Headless 101

Headless 101: customer engagement apps

December 2023

Easily integrate consumer engagement apps with your headless ecommerce solution.

In your day-to-day on Shopify, you may rely on a few different customer engagement apps to encourage users to interact and ultimately convert. Whether that be ESPs, review curation, or loyalty + referral programs, many Shopify storefronts use these apps to move the needle further. 

These apps are typically pretty robust. They have their own login portal on which you’ll create an account. This account may be integrated with your Shopify store, but they are not permanently tied to it as they are self-standing solutions of their own. So what happens when you go headless? Let’s take a look at the industry-leading solutions and see how headless architecture impacts each. 


The top email service provider for Shopify storefronts

Image courtesy of Klaviyo.


Klaviyo is the strongest commerce-driven ESP. The Campaigns (one-time email blasts) work well, but the real value is in their Flows. Flows are logic-driven emails that occur when an individual within the Klaviyo ecosystem makes any kind of action. That action can be a product pageview, an abandoned checkout, entering a certain list, etc.

Sophisticated ecommerce brands should be able to attribute between 20% - 30% of their topline revenue to their email marketing.
So, can your Klaviyo integration work if you’ve gone headless? Absolutely. 

  • Every new customer who opts into email marketing will be added to your email list via the Shopify integration. No changes needed.
  • Abandoned checkout flows will work just as they always have. Remember, Shopify forever controls checkout so anything tied to it, like AC flow, will remain intact — no changes needed.
  • Post-purchase follow-ups will work the same way. Anything having to do with purchase behavior will work just as they always have. You can still segment your base by purchase preferences to fine-tune your drip marketing to increase your return customer rate and customer lifetime value.
  • Browse abandonment is where it gets a little tricky. Some brands like to send emails simply if a customer has “viewed a product.” This is a Shopify action that is dealing with pre-purchase behavior. A customer won’t technically “view a product” according to Klaviyo <> Shopify because we are not using Shopify’s frontend. Bummer, right? But, this can be solved by making a custom event inside of Klaviyo using its API to recreate the out-of-the-box Shopify function that is no longer viable. 
  • Add to cart is different from abandoned checkout because, in this scenario, a visitor simply needs to add an item, not necessarily initiate a checkout event. This is a custom event that is not available out of the box in Klaviyo. Recreating add to cart on your headless site is possible using a similar approach as outlined above.

Everything considered, Klaviyo can work just as powerfully as it does in a non-headless environment.


Grow your email + SMS list and provide personalized messaging

Image courtesy of Privy.


Privy is the standard when it comes to pop-up management. You know those pop-ups you see on 99% of all ecommerce sites you visit asking for your email or phone number? Oftentimes that is  Privy (or Attentive given the recent acquisition!). This tool can be used for a lot of different upsell, cross-sell, and email-gathering opportunities. 

Privy can continue to work in a headless environment for all of the standard stuff. Your 20% off popup is fair game. It works simply by a user visiting the site. It technically has nothing to do with whether or not you are on Shopify. 

For the more advanced users, there are some Privy use cases that will require some creativity to recreate if you want to succeed in going headless. 

Let’s say you have a campaign set up in Privy that is triggered based on having a cart value over X, or it is triggered based on the exact cart variant ID. These triggers will no longer work because they are Shopify-specific triggers. Privy needs to communicate with Shopify in real time to discern your current cart value or its contents. 

Because we are more detached from Shopify, we will lose those potential customer touchpoints. The good news is that Privy does let you use custom JavaScript to create your own targeting rules to recreate solutions for these scenarios.

All in all, with a little elbow grease Privy can work just as powerfully as it does in a non-headless environment.


The leading review curation and management tool for Shopify

Image courtesy of REVIEWS.io.


REVIEWS.io is one of a handful of industry trendsetting review curation and management tools. You’ll see this on almost every ecommerce site. Real customer reviews provide the buyer assurance necessary to push potential customers to complete a transaction on your store. They also help with SEO and integrate with Google Shopping, Facebook, and other social media platforms. 

Let’s talk about its frontend display first. It is showcased all over the site and is product specific. Some products may have a bunch of reviews, while others may have few if any at all. In a headless environment, we are still querying Shopify in real time to display our product-related data including price, description, and images. And that’s what’d be required to do with REVIEWS.io as well. Fortunately, this app has been around for years and is pretty mature. It is API enabled, which is developer-talk for “you can do whatever you want with our data.” On a headless setup, you can query the REVIEWS.io data and tie it appropriately to the Shopify data to create one seamless experience for the customer. 

In a headless approach, REVIEWS.io’s curation piece is not affected at all. The email triggers that go out to your customers are usually time-based and always occur after the purchase. And, as we should understand by this point, anything post-purchase will not be disrupted if you go headless.

Long story short, yes, REVIEWS.io can work just as powerfully as it does in a non-headless environment.

Read more about our experience with REVIEWS.io here.


Create loyalty + referral programs on Shopify

Image courtesy of Smile.io.


Smile is one of a dozen well-solidified loyalty programs that integrate with the most popular ecommerce platforms. It allows your customers to:

  • Refer friends for rewards (discount codes or gift cards)
  • Earn points with every purchase to be eventually redeemed for a discount code or gift card
  • VIP Programs and incentives for your most valued customers

Smile is another app that has an open API, allowing developers to preserve its functionality even if we are not using it directly on one of their integrated partners, like Shopify. Rest assured that Smile can work just as powerfully as it does in a non-headless environment. 

All in all, you will be able to address all of your Shopify apps that you utilized prior to going headless. You can simply work to recreate your frontend app’s function on your site. Or you may not need to change anything at all if you use a backend app. And finally, you have the tools to integrate all of your core customer engagement apps when you go headless with bl!nk.

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“In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”

“In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.”
— Olivia Rhye, Product Designer

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