Given the evolution in the ecommerce industry, just offering an attractive storefront is not enough. Today, I am going to talk about headless ecommerce, an interesting idea derived from the headless revolution.
In this article, I’ll help you understand how the idea of headless has revolutionized ecommerce frameworks, and most importantly how not to get confused between headless ecommerce and CMS.
- Headless CMS and Headless Ecommerce
- Essential Features of Headless Ecommerce to Look For
- CMSs that support headless eCommerce integrations
- Ecommerce Platforms that Support Headless Ecommerce Approach
Headless CMS and Headless Commerce
The expression “Headless” refers to an application infrastructure without a frontend. A headless CMS only includes an API and a backend system linked to a database for storing content.
The content is published to an API or web service capable of publishing/pushing the content to any compatible device. As you can see, this lack of a dedicated frontend opens up new possibilities for integrating new business processes. From a technological standpoint, headless CMS uses API calls to render information on the webpage instead of establishing relationships between code and application.
The idea is not limited to just CMS. A related term “headless commerce” describes the separation of an ecommerce application’s frontend and backend. This architecture gives freedom of expression to brands to build user experiences far beyond the traditional ecommerce stores. Most importantly, it allows brands to enrich the experience of customers.
What’s the Difference Between the Two
Quick answer – there isn’t much difference between the two.
Let me explain;
As I mentioned above, the idea of ‘headless’ separate the backend from the frontend. In this configuration, the data available at the backend (storage or database) can be pulled and utilized at different platforms and delivery channels. A good example in the context of headless ecommerce is the scenario where data such as product descriptions and testimonials are hosted on the backend and is displayed at a custom frontend in the form of a separate app.
How does that help?
Well, the distributed assets are pulled to the frontend (mobile, web, smartwatch, etc) through API, making the experience significantly faster because the process requires only the assets required to render the frontend.
Headless Commerce is a perfect choice if you;
- Have a marketing strategy driven by content.
- want the ability to implement personalization, AI, or AR.
- Have multiple touchpoints and devices, and you want to create seamless digital experiences.
- Have multi-site or global selling requirements, serving multiple front-end experiences powered by the same backend.
- Are already using a CMS in which you have invested and you want to add ecommerce capabilities.
- Are already selling content online and have a different website, but you want to be able to merge the two.
Essential Features of Headless Ecommerce to Look For
- Content modeling, designing, and approval
- Freedom of choosing the framework
- Workflow and integration enhancement
- Management of digital assets
CMSs that support headless eCommerce integrations
Contentful is the next-generation content-focused platform. It is built for teams that need to unify content-related activities at a single hub. It uses open APIs and powerful integration capabilities, to structure the content for multiple channels and platforms.
Adobe Experience Manager
AEM is an enterprise-level web-focused content management application that allows the creation, management, and optimization of the customer experience at all channels.
Amplience is an API-first, headless platform for content management that offers B2C and B2B business operations the freedom to do more. Amplience serves more than 350 world’s leading brands, including Crate & Barrel, Tumi, Traeger Grills, Argos, OTTO Group, Primark, and Very Group.
Acquia is an open-source, Drupal-powered digital experience tool that allows you to create, manage, and optimize all your digital experiences from a single platform. A suite of CMS solutions and features allows you to create best-in-class digital experiences across all channels.
Kentico CMS is a web content management system built to create websites, online stores, intranets, and Web 2.0 community sites. Kentico CMS uses ASP.NET and Microsoft SQL Server and is compatible with Microsoft Azure. As you can guess, Visual Studio and Microsoft MVC are the preferred development environment for the app.
Sitecore is a leading digital experience platform for creating seamless, customized digital experiences. This is an integrated platform powered by .NET powered CMS and digital marketing tools. The main product of Sitecore is the Sitecore Experience Platform (XP), which integrates the Sitecore Experience Manager and Sitecore Experience Database (xDB) with its strong content management system (CMS).
Prismic is a Content Management System. It is essentially a tool that allows you to choose your technology, system, and language and then manage your content easily.
Vue Storefront, written in Vue.js, is a headless and backend-agnostic Progressive Web App (PWA) for ecommerce. The fact that it uses headless architecture makes it possible for Vue Storefront to connect to any ecommerce platform so that it can be a PWA frontend for Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.
Directus is an open-source tool that wraps up a dynamic API with custom SQL databases and provides an intuitive admin app to manage its content. The CMS could be self-hosted or can be deployed to an on-demand cloud for better control over omnichannel digital experiences.
Strapi is an open-source, headless platform based on Node.js. The best feature of the CMS is that it makes content accessible via a fully customizable API. It is designed to build practical, production-ready Node.js APIs for real-world projects.
ButterCMS is a headless platform that minimizes/eliminates the requirements for CMS backend setup, configuration, and hosting. It provides an easy-to-use REST API along with a clean and convenient UI for content editors.
Here is a guide on how to integrate ButterCMS on Cloudways.
Craft is a flexible, user-friendly CMS for building custom digital experiences on the web and beyond. Features: A user-friendly, intuitive control panel for content creation and administrative tasks. Craft CMS also has its own ecommerce module called CraftCommerce that offers custom ecommerce functionality. CraftCommerce is highly user-friendly and can be used to build ecommerce sites customized accurately to your business needs and specifications.
