ecomm manager juggling many heads for headless ecommerce platforms

10 Best Headless Ecommerce Platforms In 2021

In this ultimate guide, I will list the 10 best headless ecommerce tools (and some bonuses) that will help you grow your online store and make it future-proof for future technologies.

Headless ecommerce is becoming a buzzword in the ecommerce industry. Having said that, there is a lot of confusion related to the term. And NO—it’s not the headless horseman’s side hustle hat shop (I’ll see myself out).

Customers are consuming content through multiple touchpoints. From mobile to IoT to progressive web apps (PWA), people are moving away from traditional web platforms. As a result, traditional ecommerce stores and business owners are falling short when it comes to delivering content on these platforms and matching the growing needs of the consumer.

While traditional ecommerce platforms are delivering content the old way, Jeff Bezos is laughing his way to the bank with features like smart voice assistants, Amazon Dash, and in-store interfaces. Customers are becoming used to these modern technologies and shunning the old approach.

The consensus is clear: If an ecommerce business expects to survive and thrive, they have to adapt to these modern technologies.

But implementing this technology often requires big dev and IT teams full of experienced developers. This can be very expensive for most ecommerce businesses. So how do everyday online stores and ecommerce systems adapt to deliver these omnichannel experiences without robbing a bank?

The answer lies in headless content management and headless ecommerce platforms. Based on that, I have created the definitive list of the best headless ecommerce platforms. The list features pocket-friendly headless ecommerce solutions that deliver every advantage associated with a headless approach.

To help you further, I have mentioned every headless ecommerce platform’s core functionalities and listed the criteria for its selection.

The Best Headless Ecommerce Platform List

Here’s a shortlist of the best headless ecommerce platforms:

  1. Magento Commerce 
  2. The.com 
  3. OroCommerce 
  4. Shopify 
  5. BigCommerce 
  6. Contentful 
  7. Acro Media    
  8. Kentico Kontent
  9. Commercetools
  10. Salsita Software  

Headless Ecommerce Platforms: Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best headless eCommerce platforms? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): Is it clean and attractive? Is the user experience clutter-free? Is the dashboard easy to use?
  2. Usability: Is it easy to learn and master? Does the company offer good tech support, user support, tutorials, and training? Headless eCommerce can get a bit technical and jarring. Is there a good support system to mitigate that? 
  3. Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other tools? Any pre-built integrations?
  4. Value for $: How appropriate is the price for the features, capabilities, and use case? Is pricing clear, transparent, and flexible?

Headless Ecommerce Platforms: Key Features

API First Approach

Does the tool have an API-first approach? 

With an API-first approach, the design and development of the Application Programming Interface (API) come before the implementation. This is different from the traditional approach, based on code. In the code-first approach, any change requires a lot of rework, time-consuming delays, and endless work for your development team. The costs quickly add up.

In the API-first approach, the team starts by creating the application interface, which they then rely on to develop the rest of the application. By adding new features as an independent service accessed by API, the rest of the application can come together along with any future applications.

In a cloud-based infrastructure, an API-first approach can help you manage the complex nature of working in the cloud.

Omnichannel Experience

Does the product truly deliver an omnichannel experience? Can your content be delivered and shared via channels like mobile, IoT, and other modern technologies? 

Customization

What is the level of customization that can be achieved with the headless solution? Can you customize the platform according to your brand’s design language and tonality?

Support

What is the level and mode of support available? Is it available 24/7? Are there user guides and knowledge bases available? Is there a helpful community to support users?

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Overview Of The 10 Best Headless Ecommerce Platforms

Here’s a brief description of each of the headless eCommerce platforms on my list showing what it does best, plus screenshots to showcase some of the features.

1. Magento Commerce – Best headless eCommerce platform for analytics and data visualization 

Magento Commerce Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
The Magento dashboard helps marketers visualize key data points and make informed decisions.

Magento Commerce equips developers to deliver tailor-made applications with a high level of customization based on the customer’s needs. 

