Headless Storefront: BigCommerce

In the last few years, headless commerce has become a popular choice for businesses looking to create a unique storefront. Headless commerce is the decoupling of the front-end layer of a website from the back-end infrastructure. This architecture is appealing to businesses as it gives them more flexibility over the customer experience, the ability to add multiple website customizations without worrying about front-end downtime, and the opportunity to stay ahead of customer expectations by making fast changes and updates.

BigCommerce is a robust ecommerce platform known for its user-friendly interface and range of features tailored to enhance the online shopping experience. With customizable templates and themes, businesses can tailor their storefronts to reflect their brand identity.

The platform supports a variety of payment gateways, ensuring secure transactions. With BigCommerce’s open software-as-a-service (SaaS) architecture, third-party apps can seamlessly integrate with the BigCommerce application programming interface (API). For merchants, where native or third-party apps for tax and shipping logic differ from business requirements, BigCommerce’s API can be implemented to accommodate exact needs. It prioritizes scalability, making it suitable for both small enterprises and large-scale operations

What is Headless Storefront?

In ecommerce, a headless storefront is the separation of the front-end customer facing layer of a website from the back-end commerce functionality layer. This architecture is different from traditional platforms that tightly integrate these two layers, whereas a headless approach allows for more flexibility and innovation. In short, the front-end, which is responsible for the user interface and experience, operates independently from the back-end commerce logic.

This decoupling is facilitated by application programming interfaces (APIs) and microservices. In this architecture, the APIs act as bridges that enable seamless communication between the front-end and back-end, while microservices break down ecommerce functionalities into modular, independently deployable components. This empowers businesses to deliver consistent and engaging user experiences across various channels, such as websites, mobile apps, and emerging technologies.

APIs and microservices play a key role in headless commerce because they foster agility, scalability, and the ability to adapt swiftly to evolving market trends. This approach allows businesses to stay ahead in the dynamic landscape of digital commerce. 

The Rise of BigCommerce in Headless Storefronts

BigCommerce’s product and technical teams have kept a pulse of on the rapidly rising and ever-expanding world of headless. Over the recent years, teams have deployed several headless-centric solutions to the market. This includes BigCommerce for WordPress, Next.js Commerce, BigCommerce Starter Template for Netlify, and more. Through these efforts, more and more of the platform has been “opened up” allowing for experiences such as cart and checkout to also become open for customization.

The technical infrastructure of BigCommerce for headless solutions revolves around its extensive set of APIs, including storefront, checkout, and catalog APIs. These empower developers to build and integrate front-end experiences while relying on BigCommerce’s robust backend for commerce operations. The platform’s microservices architecture further enhances scalability, ensuring optimal performance even as the business grows.

Benefits of Going Headless with BigCommerce

Choosing a headless approach with BigCommerce provides several benefits that have the potential to elevate the online retail experience. One notable advantage is the significant boost in site speed and performance. Search engines prioritize site performance as a crucial ranking metric, considering factors such as page loading speed and overall user experience. Fast-loading websites not only enhance user satisfaction but also align with search engines' emphasis on delivering high-quality, efficient results, influencing higher rankings in search results.

The comprehensive API coverage provided by BigCommerce empowers businesses with enhanced customization capabilities. From managing products to processing transactions, the extensive set of APIs cater to diverse needs, facilitating the creation of unique and tailored user interfaces. This flexibility fosters innovation and enables businesses to stay ahead of market trends.

Additionally, opting for a headless architecture with Bigcommerce grants the freedom to choose third-party content management systems (CMS) and front-end frameworks. This flexibility empowers businesses to select the tools that best align with their requirements and preferences, fostering a truly customizable and adaptable ecommerce ecosystem. 

Scalability and Security

Headless commerce with BigCommerce offers unparalleled scalability, which is a key advantage for businesses experiencing growth. Through the headless architecture, businesses can benefit from modular scalability, allowing them to adapt and expand without compromising performance. This ensures a seamless and responsive customer experience even during periods of increased demand.

BigCommerce employs industry-leading practices to safeguard data, providing businesses and their customers with a secure online environment. With regular updates, compliance adherence, and advanced security protocols, BigCommerce mitigates risks associated with cyber threats.

