Top Headless B2B Platforms in 2022 - Definition, CMS Architecture, Examples

Headless commerce is a typical example of how the development of the ecommerce market changes technologies to fit the industry's needs. In the good old days, when all ecommerce was limited to just one sales channel of an online shop website, we were young and the world was beautiful.

Then mobile apps, messengers, and chatbots appeared, and for each sales channel, it became necessary to maintain the identical prices, product catalogs, and the rest of the ecommerce business logic. This is how omnichannel appeared, when the client could start the purchase process on the website and continue in the mobile application. The development departments were horrified to keep all these sales channels synchronous. It quickly became clear that supporting so many different interfaces was possible only if separating the different variations of the front end from a single back end.

This is how the term "headless ecommerce" appeared in the software development vocabulary. In the fancy slang of software developers, front ends are called "heads", and the bulk of the back-end system is called the "body".

Headless eCommerce Definition

Before we move on to picking the top headless ecommerce platforms in 2022, we need to wrap up with the term "headless" and understand why a trade business needs an online platform with this application architecture.

If you separate the work of the front end from the body in the code, then this approach becomes "headless". In a headless architecture, to publish desired content to a channel, the front end (aka storefront) interacts with the back end through an application programming interface (API). The headless ecommerce API is the glue that combines a back end with any of the front ends.

Even if you still have doubts about whether you have captured the essence of headless well, let's move on to an analogy from the world of ordinary things. An excellent example of headless architecture would be a modern car. In contrast to vehicles your parents drove years ago, the modern car accelerator pedal has no mechanical connection with the engine choke, nor does the brake pedal have a mechanical connection to the brake pads on the wheels. These connections have software implementation via the on-board computer. This makes the car more technologically advanced in production. There is no need to figure out how to run cables and pipelines for cars with left- and right-handed driving.


Headless VS. Monolith

What Is Headless eCommerce CMS?

If you read market reviews of headless ecommerce vendors, there are often companies offering a so-called headless content management system or CMS. But this is the mistake of the review authors who add them to the headless ecommerce vendor list. Probably, they do not fully understand the difference between headless ecommerce and headless CMS. These are different classes of software—the first one is for online trading, and the second one is for content management.

Most people in the IT industry definitely know what a traditional CMS is. This software has been designed to store and present content items such as text, images, and videos on websites. The traditional CMS has been around since the early days of web development, and the best known is WordPress.

When online purchasing began to flourish, not only in the form of websites, but also as mobile applications, traditional CMS could no longer be used for mobile apps. As a result, development and marketing teams had to duplicate content from the website's CMS to the application's CMS. To get rid of such unproductive work, a headless CMS software was invented.

In a headless CMS, content elements are stored centrally and delivered through the API to the web page or screen editor in the mobile app. This simplifies editing—change a copy or image in one place, and that change is applied wherever the content is. This allows marketers to quickly update content across all sales channels.

The logic of a headless CMS is that this software can be used with different ecommerce platforms that also support headless architecture. This allows you to use one ecommerce back end to manage the site (or sites) and mobile application, as well as automate the distribution of content across all available sites and devices.
Now that we know what a headless CMS is, let's talk about how to use this software with a headless ecommerce platform — using Virto Commerce as an example. There are different approaches to building integration of Virto Commerce with a third-party headless CMS. The two options are determined by whether the CMS can work in real time or not.

The first option (Variant A) is when the CMS is able to work in real time, i.e., its response is less than 300ms and the CMS is running on a server with a high-availability functionality. High availability means that the server with installed software is able to operate continuously without failing for quite a long period of time.

The other situation (Variant B) is when the headless CMS does not work in real time. It's different from the previous approach by excluding point-to-point connections between the headless CMS and the Virto Commerce storefront. In this case, in order for Virto Commerce to be able to render the page in the storefront, an asynchrony mechanism is implemented using the content buffer storage. Now the headless CMS is not required to be available constantly.

This is a very brief overview of the integration of headless CMS and headless ecommerce. Read about it in more detail in our blog post, How to Integrate an External CMS to the Virto Commerce Platform.

