The Best Headless Shopify Examples For Inspiration (Updating)
Mar 02, 2024
By Gus Nguyen13 mins read
The Best Headless Shopify Examples For Inspiration (Updating)

I. Shopify, Without Headless

We all know and love Shopify.

Over the relentless march of time (the one concept even the best DTC brands cannot make a quick sale of), Shopify has proved itself not just capable of survival - the competition between eCommerce platforms has always been tough - but a master of evolution, a sort of eCommerce Darwin’s dream, deftly adapting to the ever-shifting desires and needs of their eCommerce merchants.

However, Shopify has its limitations, which is in the name of Liquid.

Shopify Liquid, despite being the current backbone of all Shopify websites, has some major drawbacks and limitations.

1.1. Vendor lock-in risk

Liquid theme binds your code to Shopify - so if you want to migrate to a different system, good luck.

The liquid is (seemingly) built under the assumption that companies won’t evolve because it makes the e-commerce platform the hub around which the whole apparatus of success spins. When brands have to change their platform, the entire system might go to waste - translating into the loss of resources: thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain.

1.2. Customization with Liquid in the background takes a toll on developers

The available options with Liquid are severely limited, whereas installing apps may incur additional fees and hamper performance. You can use additional app scripts, but they can conflict with your theme code, which results in even more redundant and non-reusable code. Any developer with a DRY mindset (don’t repeat yourself) would hate it.

1.3. The need for better performance optimization.

The liquid is a backend template language used for static content generation, therefore if you want to make a website more interactive and responsive, you have to use an additional 3rd script, and this guarantees to put a brake on your site’s loading speed.

The most fundamental drawback is that Liquid is a template language. A template language is always a tough nut to crack. Custom databases and complex logic become more formidable to implement. I remember reading this somewhere on Shopify Reddit - which perfectly captures the biggest drawback of Liquid:

“Liquid theme restricts you to how and what you can develop. Do you want to create a single-page application? No. Perhaps a progressive web application? No. Is it possible to unit-test your markup? Again, no! Even custom URLs are not an option.”

The engineering wizards at Shopify were acutely aware of these drawbacks - they must have been because they did come up with a plan, a brilliant one at that: Shopify Hydrogen

II. Shopify, After Headless, With Hydrogen

Shopify Hydrogen is a new programming language specifically designed to improve the performance and scalability of Shopify stores. With Hydrogen, developers, and merchants can build headless storefronts the way they dream of.

Hydrogen is intended to be a replacement for Liquid - and Shopify is pushing for it with vigor. They acquired the community-favorite RemixJS and planned to use it to enhance Hydrogen’s stability and performance. They brought it to market with ferocity and convinced even the biggest Consumer brands - like Allbirds, Tommy Hilfiger, or ButcherBox - to adopt it.

With the Remix team at Shopify, developers building on Shopify will benefit from new tools that they will love, and merchants will see custom storefronts that are faster than ever with an improved Hydrogen product. The Remix open-source community will have a strong sponsor and supporter they can trust to enable the framework to accelerate its roadmap, with the knowledge that they can bet on the framework for the long run. While Hydrogen is focused on commerce, Remix is focused lower in the stack, and will continue to be a general web solution that scales from content through commerce and all the way to apps. Shopify will use Remix across many projects where it makes sense, and you can expect to see more of our developer platform with first-class Remix support over time.

The possibilities with Hydrogen are abundant:

  • Developers can create fully custom websites with access to the controllers and models, making complex logic and third-party service requests possible. Hydrogen also does not tightly couple code to the Shopify platform, meaning businesses can change platforms without having to start from scratch.

  • Better Flexibility: Hydrogen enables developers to create a single-page application, a progressive web application, and to unit-test their code. It also supports custom URLs and has better performance than Liquid.

  • Enhanced performance: Hydrogen is optimized for performance and is able to handle large volumes of traffic more efficiently than Liquid. This means that stores built with Hydrogen may load faster and be more responsive.

  • Better error handling: Hydrogen has improved error handling and debugging capabilities, making it easier to identify and fix problems with your store.

