What is a headless content management system (CMS) and why would you use one with Magento?   

Whether you’re shopping in a store, buying online for delivery or collection, or checking prices and products on websites and social media before making your choice, the way products are presented to you will make a big difference to your overall experience and buying choices. 

Dynamic digital experiences 

Keeping pace with changing customer preferences and trends can be a challenge, especially when your hands are tied by the technical constraints of your ecommerce platform and back office systems. 

Digital experience management is a new requirement in the rapidly expanding and dynamic world of ecommerce. For a fast and effective approach, many businesses are now embracing headless commerce, where the tools and technology you use to present content to your customers are decoupled from your back office systems. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to focus on exceptional customer experiences across multiple channels independently of your other business systems. 

Monolithic ecommerce 

As early ecommerce businesses grew, they often based their online stores on a third-party software solution that provided a ready-made technical framework. This was a faster and more effective approach than creating their own ecommerce platform and they could benefit from the skills of a growing community of developers. 

However, this meant that their ecommerce experiences relied on templates and pre-defined workflows and rules. This made it difficult to stand out from the crowd and each improvement or innovation in customer experience had to be developed, tested and implemented within the system’s framework. This could be slow and costly and often involved complex workarounds to achieve the objectives. 

The growing use of multiple mobile devices and social media broadened the ecommerce horizons but also brought the challenges of increased demand and expectations.  The existing monolithic approach to ecommerce isn’t suited to this new rapidly changing world. 

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Entering an API world

Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the go-betweens that support faster development of omnichannel user experiences. They can reduce or even remove the constraints of earlier ecommerce approaches. 

APIs provide a flexible communication layer that passes information between the front- and back-end of an ecommerce operation. Developers can create multiple front-end applications that access features and data from other business systems, applications, and services.    

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They can be used to extend the functionality of existing traditional ecommerce platforms and add new touchpoints such as native mobile apps. For smaller businesses they can support rapid development and time to market without the need for advanced technical knowledge.

For more advanced businesses APIs can be used to communicate between the ecommerce platform and other key business systems from the customer presentation layer for more flexibility and speed. 

In a fully headless approach, an ecommerce site’s front end is fully separated from all the back-end systems for independent operation. The APIs deliver services between systems to support a wide range of omnichannel interfaces. Developers can work with almost any system, applications, or internet of things (IoT) devices, and integrate with other content management systems. 

Headless CMS with Magento  

A headless CMS delivers fast and effective creative control for customer experiences while your business continues to benefit from all the powerful Magento ecommerce features. Workflows and processes in back-end systems won’t be affected and any changes to business processes won’t have an impact on customer experiences. 

You can use Adobe Experience Manager to share customer data across multiple touch points. This allows you to offer relevant promotions and offers to customers and to consistently create highly personalized and engaging shopping experiences.   

Without the constraints and dependencies of other systems your front-end developers can be highly skilled and entirely focussed on customer experiences. You will be able to develop, test and deploy improvements more quickly and cost effectively. Campaigns and promotions can be driven by your marketing team, so you can respond to trends and opportunities much more quickly. 

Implementing your headless CMS 

The headless approach requires a realistic plan and budget and you might find you need new technical expertise. Rather than running a single unified system you will now have two or more that are operating independently which will involve extra resources and management. 

Your teams will need skills in different operating environments, software, security risks, and bugs, all of which need regular maintenance. 

However, you don’t have to implement a fully headless solution straight away. With Magento Commerce you can integrate headless elements into your existing ecommerce platform to run either a headless or hybrid ecommerce approach. 

Both REST and GraphQL APIs are available so you can quickly extend your offer with different touch points and integrations. The Magento PWA Studio allows developers to create immersive, app-like experiences for mobile browsers without expertise in your back-end processes and applications. 

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Is a headless CMS a good choice for your business? 

As the headless approach becomes more widespread it will be more influential in the development of ecommerce best practices. Early adopters will benefit from in-depth knowledge developed through first-hand experience. 

Williams Commerce has over a decade of experience working with Adobe Commerce (previously Magento), which continues to be one of the world’s fastest growing ecommerce platforms. We are Adobe Gold Partners and our team of certified Adobe Commerce and Magento specialists have unparalleled experience and expertise to make sure you get the best from Adobe Commerce. 

Talk to one of our experts about a headless Magento ecommerce solution for your business.