Magento 2E-CommerceAugust 15, 2023

Headless Magento: Everything You Need to Know

Headless Magento: Everything You Need to Know
Headless Magento implies that the frontend and backend of a Magento website are separated and apply REST or GraphQL APIs to communicate. Today, going headless is almost a necessity for online stores. According to Vue Storefront, 80% of businesses that don't yet have headless architecture plan to implement it in the following two years. The headless approach ensures better speed, good UX/UI on any device, better conversions, and more. The article gives a detailed overview of what is headless Magento 2, how it works, what benefits it offers to store owners, and how to make a store headless.

Monolithic Vs. Headless Magento

To understand whether you need to turn to Magento development and customization services, you should get the key differences between monolithic and headless Magento:

1. Architecture

Monolithic Magento: In a monolithic architecture, the frontend (what the user sees) and the backend (where data is processed and stored) are tightly coupled together. This means that both layers are part of a single codebase and often run on the same server. Headless Magento: In a headless setup, the frontend is decoupled from the backend. The backend becomes a service (often called a "head"), and the frontend consumes this service. They communicate using APIs, usually RESTful or GraphQL.

2. Frontend Flexibility

Monolithic Magento: The frontend is closely tied to Magento's built-in templating and theming system. This might restrict the use of newer frontend technologies and methodologies. Headless Magento:Since the frontend is decoupled, developers can use any modern technology stack, such as React, Vue.js, or Angular, to build the frontend, giving them more flexibility and allowing for innovative user experiences. For example, hiring a Vue.js developer can benefit your company with dynamic, responsive interfaces, enhancing user engagement and conversions.

3. Performance

Monolithic Magento: Since everything runs as a single unit, there might be overheads and potential bottlenecks, especially during high-traffic situations. Headless Magento: The decoupled nature allows for each component (frontend and backend) to be scaled separately, potentially leading to better performance and responsiveness.

4. Development and Deployment

Monolithic Magento: Changes in the system, whether in the backend or frontend, often require deploying the entire application again. This can lead to longer development cycles and potential downtimes. Headless Magento: The frontend and backend can be developed, tested, and launched independently. This allows for faster iterations and more continuous deployment practices.

Headless Magento 2 Benefits

Despite some initial expenditures and effort investments, a headless Magento 2 store offers more advantages than a conventional all-in-one monolith design in the long run. We've already outlined some benefits before, yet there're more. Let's have a closer look at them.

1. Great Omnichannel Experience

A conventional Magento backend cannot support more than one frontend. You will need to create a new content delivery architecture from the start each time you want to offer content to more touchpoints. On the other hand, headless Magento gives you complete freedom to install as many frontends as you require. It also expands the possibilities for unconventional gadgets like the Apple Watch and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. A headless CMS's best feature is content unification. Traditionally, uploading content to your browser site, mobile applications, and other devices requires using several admin dashboards. All displays are connected to the Magento CMS via the headless method.

2. Better Speed

Frontends and backends become more lightweight as they are separated, which allows them to load more quickly. Developers could find enhancing speed for a headless Magento site simpler because customization is more flexible. Additionally, companies frequently replace the outdated frontend with progressive web apps. These employ a technology known as Service Worker to store data directly on your device, speeding up web pages even further.

3. More Flexible Customization

Customizing and maintaining an open-source platform like Magento takes a lot of code. A careless modification can produce errors and defects. It is simpler to make changes to the frontend without impacting the backend or vice versa after the backend has been decoupled from the frontend. Coders don't have to worry about the workings of the backend in order to add something to the frontend.

4. Personalization Possibilities

Although Magento has a drag-and-drop page builder, you can't use it to change every aspect of the display layer. You'll probably need to create a unique theme for a comprehensive redesign. The creation of a custom theme is a challenging task that necessitates in-depth familiarity with Magento's inner workings. With headless architecture, you have complete control over the frontend and may tailor content to user preferences. With APIs, you could interact with external services, such as a headless CMS, and then fetch and deliver dynamic, customized content on the frontend.

5. Conversion Optimization

The headless content management system enables you to comprehend conversion optimization better. You may test out a backend search solution without altering the frontend search. It also enables you to conduct continuous testing and optimization cycles to understand the clients better. Customers enjoy personalized attention, excellent products, and basically any additional benefits.

