Headless Shopify: Pros and Cons

Headless Shopify is becoming more popular, is it time to switch?

After the release of Shopify Hydrogen and Oxygen we have seen a lot of hype around headless Shopify solutions. We feel the hype is absolutley deserved since this development gives a huge amount of customizability to developers and Shopify Plus partners to build custom experiences on top of Shopify. You might have noticed that quite a few Shopify shops look the same. This is due to the very popular themes and a lack of custmisation by developers and Shopify development teams. Building a headless solution requires a lot of additional wokr in getting started with ashop so this alos guides the devleopment work in to some more unique directions (good or bad depends a bit of how unique).

Okay so what is Headless Shopify? It means that instead of having a theme integrated into the Shopify theme architecture and functionality Shopify offers an APi instead. You then build a application (your storefront) that communicates with the API. Why would you use this technique? Below are a few positive aspects:


  • Hyper customizable. You can build anything.
  • Performant (if you have a really skilled development team)
  • Ease of integrations (such as external content management systems)

For very custom requirements headless might be the way to go but for now we still recommend the hosted theme approach to most of our customers. Some of the more negative aspects of a headless approach (as of the time of writing) are:


  • High maintenance (dependency hell is a thing)
  • Very time consuming to develop (if you don't do a super stripped down approach)
  • Requires specialized expertise from developers (great Javascript engineers are very rare)

Headless is the future but the tooling needs to mature before this can be recommended for medium sized projects.