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Headless Shopify Plus Overview

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Headless CMS

Shopify Plus

Headless Shopify Plus Overview

Looking to adopt a headless architecture for your Shopify eCommerce site? Here’s a beginners guid to headless Shopify Plus

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According to AquireConvert, Shopify, is the second most popular ecommerce platform, second only to WooCommerce and has a 23 percent market share in the US. It has merchants in over hundred and 75 countries there are total sales through the platform of around $500 billion. Shopify Plus is the enterprise version, aimed at e-commerce businesses who want to take online to the next level. It’s growing rapidly with over 5000 new stores adopting it each year and over 25,000 live stores running it.

It has been one of the go-to solutions for mid to large companies. However, times are changing with the rapid influx of new development technologies, such as headless commerce. With this, Shopify is moving towards audiences such as (developers and businesses) looking to utilize the solution in a headless format with the development of their own front-end framework, Hydrogen (although you should still review other front end solutions such as Next, Nuxt, Gatsby and Vue storefront and a few more).

What Is headless Shopify Plus?

Shopify is built using Ruby on Rails,  a mature and stable development framework designed to separate database management, front-end rendering, and business logic. Shopify Plus is a more powerful version of standard Shopify with all the core dashboards and features, such as inventory management and payment processing. It’s a more advanced solution for businesses looking to integrate features, such as shipping fulfilment and omnichannel sales tracking and analysis.

A Headlessheadless Shopify architecture separates your site’s front-end from the backend, enabling developers to use front-end technologies, such as Hydrogen, Next.js, Nuxt.js, Vuestorefront or Gatsby, and integrate the front and backends using powerful using APIs. There is also the potential to use the latest headless CMS options such as Sanity, Contentful or Prismic to get amazing solutions utilizing the best in the market at every stage.

As, Shopify Plus lacks some functionality, provided by an enterprise content management system. A headless architecture combining Shopify, headless CMS (such as Sanity, Prismic or Contentful) and a React or Vue based front-end  fills these gaps and helps developers connect to the best backend solutions in the market with an exceptional front-end to produce amazing customer experience.

In other words, with headless Shopify Plus, you can optimize several aspects of eCommerce development and your customer’s shopping experience, from design to speed, multi-channel access, customization, analytics, and backend customization. So a solution such as Shopify Plus with Sanity.io and a Next.js front end will give you the tools to manage and present your business in the best possible way.

What You Can Get By Going Headless with Shopify Plus

Separation of Concerns

Without getting overly complex, separation of concerns means you have distinct parts of your solution focusing solely on one thing, and one thing they excel at. In a headless commerce solution, Shopify Plus can focus on just its strenghts, rather than in its monolithic form, all three (commerce, CMS & front-end). So Shopify Plus focuses on ecommerce, you can add front-end technology such as Next, Nuxt or Hydrogen, and add exceptional CMSs like Sanity,Prismic, or Contentful.

Leverage a Succinct Architecture

One of the most important benefits Headless Shopify Plus or any Headless solution offers is separating the customer experience (front-end) from the backend configurations. This enables developers to make any changes or updates without disrupting the frontend. Moreover, it increases their independence and flexibility.  

The only drawback of Shopify Plus is that it doesn’t offer a solid CMS, which is where the Headless architecture comes in to help developers integrate the best CMS solutions in the market to optimize the platform’s fantastic eCommerce experience. 

More Customization

One of the main reasons regular Shopify users switch to Shopify Plus is to remove constraints and restrictions when it comes to customization and enable more creative control, as well as a solution that fits the needs of today’s enterprise commerce retailers.

Headless Shopify Plus takes this further by enabling developers to enjoy even more design freedom and flexibility. Businesses can benefit from advanced Shopify Plus features including:

  • Edit and create scripts - with Shopify Plus can create scripts for a number of different store aspects.
  • Enhanced analytics - with Shopify Plus, shall provide plus you can integrate advanced analytics producing better data, the better decisions.
  • Internationalisation is easier with Shopify Plus which include things such as automatic price consistency.

Fast development through great frameworks and CMS providers

With headless Shopify Plus, solutions don’t have to take a long time to develop. If you already use Shopify Plus, you can use the storefront API to produce a headless solution. There is also Hydrogen, Shopify’s React-based headless Commerce framework, which should enable you through its relationship to Shopify to build a digital storefront faster (although we would strongly recommend reviewing other front-end technologies such as Next and Nuxt).

Technology flexibility

There are also advantages of having separation of the three aspects. This allows you to change one, such as front-end, without the need to change the other two. In a market that is changing rapidly, with new front-end technologies developing at speed, this enables you to stay at the cutting-edge. We also never quite know what Google will do next and have the flexibility to adapt as different ranking factors become important is essential.

Accelerated performance

You can improve your site’s loading speed and other Core Web Vitals factors. With a headless framework, you don't carry as much weight from the back-end into the presentation layer, in this case your website and when speed affects conversion rates, it's too important not to have at the top of your priority list.

Improved Agility

Technology is rapidly evolving in the post-pandemic digital age. In the digital landscape, we’re seeing massive shifts in web design and UX trends every year. Thus, businesses must keep pace with the developments to remain competitive and profitable. A Headless Shopify site is a great way to do that, as it keeps developers on the edge of digital discovery.

More flexibility in design and UX

With a front-end decoupled from the back-end, there are less constraints freeing up designers and developers to produce enhanced solutions focused on exceptional user experience.

Multi-Language Support

With Shopify Plus, businesses can create 12 different stores and customize the language for each in the backend to deploy a multilingual sales plan and serve more markets worldwide. However, this can lead to several problems, such as increased content management load, duplicate subscriptions, and decentralized customer information.

Moreover, creating multilingual stores using Shopify Plus requires extensive coding knowledge to unify all information. That’s too much work to make up for the platform’s lack of multi-language translation capabilities and CMS modeling.

Headless Shopify Plus offers a better solution that enables businesses to support multiple languages without affecting the overall site speed and performance. It allows developers to integrate a powerful CMS, such as Prismic, Contentful or Sanity, to handle all content translations, including images, videos, and animations.

Important consideration – when not to go headless

Although headless Shopify Plus is a powerful solution for businesses, it’s not for everyone. Adopting this framework involves factoring in several considerations and trade-offs, such as:

1. Complexity

You might need to maintain multiple technologies and platforms by opting for headless Shopify Plus. So, unless you have the expertise and capacity to carry out this endeavour (and the desire to change), you should stick to regular Shopify. You have to be prepared to find cost-effective solutions for areas such as front-end management. 

2. Loss of Some Functionality

By taking the headless route, you won’t be able to head use the Spotify App library functionlity, there’ll be no WYSIWYG theme editor. Although some established apps can be installed via API-based development, many apps don’t support API integration. 

3. Development and Maintenance Costs

Most aspect of adopting headless Shopify Plus involves a greater cost, whether it’s hosting, designing, development, deployment, security, or maintenance. Therefore, it may not be a suitable solution for start-ups and small businesses , although with our approach we can offer a much more cost-effective solution than most other agencies.

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