25 brands that have successfully adopted headless commerce platforms

Market needs are always shifting, and new approaches to ecommerce have developed in the last few years to meet them. Past approaches made back-end configurations a priority, but increased demands for personalization, customization, and engagement around omnichannel experiences have shown the need for a new way of designing ecommerce — the headless commerce approach.

In order to provide an exceptional online shopping experience, an ever-increasing number of businesses are opting for this approach. Headless commerce is being used by brands across industries, including SaaS, automobiles, and hard goods like footwear and apparel.

What is headless commerce?

The concept may sound strange, but it has a simple definition — headless commerce is the decoupling of the front end (the “head”) or user interface (UI) and the back end of an ecommerce solution.

This decoupling introduces flexibility into online shopping options. Flexibility and the ability to test and iterate are possible because the front and back ends can function separately, allowing for more independence and customization potential.

With this flexibility, a user interface can be tailored to suit the needs of a specific customer segment or to facilitate an experience on the buying journey. APIs can be introduced easily to deliver content or products on a variety of devices or to support useful integrations.

Benefits of headless commerce

The customization potential of headless platforms has many advantages. Traditional commerce platforms allow for limited web store interfaces, which means content can display only on standard websites and a limited number of mobile applications. Alternatively, separating the UI from the back end of the ecommerce platform lets retailers add, remove, or adjust elements to suit their needs. That means developers can easily customize online shopping elements such as inventory and payment processes.

These seemingly small changes add up to big wins for companies willing to adjust online shopping experiences according to the platforms and features that best suit a customer’s journey.

Customization isn’t the only advantage of headless commerce — API-enabled flexibility and optimization are easy to implement. This ease of operations reduces development time and helps marketers respond to new needs and trends and quickly pivot to provide engaging, dynamic, cross-channel customer experiences. And because of front- and back-end decoupling, this responsiveness is in addition to — not at the expense of — sound security and compliance configurations.

With the obvious benefits of headless commerce, it’s no wonder so many top companies are going headless. Read on to see how these 25 brands have succeeded by making the switch.

25 examples of brands using headless commerce platforms

Many different kinds of goods and services brands in a wide variety of fields and industries are taking advantage of the increased front-end flexibility and customization available with headless commerce.

1. Google

Google Cloud and Commercetools, a leader in headless commerce, have partnered to offer their cloud-native SaaS platform in Google Cloud Marketplace. Commercetools has a flexible API system that supports omnichannel commerce approaches and widely customizable features and capabilities. Commercetools’ architecture allows for many different storefront providers and integrations, and it also provides support for microservice-based architecture.

This partnership offers SDK tools that provide access to programming languages such as PHP, JS, and Java and enable scalable shopping experience components via API management capabilities.

2. Amazon

The Amazon website displays general service events as an example of headless commerce.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the largest cloud platform in the world. It offers a variety of cloud computing services, such as a flexible API-first merchandising platform. AWS offers scalable, customizable options in its headless solution, such as fraud detection, video commerce capability, and integrations with other ecommerce platforms.

This headless solution allows ecommerce APIs that give retailers the flexibility to respond to changing needs in approach, experiences, or offerings.

3. Tesla

Tesla has optimized the retail experience for its customers using a headless ecommerce system that lets them choose materials or colors to customize their cars. Flexible API-enabled features have allowed Tesla to provide faster, better customer service and even superior delivery, trial, and refund options for car purchases.

Without the flexibility of a headless front end, a high-class product and services approach would’ve been much more difficult. This emphasis on service and personalization has allowed Tesla to be a market leader and an innovator in the automotive world.

4. Koala

Koala creates premium, customizable digital ordering apps for restaurants. The company built a progressive web app (PWA) to offer multichannel customized microservices and experiences to its customers while meeting business expansion needs with a powerful back end.

This approach allowed Koala to make changes as quickly as it needed to without adding downtime. With the ability to separate back-end functions from the front-end user experience, Koala can reduce lag time for customers and tailor the user experience according to platform and device.

5. Microsoft

The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Commerce ecosystem offers a headless approach hosted by the Commerce Scale Unit. This Commerce Scale Unit employs a portable architecture and is the central integration point for business logic and third-party channel solutions, powering an omnichannel solution that provides customizable features and offerings for both physical and digital storefronts.

Microsoft’s headless platform allows for a variety of flexible hosting options, including cloud and edge topologies and hybrid configurations.

6. Nike

The Nike website displays personalized and mobile-first images of a young female athlete with the words POWER YOUR PROGRESS.

One of the world’s most famous apparel brands, Nike wanted an ecommerce approach that was more personalized and mobile-first. A mobile-oriented approach meant focusing on interactive user experiences and optimizing visuals and CTAs for smaller screens.

This approach proved successful — customizing and optimizing its ecommerce approach via headless API offerings turned Nike into a market leader and helped the company capture more market share than its competitors.

7. Venus

Venus, a leading women’s apparel retailer, was struggling with both conversion rate and site speed due to its slow website loading time. Seeking a solution that would improve site speed and lead to greater sales success, Venus made two crucial changes — it changed its storefront into a PWA and converted its infrastructure into a Backend for Frontend (BFF).

These headless commerce conversions paid off — the Venus website speed increased dramatically, which prompted a significant increase in both customer retention and conversion rates.

8. Staples

The office supplies retailer Staples had a product catalog that offered a wide variety of merchandise, but it was siloed and needed frequent updates. The company wanted more flexibility and optimization, so it pivoted to a headless commerce platform.

