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Why a Headless eCommerce CMS is the Future of Ecommerce

Image showing a simplified view of headless website operation. A backend yellow circle with arrow pointing to and small middle circle that says API with arrow pointing to a purple circle titled Front-End.

Is your business built to withstand the whims of today’s ecommerce market? The way customers interact with online businesses has changed significantly. Customers now expect omnichannel experiences that your ecommerce store must deliver or risk losing to the competition. 

Your ecommerce CMS (content management system) is one of the crucial components that can make or break your business. Ecommerce stores are now turning to headless commerce CMS to stay agile and keep up with the fast-paced and constantly evolving ecommerce market.

In this write-up, we discuss what makes headless ecommerce CMS the future of ecommerce. You will also learn the characteristics that a headless ecommerce CMS should have to benefit your business. 

Let’s dive right in.  

First Things First: What Is an Ecommerce CMS? 

An ecommerce CMS, or Content Management System, is a specialized software platform designed to help businesses create, edit, publish, and manage content on their online stores or ecommerce websites. 

It provides various tools and features for managing, organizing, and distributing content across an ecommerce platform without writing a code.

Your ecommerce CMS should allow you to manage your digital store’s content regardless of your technical skills. This is achievable since you don't need to write code to use one. 

How Headless CMS Differs from Traditional Ecommerce CMS

Headless CMS differs from traditional ones in terms of architecture. It separates the customer-facing front end (or head) from the back-end functionality (or the body). This decoupled approach has numerous benefits that make headless CMS the future of ecommerce, as we'll see in this write-up. 

Additionally, an ecommerce headless CMS allows merchants to update pages across multiple platforms instead of just one. It follows a one-to-many approach, allowing a single update to be deployed to multiple storefronts simultaneously. 

This approach allows ecommerce business owners to implement updates to their entire portfolio of sites with a single deployment rather than having to repeat the change in each platform. 

Suppose you change your product pricing; for instance, you will only need to implement the update on a single interface. Ecommerce headless CMS systems often have a dedicated interface where content managers work.

This is where you sign in and make any necessary updates, which you then deploy to your entire portfolio of storefronts through a plugin or APIs (application programming interfaces). With that, the changes take effect in every channel automatically.

Notice that a headless ecommerce CMS has the front end decoupled from the back end, so it uses APIs to facilitate data transfer between the front and the CMS platform at the back end. 

For a traditional ecommerce CMS with the front-end presentation layer tightly integrated with the back-end functionality, you would have to make individual edits for every touchpoint. This quality makes the siloed monolithic CMSs limiting and slow to update. 

In contrast, ecommerce headless CMS platforms promote an agile approach consistent with modern ecommerce sales and marketing needs. It allows merchants to keep website updates going at the same pace as their business.

It is also crucial to note that a traditional ecommerce CMS is typically hosted on-premise and designed for use on a single site. On the other hand, a headless CMS ecommerce solution is often cloud-hosted and deploys content to multiple sites across multiple devices. 

What Characteristics Should a Headless Ecommerce CMS Have?  

An image illustrating a headless Shopify store with multiple tools and functionalities.

A headless ecommerce CMS follows an API-first approach, as already mentioned. This architecture helps provide the desired scalability and flexibility necessary for today’s ecommerce businesses. 

However, decoupling the front-end layer from the back-end functionality is not the only notable feature. A good headless CMS should possess the following characteristics: 

Ease of use  

The headless ecommerce CMS should allow merchants to make changes from a dedicated interface and implement them across various touchpoints without writing a code. The platform should be designed to make the process intuitive to simplify its use.

SEO capabilities 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the activities and features that improve your site’s visibility to search engines like Google.

An SEO-friendly CMS plays a crucial role in driving traffic to your ecommerce website, which helps enhance your brand awareness. 

But what makes a CMS SEO-friendly? Not every merchant is an SEO expert, so you want a tool that implements ecommerce SEO best practices to help your site rank on search engine results pages (SERP). 

Some of the best practices you can expect from a good CMS include automatically generating sitemaps, meta tags, and relevant or descriptive URL structures. The CMS can also optimize your product images and other rich media on your ecommerce site for faster loading and better SERP ranking.

Built-in marketing and sales features 

An average online shopper today expects your site to load fast and provide a seamless, omnichannel experience. You want a CMS that will facilitate faster loading with features such as lazy loading and caching, which can reduce server load by up to 80%

Marketing teams also need to be able to push promotional content and marketing updates quickly for the highest impact. With a good, headless CMS, they only need to implement the changes once in a central dashboard, and the changes can take effect across channels.

This ease allows marketing teams to get the right content to the target audience more effectively and on time. 

These are just some of the built-in features you need in a headless CMS. Overall, the CMS should facilitate easy content sharing to attract and retain customers. It should also offer omnichannel customer journeys to drive conversions. 

Testing, reporting, and analytics support  

The content management tool should track the details of your content and its performance and report it in a form that you can easily interpret. 

The CMS should also integrate easily with third-party analytics and reporting tools to simplify data synthesis and management. 