6. Increased Scalability

Introducing new functions or changing current features in monolithic applications is challenging since doing so runs the risk of causing system instability or performance problems. Scaling your store can also become extremely difficult if operational complexity grows. In a headless design, the separated frontend and backend may be scaled separately. You can modify a few components of the program without impacting others.

How to Go Headless with Magento 2?

Going headless is not exactly an easy task, and you may need the assistance of expert Magento 2 developers. Anyway, you have a choice between three ways with different levels of complexity.

1. PWA

The first approach is building a progressive web app (PWA) for your store. Web apps, known as PWAs, function and react just like mobile applications. They can even function offline and load quickly, providing a consistent user experience across platforms. This solution is probably the easiest for implementation, as Adobe offers a PWA Studio that you can use to build a PWA frontend for your headless Magento backend. Yet, to work with PWA studio, you'll require engineers with React.js knowledge.

2. Headless Framework

This strategy involves leveraging one of the frontend technologies to create a personalized storefront. Then, you need to link it to the headless Magento/Adobe backend with APIs. This approach allows you to create a frontend that accurately reflects your brand identity. Though keep in mind that to construct and maintain the frontend code, you will need skilled developers.

3. Headless CMS

A headless content management system (CMS) features a management interface for content and a RESTful or GraphQL API for content delivery to any location. A headless content management system, as opposed to a typical CMS, may provide your content to any interface you use.

5 Examples of Headless Magento 2 Websites

Here are some bright examples of excellent Magento 2 headless online stores that may inspire you:

1. Bodum

Bodum concentrates on developing and selling dinnerware, culinary equipment, as well as tea and coffee makers. Bodum used to experience poor mobile conversion rates. Smartphone conversion rates were twice as low as desktop ones. A progressive web app (PWA) was created from scratch to offer a seamless shopping experience on smartphones, tablets, and computers. As a result, mobile conversions increased by 50%, and the bounce rate on mobile dropped by 20%. [caption id="attachment_3963" align="aligncenter" width="1903"]Bodum
Screenshot taken on the official Bodum website

2. Bright Star Kids

A family-run company in Australia called Bright Star Kids creates customizable products for kids. Clients initially encountered a laggy, bug-ridden website that was simply squished on smartphones. Following the switch to Magento 2, a PWA was implemented. Better website stability and speed were ensured by these enhancements. In addition, it opened the door for additional features development and UI/UX modernization. [caption id="attachment_3964" align="aligncenter" width="1914"]bright star kids
Screenshots taken on the official Bright Star Kids website

3. GSM55

With more than 1 million consumers, GSM55 is one of the most popular mobile accessory retailers in France. A progressive web app (PWA) was developed, and a complete website redesign was carried out to address a serious lag in mobile conversions. After the adjustments were made, conversions as a whole rose by 30%. Additionally, the mobile bounce rate decreased by 25%. [caption id="attachment_3965" align="aligncenter" width="1914"]GSM55
Screenshots taken on the official GSM55 website

4. Overneed

Greek online retailer Overneed offers a variety of products for an active lifestyle, including bicycles, motorbikes, vehicle accessories and replacement parts, travel gear, different household items, and so on. Two significant advantages came from converting a conventional Magento shop into a progressive web app (PWA): perfect UI/UX across devices and a 30–40% increase in website speed even before performance improvements. [caption id="attachment_3966" align="aligncenter" width="1898"]Overneed
Screenshot taken on the official Overneed website

5. Bliss

An Irish internet retailer called Bliss offers a variety of high-quality cosmetics products. The store's desktop version was out of date, and there was no mobile version. Users with smartphones saw a prototype of the desktop version that was drastically scaled down. To navigate, customers needed to zoom in and out on the pages. By using the Magento PWA theme as a basis, it was possible to improve both the design and loading performance. [caption id="attachment_3967" align="aligncenter" width="1914"]bliss
Screenshots taken on the official Bliss website

Final Word

As you can see from the examples provided above, headless architecture opens many doors for further Magento 2 store development. Yet remember that there are some limitations and drawbacks to consider, like longer rollout times, more development efforts, and money. According to Commercetools' 2022 commerce innovation report, 68% of business decision-makers say bringing new commerce solutions to the market takes three months or longer. Anyway, we consider these troubles and complications worth the wonderful results headless architecture helps to achieve.