via API can do in practice:

Headless commerce

The headless approach is the best way for e-commerce businesses to provide an omnichannel experience. Consumers are demanding a seamless experience where their order information and the personalized shopping experience are available on all devices – in-store and online.

A de-coupled back end with front-end UI modules connected by API allows for this. APIs ensure that all database information is kept synced and up-to-date, whereas front-end independence allows businesses to shape & tailor front-ends to improve the customer experience.

Headless commerce is infinitely more scalable than a monolithic approach – and is perfect for fast-growing, adaptable businesses. Smaller businesses can use off-the-shelf front-end modules to craft their commerce platform, while using a strong, established commerce solution to provide a stable back-end foundation.

Headless CMS

Another promising opportunity provided by headless is that of a headless CMS. The traditional monolithic structure of the CMS involves in-house development, and the content is embedded into its code, thus leaving no room for personalization.

In a headless CMS, the decoupled back end and front end, as well as the isolation of content from the code allow for the content to be published across different channels and platforms. Moreover, as headless content is disconnected from the presentation layer, there’s better security due to a smaller area of attack.

A headless CMS offers an agile and cloud-based approach in which content can be structured across different platforms. Around 92% of companies claim that implementing headless technologies makes it easier for them to provide a consistent content experience.

How to recognize a solid headless provider

Headless is a growing trend among various organizations and businesses, and it has also led to the popularity of several headless providers. An effective headless provider offers a strong back-end base for you to add front-end modules and experience as you please.

With that said, let’s have a look at how you can recognize a good and solid headless provider and use it for your business:

  • Cross-platform compatibility - The first thing to do while choosing a headless provider is to gauge whether it provides you with cross-platform compatibility or not. The essence of a headless architecture lies in providing a structure that works across different platforms, so having a headless API that works across different platforms is a no-brainer. The APIs should also facilitate the developer and user in each step of the process, including content creation, management, and delivery.
  • Easy integration with any front-end module - Another hallmark of a quality headless provider is that its back-end code supports APIs that are required for easy integration with any front end you plan on implementing. A wide range of integration support allows you to work independently and eliminates the need to limit your product to ensure compatibility.
  • Omnichannel capabilities - Last but not least, it is also important to look for solutions that offer omnichannel capabilities, i.e. the ability to post content and information and deliver front-end experiences across different channels dynamically. This is also a desirable feature that will help you save time and money – and develop a holistic, seamless customer experience.

Headless via API in a nutshell

The headless via API approach helps software developers deliver a more agile, interconnected platform with personalized front-end experiences. In e-commerce, headless is crucial to delivering a true omnichannel experience. In a headless CMS, this approach allows for dynamic content delivery and allows businesses to shape the functionalities of an application independently from the application’s back end.

It’s clear the headless revolution has started. Consumers demand features and new experiences quicker than ever. Market trends are increasingly more volatile. That’s why utilizing headless capabilities via APIs is imperative for organizations. To support growth and scale effectively, businesses will need to improve their agility. That starts with the so-called “great decoupling”.

Evaluation methodology.

Working together with scientists and industry leaders from the respective cloud areas, our evaluations are based on an industry peer review standard that meets the highest standards of objectivity. All the insights are combined in a single figure, which means they can be applied more easily and effectively from both a technical and a business perspective.

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