  • Improved developer experience: Hydrogen is designed to be easier to learn and use than Liquid, which should make it easier for developers to build and maintain Shopify stores.

As Shopify developers, I wager we’re at the threshold of a complete disruption - the eCommerce equivalent of transitioning from horse-drawn vehicles to automobiles. And using Hydrogen, merchants and brands have already incredible shopping experiences - those that are story-infused, blazing-fast, and unbelievably frictionless.

Still, you might wonder, what Shopify Headless is even good for.

If you're still on the fence, this checklist might be helpful.

III. Common Headless Use Cases

Headless commerce presents various use cases that address the limitations of traditional e-commerce platforms:

  1. Rapid Experimentations, Without Losing Performance: A/B testing and dynamic content are a vital part of the eCommerce experience. They can make, or break sales. The server-side capabilities and caching of Hydrogen can allow merchants to have a lot of A/B testing and dynamic, personalized content without sacrificing performance and speed.

  2. Immersive Product Visualization: Traditional site designs often limit how your products are presented to shoppers. With headless, you can incorporate features like 360-degree views, AR, and other interactive elements - without fear of losing speed - and offer a more immersive customer experience.

  3. Improved Site Performance: Over time, every Shopify storefront can suffer from performance issues due to accumulated custom code and plugins. A headless approach maintains a clean codebase, leading to better maintainability and faster development cycles.

  4. Composable Commerce: Headless architecture supports composable commerce, meaning you can integrate various services like CDN for images, Cloudflare for scripts, and Algolia for search functionalities, enhancing site speed and user experience.

  5. Localization and Personalization: Headless platforms can dynamically serve localized content and personalized experiences by leveraging frontend frameworks and global server networks.

  6. Unified Customer Experience: Full control over the front end allows businesses to tailor the shopping experience to their brand and customer needs without backend constraints.

  7. AI Integration: Easily integrate AI and machine learning models to provide personalized shopping experiences, chatbots, recommendation engines, and more, all facilitated by the API-driven nature of headless commerce.

25 Best Headless Shopify Examples

1. Victoria Beckham Beauty: Immersive Fashion with Headless Architecture

Victoria Beckham Beauty presents itself as a paradigm of luxury and clean beauty. By going headless, it has effectively merged e-commerce capabilities with an elegant, narrative-driven design to align with its brand ethos and luxury offerings.

With Shopify Headless, Victoria Beckham Beauty can achieve:

  • Enhanced Speed and Performance: By adopting a headless architecture through Contentful and Netlify, alongside Shopify Plus, Victoria Beckham Beauty has significantly improved its site's performance. This transformation has led to a faster digital experience, critical for maintaining customer engagement and reducing bounce rates.

  • More Flexibility: VBB leveraged the headless approach for greater control and speed, enabling rapid changes and updates to the site without backend dependencies. This adaptability helps them launch promotional campaigns and product launches a lot quicker.

  • Seamless Integrations: Utilizing the Jamstack architecture, Victoria Beckham Beauty has streamlined its build and deployment processes. Integration of various services like Contentful and Shopify Plus into the Netlify platform has created a high-performing, interactive site that supports the brand's innovative and luxurious image.

2. Bols: Crafting Rich Customer Experiences

Bols, known for its rich heritage in liqueur and spirits, leverages the flexibility of Shopify's headless architecture to boost its online presence.

With Shopify Headless, Bols was able to achieve:

  • Increased Page Loading Speed: Implementing headless architecture has resulted in a 50% increase in page loading times, significantly enhancing user experience.

  • Customized Content-Rich Experience: The headless approach has granted Bols complete control over its storefront, enabling a content-rich browsing experience for customers.

  • Global Expansion: The flexibility provided by headless commerce has supported Bols in its mission to expand direct-to-consumer sales globally.

3. Denim Tears: Crafting Cultural Narratives

To maintain its narrative-driven approach and integrate diverse multimedia content seamlessly, Denim Tears went headless with Shopify. By taking full advantage of Hydrogen, Denim Tears can showcase cultural stories through fashion, requiring a platform that supports rich, immersive storytelling.

