Headless Ecommerce CMS: All you need to know
In today's fast-paced, digital world, having an eCommerce website is crucial for businesses to stay relevant and competitive. As eCommerce sites grow more complex, it becomes increasingly important to have a Content Management System (CMS) that can handle the demands of modern-day online shopping.
Enter Headless CMS—a new way of managing content that separates the backend from the front-end, allowing for greater flexibility and scalability.
What is Headless CMS?
Headless CMS is a modern approach that separates the CMS from the frontend presentation layer. With a decoupled CMS architecture, also known as a hybrid CMS, it allows for faster development and deployment while providing better control over content delivery and customization.
In this comprehensive blog post guide, we'll take a deep dive into and explore its benefits over traditional CMS systems. We'll cover everything from understanding what Headless CMS is and how it works in eCommerce to comparing it with traditional CMS systems and selecting the right one for your business.
We'll also look at real-world success stories of businesses that have implemented the systems and discuss emerging technologies that are influencing the future of eCommerce.
Headless CMS vs Headless Commerce Platforms
Let's get this out of the way.
Headless CMS and headless commerce are two different things. Headless CMS is a content management system that separates the backend from the frontend, while headless commerce is a commerce platform that separates the frontend shopping experience from the backend commerce functionality.
|Aspect||Headless CMS||Headless Commerce Platforms|
|Primary Focus||Content management, creation, and organization||E-commerce functionality, including product catalog, orders, payments, and more.|
|Separation of Concerns||Backend content management is separated from frontend presentation.||Backend e-commerce functions are decoupled from frontend, allowing flexible presentation layers.|
|Use Cases||Content-heavy websites, blogs, news portals, digital content delivery.||Online stores, e-commerce websites, marketplaces, digital storefronts.|
|Examples||Contentful, Strapi, Sanity, WordPress (with headless setup).||Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, commercetools, Magento (headless configurations available).|
|Key Features||Content creation, editing, version control, multi-channel content delivery.||Product catalog management, order processing, payment gateways, shopping cart functionality, and more.|
Please note that while headless CMS and headless commerce platforms have distinct primary focuses, some platforms may offer hybrid solutions, blurring the lines between the two categories to cater to various business needs.
Generally headless CMS and headless commerce platforms are used together
Headless CMS and headless commerce platforms are often used together to create a seamless shopping experience. The headless CMS handles content management, while the headless commerce platform handles the e-commerce functionality. For example: Contentful + Shopify Plus, Strapi + BigCommerce, Sanity + commercetools, and more.
Understanding Headless CMS for Ecommerce
77% of organizations who use a headless architecture state that it gives them greater agility, allowing them to make changes to their storefront more quickly. (State of Commerce report).
A recent survey found that 15% of ecommerce businesses are currently using a headless CMS, and another 25% are planning to adopt one in the next two years.
User experience is a big differentiator. On an average 89% of companies in the same industry compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. (Gartner)
What's worse? 86% of the customers stop doing business with a company due to a bad experience. (Salesforce)
eCommerce Businesses are moving to headless CMS to deliver a better user experience and stay ahead of the competition.
Here is why.
It empowers organizations to craft exceptional digital experiences. By decoupling content from presentation, it offers unmatched flexibility, enabling personalized and responsive websites and applications. Great digital experiences have been shown to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Seamless integration with third-party apps and services simplifies the process for e-commerce websites to augment their functionality via plugins. This effortless connectivity enables businesses to expand their capabilities, from payment processing to marketing automation, ensuring a more versatile and competitive online presence.
They have a significant impact on Google SEO due to their flexibility and speed. They allow developers to create highly optimized, lightweight front-ends that load quickly, improving user experience and reducing bounce rates. Additionally, they facilitate structured data implementation, making it easier for search engines to understand and rank content, ultimately boosting SEO performance.
Handling scale is a breeze. Its modular architecture and cloud-based infrastructure allow organizations to effortlessly accommodate growing content demands and traffic spikes. Scalable APIs and microservices ensure robust performance, enabling businesses to expand without compromising user experience, making it ideal for enterprise-level solutions.
