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Introduction to Headless Commerce

This is the first article in a comprehensive developer’s guide to using BigCommerce as a commerce backend for headless storefronts. If you are not familiar with headless commerce as a concept, start by reviewing our whitepaper, A New Era of Ecommerce: Headless Commerce, or the Help Center’s Headless Commerce Guide.

Ways to implement headless commerce

If you are looking to build a headless storefront powered by a BigCommerce backend without starting from scratch, BigCommerce offers multiple starter apps and pre-built solutions to choose from. For headless storefront solutions and tools, see Headless Integrations.

If you need to build a custom solution, BigCommerce has APIs and SDKs available to support your headless architecture. For specific use cases, see the following sections of the guide:

Sample integration

In the diagram below, the storefront is where the shopper interacts with products through a UI. With headless commerce, the storefront can be a CMS or an app. The application makes API calls to BigCommerce to perform specific actions and return data either to display to the shopper or to pass it along to another system. BigCommerce is creating the order and processing payments, so you don’t need to worry about building the infrastructure.

Sample Headless Integration

Entity Description
Storefront The front end presentation layer where a shopper interacts with products. In a headless architecture, the storefront might be a CMS, native mobile app, kiosk, static site, or any other front end solution you can imagine. The BigCommerce WordPress plugin is built using an existing CMS and injecting a stores catalog. Any CMS that accepts custom integrations can be used. Another option is to build a storefront from scratch using a framework such as Gatsby.
Application Solution built by a developer to control the requests and responses from the BigCommerce APIs. In addition to handling essential ecommerce tasks like requesting product information or sending the request to process a payment, the application layer can also handle the logic for custom functionality, like presenting discount codes based on a shopper’s history or pre-filling details on the checkout page.
BigCommerce BigCommerce will respond to the application with the requested data to power the backend ecommerce functionality. It can handle processing payments, storing customer data, retrieving the catalog and order information.

Next steps