The best headless ecommerce platforms for 2022
Emerging technologies in ecommerce are making it easier to support customers and customize experiences. As expectations for speed and personalization become more demanding, so does the need for agile, reliable solutions that scale.
Organizations today need a multichannel system that can offer relevant experiences across all paths to purchase — from social media apps and online shopping to augmented reality and beyond.
Headless ecommerce is one of the hottest recent approaches for businesses looking to build their ecommerce base. As tech companies continue to release new headless ecommerce solutions, it can be hard to track all the options and pick the right one.
To make the process smoother, we’ve created this comparison guide covering eight of the best headless ecommerce platforms on the market. We’ll go over the definition and benefits of headless ecommerce. We’ll also cover must-have features to keep in mind when choosing a platform.
What is headless ecommerce?
Headless ecommerce is an ecommerce system that separates the front end, or “head,” of an online store from the back-end operations, such as website security, business logic, and data storage and management.
This detachment, or “headless” functionality, creates flexibility, allowing businesses to incorporate multiple touchpoints and channels and create different store versions. This feature is vital in today’s immersive digital world, allowing customers to shop seamlessly on your site using any device.
Decoupling a storefront and back end is also indispensable when you need to drive quick integrations or strengthen personalization. With headless ecommerce, it’s easier to update and deliver content to different “heads,” or touchpoints, without disturbing operational data compared to more traditional full-stack platforms.
The ecommerce infrastructure in this approach allows the detached front-end heads and back end to communicate through application program interfaces (APIs).
The benefits of headless ecommerce
Headless ecommerce is essential for modern companies looking to expand touchpoints, improve online shopping experiences, implement new technologies, and customize ecommerce across channels.
Customers expect a cohesive experience no matter which channel they use. Headless ecommerce supports an omnichannel approach, giving customers consistent shopping experiences across multiple channels and devices.
Better customer experience
The flexibility of this ecommerce architecture empowers you to create responsive, user-friendly experiences. As technologies evolve and customer needs change, you can update your storefront smoothly and keep customers coming back.
APIs accelerate the process of integrating third-party software, allowing for quick configurations and upgrades. Integrations allow you to select relevant solutions to supercharge your storefront, helping you to save money on software you don’t need while creating comprehensive ecommerce experiences.
The sky’s the limit for your storefront with headless ecommerce. Thanks to the separation of front-end heads from the back end, you can update customer touchpoints without worrying about affecting operational data. This functionality gives you the freedom to customize your site however you need — and with the solution that works best for you.
Headless ecommerce features to look for
Now that you have a better understanding of the definition and benefits of headless ecommerce, you need to know the most important features to look for in a platform.
- Easy to use. Don’t waste time wrangling with a complex platform. A headless ecommerce solution should have a clear user interface that is straightforward and simple.
- Robust APIs. APIs are the lifeblood of headless ecommerce. You should prioritize an API-first platform that allows for plenty of flexibility.
- Customization. Avoid rigid platforms that prevent personalization. Aim to increase flexibility by selecting a choice with lots of options that make your platform work for you.
- Convenient support. Look for a company that provides 24/7 support or quick and responsive help channels. If your platform has an issue, you won’t want your back end to be down for days.
The best headless ecommerce platforms
There are many great headless ecommerce platforms on the market, making it difficult to narrow down a list and find the best fit for you.
To make your selection process easier, we’ve created this comparison guide with the top eight solutions. We’ll review each tool’s features, customer support options, and more.
In alphabetical order, the best headless platforms are:
- Adobe Commerce
- BigCommerce Enterprise
- Core dna
- Elastic Path Commerce Cloud
- OroCommerce Enterprise
- Salesforce Commerce Cloud
Let’s dive in and explore the benefits of each choice.
1. Adobe Commerce
Formerly known as Magento, Adobe Commerce is a leading open-source ecommerce platform that provides powerful personalization features that scale. Commerce is widely used around the globe, offering companies a robust suite of tools to carve out world-class, multichannel commerce experiences.