Here is a guide on how to install Craft CMS on Cloudways.
Content Management Systems for static site generators. Offer non-technical users an easy way to edit and add content with a static site generator. Netlify is released under MIT License. Please ensure that you understand its ramifications and assurances.
The cockpit is great if you need a versatile content structure, but don’t want to be constrained on how to use the content. If you want to support multiple devices or need a content management UI for static site constructors, the Cockpit is a great fit. So, learn how to install cockpit and create unique apps, and let Cockpit feed content to them.
Easily integrate without being tied to a preset of tools with your favorite marketing tools (Brightcove, Marketo, Salesforce, Optimizely, etc). Set up and identify workflows and approvals that map content management and publishing to your business processes. Enable content editors, without the support of a developer, to create and edit dynamic pages.
DatoCMS is a headless, cloud-based CMS designed to work with all kinds of static websites, mobile apps, and server-side applications. It allows non-technical consumers and team members to control the content of their digital products within a web-based CMS.
GraphCMS is the first native GraphQL API-First Headless Content Management System ( CMS) that enables teams worldwide to quickly create and deliver the digital multi-channel experiences of tomorrow on a scale. It was designed to create a GraphQL back-end host that provides the tools needed for the modern management of omnichannel content. GraphCMS interacts with the technologies of any front end, such as React, Angular, and Vue.
Without pushing the developer into a technology, Storyblok provides a bridge between content creators and developers. Storyblok’s primary goal is to make the site quicker-in development and maintenance! The goal is to let content creators write posts, stories, and even create landing pages on a single platform and still allow developers to access information from a performant API in well-structured content.
Core DNA is a leading digital experience platform (DXP) engineered from the ground up, offering enterprise-level organizations with the ability to meet their objective for a corporate website, eCommerce, intranet, extranet, mobile, social, and online marketing targets in the mid-market.
Zesty.io is a hybrid CMS that enables you to produce APIs for content, custom endpoints, and more! Fits with almost every static site generator.
TakeShape is an optimized Static Content Generator GraphQL API-first Content Management-as-a-service cloud platform that reduces the expense and effort of creating and operating a cloud-scale content experience. TakeShape operates on serverless infrastructure. It scales up to handle any traffic that you can throw at it. Deploy your website to AWS S3, FTP, Google Cloud Storage, and Netlify (coming soon).
Ecommerce Platforms that Support Headless Ecommerce Approach
Shopify is designed for small to medium-sized businesses, while the newer Shopify Plus is intended for large enterprises. While the core services are similar, Shopify Plus can handle far more load than a normal Shopify plan.
BigCommerce is a popular ecommerce platform for building and maintaining online shopfronts. It helps you to set up your shop, add items, and make money through your ecommerce website. For large or fast-growing enterprises, BigCommerce is best with loads of built-in functionality, data resources, and more.
Magento is an open-source e-commerce platform that provides online retailers with a dynamic shopping cart system, as well as control over their online store’s look, content, and functionality. Magento offers powerful marketing, optimization of search engines, and tools for catalog management.
commercetools is a tech company of the next generation that offers a true cloud-native platform for headless commerce that provides the building blocks for the modern age of digital commerce. Our leading-edge API approach enables retailers to build brand awareness by inspiring trade teams to create innovative and engaging experiences in digital commerce anywhere, today, and in the future.
Elastic Route is a “headless” eCommerce system, facilitating the integration of template-less eCommerce into Enterprise ERP systems as middleware. The platform is API-based and is aimed primarily at enterprise-level organizations.
Moltin is a cloud-based eCommerce solution that allows eCommerce features such as inventory, shopping carts, and checkout flow to be easily incorporated into any website or application through simple and powerful APIs.
SAP CX Commerce Cloud
The market-leading solution (SAP Commerce Cloud) for you to take charge of your communication, sales, and customer support practices across all platforms. All product data is centrally controlled and is prepared on a single platform in a media-neutral format.
OroCommerce is an open-source, scalable platform designed from the ground up for B2B eCommerce. The eCommerce solution that manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, and brands need is provided by OroCommerce. The solution can be provided both as a SaaS/cloud environment and as an on-site setup.
Spryker is a commerce framework for online businesses and digital transformation initiatives as well as E-Commerce channels for customer-oriented, data-driven business models.
Snipcart is an easy solution for shopping carts that allows you to transform any website into a completely customizable platform for e-commerce. It will take developers minutes, not hours, for simple Snipcart integration.
FoxyCart is a completely customizable e-commerce platform designed to build strong, but easy-to-use online shopping carts for web developers and designers. Foxycart serves the needs of experienced developers, but with simple HTML skills, it is also ideal for first-timers.
An essential part of any company that wants to remain competitive online is creating, managing, and distributing quality content. You can easily deliver an iconic digital experience to your customers by using the correct headless commerce that fits your business needs. I discussed the features of the top 22 headless eCommerce enabling CMS and 11 eCommerce platforms offering headless capabilities.
Let me know in the comments section below if I’ve missed any CMS or headless enabled eCommerce platform. Go Headless. 🙂
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