This personalization can be enabled by experimentation. Magento facilitates experimentation due to the systems being divided and not disturbing the operations of each other. The decoupled architecture facilitates new features and integrations at a fast rate.

Magento’s inventory management features let you ship inventory to the right store at the right time. It lets you accurately track your inventory levels across multiple locations like warehouses, stores, dropshippers, and more. You can obtain a live count of your saleable stock. It also allows you to configure management settings globally, per source, and per product.

The tool’s analytics dashboard allows you to visualize key data points in dynamic scatter and bubble charts. You can also export data directly to people’s inboxes, as well as get insights for average order value, lifetime value, retention rates, and more.

Customer support is available via a ticket-based system. Pricing is available upon request.

2. The.com – Best headless eCommerce platform for high speed

The.com Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
The.com’s editor gives you a real-time view of changes being made on your site.

The.com’s site editor loads in front of the actual site, so it takes WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) to an entirely new level. This makes it super comfortable for you to customize the look and feel of the site.

With its serverless hosting, The.com enables you to design and customize your site without any boundaries, all the while keeping your site fast and secure. The.com works out of the box with apps like Shopify, making it a go-to option for fast-loading eCommerce sites. It also has integrations with Mailchimp, Typeform, Formstack, and other business apps.

Pricing starts at $36 per month for a single site. Support is available via email.

3. OroCommerce – Best headless eCommerce platform for wholesalers 

Orocommerce Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
OroCommerce’s open-source philosophy and support for headless eCommerce help in optimizing your store.

OroCommerce comes from the same leadership team that built Magento and focuses on solutions for the B2B industry. Having said that, the platform can be customized to fit any B2B, B2B2C, B2B2B, and B2C eCommerce need.

OroCommerce’s inventory management features let you conduct multi-website and multi-warehouse management. You can personalize catalogs and adjust pricing as well.

OroCommerce lets you take your brand to the web and mobile with a platform that supports both headless eCommerce and traditional eCommerce. It operates on an open-source philosophy and has a vibrant community that is constantly supporting each other. 

With OroCommerce, you can keep your eCommerce and ERP in sync. It integrates with CRM apps (such as Salesforce) and ERP apps (such as SAP) seamlessly. Pricing is available upon request.

4. Shopify – Best headless eCommerce platform with always-on availability

Shopify Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
Shopify offers a clean and intuitive interface for managing products and viewing sales insights.

Shopify Plus’ headless eCommerce lets you separate your front-end design from back-end infrastructure, which enables you to publish to any channel and make any device a platform for your brand. The headless commerce functionality provides total creative control across all touchpoints to deliver a cohesive customer experience. You can use your business software and content management systems to engage customers through custom storefronts like kiosks, wearables, vending machines, and billboards. 

It can also help you speed up your site performance with a web app that reacts like a native mobile app. Apart from that, you can integrate all the systems involved in your business like ERP, PIM, CRM, CMS, and design frameworks.

The Shopify Plus SaaS is known for its stability. The user-friendly dashboard comes with a streamlined content management system. In terms of inventory management, it includes inventory tracking, exporting/importing inventory via CSV files, adjusting inventory, and other crucial tasks. The analytics track conversions, average order value, store visits, and other data.

The product integrates smoothly with all the major marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. It also works seamlessly with apps like Stocky, Apple Business Chat, Oberlo, Google Sheets, Mailchimp, Wave, Airtable, Slack, and 3k other vital business growth apps.

Support is available via chat and email. There is an extensive knowledge base that will solve basic queries, as well as an active community forum.

Shopify plans start at $29 per month with a free trial option.

5. BigCommerce – Best headless eCommerce WordPress Plugin

Bigcommerce Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
BigCommerce has state-of-the-art editing features.

A leader in the eCommerce space, BigCommerce comes with full-service features covering everything you need to grow an eCommerce business. The product has tools for product listing, customer segmentation, payment processing, cart recovery, and so on.