Best Headless eCommerce Platforms in 2022

Provided below are the top 10 best headless ecommerce platforms, which we rank in order of top priority to consider in 2022. We are sure that the Virto Commerce platform deserves the best place in the headless ecommerce platforms Top 10 list, but we recommend requesting a demo and evaluating the platforms in this review list so you'll make the right choice.

  1. Virto Commerce
  2. Shopify Plus
  3. Salesforce Commerce Cloud
  4. BigCommerce
  5. LogiCommerce
  6. CommerceTools
  7. Elastic Path
  8. Kibo eCommerce
  9. OroCommerce
  10. Magento

All trademarks, logos and brand names in the list are the property of their respective owners.

Virto Commerce

Virto Commerce

Virto Commerce chose the technological excellence of the platform for positioning in the ecommerce market. There is almost every hot new thing you read about in the latest technologies and trends for B2B eCommerce in the Virto Commerce tech stack. Consider Virto Commerce as a truly adaptable platform that foresees and solves the problem of infinite replatforming as customer expectations evolve and your business grows.

In 2021, Virto Commerce software

was included in Gartner's 2021 Digital Commerce

with an Honorable Mention.

Virto Commerce contains the widest OS compatibility, .NET stack, better performance, and increased extensibility and unification for customization and add-on development:

  • Composable architecture for building the solution based on best-of-breed applications;
  • Headless API for multiple touchpoint runtime based on the same business logic;
  • Modularity for selecting business components, thus giving the capability to compose customer solutions;
  • API-driven architecture for seamless integration with ERP, CRM, order management, product information management (PIM), CMS, and payment pipeline; and
  • Microservices for higher performance and process isolation.

Virto Commerce is excellent in managing large volumes of SKUs and providing clear product catalogs with unlimited products. Virto maximizes your opportunities in content marketing, SEO, and product promotion. An online store based on the Virto Commerce platform can easily handle an unexpected high load. Excellent order processing performance is available with the FastOrder module, which can handle 100+ orders per second placed on your online store.

Regarding Virto's pricing policy, it depends on the product type and is available on request. There are several choices: the classic Virto Commerce software to install on-premises or in the cloud, the Virto Commerce Cloud subscription-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) version, and the extended Virto Marketplace solution. For more information on what Virto Marketplace software can do for you, read Virto Marketplace Potential Customers and Architecture blog post.

Virto Marketplace

Potential Customers and

Architecture



Shopify

Shopify
This is a popular headless ecommerce platform. By default, Shopify handles both the front end and back end of the site. You probably know there are two versions of the platform: Shopify and Shopify Plus. The difference between the two platforms is in the customers they target. Shopify is preferred by small to mid-sized businesses due to its affordable cost. Shopify Plus is a more powerful platform for serving a huge, enterprise-grade business. Consequently, a pricing plan for Shopify Plus starts at $2,000 per month or a variable fee for higher-volume businesses.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud

salesforce

Among the various popular ecommerce platforms, Salesforce Commerce Cloud is used by many companies to run online businesses. It is a highly scalable, cloud-based SaaS ecommerce solution. Salesforce is also headless. As they describe themselves, Salesforce offers a headless commerce solution with scalable APIs that separate the back-end services from the front-end customer experience.

Regarding pricing, the Salesforce Commerce Cloud uses an unusual pricing model based on a percentage of a retailer's gross merchandise volume (GMV). The more you sell online, the higher price you pay.

BigCommerce

bigcommerce

This one-stop solution offers many features, including product management, order fulfillment, online payments, analytics, and more. Users like expertly designed themes with a wide range of customization options. The simplest shop website starts at $30 without going over the $250-a-month bar. Already the cheapest plan for your store will include a responsive website, checkout, digital wallets, and some SEO and analytics tools. BigCommerce does not charge any transaction fees for using a store based on this platform, which is great for small businesses. BigCommerce positions itself as a headless solution provider, supplying plug-ins for many popular CMSs.