Such information forms the basis for data-driven decision-making. It provides important insights into your store’s performance and forms the basis for testing and improvement. 

Why Headless Ecommerce CMS is the Future of Ecommerce

By now, you know that a headless CMS is a backend-only platform that allows for the creation, manipulation, storage, and distribution of content. In this case, the content includes products, services, and related information material such as blogs and promotional content. 

But that is not enough to make it the future of ecommerce. In this section, we look at the various value points making a headless CMS the perfect tool for future-proofing your ecommerce business.  

It saves resources with centralized content management

In traditional legacy CMS systems, the front-end layer is tightly integrated with the back-end functionality. In such systems, there is only one content management interface for the single back end. Therefore, you can only use such a system to manage content for a single website. 

Suppose you are editing a product listing across multiple ecommerce sites; the traditional CMS requires you to log into each site one by one to make the edits. 

In contrast, headless CMS has a single dashboard for managing content, but this content is deployed to multiple sites across various channels. This way, the headless CMS system acts as a single source of content for multiple libraries. 

Instead of having to log into multiple interfaces and make individual edits for every touchpoint, the headless system allows you to do all that from just a single dashboard. For a business with multiple storefronts across several touchpoints, a headless CMS for ecommerce can be a significant game changer.

The content manager only needs to input content or make edits once, and the changes take effect across all the storefronts simultaneously. 

When editing product listings across multiple sites, your headless CMS allows you to make the changes once from a central dashboard and then push them to as many ecommerce sites or storefronts as necessary. 

This centralized content management means you do not require multiple content managers or duplicate resources to create, edit, store, or deploy the content for an ecommerce store. 

All you have to do is set up the required API integrations to let the headless CMS ecommerce platform send content to the front end of the various channels or apps via APIs.

Editing is faster with a headless CMS.

Content managers have an easier time using a headless CMS. As already noted, the editor only needs to make changes once from a centralized dashboard and push the changes to all the sites they manage when managing content across multiple sites.

This feature means the content manager does not have to log into every individual site to edit product listings when managing multiple sites with similar content. 

These CMSs allow you to build a single template in your content repository from where you can apply changes to dozens of front ends with one final click.

Naturally, this saves you a lot of time in addition to saving you money and other resources. You can list or edit product listings and offerings across multiple web pages or an omnichannel portfolio in a fraction of the time. 

By allowing you to make needed changes quickly, a headless ecommerce CMS facilitates you to stay ahead or keep up with competing listings where a standard CMS would let you struggle. It does an excellent job of keeping site updates rolling out at the speed of business.

Headless CMS is more scalable. 

When starting a business, you always have your sights on growth. But for an ecommerce store, that growth comes with the need for more resources to accommodate increased demands such as more website traffic and a higher number of transactions. 

Thankfully, a headless CMS for ecommerce makes it easy to add new channels or change developer tools as your business expands into new locations or market segments. You can depend on the same CMS platform to send data to new storefronts through APIs, so you don’t necessarily have to invest in another platform altogether. 

In other words, the headless approach allows you to scale your ecommerce platform and optimize and grow your business without significant additional costs. 

Your headless CMS for ecommerce is akin to a CMDB for your ecommerce platform. It serves as a convenient, central content repository for all your storefronts. In a multi-channel environment, you can adjust the front-end layer to accommodate changing needs without disrupting the back end.

Since it is built to scale with your business, it provides you with an excellent way to future-proof the business from a content management standpoint. 

It gives developers and marketing teams more flexibility

The ecommerce market is always changing. Marketing teams must constantly create and push promotional content and marketing updates across channels where the target customer spends time. 

The headless CMS system supports the making of quick updates that have the highest impact. Marketing teams and content managers can quickly list seasonal products or update their listings to meet current demands and drive the highest conversions. 

Since all these changes are made from a central point, marketing teams have an easier time pushing them to the right audiences on time. 

Equally, the headless CMS platforms allow developers to easily create custom headless solutions that merchants with no coding skills can onboard and manage from a control panel. This helps save developer resources.

It offers enhanced security.

Separating the front end and back end goes a long way in mitigating potential attack vectors. Any attacks exploiting the security vulnerabilities on the user interface do not affect the back end since the two layers exist as separate entities communicating via APIs. 

Recap: Why Headless Ecommerce CMS is the Future of Ecommerce

An image showing customers heading to a store. The content of the image makes sense in a headless ecommerce set-up because more customers are opting to make purchases online from ecommerce stores.

In this article, we have defined headless ecommerce CMS and explained the features it should have. More importantly, we have explored the following value points and qualities that make headless CMS the future of ecommerce: 

  • It offers enhanced security

  • It gives developers and marketing teams more flexibility

  • Headless CMS is more scalable 

  • Editing is faster with a headless CMS

  • It saves resources with centralized content management

Want to discover the best headless CMS for your ecommerce store? Keep an eye out for our next post. And, as always, feel free to reach out to the headless CMS experts at Endertech for a custom quote.