It's important for businesses leveraging the headless platform to understand that they are responsible for the hosting, security, and maintenance of the infrastructure.

Challenges and Considerations

While BigCommerce’s headless storefronts offer unparalleled flexibility, there are certain challenges and considerations that must be noted. First, managing multiple platforms and integrations can pose a challenge, as they require meticulous coordination to ensure seamless operations between the front-end and back-end. This complexity arise from the decoupling of these elements, which necessitates careful oversight to avoid integration mistakes.

The technology stack complexity that is required is another consideration. While empowering, the headless approach demands a sophisticated understanding of APIs and microservices. This means that businesses may find the need for developer assistance crucial to effectively navigate and optimize the intricacies of this architecture.

Additionally, cost is a significant factor, as headless setups are often associated with higher expenses, making them more suitable for enterprise-level businesses with substantial resources. The investment in development, maintenance, and integration can be sizable, potentially limiting the feasibility for smaller enterprises.

Introducing Catalyst: Composable Commerce, Components Included

BigCommerce introduced an exciting new product that revolutionizes the way headless commerce functions: Catalyst.

Bigcommerce Catalyst accelerates the process of developing a headless storefront because it includes the composable commerce components needed. This means that not only is the cost of developing a headless commerce website has decreased, but the time from development to market has as well. Catalyst lowers entry barriers for headless solutions and opens the door for mid-size and smaller businesses to experience the benefits of a headless commerce solution.

Here is an example of a BigCommerce Catalyst tech stack:

Example of BigCommerce Catalyst tech stack

Image source: BigCommerce 

Benefits of Adopting Catalyst for Your Business

There are many benefits that come with adopting Catalyst for your business, including an increase in agility, improvements to digital experience and user experience, and optimized API platform usage. With Catalyst, every storefront comes together with all the requisite parts to future-proof ecommerce experiences, and components can be freely exchanged as needed. Makeswift, a leading Next.js visual editor, was recently acquired by BigCommerce, and this further enhances the power of Catalyst for businesses.

Catalyst provides a higher jumping-off point for initial builds by providing reusable building blocks that accelerate the time to launch and allow businesses to continue innovating. The product provides an optimized developer experience by using the latest front-end technologies and tooling, which means faster launches and iterations, as well as easier maintenance. Additionally, it makes the user experience better across all touchpoints, including shoppers, marketing teams, and developers. Finally, Catalyst simplifies the process of following best practices for using BigCommerce APIs, which further enhances the scalability and performance of these sites.

Exploring Catalyst's Headless Architecture

Catalyst follows the same process of BigCommerce’s existing headless architecture. However, rather than starting from scratch in regards to the front-end of a site, developers will already have composable commerce components included at the beginning of the process. This allows for developers to be more efficient with their time when developing a headless website while still being able to benefit from the customization and flexibility of a headless structure, and with a reduced cost.

If your business is looking to adopt Catalyst and /or is new to headless commerce, contact us today to learn more about this exciting new product. You’ll be able to speak with our BigCommerce development experts to explore how this product may benefit your commerce website.

Americaneagle.com's Expertise and Support in BigCommerce Headless Solutions

As a BigCommerce development partner, Americaneagle.com has built numerous award-winning ecommerce websites across a variety of industries. We are an Elite Partner with a commitment to providing high-quality, intuitive websites for clients in both the B2B and B2C spaces. We have a dedicated team of BigCommerce experience who possesses deep technical and design expertise as well as provide consulting and post-launch support in order to ensure a seamless headless commerce experience.

If your business is looking to move your commerce site into the headless space, contact us today for a consultation or to speak with one of our BigCommerce experts to learn more.

About Author

Marina Kyriakopoulos
Marina Kyriakopoulos is one of Americaneagle.com’s Content Writers. She graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in Writing and Publishing. Throughout her time at Americaneagle.com, she has gained experience writing for a variety of industries and prides herself on creating content in an informative and engaging way. When not writing, Marina can be found browsing a local Barnes and Noble or watching the latest streaming series to break the internet.

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