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The Ultimate Guide to Headless Salesforce Commerce Cloud

How does headless Salesforce Commerce Cloud work? From the pros and cons to the varying degrees of headlessness, our guide covers everything you need to know.


Salesforce Commerce Cloud can be utilized within a headless commerce architecture to provide back-end eCommerce functionality while allowing for flexibility and customization in the front-end presentation layer. Salesforce Commerce Cloud headless commerce capabilities include back-end eCommerce functionality, API services, front-end flexibility, integration capabilities with third-party systems, and personalization and omnichannel support.

Let’s explore headless commerce and how Salesforce Commerce Cloud can support organizations that are looking to explore Salesforce cloud tools and create a headless digital storefront.

What is Headless Commerce?

Headless commerce is an approach in B2B commerce architecture where the front-end presentation layer, or the “head,” is decoupled from the backend eCommerce functionality. In a traditional eCommerce setup, the front and back-end are tightly integrated, meaning the presentation layer (website or app interface) and the underlying eCommerce platform are closely connected.

With a headless approach, this connection is severed, allowing businesses to use separate systems for the front and back-end communicating via headless APIs, or Application Programming Interfaces. This decoupling provides several benefits, including:

  • Flexibility: Businesses can use different technologies and frameworks for their front-end presentation layer without being constrained by the limitations of their eCommerce platform. This allows for greater flexibility in design and user experience.
  • Scalability: Headless architecture allows for easier scalability since changes or updates to the front-end can be made independently of the back-end. This enables businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands and customer preferences.
  • Customization: Having a headless solution allows businesses to have more freedom to customize both the presentation layer and have customized digital storefronts according to their specific needs and requirements. This can lead to a more tailored and unique shopping experience for customers.
  • Integration: Having commerce APIs makes it easier to integrate with other systems and third-party services, such as content management systems (CMS), marketing automation platforms, or analytics tools, since the communication between different components is done through the APIs.
  • Future-proofing: By separating the front end from the back-end, businesses can future-proof their eCommerce infrastructure, as they can easily adapt to emerging technologies and trends without overhauling their entire system.

Headless Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers greater customization and options, enabling businesses to deliver more innovative and seamless shopping experiences to their customers.

Degrees of Headlessness

With headless commerce, there isn’t just one way to build progressive web app technology in the front-end while scaling updates and changes in the back-end. The degree of “headlessness” refers to the separation between the presentation layer and the eCommerce functionality. There are different degrees of headlessness, ranging from fully headless to partially headless architectures:

Fully Headless Commerce

In this version of headless eCommerce, the front-end presentation layer is completely decoupled from the back-end eCommerce functionality. This means that the eCommerce platform provides no predefined user interface. Instead, businesses have full control over designing and building the front end using any technology or framework they choose. API services are used to facilitate communication between the front-end and back-end systems, enabling seamless integration and data exchange.

Partially Headless Commerce

In a partially headless architecture, some components of the front-end may still be provided by the eCommerce platform, while others are decoupled. For example, the eCommerce platform may offer pre-built templates or widgets for certain parts of the user interface, such as product listings or checkout processes, while allowing businesses to customize other parts independently. APIs are still used to connect the front and back ends, but there may be some limitations on customization and business needs compared to a fully headless approach.

Headless CMS with Commerce Integration

Some headless commerce setups utilize a headless Content Management System (CMS) for managing content and a separate eCommerce platform for handling transactions and order management. In this setup, the CMS is responsible for delivering content to various channels, such as websites, native mobile apps, or Internet of Things (IoT) devices, while the eCommerce platform handles the back end functionality related to product catalog management, pricing, and checkout processes. APIs are used to integrate the CMS and eCommerce platform, allowing for seamless content and commerce experiences.

Headless Commerce with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

Progressive Web Apps are web applications that leverage modern web technologies to deliver app-like experiences to users across different devices and platforms. In a headless commerce architecture with PWAs, the front end presentation layer is built as a PWA, providing a fast, responsive, and engaging user experience. APIs are used to connect the PWA with the back-end eCommerce functionality, enabling real-time data updates and interactions.

These different degrees of headlessness offer businesses varying levels of flexibility, customization, and control over their B2B commerce experiences, allowing them to choose the approach that best suits their needs and objectives.

The Pros and Cons of Salesforce Headless Commerce

Salesforce Commerce Cloud, when utilized in a headless commerce architecture, offers several advantages and disadvantages for companies looking to customize and scale their own storefront while also keeping up with the demands of today’s modern B2B commerce space:


  • Powerful Back-End Functionality: Commerce Cloud provides comprehensive support such as product catalog management, inventory management, order processing, and payment processing. Leveraging these capabilities in a headless architecture allows businesses to focus on developing innovative front-end experiences without sacrificing core eCommerce functionalities.
  • Scalability and Reliability: SFCC is built on trustworthy cloud infrastructure, allowing businesses to handle high volumes of traffic, scale their operations as needed, and ensure uptime and performance. This scalability is particularly beneficial in headless architectures where the front and back-end systems must communicate seamlessly and handle fluctuating demands.
  • Integration with Other Salesforce Products: As part of the broader Salesforce ecosystem, Commerce Cloud integrates seamlessly with other Salesforce products, such as Salesforce CRM, Marketing Cloud, and Service Cloud. This enables businesses to leverage customer data, marketing insights, and customer service capabilities across their eCommerce operations, providing a unified and personalized shopping experience.
  • API-Based Communication: SFCC offers APIs that simplify end-to-end communication. This API-based approach allows for flexibility and interoperability, making it easier to integrate with other systems, third-party services, and custom applications.