Flexibility comes first with Commerce. The platform is agile, supporting multiple business models like B2B, D2C (direct-to-consumer), and hybrid (B2B and B2C) approaches. To ensure a frictionless front-end experience, Commerce features an API-based back end that affords uniformity across all customer touchpoints.
For those looking to innovate, Adobe Commerce includes options to build a decoupled storefront using progressive web application (PWA) technology and third-party integrations with thousands of free and premium extensions and themes. If you haven’t made the switch to headless ecommerce yet, the platform also provides options for a traditional coupled storefront.
Adobe’s single cloud solution makes it easy to manage brands across channels and countries and customize digital touchpoints. The user-friendly interface helps you harness the power of your data with intuitive dashboards, AI-driven product recommendations, personalized live search results, and customer attribute analytics.
The Adobe Commerce global support network includes more than 315,000 developers. You can reach out for assistance at any time using the platform’s ticket-based system. You can also connect with Adobe’s partner network to receive guidance about implementation, digital strategy, and more.
Image credit: BigCommerce.
If you’re looking for enterprise-level results with prebuilt frameworks and tools, BigCommerce could be the best platform for you. The solution’s sophisticated APIs power a plethora of headless commerce options, giving you the freedom and functionality to run personalized front-end shopping experiences.
Connect multiple storefronts from one account, which features an intuitive control panel with straightforward visuals and analytics. The platform’s simplicity allows growing companies to create impactful customer experiences that scale across multiple sites, devices, and solutions.
BigCommerce shines when it comes to security, offering enterprise-grade checkout safeguards to prevent attacks and unauthorized access. You can also prepare for potential issues by storing data in two data centers and an additional backup storage location.
The platform offers integrations and plugins with popular tools like Drupal and Adobe Experience Manager. BigCommerce combines content with ecommerce in its widely used WordPress integration, which lets you focus on crafting curated storefront experiences with a headless system.
The BigCommerce support team is available 24/7 via phone and email and offers an online help center with frequently asked questions. You can also connect with the company’s agency partner network to explore services and ways to deliver projects faster and more effectively.
Image credit: Commercetools.
With commercetools, you can expand your digital commerce capabilities using modern MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud-native, headless) architecture. This innovative approach is well-suited to businesses looking to move quickly and stay at the forefront of evolving technologies.
This tool has no vendor lock-in, allowing you to select only the best merchants for your needs. With a customizable software ecosystem, you can pick the perfect personalized user experiences.
The built-in product information management (PIM) software and intuitive Merchant Center in commercetools keep speed front and center, giving you the ability to control your data while keeping up with changes.
APIs in commercetools are extensive and well documented, ensuring an accelerated time to market and low total cost of ownership. For savvy developers, the APIs also work with the data query language GraphQL.
If you have a technical issue or need help, commercetools has a 24/7 live chat feature. You can also get in touch via email or an online support form.
Image credit: Contentful.
Without optimized and organized content, scaling ecommerce can be a challenge. Contentful is an excellent choice for enterprises looking to centralize content in a single hub and launch agile ecommerce experiences for growth.
This content platform is geared toward personalizing scalable ecommerce experiences. Similar to a headless content management system, this platform offers headless integration capabilities that allow enterprises to customize their stacks with third-party software and API services.
Like commercetools, Contentful features a microservices architecture that allows teams to manage content with fully decoupled APIs. You can adjust the interface to maximize time and minimize unnecessary workflows, choosing content banks such as rich text, collections, and JSON snippets.
The platform is mobile-friendly and includes an intuitive web app with secure previews and cloud-governed content safeguards. If you have global growth in mind, Contentful also lets you publish in multiple languages and schedule launches for specific time zones.
Contentful has an online ticketing system with support engineers available on business days. Its website also features developer docs and user guides.
