Hello, e-commerce enthusiasts. It’s time to abandon traditional web platforms and embrace the headless world of e-commerce.
Because customers consume content across multiple touchpoints, such as mobile, IoT and progressive web apps.
But here’s the catch: many ecommerce stores and business owners struggle to keep up with these modern technologies, mainly due to the high cost of hiring experienced developers.
Fear not, because headless eCommerce platforms are here to save the day!
These platforms allow you to make changes to the customer-facing part of your eCommerce store without having to touch the internal store processes that control shopping carts, shipping orders, and tax calculations.
In addition, you can adjust the back-end processes without affecting the front-end where your customers interact with the store.
In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best headless commerce platforms that offer flexibility and unique advantages.
So, are you ready to enter the world of headless ecommerce?
Not so fast!
Before you dive headfirst into headless ecommerce, let’s quickly go over the basics.
Imagine you run a large e-commerce store with a complex product catalog and a growing customer base. As your business expands, your current e-commerce platform doesn’t provide the level of flexibility and customization you need to meet the changing needs of your customers. That’s where a headless CMS comes in.
Headless CMS gives you more flexibility and scalability to design the customer-facing portion of your platform while maintaining a robust back-end.
The idea is not limited to CMSs. A related term, “headless e-commerce,” describes the separation of the front-end and back-end of an e-commerce application. This architecture gives freedom of expression to brands to build user experiences far beyond traditional e-commerce stores. More importantly, it allows brands to enrich the customer experience.
If you are interested in exploring headless, you can take a look at how to build Front-End with React & WordPress using headless CMS in your eCommerce architecture.
Headless e-commerce is based on a more modular approach in which the front-end and back-end are separated. This allows for greater flexibility and scalability as it enables companies to use different tools and technologies for the front-end and back-end.
On the other hand, traditional e-commerce involves a complete end-to-end solution where a single platform manages everything from the front-end user interface to the back-end database, inventory management and payment processing. In this approach, the front-end and back-end are tightly coupled, meaning that any changes to the front-end would require modifications to the back-end as well.
|It uses a monolithic architecture, in which the backend and frontend are tightly coupled.||It uses a decoupled architecture, in which the backend and frontend are separated.|
|It forces the entire system to reload on every new page, resulting in slower page load times and a less fluid user experience.||You can create a header that uses Single Page Application (SPA) technology, resulting in faster page load times and a smoother user experience.|
|Limited flexibility in terms of customization and integrations.||It offers greater flexibility in terms of customization and integrations, as different frameworks and frontend tools can be used.|
|May require significant development and maintenance resources to keep the system up to date.||You can reduce the development resources and maintenance required, since changes can be made on the frontend without affecting the backend.|
The trend of headless eCommerce is on the rise and gaining more popularity compared to conventional eCommerce, as the following chart from Google Trends indicates.
Well, the distributed assets are extracted to the front-end (mobile, web, smartwatch, etc.) via API, making the experience significantly faster because the process requires only the assets needed to render the front-end.
Headless eCommerce is a perfect choice if:
– You have a content-driven marketing strategy.
– You want to implement personalization, AI or AR
– You have multiple touch points and devices, and want to create seamless digital experiences
– You have global or multi-site sales requirements, and offer multiple front-end experiences driven by the same back-end
– Already use a CMS that you have invested in and want to add e-commerce capabilities.
– You already sell content online and have a separate website, but want to be able to merge the two.
Headless e-commerce platforms are becoming increasingly popular with companies looking for more flexibility and customization. However, with the numerous options available in the market, selecting the right one can be challenging.
Below, we will discuss what to look for in a headless e-commerce platform to help businesses make informed decisions.
Integration is a crucial aspect of headless e-commerce, as it enables a smooth and efficient experience for customers and businesses. By ensuring that APIs work correctly and efficiently, integration helps create a seamless front-end user experience, while the back-end can process orders and manage inventory accurately. This synergy between the front-end and back-end ensures a better overall experience for all parties involved.
Headless CMS also allows integration with various analytics and reporting tools, such as Google Analytics and Mixpanel. This integration allows companies to track website traffic, monitor customer behavior and analyze sales data, providing valuable information for data-driven decision making.
Content modeling capabilities
Content modeling consists of defining the structure and organization of content, including product descriptions, images, videos and other multimedia elements. Content modeling ensures that content is consistent across channels and devices, making it easy for users to navigate and find what they need.
