Time and Cost to Build Headless Magento Store

Feb 29th, 2024 15 min to read

The power and possibilities of Headless commerce have finally brought you here. 🙂

Headless Magento: the words themselves invoke notions of freedom, flexibility, and cutting-edge customer experiences. 

However, when thinking of going headless, merchants like you often struggle to figure out:

  • the estimated time and cost to build the Headless Magento store,
  • whether is it worth the investment or not.

No worries. That’s why we’ve prepared this ultimate guide that breaks down the cost and time it may take to get your Headless store fully developed.

Due to diverse business needs, we cannot offer the exact figures. However, we tried our level best to reach the most accurate estimates possible based on our past headless projects.

So, let’s get started!

Going Headless with Magento

Going Headless is a bold move that promises exciting possibilities but also demands careful planning. And, the foundation of a successful Headless journey starts with understanding your needs.

Here are the few questions that you should answer first to build a Headless store with Magento:

1. What are your burning desires for Headless?

Going Headless with Magento

What truly excites you about decoupling your front-end?

Identify the pain points with your existing eCommerce store that the headless store will address. Do you want to:

  • Maximize the performance and speed of your existing Magento store?
  • Personalize customer experiences with dynamic content and targeted offers?
  • Boost omnichannel engagement across devices and touchpoints?
  • Integrate additional systems for a unified commerce experience?

Pinpointing your goals and desires will help you prioritize features and avoid unnecessary complexities.

2. Who is your target audience?

Here comes your online shoppers!

Understanding your target audience and their shopping habits and expectations is important. Are they mobile-first shoppers or voice commerce fans??? Knowing their preferences will help you curate the perfect Headless “heads” (front-end experiences) for optimal engagement.

3. What are the must-have features for your Headless store?

Prioritize the core functionalities that are essential for your business.

For example: 

  1. Do you require a robust search engine and faceted navigation for a large product catalog? 
  2. Do you need advanced content management capabilities for frequent updates and dynamic content? 
  3. Do you want to implement “Virtual try-on” or product visualization tools?

Identify each of them and make a list that will help you scope the complexity of your Headless build.

4. What is your budget and deadline?

Be realistic about the financial implications. Factor in software licensing (e.g., frontend, CMS, PIM), development costs (in-house or agency), frontend hosting, and ongoing maintenance. Research the pricing models of various headless tools and platforms to get a clear picture of your budget needs.

Discuss with your IT team and define an estimated timeline for your headless implementation, considering the complexity, team size, and integration needs. 

5. Which frontend framework do you want to use?

React, Vue.js, Angular, or another framework – the choice is yours!

You can find various open-source and premium Magento headless front-end solutions to rebuild your custom storefront. But you need to evaluate them and pick the one that suits your business needs. 

Here are the 10 best Headless frontend frameworks for Magento:

No.SolutionsDescriptionFree/Paid
1React.jsA versatile JavaScript library enabling custom frontend development, often paired with GraphQL for API communication.Free
2Vue.jsA popular JavaScript library, known for its ease of use and growing community. Slightly less mature than React.js.Free
3Next.jsA React-based framework that simplifies server-side rendering and static site generation, improving performance and SEO.Free
4AngularA well-established framework ideal for complex and enterprise-grade projects, requiring more extensive development experience.Free
5Qwik CommerceAn React-based headless frontend solution for building complex storefronts with a focus on rich functionality and customization.Paid
6Alokai (Formerly Vue Storefront)Offers a Vue.js based storefront with various themes and extensions, popular for its ease of use and active community.Both 
7React StorefrontSimilar to Alokai (Formerly Vue Storefront), but built on React.js. Offers a different development experience and API integrations.Paid
8Front-CommerceA Headless framework built on React and GraphQL, known for its performance and customization options.Paid
PWA StudioAdobe’s official PWA (Progressive Web App) development tool, offering a pre-built framework and components for a fast and secure Headless experience.Free
10ScandiPWAA PWA-focused solution offering pre-built components and tools for building high-performance Headless storefronts.Paid

Consider your team’s expertise, the desired level of customization, the learning curve associated with each framework, and their pricing before making a decision. 

6. Will you need external help?

Headless projects often require diverse skill sets. Check with your IT department whether your existing resources can be helpful. If not, partnering with agencies or developers can fill the gaps and ensure success.

For example, if your team is proficient in backend development but lacks frontend experience, partnering with a frontend specialist could be beneficial.

Or you can find a Headless Magento development agency with good experience and success rate (like Aureate Labs). Agencies specializing in Headless Magento 2 service can provide invaluable guidance, expertise, and support, saving you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

7. What existing systems will you integrate?

Are there external systems you need your headless store to connect with – CRM, ERP, marketing automation? 

Analyze your current Magento setup, including its limitations and areas for improvement. This will help you determine what aspects you want to migrate to the headless architecture and what might be best left in the traditional backend.

8. What are your long-term visions?

Thinking beyond the initial implementation can make your store future-proof. So, what are your future business goals??

Haven’t decided yet?? It’s the time.

Are you looking to expand your product categories, reach new market segments, or integrate emerging technologies? It’s not just about predicting the future, but about setting the stage for sustained success and growth. 

