Difference Between Headless Ecommerce and Traditional Ecommerce

Difference between headless and traditional ecommerce

Many eCommerce businesses explore different options to bring effectiveness in their operations. While traditional eCommerce platforms enable an entrepreneur to start a website, it is essential to understand which type of solution will suit the most.

Another option is headless eCommerce. As traditional and headless have their own pros and cons, it is essential to know the difference between the two to make an informed decision.

Difference Between Headless Ecommerce and Traditional Ecommerce

Difference Between Traditional and Headless Ecommerce (1)
Difference Between Traditional and Headless Ecommerce

Time to Market (TTM)

Headless Ecommerce

A headless eCommerce solution emphasizes the use of an application programming interface (API). Such an API-based architecture enables a business owner to integrate third-party applications and avoid waiting for too long to develop custom capabilities.

As less time is consumed, therefore, the business owner can start his eCommerce website or implement a different eCommerce strategy with improved TTM.

Traditional Ecommerce

In most cases, an API-based architecture is absent in traditional eCommerce. SaaS-based apps for tax management, shipping management, and others, often come with a ready-to-use API.

However, a traditional eCommerce platform may require the in-house web development team’s manual effort to integrate a third-party app using an API.

Hence, TTM is increased due to more time exhausted in the development phase.


Headless Ecommerce

Personalization can be achieved using different approaches, including artificial intelligence (AI). However, the ground reality is that personalization is often achieved over a while by analyzing buyer behavior.

Headless eCommerce adds value by enabling the business owner to save time and money on the development front and use the same resources to impart a personalized shopping experience.

Traditional Ecommerce

The effort required to deliver a personalized shopping experience in traditional eCommerce remains the same as taken by headless eCommerce.

On the brighter side, if a business owner selects a feature-rich eCommerce platform from a reputed eCommerce company, then putting more effort can be avoided.

Few reputed names of eCommerce platform providers are – Elastic Path, Adobe, and others.


Headless Ecommerce

Headless eCommerce addresses the pain points faced by businesses that have existing systems in place as well as those entrepreneurs who want enterprise-level capabilities and are starting from scratch.

A headless architecture with powerful APIs can easily integrate with existing systems, giving the business owner ample freedom in terms of selecting the technology stack.

Traditional Ecommerce

In traditional eCommerce, capabilities have to be developed from scratch. The APIs need to be custom developed from an in-house team of experienced developers or an agency specializing in this area. Due to the absence of APIs in the initial setup, the selection of technology, architecture, and others may depend on several factors.


Headless Ecommerce

The system can be extended using separate APIs. If the need arises to add a new feature, there is no need to modify the entire system. The modular architecture enables one to make changes only in the area where new additions are to be made. As there are no new changes in the existing system; hence, security is not compromised.

Traditional Ecommerce

In traditional eCommerce, most modules are interlinked. There might be a case where a specific framework is being used. In either case, to make minor changes, the framework might need to be modified.

If the requirement is to make changes to implement a new business model, an extensive set of changes may have to be made in the framework as well as the front-end.

Such a comprehensive set of changes invite a lot of modifications as well as testing time to ensure a secure system.

Frontend Web Development

Headless Ecommerce

The frontend is completely decoupled from the backend in headless eCommerce. It gives more freedom to different teams within the marketing department to enhance the user experience and improve the conversion rate.

As the frontend is separate from the backend, the teams mentioned-above get more freedom to conduct A/B tests, make changes as per the funnel stage a prospect is in, and tune the messaging in an omnichannel environment.

Traditional Ecommerce

The frontend is coupled with the backend in traditional eCommerce. To implement the frontend changes, the backend also needs to be modified as well.

For instance, to change a homepage section containing information on popular products, multiple changes have to be made in the database.

Once the database changes are made, the same will be reflected on the frontend by a web developer.

Effort Required

Headless Ecommerce

In an API-based architecture, it is much easier to integrate additional features. A business owner is not dependent on any specific language and can choose to work with any programming language.

Hence, there is no need to hire an additional developer who excels in a different programming language. Most APIs come with documentation that clearly explains the use of each function.

Furthermore, while internal changes can continuously occur, the frontend can remain the same as there is no dependency on the backend.

Traditional Ecommerce

In traditional eCommerce, the entire platform is one integrated system that might be using a framework. To modify a single component of the eCommerce platform, different changes have to be made in other modules that qualify as a dependency.

If an omnichannel approach is being implemented, then for each touchpoint such as smartphone, smartwatch, desktop, and others, different changes might need to be made.


Headless Ecommerce

The testing phase improves the success of an eCommerce business as the buyers face a minimum number of bugs or errors. As headless eCommerce uses a modular structure, the testing time is significantly decreased.

For instance, consider the case of a b2b eCommerce website. It uses only bank transfer as the preferred payment method.

Now, after few changes were introduced in the business model, subscription fee payment methods have to be added. In headless eCommerce, such changes can be made swiftly.

Traditional Ecommerce

Consider the same example shared above. To implement the subscription payment method, changes in the framework might have to be made.

The subscription module may require around 40 hours of a developer’s time, but additional modifications in the framework may require 100 hours more. Hence, the testing time is increased.


The eCommerce ecosystem is rapidly evolving and has become a necessity among entrepreneurs with exceeding expectations. Among different expectations, few include more flexibility to choose the technology, lower the development cost, and accelerate time to market.

To enable prospects to make an informed decision, we shared the differences between headless eCommerce and traditional eCommerce and considered different factors like time to market, testing, and more.

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