Companies can create a consistent and engaging user experience across channels and devices by investing in content modeling, design and approval. This can lead to better SEO, higher customer engagement, higher conversion rates and increased customer loyalty.
Payment gateway integration
Payment gateways are important on any e-commerce site to ensure secure and seamless payment transactions between the customer and the store.
In addition, payment gateways also provide a variety of features that can benefit e-commerce businesses, such as fraud detection and prevention, currency conversion, recurring payments, and support for multiple payment methods.
Therefore, choose a platform that can integrate multiple payment gateways such as Square, Stripe, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay and more.
Workflow Enhancement Architecture
The headless workflow enhancements architecture is important in building a storefront, as it improves the efficiency, accuracy and speed of various e-commerce workflows.
Workflow enhancements can help streamline and automate these workflows, reducing the manual effort required and minimizing errors and delays.
Support is an essential component of headless e-commerce because it can help companies resolve technical issues, improve operational efficiency and deliver a better customer experience.
Support can come in a variety of forms: phone, email, chat and self-service knowledge bases.
When choosing a headless e-commerce platform, prioritize a provider that offers 24/7 support or fast, responsive help channels. Technical issues can arise at any time, and you don’t want prolonged downtime. A responsive support team can resolve issues quickly, ensuring smooth e-commerce operation.
When evaluating headless e-commerce platforms, it is crucial to ensure that they offer strong security measures to protect customer data and financial transactions. Strong security measures are essential to maintain customer confidence and ensure that your e-commerce operations are safe from potential cyber threats.
The API-first approach is essential in headless e-commerce because it enables companies to create flexible and scalable e-commerce systems that can be easily integrated with other systems and services.
The API-first approach offers a number of advantages, such as
– It allows companies to scale their eCommerce systems independently by adding new API endpoints or increasing server capacity.
– APIs can be easily integrated with other systems and services, such as third-party software.
– APIs can be customized to meet the unique needs of each company.
When considering headless e-commerce platforms, price is an important factor to consider. The cost of these platforms can vary significantly, and it is essential to find a solution that fits your budget while helping you achieve higher profits. Carefully evaluate the pricing structures of different platform providers and choose the one that offers you the best value for money.
These are some of the most popular platforms that support headless e-commerce:
Shopify Plus offers robust headless commerce capabilities, integrating with various CMS and front-end solutions to create virtual storefronts for web, mobile and more. The Storefront API enables fast and engaging storefront design while seamlessly integrating with ERP, PIM, CRM and CMS. It’s easy to use with pre-built solutions, but expert developers can customize it further. Ideal for medium to large businesses.
Shopify is designed for small and medium-sized businesses, while the newer Shopify Plus is aimed at large enterprises. Although the basic services are similar, Shopify Plus can handle much more load than a regular Shopify plan.
BigCommerce is a popular e-commerce platform for creating and maintaining online storefronts. It helps you set up your store, add items and make money through your e-commerce website. For large or fast-growing businesses, BigCommerce is the best with a lot of integrated features, data resources and much more.
Magento is an open source e-commerce platform that provides online retailers with a dynamic shopping cart system and control over the look, content and functionality of their online store. Magento offers powerful marketing, search engine optimization and catalog management tools.
CommerceTools is a cloud-native technology company that offers a headless commerce platform, where the frontend and backend of an application are separated and communicate through an API. This flexible API allows companies to interact with their customers on a variety of platforms, such as mobile apps, websites and social networks. CommerceTools’ approach allows retailers to create innovative and engaging experiences that build brand awareness, giving them full control over the implementation and hosting of their online store.
Elastic Path is an API-based headless e-commerce software that targets a variety of industries, including retail, manufacturing, automotive and healthcare. Its Core Commerce module offers features such as catalog management, merchandising and reporting, enabling marketers to customize offers based on customer buying trends.
The platform can run on-premise or hosted in single or multi-tenant SaaS environments, and offers an API for easy integration with third-party applications. Elastic Path enables companies to manage physical and subscription services, create digital storefronts and bundle products to streamline processes.
Moltin is a digital commerce solution that provides flexible APIs, developer toolkits, pre-built applications and cloud infrastructure for retailers to create unique shopping experiences across any channel or device. Its powerful APIs are easy to use, allowing retailers to quickly test new channels and scale to new markets. Moltin has a growing community of more than 17,000 developers worldwide who are pushing the boundaries of traditional commerce.