Adopting a headless approach allowed Staples to update registration and login features, remove silos by enabling order by number, and include order history for faster reordering.

9. Samsung

The Samsung website has a virtual assistant that uses a headless approach.

The electronics giant Samsung rolled out a new, video-powered live virtual assistant that uses a headless approach and provides a multichannel digital and in-store buying experience.

US customers can utilize a secure one-way video to purchase products, see demos, and get expert guidance about tech specs and capabilities. This and other nifty ecommerce features have created experiences with a personal touch, and customers report high satisfaction.

10. Mercedes-Benz

Powered by headless commerce, German automaker Mercedes-Benz lets buyers customize their new car with a wide variety of digital options. Customers can select from smartphone integration, smart entry, and remote parking options.

Mercedes-Benz has its eye on further customizations, which will allow people to buy the same goods and services in their car that they can now buy online or through a mobile app from third-party companies — such as navigation upgrades, food, or movie tickets.

11. Walmart

In order to provide customers with a faster online shopping experience, Walmart went headless using open technologies. The corporation did this by decoupling its front-end website from its back-end ecommerce platform and building a unique app-like website on top of microservice configuration. This switch to headless capability fueled growth in ecommerce revenue that has outperformed competitors.

12. Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola uses fully integrated, API-enabled headless commerce to provide a seamless multichannel experience from end to end for its global customers. This approach allows Coke to grow through its own marketplaces and customize experiences, as well as collaborate and integrate with third-party suppliers and solutions.

13. Sony

Sony is a household name in electronics around the world. The company is retaining and growing its vast customer base by leaning into a headless ecommerce solution that allows it to customize interfaces, integrate with third-party solutions, and optimize customer experiences for B2B and B2C consumers.

14. Etsy

Etsy uses API-enabled headless architecture that supports multichannel experiences across a wide variety of devices, keeps performance problems to a minimum, and allows for simple and seamless adoption by its developers.

15. Toyota

The Toyota website displaying racing cars and the words LET'S GO PLACES is an example of a headless commerce platform.

Japanese automaker Toyota is using headless ecommerce platform capabilities to better facilitate integration with legacy systems and inventory management, as well as deliver engaging customer experiences to both its B2B and B2C markets. Toyota relies on purpose-built headless API-driven ecommerce solutions that allow it to offer true personalized omnichannel experiences.

16. McDonald’s

Using headless commerce has helped McDonald’s provide AI-powered personalization to its worldwide customer base, emphasizing diverse multichannel and multi-device experiences. The fast-food goliath even created a feature that lets customers pay using the Chinese instant messaging service WeChat.

17. Target

Target realized it had been losing revenue because customers were starting their buying journey on one device and finishing it on another. The retailer employed a headless commerce approach to increase its website conversion rate by enabling a cohesive multichannel experience across a variety of devices, thereby making it easier for customers to complete their purchases.

18. Redbox

The video rental company Redbox went headless with engaging content to increase performance. It created a dynamic, visually appealing home page that worked well across mobile and desktop devices and used API-enabled features to personalize customer purchasing processes.

19. Disney

Disney’s brand recognition is worldwide, but its US-based product outfit shopDisney wanted to extend its international reach and was looking for a versatile and powerful multi-vendor ecommerce solution. It went headless and increased its reach with API-enabled marketplace extensions.

20. T-Mobile

T-Mobile opted for headless ecommerce solutions to give its customers a wider variety of purchasing and navigation options. This omnichannel emphasis allows customers to navigate retail and grocery spaces with handheld devices, while technology helps the telecommunications company fulfill orders and manage inventory.

21. Under Armour

Fitness brand Under Armour has used headless commerce to personalize customer experiences and content with transactional shopping more seamlessly. The platform informs catalog, traffic history, payment information, and content management with data from its order management system. Personalized customer fitness experiences are based on location, purchasing history and activity, and workout logs.

22. Kirkland’s

Kirkland’s used a headless approach to address its main concern — speed. Headless commerce gave the retail chain the flexibility, ease, and customization it needed to achieve one of the fastest sites in the world, and it provided customers with smoother purchasing experiences like one-click logins and biometric checkout capability.

23. Carnival Cruise Line

Travel agency Carnival Cruise Line needed a seamless and powerful booking management solution that was both easy for customers and beneficial for its bottom line. Carnival went headless using PWAs to optimize its booking workflow and increase user engagement with notifications.

24. Casper

Casper is a premium mattress company that uses headless commerce to do better business both domestically and internationally. Customized features and integrations enable a range of benefits, such as more accurate performance reporting, faster checkout, more accurate sales and conversion rate visibility, better immediate customer service, and reduced site issues.

25. Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods, a maker of plant-based foods like the Impossible Burger, uses a headless platform that provides its loyal customers the ability to get products delivered right to their door. Its fast and responsive website gives both B2B and B2C customers a variety of purchasing options, sustainability metrics, and an environmental impact calculator.

The right commerce platform for your brand

There are myriad benefits to a headless commerce platform, and many of today’s best-known brands have made the switch. These companies have succeeded by tapping into the flexibility, customization, and ease of integration that headless commerce solutions provide. Customers get personalized, omnichannel experiences, and brands become more nimble and powerful.

Converting to a headless commerce platform doesn’t have to be difficult — Adobe can help.

Adobe Commerce is the solution for your business. Take a product tour or watch the Adobe Commerce overview video.