Complexity of Implementation: Implementing SFCC in a headless architecture can be complex and require specialized expertise. Businesses may need to invest time and resources in understanding the platform’s capabilities, designing the architecture, and developing custom integrations to ensure seamless communication between systems.

While operating with API middleware to manage API calls to eCommerce and other authentication services may seem like a constraint for some businesses, TradeCentric can streamline the integration process. 

  • Customization Limitations: While Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers many customization options, businesses may encounter limitations in certain areas, particularly in highly specialized or unique requirements. Customizing the platform to meet specific business needs may require additional development effort and customization, potentially increasing project costs and timelines.
  • Dependency on Vendor: Choosing Salesforce Commerce Cloud as the back-end eCommerce platform means businesses are dependent on Salesforce for ongoing support, updates, and maintenance. This dependency may limit flexibility and control over the eCommerce system, particularly if businesses encounter issues or require customizations not supported by the platform.
  • Cost Considerations: SFCC is a premium eCommerce platform, and licensing costs can be significant, especially for smaller businesses or startups. Additionally, implementing and maintaining a headless architecture with Salesforce Commerce Cloud may involve additional costs for development, integration, and ongoing support.

Businesses considering a headless commerce approach with Salesforce should carefully weigh the pros and cons to determine if it aligns with their objectives, budget, and technical requirements.

Examples of Headless Salesforce Stores

Multiple types of companies can experience the benefits of Salesforce commerce cloud headless architecture, including but not limited to:

Apparel Retailer with Custom Mobile App

A clothing retailer could use Salesforce headless commerce as the back-end eCommerce platform while developing a custom mobile app using a headless approach. Utilizing Salesforce’s APIs to integrate the mobile app with Commerce Cloud could create a user-friendly experience with product browsing, ordering, and payment processing directly within the app.

Global Electronics Brand With Multi-Channel Presence

An electronics manufacturer with a global presence might implement this approach as the central eCommerce hub for its regional websites, mobile apps, and in-store kiosks. Each front-end interface could be developed independently using different technologies or frameworks while leveraging Commerce Cloud’s APIs for back-end functionality such as inventory management and order processing.

Subscription Box Service with Personalized Experiences

A subscription box service could utilize SFCC to manage its subscription offerings and customer accounts while delivering personalized experiences through its website and marketing channels. Implementing a headless architecture could develop a highly interactive and engaging user interface that also showcases personalized product recommendations and subscription options based on customer preferences and behaviors.

Healthcare Supplier with B2B and B2C Channels

A healthcare supplier selling medical equipment and supplies could power its B2B and B2C eCommerce channels with SFCC. The supplier could implement a headless approach to develop separate front end interfaces customized to the needs of healthcare professionals and individual consumers while leveraging Commerce Cloud’s back end capabilities for managing product catalogs, pricing, and order fulfillment.

There are many other scenarios where companies of all sizes could leverage SFCC, but these examples illustrate how various industries can leverage this approach to deliver simple, bespoke shopping experiences across different channels and touchpoints.

Headless Salesforce Composable Storefront Features and Tools

Composable commerce emphasizes using modular components that can be independently developed, deployed, and integrated. Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a range of features and tools that can be leveraged in this setup to build a composable storefront:

Commerce APIs: A set of APIs that allow developers to access and interact with various eCommerce functionalities, including product catalog management, inventory management, pricing, promotions, and checkout processes.

  • Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA): SFRA is a set of pre-built, customizable templates and components that provide a foundation for building responsive and feature-rich eCommerce storefronts. While storefront reference architecture is designed for traditional web storefronts, its modular structure and flexibility make it well-suited for adapting to composable commerce.
  • Storefront SDK (Software Development Kit): SFCC offers a Storefront SDK that provides tools, libraries, and best practices for building custom end-user experiences. The SDK includes JavaScript libraries for interacting with Commerce Cloud APIs, as well as utilities for managing session data, handling authentication, and implementing common eCommerce features.
  • Page Designer: Commerce Cloud’s Page Designer tool allows business users to create and customize digital shopping experiences without requiring coding knowledge. While Page Designer is primarily designed for use with traditional web storefronts, its content blocks and layout editor can potentially be leveraged in a headless architecture for managing content and layouts across different channels.
  • Einstein Personalization: Salesforce Commerce Cloud integrates with Einstein, Salesforce’s AI-powered personalization engine, to deliver tailored product recommendations, content, and marketing messages to individual shoppers. Einstein’s predictive analytics capabilities can be leveraged in a headless setup to deliver personalized experiences across various touchpoints and channels.
  • Third-party Integrations: Salesforce Commerce Cloud supports integrations with a wide range of third-party services and systems, including CMS, marketing automation platforms, analytics tools, payment gateways, and CRM systems. These integrations enable businesses to extend the capabilities of their Salesforce composable storefront and create seamless omnichannel experiences.

Commerce Cloud provides the foundation for a Salesforce composable storefront, and businesses may also leverage additional tools, frameworks, and technologies to implement specific features and customizations tailored to their unique requirements and objectives.

How TradeCentric can help with Headless Salesforce Commerce Cloud

headless salesforce commerce cloud and TradeCentric

Today’s fast-paced digital landscape demands user experiences that are fast, easy, and tailored to the customer’s needs. Having a Salesforce composable storefront is more than just a technological trend; it’s a way to conduct commerce so companies stay ahead in the competitive market. 

Modern eCommerce companies outsource PunchOut to be seamlessly connected with headless commerce solutions through TradeCentric. This allows businesses to tailor their integration to their specific needs and preferences.

Whether your concerns revolve around enabling PunchOut or integrating API middleware in headless commerce solutions, TradeCentric’s innovative approach ensures a smooth, efficient, and tailored integration process.

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