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Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021 – the Ultimate Guide

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Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021 – the Ultimate Guide
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Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021 – the Ultimate Guide
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61% of online stores surveyed are already using or planning to implement headless ecommerce. The transition to the new technology was carried out by Walmart, The Home Depot, Macy’s, and others. It’s safe to say that the headless approach is one of the top tech trends shaping the future of the market as we know it.

In this article, we’ll try to describe everything you need to know about headless ecommerce. Who should implement the technology, what are its advantages, and why is the future behind headless ecommerce platforms? Let us explain with examples and real figures.

What is Headless ecommerce? 

The headless ecommerce approach involves the use of a platform where the front-end is separated or removed from the back-end. To put it plain and simple, such solutions store, manage and deliver content without using major front-end capabilities.

Why Do Retailers Need Headless ecommerce?

The technology provides great flexibility in creating and distributing content, interacting with the corporate software, and communicating with the user.

Benefits 

Among the key advantages of implementing a headless ecommerce solution are:

  1. Accelerated time-to-market
  2. More content management and distribution opportunities
  3. Improved security of data due to admin-exclusive API interfaces
  4. Flexibility in the development of interfaces based on corporate standards without limitations of the existing CMS
  5. Organic traffic boost – editing and optimizing content to better promote in search engines, brands get to attract new users without extra investments
  6. Reduced expenses when creating PWA (Progressive Web Application) interfaces.

PWA is a hybrid of a site and a mobile app. The technology adds application functionality to the website. On a desktop browser, the progressive web app looks like a regular site, but when opened in a mobile browser, the PWA becomes a site/app hybrid. Such solutions provide the ability to use push notifications, offer a better brand interaction experience on mobile devices. The application can also be installed on the home screen of the smartphone.

Let’s look at the fact, having implemented a dedicated PWA, Starbucks got to boost:

  • Conversion rates by 20%;
  • User time spent on the site by 87%
  • A number of daily and monthly site visits 2x.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021

Source

One thing is for sure – the headless approach is pretty good for solutions with big scaling potential. As the project develops, owners are faced with the need for add-ons to improve customer service, close more orders, and switch to contactless payments. That’s where headless ecommerce solutions come into play as real shortcuts in terms of gradual functionality expansion.

Best types of business for headless ecommerce

Do you need this novel technology at all? You do if:

  • You need an omnichannel business strategy. Do you sell products via multiple platforms? Are your company’s products available overseas? Headless ecommerce architecture will allow you to structure and combine all available content and product information together, providing customers with quick access to all the channels they use for online shopping.
  • You already have a CMS. CMS is already developed, but you want more flexibility? You can add a RESTful API for the efficient distribution of content through any channel available.
  • You want to improve the level of service. Solutions for traditional ecommerce do not always fully meet the needs of consumers. Using the headless ecommerce platform, you can experiment with personalization, conduct A/B testing, and analyze which tactics are driving the most conversions. This way, you will reduce your customer acquisition costs by increasing the flow of organic traffic to your sales channels.

Comparison: Headless ecommerce vs Traditional ecommerce

Who should consider the best headless ecommerce platforms as an alternative to traditional ecommerce frameworks? Companies that are forced to regularly edit, supplement, and replace outdated systems spending thousands of dollars and man-hours in the process.

The main difference between the two concepts is this:

Traditional ecommerce is definitely simpler to set up – get a platform, pick a theme, and fill it up with products and content. The main difficulty here lies in tying all the customized functional parts together (in some platforms, it just takes some extra time, while in others, a programmer’s input is required).

Alternatively, when it comes to headless ecommerce architecture, as you already know, the entire frontend is built from scratch. This takes more time and configuration efforts. However, as a result, you get much more customization space and small tweaking flexibility. The great thing about this is that headless ecommerce functionality can be tailored to specific devices and user needs.

All in all, headless is probably your cup of tea if you’re looking to provide something truly authentic in and out. Sure, you can customize a readymade template as well, but wouldn’t it be more rational to build something unique from the get-go?

Types of Headless ecommerce architectures

As we’ve already mentioned, in headless platforms, the frontend and backend are separate. Thus, they function, are edited and updated in isolation from each other.

Headless ecommerce architecture allows you to store brand product information in the backend and use APIs to move it across different platforms: store website, PWA, Amazon, smartwatch, and other sales or marketing channels.

Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021

Types of headless commerce architectures include: 

  1. Pure headless commerce architecture. It includes a working backend, but there is no frontend in the technology. This approach provides maximum flexibility – interface designers can tweak and customize the frontend however they see fit. However, creating such interfaces from scratch can be costly and time-consuming, which will delay the release date.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021

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  1. Pre-built headless ecommerce architecture and APIs. This is a readymade version with a backend and already developed APIs, often with interface templates. This type allows for faster time to market using an omnichannel approach since the API has already been created. At the same time, turnkey solutions with a full range of services involve additional costs (depending on the choice of provider and other factors).
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021

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12 Headless ecommerce Examples 

Let’s review real-life examples of headless ecommerce. Below, we gathered 12 great websites that chose to employ the headless approach.

