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Empower Your Ecommerce Business with Shopify Hydrogen for Headless Storefronts

Shopify Hydrogen for Headless Storefronts

Headless commerce is a new way of building online stores. Each digital shop has a storefront and a backend. The storefront is what customers see. The backend is where you manage products, orders, and payments. Headless commerce suggests separating these two parts from the technological perspective. By making everything less connected, it provides merchants with more flexibility.

How does it work in practice? A traditional online store is one big system. Changes in design call for updates of the tech stack. To change the look, you need to change how products are listed or how payments work. Headless commerce divides these two parts into a warehouse and a showroom. You get to manage each separately.

Shopify Hydrogen is one of the most popular headless ecommerce solutions. It offers easy storefront development and free deployment. Hydrogen enables fast development of custom storefronts separate from the backend. Besides, Shopify offers a free hosting platform called Oxygen. It was developed specifically for stores built with Hydrogen.

We’ve been working with Shopify solutions for almost ten years. This platform never stops surprising merchants and tech teams with its innovations. So, if you’re a Shopify merchant seeking more design freedom, we’ll gladly help you discover Hydrogen.

Understanding the challenges of traditional architecture

Ecommerce is changing. Businesses have two options. One is to adjust and respond to changes with innovations. The other is to stick to what may seem comfortable and risk lagging behind the competition.

What does it have to do with Shopify headless commerce? IBM is already certain that ecommerce is dead. Live commerce – so rich that it becomes channel-less – is the future. With traditional storefronts, such flexibility is somewhere between hard and impossible to achieve.

Common ecommerce challenges posed by traditional storefronts

Traditional ecommerce architecture poses many issues and limitations. According to recent reports, these include:

  • scalability challenges
  • limited integration capabilities
  • governance issues
  • unnecessary expenses
  • outdated software and hardware
  • lack of encryption and poor access controls
  • slow load times and frequent crashes
  • limited functionality.

It appears that traditional storefronts fail to offer enough agility. And agility is critical for modern online stores. What does this mean from the business perspective? We’d like to highlight several critical problems.

  • Limited flexibility. Monolithic platforms can’t adapt to changing customer needs. It’s because they are slower to integrate new technologies. Hence, some sellers cannot keep up with competition no matter how much they try.

  • Slow innovation. Adding new features to a traditional storefront is time-consuming and costly. So is making updates. It results in a longer time to market and undermines the relevance of each update.

  • Lack of personalization. Traditional storefronts cannot offer personalized experiences to customers. Meanwhile, shoppers view personalized offers and flows as non-negotiable.

  • Dependency on IT teams. Even small changes to a traditional storefront require significant involvement from tech teams. Many store teams don’t have in-house development. Hence, every update or issue resolution becomes too time-consuming.

  • Higher maintenance costs. Maintaining and updating a traditional storefront is more expensive. The reason lies in lower agility and reliance on tech specialists. Often, such costs aren’t justified and don’t fit within the budget.

  • Mobile optimization challenges. Adapting a traditional storefront for mobile devices often results in worsening UX. That’s unacceptable nowadays. Losing mobile traffic means missing a considerable number of customers.

A combination of these factors leads to lower engagement and conversion rates. Businesses have to tolerate frequent cases of missed opportunities. Dependence on the backend also comes with bottlenecks in update implementations. Among other things, there are frequent delays in releases.

Limitations of traditional monolithic ecommerce platforms

Businesses using traditional platforms should be ready to experience the following troubles:

  • lack of flexibility and customization
  • limited traffic, transactions, and data scalability
  • proprietary technologies and vendor lock-in
  • difficulties integrating with external systems
  • performance bottlenecks
  • complex and resource-intensive maintenance.

All these limitations highlight the need for new architecture. Headless Shopify storefronts can be the solution many are seeking right now.

Introducing Shopify Hydrogen as a headless storefront solution

What are the options for those willing to innovate? Hydrogen would be the top-of-mind solution for Shopify merchants. Let’s take a quick overview of its functionality and business potential.

Key features and capabilities of Shopify Hydrogen

What is Shopify Hydrogen? This feature-rich Shopify framework takes a headless storefront beyond being a mere trend. Shopify Hydrogen introduces a whole set of management tools. They, in turn, open new business opportunities for entrepreneurs. These include:

  • pre-built tools and templates
  • built-in tools and easy integrations for developers
  • performant hosting integrated with Shopify subscriptions
  • server-side rendering for enhanced site velocity
  • extensive customizability
  • SEO features and enhancements.

The Hydrogen app takes the standard Shopify we know and makes it better. It offers even more customizable themes, templates, and extensive design options. It becomes easier for merchants to create unique designs aligned with brand identity. It’s also simpler to put in place custom functionalities.

Shopify separates the backend from the storefront. Yet, it grants merchants access to the latter. Hydrogen facilitates store management. Products, inventory, orders, and customer support are available from a centralized interface. The new approach also minimizes the risk of breaking anything on the frontend. As a result, teams feel more confident with changes.

Meanwhile, Hydrogen and Oxygen ensure seamless compatibility with the platform’s backend. Shopify itself maintains and updates the code base. For merchants, it comes with:

  • regular updates for performance and security
  • hosting management
  • SEO enhancements
  • accurate analytics
  • significant maintenance cost reductions.

Hence, adopting the Shopify headless commerce strategy is feasible and advantageous. It is not only convenient but also enables efficient spending.

Hydrogen addressing challenges of traditional ecommerce setups

A detailed explanation of how Hydrogen addresses challenges calls for a separate article. Yet, there’s one exciting example of how the Shopify framework handles even the most tricky tasks.

We already know that Shopify personalization is no longer an option but a must. Indeed, it is one of the key tactics for business growth. Eighty percent of shoppers say they are more