5. Core dna
Core dna offers a comprehensive hybrid system with an ecommerce platform and content management system (CMS) together in one place. If you’re looking to focus on content, you also have the option to get the CMS separately.
This tool has multi-tenant architecture, hosting all users and applications on a single shared infrastructure and code base. Core dna features robust API security and enterprise-level cloud computing, so you can scale digital commerce experiences with confidence.
For developers, Core dna includes advanced networking, support for static IPs, and reverse proxies. The platform is highly configurable, with prebuilt integrations to third-party systems and the ability to connect with legacy systems and transfer files.
Whether you use a B2B or B2C approach, you can tailor customer experiences from a single dashboard within Core dna. Managing multiple sites, complex orders, and detailed catalogs and carts for today’s marketplace doesn’t have to be complicated, thanks to this streamlined system.
You can contact Core dna with questions or concerns via email or an online ticketing system. There is also a detailed help center with commonly asked questions and resources.
6. Elastic Path Commerce Cloud
Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is an open-source software suite that specializes in ecommerce. The tool’s core commerce capabilities prioritize APIs and microservices, empowering you to work only with solutions suited to your needs.
Elastic Path offers flexible cloud deployment options, allowing your teams to create new experiences without risking existing data and content.
The Catalog Composer feature helps you craft and manage multiple collections quickly, optimizing catalogs across different business models, locations, touchpoints, and brands. Elastic Path also includes a commerce product information management (PIM) system for flexible data configurations and strategies.
You can optimize omnichannel ordering and ensure consistency with centralized order details and inventories. To prevent duplication of tasks or workflow disruptions, you can limit access and assign user roles to fortify your customer and account management.
Elastic Path offers enterprise-grade ecommerce support through a ticketing system. You can also request support by calling or emailing the company or access customer resources through the support page.
Image credit: OroCommerce.
If you’re looking to build out your B2B commerce model, OroCommerce has your back. This open-source ecommerce platform is intended for midmarket and enterprise-level B2B organizations.
To thrive in today’s modern market, you need the flexibility to combine your ecommerce platform with other systems and payment approaches. OroCommerce offers integrations with services like Mailchimp, PayPal, and Zendesk to keep your company future-ready.
Segmentation and custom report tools help you maximize the power of your data and refine your strategies in order to scale. You can also personalize shopping experiences thanks to B2B-specific ecommerce features, including buyer-specific catalogs and unique price lists.
Built by the same team that conceived Magento (now Adobe Commerce), OroCommerce offers intuitive inventory management that can be customized to fit any industry or business approach. It supports both headless and traditional ecommerce.
You can reach out to OroCommerce via email or online ticket submission. The website also provides phone numbers for offices in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and France.
8. Salesforce Commerce Cloud
As part of its software suite, Salesforce offers an ecommerce solution called Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
This product is designed to help you reduce costs while increasing and scaling sales. Thanks to a headless content delivery network and web application firewall, you won’t have to worry about expensive hosting fees.
The solution’s flexible features include a progressive web app (PWA) storefront kit that prioritizes speed and mobile functionality and commerce developer toolkits and templates to match your customers’ needs.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud uses an API-first approach to keep multiple sites running smoothly, especially during peak traffic times. You can integrate shopping experiences seamlessly with various back-end structures, including enterprise resource planning software, project information management systems, and order management systems.
The Salesforce Help Center offers online resources and a ticketing system to provide expert guidance. You can also reach a representative by calling the support line.
Getting started with headless ecommerce
Innovative companies are embracing headless ecommerce to enhance digital shopping experiences for customers. Going “headless” helps businesses scale and prepare to adapt quickly to new technologies. It also paves the way for personalization, giving your team the flexibility it needs to support users.
The first step toward fully embracing headless ecommerce is adopting a platform with first-class headless capabilities. Making this transition doesn’t need to be a hassle, and our comparison guide can help you decide which solutions to explore.
To learn more about whether Adobe Commerce could be a good fit for your company, watch this product overview video or take a product tour.