LogiCommerce

logiccommerce

LogiCommerce is a headless ecommerce platform, which has high ratings from its clients. According to client reviews, the platform's back office has flexible modularity and saves time in its management. The LogiCommerce software has a very short learning curve, which is very important when hiring new staff.
LogiCommerce has two pricing editions, depending on whether you need headless cloud + web front end or just headless cloud only. The edition with the web front end is more expensive and costs €99 or roughly $107 per month.

Commercetools

commercetools

Commercetools is a well-known headless ecommerce platform that deserves to be included in the list of the top 10 best headless ecommerce platforms in 2022. This headless ecommerce platform is built on very common software like PHP and MySQL as core technologies. Clients are allowed to separate the storefront using specific APIs to compose the storefront for the target audience.
Pricing options are not available on the Commercetools website, but you can contact them for a 60-day free trial.

Elastic Path

Elastic path

Elastic Path is a headless platform that allows template-less ecommerce to be integrated as middleware into enterprise ERP systems. The vendor supports a forum for first-time business API users. Ease of use and flexible API is very fast, while user friendly for first timers. The core objects can be customized and modified.

The cost of Elastic Path is subscription-based and implements a composable commerce approach depending on the scale of the client's project. For example, if a client's business is doing $10M in GMV or less, pricing starts at $50,000/year.

Kibo Commerce

kibo commerce

Kibo eCommerce is a cloud-based platform designed for B2C and B2B retailers. It is part of the Kibo Unified Commerce Platform, which shares the services with other Kibo solutions. The advantages include a single-admin, multi-site ecommerce and one-console services across all of the unified platform solutions. Clients also like the support for the platform by numerous developers.

Kibo eCommerce suite covers the CMS / Shopping cart / OMS / PIM core functionalities. Personalization features are implemented through Certona and Monetate apps.


Oro Commerce

kibo commerce

OroCommerce is a flexible, open-source B2B ecommerce platform built from the ground up. The platform vendor promotes it as specially built for distributors, wholesalers, brands, and retailers. With out-of-the-box features, the platform can be customized for B2B, B2B2B, B2B2C, or B2B & B2C ecommerce sectors. The solution can be offered as an SaaS cloud environment as well as an on-premise setup.

Pricing is not available on the vendor's website, but customers are invited to try a free demo version of the software.

Who has been forgotten? Magento

Magento commerce

The Magento brand is currently owned by Adobe, which it acquired in May 2018, so do not be surprised to see the Adobe logo on this website. This vendor provides two distinct platforms: Magento Open Source (previously Magento Community Edition) and Magento Commerce.

Although Magento Open Source is free to download, you have to manually configure everything, including hosting, domain, security, and extensions. In most cases, you will need to hire a development team to help you set up and customize your store. Therefore, the free Magento Open Source turns out to be very expensive as a result. Magento Commerce pricing is based on average annual gross sales revenue. There are five different pricing levels for this platform starting at $22,000/year.

Regarding Magento's architecture, until version 2.3, it was an example of a monolithic ecommerce platform. However, since then, the Magento IT team has broken down the monolith into individual components with the storefront API and GraphQL coverage. Today we can definitely add Magento to the list of the best headless ecommerce platforms.

Summary

When considering the most significant advantage of headless, think about the flexibility to adapt to future technologies. A forward-thinking businessperson must understand this and use headless advantages for their own purposes:

  • Headless architecture allows you to accelerate product development without affecting the back end. If new channels of communication with customers appear, you can add that new technological support to your platform, and everything continues to work within a single business logic.
  • Take advantage of headless if you plan to develop multiple sales channels at the same time. If you can increase the speed of development or reduce the cost of development as specialization appears, then use headless.
  • Using headless, developers are beginning to concentrate better due to team specialization. Front-end technologies change every 2-3 years, and thanks to headless, you can develop your application at the same pace as new technologies.
  • Remember that in order to work with a headless architecture, you are recommended to have an agreement with an implementation partner (aka a system integrator), who will attend your team meetings, write down your wishes, then develop and improve your entire set of front ends.

Thinking about a headless technology to successfully run every sales channel for all your customers and need professional advice? Virto Marketplace is one of the most affordable solutions on the market, it's fast to implement, and сan be scaled infinitely.

Schedule a quick demo

Sergey Berezin
Marketing writer