With Shopify Headless, Denim Tears was able to achieve:

  • Rich Storytelling: Enhanced content display capabilities, supporting their unique brand storytelling.

  • Enhanced User Experience: Fast, responsive, and interactive site elements that engage users deeply with the brand’s heritage.

4. Atoms: Personalized Shopping Made Easy

With Headless, Atoms was able to focus on comfort and customization, offering unique shoe designs that cater to individual preferences.

Going headless with Shopify, Atoms was able to achieve:

  • Customization at Scale: Efficient management of varied product options and user preferences.

  • Streamlined User Journeys: Smooth, intuitive shopping experiences tailored to individual needs and behaviors.

For the full case study, read it here.

4. Half Helix: Helping Merchants Innovate

Half Helix is a group of passionate designers, developers, and technologists committed to building modern, thoughtful digital experiences in an ever-changing world. By leveraging Shopify's headless capabilities, Half Helix can achieve better customization and more scalability in their tech stack.

  • Innovative Solutions and Customizations: The agency has utilized headless commerce to provide unique, tailored e-commerce experiences, showcasing their capability to adapt and innovate in the digital space.

  • Scalability and Efficiency: The adoption of headless architectures typically results in scalable and efficient digital platforms, though specific results for Half Helix were not detailed.

5. Boretti: Streamlining Luxury Kitchen Experience

Boretti is renowned for its high-end kitchen appliances and culinary products, offering an elegant online platform to match its luxury goods.

To match the sophisticated nature of its products and clientele, Boretti required a flexible, high-performing website that could offer a bespoke user experience, reflecting the brand's high quality and attention to detail.

Naturally, they went for headless Shopify to achieve:

  • Dynamic User Experiences: The headless approach would enable Boretti to offer personalized shopping experiences, with tailored recommendations and interactive product displays.

  • Scalability and Integration: Headless architecture would allow for easier updates and integrations, keeping the site current with the latest e-commerce trends and customer demands.

6. Nour Hammour: Tailoring Luxury eCommerce Fashion

Nour Hammour offers a curated selection of luxury leather jackets and fashion pieces, each crafted with care and precision. Known for its bespoke products, Nour Hammour needed a digital presence that could offer personalized experiences and showcase its fashion items in high detail.

With Headless, Nour Hammour was able to achieve:

  • Improved Site Interactivity and Engagement: By adopting a headless approach, Nour Hammour could create more interactive and engaging product pages, enhancing the shopping experience.

  • Faster Market Adaptation: The flexibility of a headless system would allow Nour Hammour to quickly adapt online content and marketing strategies to the fast-paced fashion industry.

For the full case study, read it here.

7. Isle USA: Pioneering Adventure

Isle USA is dedicated to providing high-quality paddleboards and accessories, catering to outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers.

To cater to a diverse range of customers and outdoor activities, Isle required a dynamic website capable of offering detailed product information, guides, and an engaging shopping experience. And they achieved it with Shopify Headless:

  • Rich Content Delivery: Utilizing headless commerce, Isle USA could effectively manage and deliver rich content such as video tutorials, adventure guides, and detailed product specs.

  • Operational Efficiency: The headless architecture would streamline content updates and product management, allowing Isle to efficiently respond to seasonal trends and customer needs.

8. Splits59: Enhancing Fitness Fashion

Splits59 offers fashionable, high-performance activewear designed to support and inspire women in their fitness journeys. With a focus on high-energy, dynamic fitness attire, Splits59 required a website that could match the brand's vibrant style and need for high functionality.

With Shopify, Splits59 was able to achieve:

  • Seamless Shopping Experience: By adopting headless commerce, Splits59 could provide a fluid, user-friendly shopping experience, catering to customers looking for fitness wear that meets their style and performance needs.

  • Dynamic Content and Interaction: The headless approach enables Splits59 to offer dynamic content such as fitness tips, product launches, and interactive sizing guides.

