Cost Analysis: Is Headless Shopify Worth the Investment?

Why Your Website is Never Finished

Small business owners in Australia already face the daunting task of getting their businesses off the ground, but they must also find ways to optimise performance and customer experience online. 

For many eCommerce businesses, this also means knowing what platforms give your brand the best possible chance of success and the functionality required to do so. That’s exactly why we often question whether Headless Shopify is worth the investment, and what’s necessary for an online retailer to hit the ground running. 

Let’s take a look at your options.

What is Headless Shopify?

Headless Shopify is a modern approach to eCommerce that basically separates the front-end (the part of the website customers interact with) from the back-end (the part of the website where the business operations occur). 

This allows businesses to use Shopify’s robust ecommerce backend while keeping their much-needed freedom to design and build a custom frontend using any technology they prefer – like WordPress.

What is Shopify Plus?

On the other hand, Shopify Plus is an advanced ecommerce platform designed for high-growth businesses. And while it might seem like Headless offers all the bells and whistles needed to land the most sales, Shopify Plus delivers a comprehensive set of features, too – including:

• advanced customisation options

• superior performance

• and dedicated support. 

Unlike Headless Shopify, which separates the front-end and back-end, Shopify Plus integrates everything into a single, user-friendly system. When you’re already juggling so much, this can be a Godsend.

Cost Analysis of Headless Shopify

Initial Setup Costs

Setting up Headless Shopify involves quite a few upfront costs, which you’ll need to consider carefully:

• Development and Design Fees: Creating a custom front-end can cost between AUD 5,000 and AUD 30,000, depending on your business’s needs.

Integration Costs: Connecting APIs to link your custom frontend with Shopify’s backend can add to your initial expenses, especially when you need a developer’s help.

Technology Stack Expenses: Investing in a content management system (CMS), API management tools, and other necessary software can range from AUD 500 to AUD 5,000. Note that this varies according to how much technology you need to purchase or whether you’re able to get away with the bare minimum. 

Ongoing Maintenance Costs

Headless Shopify also incurs continuous expenses:

• Hosting and Server Costs: Hosting your custom frontend independently can cost AUD 50 to AUD 500 per month.

• Regular Updates and Improvements: Keeping your site updated and secure requires ongoing development.

Technical Support and Troubleshooting: Budget for continuous technical support, whether in-house or outsourced.

Additional Costs

Other potential costs include:

Third-party Services and Plugins: Additional functionalities might require third-party services, increasing overall expenses.

Training for Staff: Your team will need the training to manage the new system efficiently; while this may not necessarily be a direct dollar-figure cost, it does require time – and we all know time is money.

Potential Hidden Costs: Be prepared for unexpected expenses during implementation and maintenance. It happens.

Benefits of Shopify Plus Over Headless Shopify

Cost Efficiency

Lower Upfront Costs: Shopify Plus has a significantly lower initial investment than setting up a Headless Shopify system.

Simplified Ongoing Maintenance: With Shopify Plus, you avoid the additional hosting and technical support costs associated with headless setups.

Ease of Use

User-Friendly Interface: Shopify Plus offers an intuitive interface that is easy to manage, even for non-technical users.

• Built-In Features and Tools: Shopify Plus includes a comprehensive suite of features and tools that cover most business needs without requiring extensive customisation.

Support and Reliability

Comprehensive Support from Shopify: Shopify Plus users receive priority support, ensuring quick resolutions to any issues.

Proven Track Record and Reliability: Shopify Plus is a well-established platform many successful businesses trust.

Potential Drawbacks of Headless Shopify

If you’re not convinced Plus has everything you need as an e-commerce business, it’s worth having a look at what Headless Shopify brings to the table in a not-so-great way:

Higher Initial Investment

The upfront costs for Headless Shopify can be excessive, especially for small businesses.

Complexity in Management

Managing a headless setup requires significant technical expertise, complicating daily operations, not to mention the need for ongoing training for all staff to use the platform.

Dependence on Technical Expertise

Ongoing maintenance and updates will require continuous involvement from developers, leading to higher operational costs.

Key Takeaways

• Initial Costs: Headless Shopify requires a significant initial investment.

• Ongoing Costs: Continuous expenses for hosting, maintenance, and support with headless setups.

Benefits of Shopify Plus: Cost efficiency, ease of use, comprehensive support, and reliability.

• Drawbacks of Headless Shopify: Higher complexity and dependence on technical expertise.

• Bottom line: Evaluate your budget, technical resources, and business goals before deciding.