Shopify is great – don’t think for a moment that we’re saying it’s not. As a tool for getting your e-commerce business off the ground and growing fast, it’s hard to beat. But there comes a point when your business has grown so successfully that it begins to outgrow the platform that got it where it is today.
That’s when you need to start thinking about a more scalable solution that will better suit your business needs as you continue to grow. The solution, we’ll argue, lies in headless ecommerce – but what is it, and how do you know when you need it?
Signs your business is hitting Shopify’s limitations
As your business grows, you might start noticing a few red flags that indicate you’re starting to outgrow your custom theme on Shopify. For example:
- Your site is slow – which impacts on your conversions
- Your platform is getting in the way of your team’s productivity, not empowering it
- Business and marketing efforts are often waiting on developers to make changes
- Your customers’ brand experience doesn’t match your brand quality
- You are reliant on third-party plugins and extensions for simple functions
- You can’t sell the way you want to sell
On top of this, there are probably other frustrations. Perhaps you’re finding you need more creative control – you want your store to be a closer reflection of your brand, but the Shopify theme is restrictive. Maybe you’re now selling on multiple channels, and you need a store that works perfectly on all of them, whether that’s mobile versus desktop or app versus web; a compromise that works on all is no longer good enough. Or perhaps performance and security are becoming more of a priority, and you need more control to be able to improve and tune these to your needs.
Overall, you probably get the feeling that you just need something more tailored – you want to be able to build a store that better suits your specific business needs and uses your time and resources efficiently.
You don’t need to get rid of Shopify
As you grow with Shopify, large parts of your business live within that system. It’s not just the front- end, but your customers, your orders, your inventory management and so on. Moving it all to another platform could mean not just massive amounts of work, but retraining for you and your staff as well. But there is a solution that means you can keep all that and still grow: go headless.
Headless means you can keep Shopify, hidden in the background, partnering it with a headless content management system and a headless front-end that can be perfectly adapted to every channel where you do business. And it’s not just a workaround: Shopify themselves know this solution works, so they came up with an answer of their own. They launched Hydrogen, a framework that allows Shopify merchants to move to headless whilst retaining Shopify behind the scenes. There are also great ways to connect Shopify with headless CMSes, such as Shopify Connect for Sanity.
Now, Hydrogen has great potential, but for the time being it’s still in its infancy – and it needs work. The good news is that it’s not the only solution, or necessarily the best for your situation, and there better options available right now. Our preference is to use Next.js as the front-end, but with the composable architecture of headless, it’s much easier to swap out elements, like Hydrogen for Next.js in the future.
We can build front- ends on Hydrogen, but we’re also using Next.js or Remix to build more advanced, customised stores for our clients. We work with a range of frameworks so that you end up with exceptional headless commerce that perfectly matches the project.
So, imagine your ecommerce site as it is now, but extended, made secure, sped up, made as beautiful as your brand and generally levelled up to deliver whatever you need your Shopify backend to be doing to continue your business growth. Something truly scalable that will grow with you in the years ahead. That’s what we could achieve with headless.
And by the way, if you’re reading this thinking ‘but I’m not on Shopify’, it’s worth noting that everything we do with Shopify we can also do with other backends, such as BigCommerce or Centra.