9. How will you measure success?

Don’t evaluate your headless development solely by website traffic or revenue. Define clear, measurable KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) aligned with your business goals. 

Track metrics like conversion rate, average order value, customer lifetime value, and engagement across all channels to measure the effectiveness of your headless implementation.

Once you’re ready with the answers to these questions, you’re all set to jump right into the headless implementation. But wait wait…!!

We haven’t yet calculated the estimated cost and time. Let’s first start with the cost breakdown!

Headless Commerce Cost for Magento Stores

So far, we shed some light on your dream of Magento 2 Headless development. I know the budget part is still under the shadow.

Don’t worry, this section is dedicated to the headless cost only. 

So, let’s break down the estimated headless Magento development cost with realistic numbers below:

No.ItemEstimated Cost
1Frontend Licenses (per annum)$0 – $30,000
2UI/UX Designing$20,000 – $30,000
3Integration and Custom Development$25,000 – $60,000
4Frontend Hosting (for 1M visits)Approx. $2000 
 TOTAL$47,000 – $1,22,000

Please note that these are just estimated costs, and the actual cost of your headless Magento commerce project may vary. 

Let’s discuss the four major cost components associated with Magento 2 headless commerce development:

Frontend Licenses

With Headless commerce, you need a frontend system to build your unique customer experience. This translates to choosing a frontend framework or platform. Popular options include Angular, Vue.js, React, and Next.js.

You can also explore various headless frontend solutions and some popular options include Alokai (Formerly Vue Storefront), Qwik Commerce, Front-Commerce, etc. Some of these frameworks have open-source versions with optional paid enterprise editions for advanced features and support. 

Open-source versions are usually free, while enterprise editions can range from $10,000 to $30,000 per year.

UI/UX Designing

UIUX Designing

UI/UX design goes beyond making things look pretty. It’s about crafting a seamless, user-centric experience that drives conversions and brand loyalty. It is one of your headless objectives, isn’t it??

Well, making a visually appealing headless storefront requires expert UI/UX design. Expect to spend $20,000 to $30,000 on design services, depending on the complexity of your store and the desired level of customization.

 Look for professionals who understand Headless Magento and have a proven track record in eCommerce design service.

Integration and Custom Development

Integration and Custom Development

Yes, Headless comes with the need for special integrations!

Connecting your Headless Storefront to Magento involves establishing a communication channel between your frontend and your Magento backend (where product data, order processing, etc. occur). This is usually achieved through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) provided by Magento. 

You may need to integrate your store with other systems like a Product Information Management (PIM) platform, a Content Management System (CMS), or an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. The more systems you need to connect to, the more complex and costly the integration process might become which may start from $25,000.

If your store requires features not available through existing APIs or pre-built solutions, custom development is necessary. This could involve building custom product filters, personalized recommendations, loyalty programs, or other features specific to your business needs. The cost will depend on the specific features you need but can range from $5,000 to $60,000.

Hosting and Infrastructure

Once your headless storefront is developed, you’ll need dedicated hosting to make it accessible to your customers. The cost of this hosting will depend on your traffic volume and required resources. Expect to pay approx. $2,000 (per 1 Million visits) for front-end hosting, with the potential to scale up for larger stores.

Wait… there’s more!

The cost of headless Magento commerce development is not a one-time expense. Apart from the major costs, you should also consider the additional costs associated with the Headless Magento 2 service such as:

  • third-party tools (search, checkout, payment, etc.)
  • ongoing maintenance of your headless store
  • regular performance optimization
  • enabling touch points (kiosks, voice assistants, etc.)

Wondering why I haven’t added the additional costs in the table above? It’s because they are not mandatory. As a business owner, you’ll only decide whether you need those additional features and services or not.

Now, let’s move ahead to know the estimated development time for the headless store.

Time to Build Magento Headless Store

After calculating the Headless cost, we will now discuss the estimated time to build your dream store. 

Building a headless Magento store typically takes 4 7 months, depending on several factors like design complexity, custom development, and the number of integrations.

Here’s the breakdown of the time duration it may take to build a Magento headless store:

No.StageDuration
1Planning the store development2 – 4 Weeks
2UX/UI redesigning4 – 12 Weeks
3Development, and integration12 – 16 Weeks
4Release and post-release settings3 – 6 Weeks
 Total21 – 38 Weeks

So, agencies can take between 4 and 7 months to build a headless Magento store using the traditional monolith architecture.

Headless Magento Development Timeline

Now if more resources (developers) are added to work on different areas of your Magento 2 headless development, you can see a significant reduction in total development time. This is a key feature of headless commerce, which you won’t get in the existing monolith architecture.

But thanks to our innovative headless approach, we achieved an incredible 8-week turnaround for a recent client’s headless Magento store – that’s 6x faster than the industry average!

Talk to our Headless experts now!

So far we’ve learned about the cost and time to build Magento 2 Headless store. Now, some of you may find headless commerce a heavy investment in terms of cost and time it takes. Yes, it is a huge investment!!

But, guess what?? Every problem has a solution. And we also have a solution for this situation.
I want you to pay attention to the next section.

