The architecture of eCommerce platforms is a crucial aspect of running a business online, affecting many other areas of eCommerce operations. Two main options are available: monolith and headless approach. Choosing between these architectures can significantly impact scalability, flexibility, and the overall user experience.

In this blog, we’ll examine these two approaches closely and present how the choice of architecture determines a website’s capabilities. Is “going headless” really worth the hype, and should businesses move away from monolithic architecture? Let’s find out. 

Quick jump

What is a headless architecture?

The term ‘headless’ refers to separating the frontend (the “head”) from the backend (the “body”). This way, the two applications can work independently. However, despite being decoupled, they communicate with each other through the Application Programming Interface (API).

The headless application consists of at least two business applications (frontend and backend) that are responsible for handling different sets of tasks. The frontend primarily focuses on user interface and user experience, while the backend handles data management, business logic, etc. In other words, the frontend is part of an application that customers see and interact with, while the backend is an engine under the hood that processes data, executes business rules, and manages security and database operations.

Headless architecture is part of a bigger concept called composable commerce. This type of architecture allows companies to freely choose technologies that suit them best and create an eCommerce store that corresponds to their needs.

What is a monolith architecture?

The monolith architecture is a more traditional model of building websites, including online stores. In this case, the backend and frontend are tightly coupled, and user interface, business logic, and data access are integrated into a single platform. This approach simplifies initial development and deployment as all elements are developed and managed as one cohesive system, which can speed up processes and time to market. However, as the application scales, updates and maintenance can become challenging because changes to one area of the system can affect the entire platform, necessitating extensive testing and potential downtime.

That said, let’s examine the differences between both approaches to shed more light on this topic.

Why do companies decide on a headless solution?

As we briefly described the headless and monolith architecture, let’s proceed to the reasons why headless eCommerce become a way to go for many companies operating online.

Increased flexibility

Let’s begin with the most prominent benefit, which is flexibility. As mentioned earlier, eCommerce companies can select the best technologies and integrate them in a way that aligns with their specific business needs. Headless eCommerce decouples the backend functions from the frontend, allowing businesses to develop multiple specialized applications that operate within a single cohesive system through API interactions. This approach enables retailers to choose best-of-breed components of the eCommerce application and gives greater flexibility in how they deliver their digital experiences to customers. 

Omnichannel capabilities

With the headless approach, an online store can easily integrate various sales channels, such as mobile applications, social media platforms, and websites, into a cohesive shopping experience. This means customers can begin shopping on one channel and seamlessly transition to another, maintaining a consistent experience throughout the process. 

On the technical side, the headless approach allows for faster deployment and iteration on specific platforms, enabling businesses to adapt to new market trends and consumer preferences quickly. For example, content publication in a headless system is quicker than in traditional monolithic systems as it allows for the distribution of content across multiple channels simultaneously through a headless CMS. Since the backend is decoupled from the frontend, it enhances scalability and performance across multiple channels, handling high traffic and complex transactions more efficiently.

User experience

Headless eCommerce stores often combine reactive technologies like Vue.js or React.js to create highly responsive user interfaces and single-page applications (SPA). Reactive technologies often lead to better performance on client devices, as they efficiently update the smallest components of the user interface that need to change in response to user actions or events without reloading entire pages. For instance, a customer can smoothly browse different product catalogs and read product details without the page being refreshed after each mouse click. In the case of monolith architecture, the Twig engine is not reactive, and it requires much more work to implement some dynamic elements and imitate the “app-like” experience. 

What’s more, if the backend stops working for a moment, the frontend can still display the information about the error with a note saying, “We’ll be back soon, sorry for the inconvenience” or “Give us a little more time as we are experiencing increased traffic” and still load the rest of the website when the backend is up again. In such a situation, the monolith-based store would load infinitely or crash, as the frontend cannot work independently.

Headless applications are often coupled with reactive technologies, so they do not require reloading the page while interacting with customers. Due to this fact, it is easier to develop a responsive website and Progressive Web Application (PWA) that works perfectly on any device, such as a smartphone or tablet.


Moving on, the maintenance of a headless eCommerce platform is also, in many ways, simplified in comparison to a monolithic one. The third-party applications can be integrated with the frontend or backend without disrupting the whole tech stack. In the scenario where one application suddenly shuts down, the others are still working, and the eCommerce store is still up. For instance, the Content Management System (CMS) stops working, but the customer can still finish the purchasing process at checkout, or when a search engine functionality fails, the customer can still browse and add products to the cart.

In a monolithic architecture, when any component fails, the whole website can shut down, and the customer cannot finish the purchase or take any other action.

Thanks to the separation of the backend and frontend, critical eCommerce processes like payment processing, inventory management, or shipping can be managed separately without impacting the whole tech stack. Furthermore, some SaaS solutions that can be integrated with the website are automated and don’t require much interference. 


Last but not least, headless architecture is excellent for scaling and growing an online business over time. Third-party applications can be replaced or extended at any moment, and the user experience can be continuously optimized without disrupting the backend services. This flexibility ensures businesses adapt quickly to changing market demands and user preferences.

As mentioned above, any changes within the monolithic platform may impose risks to the whole application. As the backend and frontend are tightly coupled, one mistake can cause a system failure. The monolithic architecture can be compared to stacking blocks on top of each other – as the application grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to add or remove blocks.

The headless approach, in turn, reduces technical debt to a minimum, allowing developers to focus on optimizing each part of the system independently as the online store grows, even if it means replacing it with another one.

When is the monolith website a better solution?

Despite many advantages of a headless approach, the monolith solution also has its use cases. It’s important to point out that going for a headless solution increases the cost of an eCommerce project by 20% minimum, as the headless website requires developers to create many functionalities from scratch. Also, such a project requires more experienced developers to work both on the backend and frontend. For example, the promotional offers on the website that customers see can take days or weeks for developers to code what, when, and how they appear on the website. With the headless website, we have to take care of two applications (frontend and backend) instead of one, and the final cost depends on the project’s complexity. For this reason, a monolithic website may prove to be a more cost-effective solution.

Additionally, the time when the eCommerce store will be ready can be a crucial factor for many companies. The monolith website requires less work to be finished and operated, which can be vital for companies that need the website to go live as soon as possible.

Last but not least, the monolithic approach is perfectly fine for companies with basic eCommerce needs that do not require a high level of scalability, customization, and user experience. Even if a company decides on a monolithic eCommerce store, it can be transformed into a headless website as the business grows. 

Is Sylius headless or a monolith platform?

Sylius’s mission is to be an eCommerce framework rather than an out-of-the-box solution. Therefore, it can be used to create monolithic or headless eCommerce websites. Its architecture is flexible and allows developers to create either monolithic or modular eCommerce stores according to business requirements. 

Nonetheless, Sylius is a tailor-made solution that works best for complex, customized eCommerce projects where there is a need for personalized experiences and multi-everything (multi-channel, multi-currency, etc.). For basic eCommerce stores that are just starting their eCommerce journey or do not require some advanced functionalities, there are simpler out-of-the-box alternatives on the market.


As shown above, headless architecture gained popularity not without reason. Its flexibility and customization capabilities allow developers to create advanced, tailor-made eCommerce websites without negatively impacting their performance. However, monolith solutions still hold significant value for certain scenarios. Their integrated structure offers simplicity and ease of deployment, which can be especially beneficial for smaller businesses or those with less complex requirements. Also, they are more budget-friendly, which is a crucial factor for most smaller companies. 

If you are unsure whether to choose a monolithic or headless approach, feel free to contact us to determine what’s best for your business. 

Let’s talk about your eCommerce!