What Is the Best CMS for Headless Commerce 
Kaya Ismail • 22 February 2023
Top-performing eCommerce brands use a headless CMS to manage their content and user experience. But what are the benefits, and what CMS is best for your eCommerce brand?
What Is a Headless CMS?
A headless CMS is a back-end-only content management system that allows you to create and store the content in the backend and deliver your content as data over an API to wherever you choose.
At its core, a CMS lets you create, edit and publish digital content without any code. It allows you to make changes to the page layout, add content, modify the look and feel of your webshop, and more. However, traditional CMS platforms have tightly coupled frontends and backends. You’re often limited to delivering content to just a website or mobile application with these platforms.
Using APIs, a headless CMS allows you to decouple that frontend or ‘head’ and distribute content to mobile devices, tablets, digital signs, AR and VR devices, and anywhere potential customers view content.
Why Do You Need a Headless CMS?
Many eCommerce platforms like Shopify handle everything related to commerce. They enable you to manage products and sell them to your customers. In addition to the commerce side of things, some eCommerce platforms also include a CMS. This can simplify running your business, as it’s one system to manage everything.
However, content management is not the main focus of such eCommerce platforms. Thus these solutions are often not very suitable for larger brands and can restrict what your marketing team can do with content.
To eliminate any pains and frustrations, brands can opt for headless commerce. When you have adopted a headless architecture, you no longer need to use the CMS that comes with your eCommerce platform. Instead, you can couple a headless CMS that covers all your needs. This way, you can manage your content with a headless CMS, and the eCommerce platform only does what it’s supposed to do, organize the commerce side of your business.
For more information on headless commerce, make sure to check out the following resources:
What Are the Benefits of Using a Headless CMS?
A headless CMS coupled with an eCommerce platform is one of the most powerful combinations. With this setup, you use two systems built for a specific purpose: one to manage and distribute your content and one to handle everything related to selling products. It’s a setup with many advantages over working with the all-in-one solution provided by eCommerce platforms, also referred to as monolithic solutions. Here are some of the benefits you can achieve with this approach:
Omnichannel user experience
There is a 287% increased chance of purchase if the product is available on 3 or more channels. Companies with proper omnichannel strategies retain 89% of their customers (compared to the companies without, who only manage to keep 33% of their customers).
When it comes to omnichannel presence, a headless CMS enables you to manage your content in one central hub and display it on any platform you like because of its decoupled nature. More importantly, since the backend and frontend operate independently, the layout and the customer journeys (frontend) can be completely unique and tailored for each platform or device.
Speed to market
When it comes to updating content or adding features in a monolithic commerce solution, every change requires the necessary changes in the backend. This requires more work and makes it more challenging to respond to market changes and run time-sensitive marketing campaigns. With a headless CMS, the front-end code is disconnected from the backend, so no matter how extensive the modifications are, they do not influence the entire system.
Fast and SEO friendly experience
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps ensure your products can be found when a potential customer is looking for them. According to Google, 40% of users exit a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. It’s no surprise that Google announced a website’s response and loading time to be one of the most critical criteria in SEO.
Since eCommerce brands deal with many products, they also have a vast library of content, including images, videos, and more. At some point, this will have a significant impact on your site speed. With a headless CMS, you can ensure a fast shopping experience no matter how extensive your content library is.
Many headless CMS solutions can offer image optimization tools to decrease loading times. In addition, a headless CMS solves one of the most frustrating issues when it comes to Shopify, the fixed URL structure. Luckily a headless CMS allows you to customize your URL structure just the way you want, which can positively affect your SEO efforts.
A major pain point for eCommerce brands selling in multiple countries is multi-language management. Since the content management systems that come with eCommerce platforms are limited, they also lack advanced multi-language capabilities. A headless CMS is built for managing content. Thus, many offer the features you need to easily edit and publish content in a variety of different languages, all from a single backend.
20 CMS Platforms Made for Headless Commerce
Here we’ve provided a list of headless CMS platforms that offer support for headless commerce:
Storyblok is a headless CMS that both developers and marketers can use to deliver powerful content experiences on any front-end channel. Both developers and business users can benefit from Storyblok’s flexibility with visual editing tools and customizable content blocks on top of the headless architecture.
Marketers can orchestrate content on any channel, from digital signage to mobile apps. Brands can increase their visibility through omnichannel publishing and increase retail sales as a result. Storyblok also helps brands to move away from monolithic architectures toward a modern eCommerce setup that allows them to manage promotions, merchandising, and more.