SAP Commerce Cloud is a market-leading solution for you to take charge of your communication, sales and customer service practices across all platforms. All product data is centrally controlled and prepared on a single platform in a media-neutral format.
The platform enables companies to create and manage their online stores across multiple channels. It also enables business owners to deliver personalized experiences to their customers based on their browsing and shopping history, preferences and behavior.
SAP CX Commerce Cloud can easily integrate with other SAP and third-party systems and provides real-time insights and analytics on sales, customer behavior and engagement, enabling business owners to make data-driven decisions.
OroCommerce is a B2B e-commerce software aimed at medium to large businesses, offering integrated CRM and integrations with third-party applications. Its out-of-the-box features can be tailored to any B2B, B2B2B, B2B2B, B2B2C or B2B and B2C commerce needs. The platform provides tools for corporate account management, access controls, permissions, content management and more, making it suitable for all companies looking to streamline their e-commerce management. OroCommerce is an open source solution that offers flexibility and scalability for companies to adapt to changing market needs.
Snipcart is an e-commerce solution that allows businesses to add shopping cart features to their existing websites. It includes a control panel for merchants and customers, payment gateways, inventory management and much more. Users can upload product data, create catalogs and generate promotional codes. The platform also supports shipping solutions, account creation and control panels for individual customers. In addition, Snipcart offers a simple integration process that takes developers minutes, not hours, for basic setup.
FoxyCart is an e-commerce platform designed for web developers and web designers to create fully customizable online shopping carts. It offers flexibility in store, cart and checkout design that can adapt to any user’s business model. FoxyCart prioritizes quick and easy shopping experiences with its fast checkout flow, and can be easily integrated with just a link or form. Although it does not include CMS or integrated marketing systems, more advanced users can use their preferred tools for convenience.
Developed in 2013 in Germany, Contentful is a cloud-based headless CMS. It is a next-generation content-centric platform. Unlike traditional CMSs, Contentful offers a cloud-based platform for managing digital content. This makes it ideal for teams that need to unify content-related activities in a single hub.
Contentful uses special features and tools such as content creation and management, content modeling, API-first approach, collaboration and workflow management. This allows developers to use any programming language and framework to deliver content to any device or channel.
The headless CMS Adobe Experience Manager is a highly adaptable content management system that enables teams to quickly create and distribute customer experiences across multiple channels and devices, such as the web, mobile devices and social media. This is why AEM is widely used by large enterprises and organizations to manage their digital content.
Amplience is a cloud-based, API-centric headless platform for content management that gives B2C and B2B business operations the freedom to do more.
Amplience provides a suite of tools such as dynamic imaging, multi-channel publishing, personalization and digital asset management to create and manage the digital space for businesses. Amplience is a popular choice for business owners looking to create and deliver engaging digital experiences across multiple channels.
Amplience serves more than 350 leading global brands, including Crate & Barrel, Tumi, Traeger Grills, Argos, OTTO Group, Primark and Very Group.
Designed for decoupled projects and microservices environments, Acquia CMS Headless is a Drupal-based CMS that emphasizes robust data modeling and content management features within a headless framework. It allows you to create, manage and optimize all your digital experiences from a single platform.
Acquia is used by companies of all sizes in a wide range of industries, including government, healthcare and education. Its Drupal expertise, cloud hosting services, and security and compliance make it a popular choice for companies looking to create and manage secure, scalable digital experiences.
Kentico is a versatile content management system that offers content marketing and e-commerce tools, customizable forms and page templates. It integrates with various back-end systems, payment gateways and shipping providers. With a headless approach to content using a robust headless API, Kentico enables precise delivery exactly where it is needed.
This approach provides greater flexibility for companies to integrate with their existing systems and devices seamlessly. The platform provides real-time customer-centric marketing, lead scoring, web analytics and social media marketing. With responsive design capabilities, Kentico ensures a consistent experience across devices and in multiple languages.
Vue Storefront, written in Vue.js, is a headless, back-end agnostic progressive web application (PWA) for e-commerce. Its headless architecture makes it possible for Vue Storefront to connect to any e-commerce platform so it can be a PWA front-end for Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce.