With BigCommerce’s headless eCommerce features, the presentation feature is decoupled from the commerce engine. This gives you more freedom to create and run multiple stores simultaneously across various front-end solutions, from a single BigCommerce account.

BigCommerce’s headless commerce technology helps you deliver API-driven experiences via your CMS, application device, or a custom front-end. You can leverage it to create customer experiences on different platforms using the BigCommerce API. The core components of BigCommerce SaaS are open to connecting to any other environment. This is great for use cases like customizing the cart experience, customizing checkout experiences, and so on.

BigCommerce has a tailor-made WordPress Plugin that’s worth mentioning. It provides a hiccup-free experience without slowing down the site. BigCommerce integrates with all the top marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Google. It also works with Webgility, NetSuite, Stripe, and 100s of other apps.

The product has positioned itself as an all-in-one solution that covers every aspect required in running a modern eCommerce business. There are tools for customer segmentation, payment processing, abandoned cart recovery, and more. The site editor lets you easily edit and customize the platform according to your brand language.

The support team is available 24/7 via email or phone, with a supporting knowledge base to help you get answers quickly. BigCommerce standard plan starts at $29.95 with a 1-month free trial.

6. Contentful – Best headless eCommerce platform for agile workflows

Contentful Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
Contentful UI extensions run inside the web app and provide additional functionality for creating content and integrating with third-party services.

Contentful is a next-generation content-focused platform that works with a decoupled infrastructure and agile workflows meant to reduce time to market. It enables teams to unify content in a single hub and structure it for any digital channel. Using open APIs and strong integration capabilities, it can structure the content for multiple platforms and channels.

It has an intuitive user interface and support for multiple spaces. This can be helpful for organizations that need separate projects for development, staging, or production. It also provides organized, flexible data models with support for a variety of data types and content editors like a WYSIWYG editor, raw text areas, and form fields. Contentful integrates with apps like Dropbox, Jira, Google Analytics, Commercetools, and other similar business tools.

Support is available via a ticketing system. There is also extensive documentation, user guides, and a supportive community to help you find your way.  

Contentful pricing starts at $489 per month with a free forever plan.

7. Acro Media – Best eCommerce platform development agency for Drupal-based projects

Acro Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
Acro Media is the go-to name for developing Drupal-based ecommerce platforms.

Acro Media is an eCommerce platform development agency that uses Drupal technology to strategize, design, and deliver eCommerce products. It helps you build collaborative partnerships using an agile methodology.

With over 10+ years of open source eCommerce experience, the team helps you build headless eCommerce platforms that optimize workflows, integrate with 3rd party vendors, and improve customer experience. 

The agency offers experience-led architecture and an API, and their team includes 50+ dedicated full-time Drupal developers. Support is available through phone, email, and chat. 

Pricing is based on your custom requirements.

8. Kentico Kontent – Best headless eCommerce platform with intuitive authoring experience

Kentico Kontent Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
Kentico Kontent has an API that lets you manipulate the content and models programmatically.

Kentico Kontent is a headless CMS that allows you the flexibility to add modern applications that differentiate you from the competition and scale your profit. 

As a web content management system, it uses ASP.NET and Microsoft SQL servers to create websites, online stores, and web 2.0 community sites. Visual Studio and Microsoft MVC are the go-to development environments for the app.

It uses a cloud-native content management system to create content from anywhere with no maintenance requirement or downtime. The product allows you to collaborate across your business with features like inline suggestions, tasks, and reviews. All these features help in maximizing your team’s expertise.

Kentico Kontent does provide inventory management, but there are not any unique features to write about. Kentico Kontent works out of the box with HubSpot, Magento, Shopify, Slatwall Commerce, and more. Support is available 24/7 via phone and email. There is also a ticketing system to raise your queries. 

Pricing is available upon request.

9. Commercetools – Best headless eCommerce platform with a point of sale functionality

Commercetools Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
You can easily create new API clients to build applications using the Commercetools platform.

Commercetools is an omnichannel eCommerce platform that leverages headless eCommerce technology to create the foundation for evolutionary eCommerce architecture. It offers a point of sale functionality via cloud deployment.