Independent Content management
Additionally, it allows for efficient content management across multiple channels, empowering ecommerce businesses to create an omnichannel online store on a single platform.
Due to the decoupled nature of the content and the digital experiences, developers can move fast and build features more confidently. This ability allows businesses to easily adapt to changing market demands and trends, ensuring that they stay ahead of the competition.
The architecture of Headless CMS for Ecommerce: API-first backend + Custom front-end
The architecture of a headless CMS involves separating the frontend and backend functionalities, allowing for enhanced flexibility and customization. Operating through APIs, it seamlessly integrates with various frontend technologies, enabling developers to build dynamic and interactive digital experiences.
Front-end and Architecture
The frontend utilizes APIs to fetch content from the backend. This architecture enables developers to create custom front-ends and ensure better maintenance and scalability. Additionally, it allows for headless commerce, where the front-end can be customized for different platforms and devices. This flexibility makes it a powerful tool for creating dynamic and personalized online shopping experiences across different devices and channels.
A headless CMS serves as an agile and versatile e-commerce backend. With a headless CMS, content is stored, managed, and delivered via APIs, making it accessible to various digital channels and devices.
This approach enables developers to build dynamic and interactive user interfaces while ensuring seamless content updates without major changes to the application's backend.
Additionally, headless CMS platforms often provide robust features for content modeling, version control, and multi-language support, simplifying the development process and ensuring content consistency.
Headless CMS ecommerce Vs. Traditional CMS e-commerce
Headless CMS offers more flexibility and freedom compared to traditional CMS. Here are the main differences between the two.
|Functionality||Traditional CMS||Headless CMS|
|Content Management & Frontend Presentation||Combined||Separated|
|Flexibility in Frontend Development & Design||Limited||More flexibility|
|Development & Deployment Speed||Slower||Faster|
|Suitability||Simpler websites||Complex & scalable applications|
|Content Editing Interface||User-friendly||Requires technical knowledge|
|Third-party Integration||Easier||Allows easier integration|
|Ease of Setup & Use||Typically easier||May be more complex|
Functionalities to Expect in a Headless CMS Ecommerce Solution
When selecting a headless CMS for your ecommerce business, it's crucial to consider your specific requirements and your ecommerce goals.
Look for a solution that seamlessly integrates with your front-end technologies to ensure a smooth user experience.
Evaluate the pricing and scalability options available to find the best fit for your business needs.
Robust content management capabilities, ease of use, and content creation capabilities are essential for managing your ecommerce store effectively.
Additionally, considering the support and community around the platform can provide valuable insights into its reliability.
Consider the API-first approach and compatibility with different programming languages, as this will determine how well the solution integrates with your existing tech stack.
Another crucial factor is scalability and performance – you want a system that can handle high volumes of traffic and provide fast page load times.
Lastly, look for platforms that offer localization and personalization features, as these can greatly enhance the user experience
Best Headless Ecommerce CMS: Commercetools vs Sanity vs Open-source and more
When it comes to headless CMS platforms for ecommerce, several options stand out.
Contentful is renowned for its headless CMS architecture, which offers unparalleled flexibility in content management and delivery. Its robust API-driven approach empowers developers to create dynamic and personalized digital experiences. Contentful's user-friendly interface and content modeling capabilities streamline content creation and distribution.
We are an official Contentful Partner
BigCommerce is a comprehensive e-commerce platform celebrated for its scalability and extensive built-in features. Merchants benefit from its seamless integration with various sales channels, advanced SEO tools, and customizable storefronts. With responsive design and secure hosting, BigCommerce empowers businesses to grow and thrive online.
Sanity is a flexible and developer-friendly platform with a strong focus on structured content and real-time collaboration. Its customizable schemas, instant content updates, and version control make it a powerful choice for content-driven applications. Sanity's real-time collaborative environment fosters efficient content creation and collaboration among teams. It's an ideal stack for the business needs of startups and small businesses.