Vue Storefront is designed to be a Progressive Web App (PWA), thus providing a fast and engaging user experience for online customers, and provides an app-like experience, including offline support and push notifications.
Vue Storefront offers the benefits of a large and growing community of developers who contribute to its development and provide support to other users of the platform.
Directus is a headless CMS built on NodeJS, which connects your website or applications to a SQL database through its REST or GraphQL API. It provides an intuitive administration application to manage content seamlessly. Directus CMS uses Vue.js and Node.js to create a modern responsive user interface, providing a number of features and tools for building web applications.
Directus CMS is designed to be a flexible and customizable solution for content and data management. By utilizing modern web technologies and standards, it provides developers with a powerful and scalable platform for building web applications and websites.
Strapi is an open source headless platform based on Node.js. The best feature of the CMS is that it makes content accessible through a fully customizable API. It is designed to build practical, production-ready Node.js APIs for real-world projects.
Strapi CMS offers a plugin system that allows developers to extend its core functionality, integrate with other services and technologies, and customize the platform to their specific needs.
Strapi CMS is used by companies of all sizes and industries, including media, e-commerce, education and healthcare.
Sanity Studio is a real-time, open source, headless platform built on modern web technologies and follows a “content-as-data” approach, allowing developers to use any programming language or technology to create applications and websites.
Sanity CMS allows developers to extend its core functionalities, integrate with other services and technologies and customize the platform to their specific needs. It provides developers with a flexible and scalable platform to build applications and websites using Sanity CMS as a content back-end.
ButterCMS is a headless platform that minimizes/eliminates CMS installation, configuration and back-end hosting requirements. It provides an easy-to-use REST API along with a clean and convenient user interface for content editors.
ButterCMS uses Markdown as the content format. Markdown is a simple and lightweight markup language that allows developers to write content in a structured and standardized way.
Craft is a flexible and easy-to-use CMS for creating personalized digital experiences on and off the web. It features an intuitive and easy-to-use control panel for content creation and administrative tasks. Craft CMS also has its own e-commerce module called CraftCommerce that offers custom e-commerce functionality.
CraftCommerce is very easy to use and can be used to build e-commerce sites customized precisely to your business needs and specifications.
Cockpit CMS is an open source, self-hosted content management system that works solely through APIs. It uses SQLite or MongoDB as a database, the latter being highly recommended for production purposes. The platform offers an easy-to-use interface and is an excellent choice for those who need a flexible content structure without usage limitations. If you need a content management user interface for static site builders or need multi-device support, Cockpit is an ideal choice.
DatoCMS is a headless, cloud-based CMS designed to work with all types 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.
It is a popular platform used by more than 25,000 companies to efficiently generate online content from a single central location and then distribute it via APIs.
GraphCMS is the first native GraphQL API-First Headless Content Management System (CMS)
GraphCMS is a versatile API-First Headless Content Management System (CMS) that enables teams to manage content for any channel, from high-traffic websites to mobile apps and voice applications.
With its API-first approach, users can build and customize their GraphQL API to define content structures, relationships and permissions. Content creators can then manage them with familiar tools, without the need for pull requests. GraphCMS enables true cross-platform development and provides advanced filters, type safety and automatic documentation for a seamless experience.
GraphCMS is a reliable content infrastructure trusted by renowned organizations such as Discovery, Tchibo and Shure.
Zesty.io is a flexible headless content management solution designed to provide optimal digital experiences on every device and channel. It offers a variety of content management features, such as a visual editor for content creation and editing, a content modeling system for custom content types, and a workflow engine for managing the content approval process.
In addition, Zesty provides website management tools like a site builder for creating and managing websites and a theme editor for customizing visibility and user experience.
To remain competitive online, it is critical for businesses to generate high-quality content and adopt the right headless e-commerce platform to enhance their customers’ digital experience.
In this regard, we have highlighted in this blog 10 of the best headless e-commerce platforms and 15 CMSs that support headless functionality. All of them offer exceptional value, e-commerce functionality and optimization opportunities for small and large e-commerce stores.
Regardless of whether a company needs B2C or B2B e-commerce, there is an e-commerce solution that can meet their specific needs. By using these services, companies can create customized front-end and back-end solutions to meet the changing needs of their customers while maintaining relevance through a headless approach.
Tell me in the comments section if I’ve overlooked any CMS or headless e-commerce platforms.
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