  1. Clare — Shopify Plus + Contentful
    A commercial website dedicated to paint shopping that does a great job at grabbing the users’ attention with the light, unobtrusive interface.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Kinsley Armelle — Shopify Plus + Contentful
    An online store of original handmade jewelry that has just the necessary functionality and warm visual design. 
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Grassroots Coop — Shopify Plus + Contentful
    An online provider of high-quality meats that preferred to stick to the familiar minimalistic design approach.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Verishop — Shopify Plus + Contentful
    This one is a marketplace site and app helping various brands distribute lots of different clothes, accessories, and miscellaneous items.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Gibson — BigCommerce + custom front-end
    The brand standing behind the legendary Gibson guitars also has a headless ecommerce website where new and vintage beauties shine in all their glory.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Oliver Bonas — Magento + Angular.js front-end
    A British lifestyle store that has an ecommerce outlet holding thousands of items for sale within a light, simple interface.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Big Green Egg — Magento + custom JS front-end
    An exclusive take on a garden charcoal grill that came out as a successful startup – here’s a great example of how a single original product can take up a whole website.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Collégien — Magento + API-First Back-end, PWA
    A brand store of various footwear that offers a PWA functionality for purchasing a wide range of products.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Lancôme — PWA.
    An ecommerce of the renowned cologne brand. After the website rebranding and transformation into a PWA, conversion rates went up by 17%.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Net-a-Porter — Google Polymer
    An ecommerce store providing thousands of items from tons of renowned brands that’s used by as many shoppers on a regular basis.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Braun — GatsbyJS + Contentful
    You’ve seen the ads, and the ecommerce solution Braun does an equally good job at visually translating the unique benefits of popular trimmers and epilators.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021
  1. Yoga Girl — Shopify + Contentful
    This is a movement of yoga lovers. The Yoga Girl website includes practice videos, community discussions as well as a shop of online retreats, food, merch, and more.
Headless Ecommerce Platforms in 2021

Top Headless Ecommerce Platforms

The best way to evaluate an ecommerce platform is to understand its advantages and limitations, as well as assess the possible costs associated with adapting or completely replacing the platform. We’ve put together a list of the best headless ecommerce solution providers to help you boost business with a high-performance solution.

Magento

A headless ecommerce provider Magento is one of the most reliable and popular solutions in the market. A common way to create headless content in Magento is with a PWA or Contentful, a content management system. Keep in mind that not every version or feature of Magento has API extensibility out of the box. This may require additional development.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce offers built-in integration with the most used CMS, DXP, PWA, and more. Among them: WordPress, Drupal, Bloomreach, and Adobe Experience Manager. BigCommerce is used by international brands such as LARQ, Burrow, and Firewire Surfboards.

Shopify

Shopify headless ecommerce is one of the leading platforms in the world with the ability to integrate ERP, PIM, CRM, CMS, and design systems. It also offers user-friendly analytics with pixel settings for tracking the desired metrics and cross-channel sales. On top of that, one may as well deem Shopify the best ecommerce platform for SEO, with great built-in features and tons of extra plugins, all of which are really simple to manage.

WordPress

WordPress is one of the best open headless CMS for ecommerce. It is chosen by over 30 million websites. WordPress allows entrepreneurs to integrate and grow online commerce while maintaining rich content usage.

Drupal

It is the leading enterprise CMS solution. Drupal is the preferred choice for government agencies and websites such as whitehouse.gov because the CMS provides a high level of security.

Adobe Experience Manager

AEM includes a content management system (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM). It is a comprehensive solution for website development, mobile applications, and their integration with other content marketing tools. Adobe Experience Manager provides connections to the Adobe Creative Cloud, making it easy to publish and distribute content, and provide a personalized experience.

Shogun

Shogun integrates with top ecommerce platforms including Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento, making it easy to create custom pages for your online store. Shogun also offers online commerce metrics analysis, from form submissions to cart conversions.

Elogic Team’s Recommendation 

With over 10 years of experience as a Headless ecommerce agency, we have launched dozens of projects of different scope. Based on numerous case studies, we can say that Magento is one of the most reliable, flexible, user-friendly, and scalable headless ecommerce platforms on the market. It provides access to a wide range of tools for developing and managing an online store. You can also employ readymade functions. Magento supports up to 500,000 online stores and one thousand transactions per hour. We have a great guide describing the pros and cons of Magento on our blog.

If you require a consultation or an expert view on your project, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us to transform your brand into an ecommerce leader.

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