Strapi: Open-source solution
Strapi stands out as an open-source solution that offers complete customization and control over content management. Developers appreciate its Node.js-based technology stack, extensibility, and plugin ecosystem. Strapi's intuitive admin panel simplifies content creation and management, making it an ideal choice for projects of all sizes.
DatoCMS, as a headless CMS for e-commerce, stands out with its robust content modeling capabilities. It empowers online retailers to create complex product catalogs with ease, defining relationships between products, categories, and attributes. Its unique feature lies in its GraphQL Content Delivery API, offering efficient and precise querying for e-commerce websites. Additionally, DatoCMS supports dynamic content rendering, enabling personalized product recommendations and seamless integration with various sales channels.
These top ecommerce platforms are ideal, providing the necessary functionalities to create and manage content effectively. With their diverse features and capabilities, they empower online stores to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
Pricing for Headless CMS for E-commerce Platforms
Overall, the cost of a headless CMS ecommerce platform can range from a few thousand dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars per month. The specific costs will vary depending on factors such as the paid support plan, CDN (content delivery network), and cost to build out the front-end experience.
Here are some examples of pricing for ecommerce companies:
Contentful: Contentful offers a free plan for up to 100 content items. Paid plans start at $99 per month and go up to $1,500 per month for the enterprise plan.
Storyblok: Storyblok offers a free plan for up to 1,000 content items. Paid plans start at $99 per month and go up to $10,000 per month for the enterprise plan.
Shopify Plus: Shopify Plus offers a headless commerce solution as part of its enterprise plan. The Shopify Plus headless commerce plan starts at $2,000 per month.
Implementing ecommerce headless CMS: A Step-by-step Guide
This requires careful planning and preparation.
Start by analyzing and documenting your current content management processes and requirements. This will help you identify the content types and structures that need to be migrated. Additionally, you should plan the integration of the headless CMS with your existing front-end technologies to ensure a seamless transition.
Creating a timeline and allocating resources for the transition is essential to stay on track. Lastly, communicate the upcoming changes to your team and provide training and support to ensure a smooth transition.
To migrate from a traditional CMS to a headless CMS, you need to follow a step-by-step process.
First, export your content from the traditional CMS and organize it for migration.
Next, map and restructure your content to fit the new architecture.
Once that's done, import the content into the headless CMS and validate its integrity.
Afterward, update your frontend code to retrieve and display content from the headless CMS.
Finally, test and verify the migrated content to ensure its proper rendering on the website.
Case Study 1: BigCommerce with Contentful
Skullcandy witnessed a 28% increase in organic search traffic due to improved SEO rankings and a more responsive user experience.
BigCommerce is a popular e-commerce platform that offers headless capabilities. Skullcandy, a leading audio brand, utilized BigCommerce's headless functionality and integrated it with Contentful for content management.
Content Management: By employing Contentful as a headless CMS ecommerce platform, Skullcandy gained the ability to create and update content independently of their e-commerce platform. This allowed them to deliver rich and engaging product pages with multimedia content.
Speed and SEO: The separation of content and presentation improved website performance, leading to faster page load times. As a result,
Case Study 2: Strapi with Vue Storefront
VMP or Vinyl Me, Please, a subscription-based music club, wanted to enhance its e-commerce platform to provide a more customized experience for vinyl collectors
Background: VMP chose Strapi as their headless CMS ecommerce platform and integrated it with Vue Storefront.
Impact: Content Flexibility: Strapi's headless CMS enabled Vinyl Me, Please to manage extensive music-related content effortlessly. They could create articles, artist profiles, and curated playlists, enriching the user experience.
Multi-Channel Support: By decoupling the CMS from the storefront, the company could seamlessly extend its services to mobile apps and other digital touchpoints, achieving a consistent brand presence across channels.