Possible to Get Headless Magento on a Shoestring?

Wondering whether you can go headless with a tight budget?? 

Well, as a Headless Magento development company in India, we receive such questions every day. Many brands want to accept the headless transformation but when they come to this stage, they give it a second thought.

Nothing to worry about, as we have a solution: Frontend First Approach!!

So, in the Frontend First approach, you can achieve Headless architecture step by step. This can be done in two ways: 

  1. Macro Staging Headless
  2. Micro Staging Headless

This is what we named it. Let’s understand both one by one!

1. Macro Staging Headless

Macro Staging Headless transition

As you can see in the picture above, the headless transition is done in multiple stages (Stage 1, 2, and 3). 

In this method, you start with integrating the Headless frontend first (like in Stage 1). Then you can connect other Headless components (such as CMS, search, PIM, checkout, payment, etc.) gradually in your platform at a certain interval. 

It will take comparatively less time and cost than building the complete Headless solution at once (like in Stage 2, and Stage 3).

2. Micro Staging Headless

This method goes beyond macro staging. Here, you can start the Headless transition in chunks (page by page). 

Let’s understand this using graphics.

Micro Staging Headless transition - Page by page

The image shows the headless transition (Stage 1) by migrating the product pages at first. 

It means that instead of migrating the entire website to Headless architecture, only a few pages (that will benefit from Headless the most) are transformed.

Here the “Reverse proxy” acts as a request manager that gives appropriate directions to the user requests.

Now what happens is when the user requests a product page, “Reverse proxy” will redirect it to the Headless platform. And, requests for other pages will be redirected to the Monolith platform.

You might be wondering if this is just the Stage 1 headless transition, then how the other stages will work. Here’s the answer!

Micro Staging Headless transition

Can you see the difference between the stages??? Here, the Stage 1 & 2 are partial Headless transitions. And ofcourse, Stage 3 represents the complete transition. 

By developing your Headless Magento store in stages (i.e., agile development), you can 

  • avoid the heavy investment at the initial stage
  • go-to-market early with your Headless store
  • deep acceleration from the beginning
  • realize the ROI faster

On the other hand, you can also test the headless approach before complete implementation and save upto 60% investment if you don’t see any results after the headless transition. This means there will be less risk in terms of costs and delivery timeline.

Feeling overwhelmed?? Or need to talk about the risk-free Headless transition?? Connect with our experts now!

Now, we’ll head towards ROI calculation and check whether this big investment is worth it or not.

ROI Equation of your Headless Investment

ROI of your Headless Investment

Every investment deserves a solid return!

While conversion rate is a key metric, it’s just one piece of the puzzle when calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) of your headless Magento store. Focusing solely on conversions can underestimate the true value of this transformative approach.

Remember those pain points that pushed you towards headless? Complex customizations, limited features, or scalability issues? As an eCommerce merchant, you know these struggles well.

Headless ROI goes beyond conversion and unlocks a wider spectrum of benefits for your eCommerce business:

  • Reduction in operation time and costs (with monolith architecture).
  • Faster Go-to-Market (GTM) with custom functionalities.
  • Increased flexibility to adapt to changing trends.
  • Seamless omnichannel experience.
  • Future-proofing your eCommerce business.

But the ROI doesn’t stop there:

Case study 1: One of our recent clients was struggling with a fragmented customer experience across multiple channels. After we implemented a headless architecture, the management time and operation costs were reduced by 50%. 

And, the improved user experience across all platforms led to higher conversion rates which resulted in rapid ROI payback within 6 months.

Case study 2: Another client wanted to improve their “search and product discovery” functionalities but was unsure which tool would be the best fit for their platform. The headless transition allowed them to easily integrate various tools via APIs and test them on their platform one by one.

This way they avoided lengthy and expensive development cycles on the monolithic platform and achieved a 5x reduction in implementation time and cost.

In a nutshell, your unique use case determines your ROI specifics. But one thing’s clear: Headless Magento unlocks lots of growth possibilities and delivers lasting value for your eCommerce future.

Now, the next step is – finding the right Magento Headless development agency! Why not start with Aureate Labs?

Build your Headless Magento Store with Aureate Labs!

We know the numerous benefits of headless, and as a trusted Headless Magento development agency, Aureate Labs is excited to be a part of your journey.

Aureate Labs - Official Magento Partner

As an Official Magento Partner with extensive headless experience, we’re uniquely positioned to guide you through every step of building an exceptional store. Our expertise ensures you have the ideal tools, design, and functionality to achieve your business goals.

Our team of Headless Commerce experts can help you with…

  1. Platform Selection & Integrations
  2. UI/UX Design & Development
  3. Custom Storefront Development
  4. Performance or Speed Optimization
  5. Customizations & Integrations
  6. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
  7. Headless PWA for Magento 

But wait, there’s more! We believe in going above and beyond. That’s why we offer FREE 3 months of post-launch support. We’ll be there to ensure your headless store thrives, even after launch.

Build your Magento store in just 8 weeks! Contact us today for a free consultation!

Sagarika Das
Content Marketer (eComm. & SaaS)
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