2. Adobe Experience Manager
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) is a popular content management system that comes as part of the Adobe suite of products. The platform allows you to manage content across numerous channels and includes automated tools to help with scaling.
AEM is also a cloud-native, API-first content and asset management platform that allows developers to deliver content with flexible front-end frameworks. AEM also features commerce integration frameworks to make connections with leading eCommerce platforms, a simple process so that brands can provide cross-channel shopping experiences across any number of apps and websites.
3. Agility CMS
Agility CMS is a fast and flexible headless CMS that provides marketers with familiar authoring tools while giving developers the freedom to use any programming language or framework to deliver content to any frontend with the help of RESTful APIs and open SDKs.
As an API-first CMS, Agility has the features for brands to build eCommerce experiences that increase sales with relevant, personalized, and localized content. While the eCommerce platform of your choice handles inventory, orders, and transactions, Agility manages the content to provide complete control of the customer experience.
Amplience offers a dynamic commerce experience platform that empowers marketers and developers to plan, create and launch digital experiences using a single platform. Developers and marketers can collaborate effortlessly using Amplience. Using a MACH-based architecture, Amplice is code and process-agnostic, meaning that developers can choose the tools and workflows that fit them best. Marketers can also leverage end-to-end preview capabilities and manage content without using code. In addition, Amplience’s public APIs and webhooks simplify integrations with other tools within the software stack.
ButterCMS is a headless CMS that features a content API that allows you to manage content at scale. You can manage content for multiple sites and channels from a centralized dashboard and integrate with any tool in the tech stack. ButterCMS is also a SaaS solution, meaning that the platform handles security, scaling, and maintenance and offers access to global CDNs for maximum performance and availability.
With ButterCMS, your marketing teams can have full creative control over all content as you manage promotional pages and increase organic traffic with the help of an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor, built-in SEO, and previews.
Contentful is an API-first content platform for building digital experiences. It provides an easy and fast way to publish content across channels. Content creators can leverage an intuitive web app to make changes to content as they see fit and build digital experiences faster without relying on IT. Developers can use their favorite tools and frameworks to help build these experiences as well.
Contentful makes it easy to build and personalize eCommerce experiences and deliver relevant and localized content to customers. The platform integrates with PIM and commerce systems and connects with existing workflows to match your organization’s needs. Contentful also features a partner ecosystem that includes leading eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and commercetools.
Contentstack is a content experience platform that offers fast-paced content management, helping your business quickly onboard new users, increase content velocity, and increase IT resource availability. Contentstack is a MACH-based solution that supports cloud-native scalability and offers APIs that support content delivery, image manipulation, and content management.
Content creators can create and manage content without a steep learning curve and collaborate as needed. Integrating eCommerce and composable commerce tools ensures that brands can create the best customer-facing experiences without impacting back-end functionality.
9. Core dna
Core dna is a modern hybrid CMS and eCommerce platform. It provides one location for your CMS and commerce needs allowing tech teams to simplify their tech stacks and content teams to regain control of the customer journey.
Core dna’s API-first architecture offers speed and flexibility and allows marketers to design digital experiences across multiple channels and create an omnichannel experience for customers. With a personalization engine, Core dna helps you target the right customers and increase engagement odds. Pre-built integrations are also available to connect with 3rd party systems as well as webhooks and APIs to connect to legacy systems and other tools as required.
CrafterCMS is an open-source headless+ CMS. The platform empowers content authors, software developers, and IT operations to innovate and deliver content-driven digital experiences quickly. CrafterCMS provides drag and drop editing and a WYSIWYG editor as well the flexibility for developers to build omnichannel experiences using any framework they choose.
Integrating headless commerce platforms with CrafterCMS allows brands to deliver consistent omnichannel shopping experiences, and personalized product and content recommendations while scaling to meet global demand.
dotCMS is a hybrid headless CMS that provides the foundation for all content experiences. With its flexible API-first infrastructure and no code tooling, brands can create, manage and deliver connected customer experiences on any channel.
As a hybrid CMS, dotCMS gives marketers access to traditional content authoring tools while developers can use a headless CMS built on Java technology. For eCommerce brands, dotCMS facilitates seamless integrations with eCommerce platforms and marketing automation tools, allowing you to create a best-of-breed ecosystem to handle your commerce needs.