Conclusion: Headless CMS platforms for ecommerce
As ecommerce businesses prioritize flexibility and scalability, the adoption is slated to increase. They are constantly enhancing their localization capabilities to cater to global markets. Furthermore, the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning is enabling more personalized ecommerce experiences.
Revolutionize your ecommerce experience with headless CMS. Seamlessly integrate with various platforms and technologies. Deliver personalized and engaging content across multiple channels. Experience faster development and deployment of new features. Achieve greater flexibility, scalability, and consistent user experience across devices and touchpoints.
FAQs on Headless commerce CMS
As you dive into the world of headless CMS for ecommerce, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the technical jargon surrounding this innovative concept. Here are some key terms to help you decode the language.
|Headless CMS||A content management system that separates the frontend presentation layer from the backend content management functionality.|
|API||Application Programming Interface, a set of rules and protocols that allow different software applications to communicate with each other.|
|Frontend||The user-facing part of a website or application that users interact with.|
|Content Management||The process of creating, editing, organizing, and publishing content on a website or application.|
|API-first||An approach where the API is designed and prioritized before the front-end development.|
|GraphQL||A query language used for APIs, enabling clients to request specific data from the server.|
|Open-source||Refers to software that is freely available and can be modified and distributed by users.|
|Localization||The process of adapting content to meet the cultural, linguistic, and technical requirements of a specific target market or locale.|
Understanding these terms will enable you to navigate with confidence and make informed decisions about its implementation.
Is Headless CMS the Right Choice for Your Ecommerce Business?
Considering its high level of customization and flexibility, headless CMS can be the perfect choice for your ecommerce business. Its decoupled architecture is ideal for businesses with complex backend systems. Future-proof your digital experiences with the best headless ecommerce platforms, adapt easily to new technologies, and handle fluctuating traffic and sales volumes efficiently. Enhance user experiences across multiple channels seamlessly.
Headless CMS vs. headless commerce?
Headless CMS separates the front-end presentation from the back-end content management, while headless commerce separates the front-end shopping experience from the back-end commerce functionality.
Many e-commerce businesses choose to use both headless CMS and headless commerce solutions in tandem. They leverage the content management capabilities of a headless CMS for creating rich product content and marketing materials, while relying on a headless commerce platform to handle the transactional aspects of the business.
Is Magento a Headless eCommerce Platform?
Magento, though not a headless eCommerce platform by default, can be converted into one. The release of Magento 2.4 has made it easier to decouple the front-end and back-end, allowing it to function as a headless CMS for eCommerce. However, technical expertise and additional development work may be required for this conversion. WordPress is another popular CMS platform that can be integrated with BigCommerce for headless eCommerce store creation.
What Should You Look for in a Headless CMS ecommerce Platform?
When selecting a headless commerce platform, consider its integration capabilities with your current systems through flexible APIs. Ensure the platform prioritizes robust security features to safeguard customer data. Evaluate scalability and performance to handle high traffic and sales volume. Look for comprehensive analytics and reporting capabilities for valuable insights into customer behavior, including the ability to connect with your customer relationship management (CRM) and product information management (PIM) tool, where all of your customer and product data are stored.
How Does a Headless CMS Work?
It works by separating the backend, where content is stored and managed, from the front-end, where the content is displayed. Through APIs, content is delivered from the backend to various front-end devices or platforms like websites, mobile apps, or voice assistants. This approach offers businesses greater flexibility to customize their frontend and provide personalized experiences for their customers. The frontend includes various components like product pages, navigation menus, and the user interface, which allow shoppers to interact with the eCommerce store.
What is the best headless CMS for eCommerce?
There are several excellent options for e-commerce. Some of the best ones include Contentful, Prismic, Sanity, Storybook, and Strapi.
What is Vue StoreFront?
Vue Storefront, written in Vue.js, is a headless and back-end-agnostic Progressive Web App (PWA) for eCommerce. Its headless architecture makes it possible for Vue Storefront to connect to any eCommerce platform so that it can be a PWA front-end for Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce, and WooCommerce.
Co-founder & CEO