Its cutting-edge API approach powers retailers to create brand awareness by creating engaging customer experiences across multiple channels and also future-proof for emerging channels. Commercetools manages the data flow and user interaction between front-end client and back-end ERP systems. With its fully-enabled API platform, you can do without SQL or any other customization. The APIs cover all the necessary functionalities.

Overall, the solution contains all the important functions needed to run an eCommerce business, with the capabilities to constantly evolve and add new features. In terms of inventory management, Commercetools has features for tracking inventory, adjusting inventory, returns management, and multi-store management.

Commercetools smoothly integrates with Contentstack, Cybersource, and Frontastic. It also works out of the box with DXPs and front-end CMS systems like Bloomreach and Adobe Experience Cloud.

Support is available 24/7 via a live chat feature. You can also write to them via email. Commercetools pricing is available upon request.

10. Salsita Software – Best full-service software development agency to build a headless eCommerce platform 

Salsita Software Screenshot For Headless Ecommerce Platforms
Salsita Software is a software development consultancy that specializes in building headless eCommerce platforms. 

The Prague-based agency has 10+ years of experience building sophisticated, modern web applications and mobile apps. It takes a UX-first approach that prioritizes product quality while reducing development time and costs.

It focuses on building platforms that deliver fast load times, complete front-end customization, personalized customer experience, higher flexibility, along a truly omnichannel experience. All this helps you save a lot of costs and future-proof your platform.

Salsita Software has support via phone, email, and a ticketing system. Pricing is available based on your custom requirements.

Other Headless Ecommerce Platform Options

Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list.

  1. Core dna – Best headless eCommerce platform for customizable templated workflows
  2. FenixCommerce – The best intelligent delivery platform for eCommerce retailers looking to do real-time order routing
  3. Digital River – Best headless eCommerce platform with multi-channel delivery 
  4. Shogun – Best drag and drop website builder for online stores on Shopify and BigCommerce
  5. Elastic Path – Best Java eCommerce platform for enterprises
  6. Slatwall Commerce – Best flexible eCommerce platform for enterprises
  7. Adobe Experience Manager – Best headless CMS for getting detailed customer analytics

Headless eCommerce Platforms: Software FAQs

To make this go-to list of the best headless eCommerce platforms even more comprehensive, I wanted to cover some of the most frequently asked questions on the topic.

Here they are:

What Is Headless Ecommerce?

Headless eCommerce is the separation of the technologies used in the front-end presentation layer from the back-end eCommerce functionality of your eCommerce website. This helps ensure maximization of content use and also leverage your back-end eCommerce platform across multiple front-ends.

With a headless commerce approach, the front-end or the theme/template is removed from the back-end system.

Traditional eCommerce platforms have the front-end experiences tightly integrated with the back-end. This traditional architecture is ill-suited to react to the constant technology evolution we are experiencing in the eCommerce world today. Its integrated monolithic way means small changes result in endless rework, time-consuming delays, high costs, and missed deadlines.

A headless architecture separates the functionalities into individual components that interact with each other via standardized interfaces. Also, with the front-end and back-end decoupled, information is retrieved by API calls. This results in a faster site experience.

The result: New experiences can be crafted with relative ease and speed, with components evolving independently of each other. 

Want to know more about headless ecommerce? Check out our complete guide here.

What Are The Benefits Of Headless Ecommerce?

The main benefit of a headless eCommerce approach is that it allows eCommerce teams to easily create new experiences, and allows them to evolve separate components independently.

For merchants, this means increased flexibility and a faster time to market.

For customers, it means a cutting-edge, fast, and personalized omnichannel experience. 

What Do You Think About These Headless Ecommerce Platforms For Small Businesses?

These are my top picks for headless ecommerce platforms.

What do you think about this list? Which headless eCommerce platform best fits your business needs? Any tool that’s missing from the list? Let me know in the comments.

As always, please share this article with your network. Who knows who you might be helping and what opportunities it might lead towards!

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