Hygraph is an API-first headless CMS that features instant GraphQL APIs that help you to deliver content across platforms. Developers can deliver content applications at scale using their preferred frameworks, while content creators can build the ideal customer experiences using an intuitive content management studio.
As an enterprise-grade headless CMS, GraphCMS features everything you need to deliver personalized eCommerce experiences that help increase sales. GraphCMS can also double as your PIM system that integrates with fulfillment and payment solutions.
Kontent by Kentico is a modern headless CMS for building digital experiences. Marketers can manage content in one unified hub, collaborating in real-time to create content and update websites without requiring developer support. Meanwhile, developers have the freedom to choose their own tech stack, integrate with leading eCommerce tools, and make deployments as part of their CI/CD pipeline.
Kontent supports an agile commerce approach that allows your store to adapt to changing customer needs with content-as-a-service capabilities and create custom storefronts using an API-first approach.
Magnolia is a composable digital experience platform that allows you to differentiate the customer experience by leveraging content and data from all of your platforms and connecting them seamlessly. Marketers and editors can rely on visual editing and easy content reusability across multiple channels.
Magnolia combines content and commerce to enable your brand to scale while remaining stable through its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution. Brands can build personalized customer experiences and increase their speed to market with easy content authoring tools that allow you to access all the tools within the eCommerce tech stack as if they were in a single system.
Prismic is a headless CMS that includes a custom website builder that allows marketers to build and publish websites without limitations. Content creators can operate independently without being restricted by rigid templates, and developers can choose any tools and framework they want.
Prismic enables brands to manage, schedule, and preview content as well as localize content for different audiences around the globe. Ecommerce brands can use Prismic to create seasonal promotional campaigns and easily integrate product catalogs and other tools as necessary.
Sanity is a unified content platform that supports engaging digital experiences. Developers can access a flexible and open platform with tools they’re already familiar with. Marketers can leverage real-time collaboration that includes multi-user editing and the ability to track changes. Product data and marketing content can be unified to create an enriched content experience that allows brands to sell anywhere. By using scalable real-time APIs, Sanity enables you to work with modern front-end tools with added support for localization and personalization.
Sitecore is a digital experience platform for composing rich customer experiences. Brands can centralize all of their assets in one place and use personalized content to deliver a connected customer buying journey. Sitecore enables brands to edit, manage, store and deliver content across channels as well as unify content planning and production. As a suite solution, Sitecore offers multiple products to enhance the commerce experience, including an API-first and customizable headless solution, an all-in-one marketing automation platform, and AI-driven tools to help tailor search results and product recommendations.
Strapi is an open-source headless CMS that is fully customizable and allows developers to build apps quickly. With the freedom to use REST or GraphQL, developers can extend platform functionality with custom plugins or third-party tools. Strapi removes the dependency on development teams and allows content creators to edit and publish content without assistance. Strapi empowers eCommerce brands to sell anywhere and convert better with storytelling. Content can be localized to adapt product messaging and structure to different versions of your eCommerce store.
Uniform is a composable DXP that allows you to pick the tools you want to include in your tech stack. Developers can use Uniform’s SDK and APIs to avoid vendor lock-in. Marketers and non-technical users can build and iterate experiences using no-code components while businesses leverage pre-integrated tools and best-of-breed services to launch faster. Ecommerce stores can increase engagement and improve search engine rankings while personalizing the shopping experience for anywhere on the globe.
Zesty.io is a scalable digital experience platform that enables marketers to create and optimize content effortlessly. Developers can leverage automated code and use a flexible framework to build their CMS from the ground up without being hindered by unnecessary tools. Zesty.io allows you to easily integrate other tools within the tech stack through JSON, RESTful and GraphQL APIs. Brands can easily create omnichannel experiences for any channel, whether an IoT device, gaming experience, or something else. These APIs also enable Zesty.io to integrate with any headless commerce solution and adapt to changing requirements.
Instant Commerce: A Front-end as a Service Solution That Integrates With Headless CMS
Choosing a headless CMS to integrate with your eCommerce tech stack can be a long process as you weigh the pros and cons of each solution.
While your headless CMS manages content for every channel, you can quickly and easily create headless storefronts on any device using Instant Commerce. A frontend-as-a-service solution built for modern commerce experiences. Instant Commerce integrates with Shopify and Storyblok and allows you to create a high-converting headless storefront in a matter of days.
Need an eCommerce solution to pair with your choice of headless CMS and Instant Commerce? See the top 8 Headless Commerce Platforms for 2023.
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