Helping AFTCO upgrade to headless

AFTCO headless shopify


  • Agile
  • MACH Architecture


  • Web
  • Progressive Mobile Apps


  • Next.js
  • Shopify
  • Klevu

The Problem

For years, AFTCO had operated a successful monolithic Shopify store that stocked all the great products they carry in their chain of stores across the Western parts of the U.S. 

Their store had reached a natural plateau. AFTCO wanted the site to keep evolving through A/B testing, optimizations, a modern UI, and product personalisation. Adding plugins or extensions to the site to achieve these goals was hurting their core web vitals and page load times, preventing them from getting closer to their goals.

AFTCO Product Display Design

The Solution

The AFTCO team were aware of the high-level benefits of moving to a headless store running a microservice architecture;

  • Faster load speeds
  • Better user experience
  • Having complete unrestricted freedom to build innovative frontend features
  • Accessing a pool of high-talent developers
  • Introducing multi-lingual and multi-currency options to expand into new markets

These promises are super compelling for a business that had reached a technical ceiling.

AFTCO store display

Technology Options

MACH architecture relies heavily on combining the right products to solve problems and provide a workflow that's not cumbersome for everyday users. This is the role of a functional architect. They're responsible for selecting the puzzle pieces that will fit together to make the solution whole.

In AFTCO's case, they needed to pick the right solutions for:

  • Hosting (Options: Vercel, DigitalOcean, Cloudflare, AWS)
  • Frontend framework (Options: Next.js, Nuxt.js, Hydrogen)
  • Content management (Options: Contentful, Prismic, Strapi, Plain Shopify, Sanity, Storyblok,
  • eCommerce (Options: Shopify, Commercelayer, Crystallize)
  • Product recommendations & search (Options: Klevu, Elastic Search, Algolia)
MACH technology options

Choosing the best solution

One of the ways we brought value to AFTCO's project is by acting as the functional architect. We're official partners of most of the big services AFTCO was considering using (Shopify, Contentful, Prismic, Crystallize, Commercelayer) and deeply understand how these services fit particular needs. Answering AFTCO's question "which tools are the best for us?" made the project feel less risky for their team.

Check out the plan behind a successful project

Thorough planning is what separates successful projects from the vast majority. Download an example of a Product Roadmap used to guide a wildly successful modular, headless project.

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The outcome

Our focus was implementing Next.js's performant server-side rendering techniques and streamlining the codebase. It's worth noting that the site was half-built by the time our team had the opportunity to implement some of the standards we believed would improve performance.

After refactoring the critical parts of the site, the AFTCO site was meeting their original goals:

Headless store passing CWV

AFTCO performance

What’s next?

AFTCO have the opportunity to implement its choice for MACH technologies. There's nothing tieing them to outdated technologies. It's a really exciting time to be in this position, as the MACH Alliance is gaining traction and every day a new service leverages AI creatively to improve the shopping experience.

The next big tickets for the AFTCO team are expanding internationally and creating a customized shopping experience, all while dialling their conversion rate with A/B testing.

Without the store's current architecture, there wouldn't be a way to achieve these goals.

Need advice on upgrading your store?

Drop us a line to speak with headless eCommerce, Jamstack and MACH specialists. The worst that can happen is you get some free experience-backed advice.

Thank you for reaching out!