  • Market Agility: Headless commerce would allow for rapid updates and personalization, essential for keeping pace with the fast-moving fitness and fashion sectors.

9. Magda Butrym: Redefining Luxury Fashion

Magda Butrym offers luxury fashion pieces that combine modern design with traditional craftsmanship, appealing to a discerning global clientele.

To showcase its detailed, high-end products and provide an exclusive shopping experience, Magda Butrym required a sophisticated, flexible e-commerce platform. With Headless, they was able to do so:

  • Elevated Brand Presentation: A headless approach would allow Magda Butrym to create a unique and immersive online environment that reflects the brand's luxury and quality.

  • Global Customer Reach: With headless commerce, Magda Butrym could easily manage international content and sales, catering to a global audience while maintaining localized experiences.

  • Innovative Shopping Features: The brand could implement advanced features such as virtual try-ons or personalized styling advice, enhancing the online shopping experience for luxury fashion consumers.

10. Chubbies: Championing Weekend Wear with Headless Shopify

Chubbies has carved out a unique niche in the men's fashion industry, specializing in vintage-inspired shorts. Their mission is to promote the weekend lifestyle, encouraging relaxation and fun.

Given their rapid growth and distinctive brand identity, Chubbies needed a robust e-commerce solution to manage increasing traffic and provide a seamless, engaging user experience. A headless architecture would allow them to scale effectively while maintaining their unique brand voice and marketing strategies.

With Headless, Chubbies was able to support a brand's rapid growth:

  • Significant Sales Growth: Adopting Shopify Plus and a headless approach contributed to a 50% year-over-year sales growth, demonstrating the effectiveness of their digital strategy.

  • Expanded Community Reach: Their approach helped grow their email list to 1.5 million and social media following to over 2 million, illustrating the power of their brand and lifestyle messaging.

For more detailed insights, you might want to explore Shopify's case study on Chubbies.

11. Veloretti: Revolutionizing Urban Cycling

Veloretti, an Amsterdam-based brand, is known for its hand-crafted, affordable bicycles. They aimed to elevate their digital presence with the launch of their first electric bike and a complete rebranding of their flagship store.

The transition to headless commerce allowed Veloretti to enhance overall performance and operational flexibility. This was crucial as they moved into the electric bike market and needed a platform that could handle complex product configurations and provide a seamless user experience.

12. Paul Valentine: Elevating Luxury E-commerce with Headless

Paul Valentine, a German-based premium jewelry and accessory brand, recognized the need to expand its reach internationally. This ambition required a scalable and flexible digital infrastructure to accommodate various international markets effectively.

The primary motivation for Paul Valentine's shift towards headless commerce was to manage multiple online stores across different regions efficiently. Traditional e-commerce platforms could not provide the level of customization and scalability needed for their global expansion. Headless commerce offered them the opportunity to localize content for different markets while maintaining a cohesive brand experience across all digital touchpoints.

With Headless, Paul Valentine brand achieved:

  • International Expansion: Paul Valentine successfully established five international stores across Europe and North America, tailoring each to cater to local preferences and languages, effectively making the brand accessible in 131 countries through 20 global web stores.

  • Customization and Localization: The headless model allowed Paul Valentine to offer a personalized shopping experience for various markets, accommodating different languages and cultural nuances, which is critical for luxury brands aiming to provide superior customer service.

  • Infrastructure Management: By adopting a headless approach with Shopify Plus, Paul Valentine was able to streamline the management of its different global stores, enhancing operational efficiency and user experience.

13. Blume: Revolutionizing Skincare through Headless Commerce

Blume stands out in the beauty industry for its focus on authentic self-care, destigmatizing topics like acne and puberty, and promoting eco-friendly products. Their online platform is designed to engage a community, especially targeting Gen Z and millennials with relatable content and products.

With Headless, Blume was able to:

  • Handle diverse and dynamic content tailored to their audience.

  • Integrate various third-party applications seamlessly.

  • Provide a personalized shopping experience across multiple channels.

  • Quickly adapt to market trends and customer feedback, enhancing their brand's agility.