Headless eCommerce Explained

Including an overview of 16 headless eCommerce platforms, CMS and B2B Implementation examples [2022]

Headless eCommerce is more than just a trend.

Headless eCommerce architecture is a natural consequence of the evolution of selling online. It’s all over the place, and headless eCommerce platform, headless ecommerce CMS, and headless architecture are common buzzwords we hear.

According to research from 2021, 64% of enterprise organizations had shifted to a headless approach, up nearly 25% from the previous year.

It allows companies to meet customer expectations efficiently and provide the best omnichannel experience. B2B companies have various ecommerce channels with unique business logic on the same back end. Headless eCommerce solutions enable companies to add and change these channels quickly and without risk.

To meet B2B customers' expectations each time and achieve flexibility in an omnichannel B2B ecommerce domain, you need to adopt a headless ecommerce architectural approach.

We will further discuss the top advantages and disadvantages of the headless approach and outline the specifications of headless ecommerce architecture. We will also point out why and who chooses headless ecommerce. We will analyze the practical aspects of headless ecommerce, including a review of the 16 best headless ecommerce platforms and 16 successful examples of headless ecommerce implementations from leading companies.

What Is Headless eCommerce: Definition and In-depth Explanation

Headless eCommerce is an architectural approach where the frontend (storefront) level is detached or separated from the backend logic.

Basically, a headless eCommerce store is an online store where the frontend layer (i.e., customer experience interface) and technical backend (i.e., business logic) are decoupled or separated from one another.

But why is it called headless?

Developers usually refer to the online sales channels as "heads," while the backend layer is commonly called "body." So, when you separate the heads from the body, you get the notorious headless architecture. That’s why it’s called headless ecommerce.

Who first introduced the term headless ecommerce?

It is unknown who coined the phrase "headless commerce," but it quickly became popular. While it was being actively used by Mediachase (currently Optimizely) in 2005, according to Forbes, Dirk Hoerig, CEO and co-founder of commercetools, coined the word headless ecommerce Gartner later popularized in 2015.

What Is the Difference between Traditional and Headless eCommerce?

improved cx and flexibility
The primary motivation for shifting to new ecommerce models is improved consumer experience and flexibility.
Since the UI (user interface) layer of the site is detached from the backend, the headless architecture offers B2B companies exceptional flexibility that creates a superior omnichannel experience on the frontend level. The headless eCommerce framework has been developed specifically to support omnichannel & multi-touch sales principles.
headless and traditional commerce
The main difference between traditional and headless eCommerce is how the front and the backend are packed.

With headless eCommerce, frontend and backend layers are glued into an all-in-one solution for platforms that use monolith technology. With headless ecommerce, the frontend layer and backend business logic are separated. 

Nevertheless, let's not absolutize headless ecommerce and carefully examine the differences between traditional and headless ecommerce. 

headless ecommerce vs. traditional ecommerce
Traditional eCommerce vs. Headless eCommerce

Traditional Monolithic eCommerce

If the headless eCommerce software has decoupled frontend and backend, the traditional monolithic eCommerce platforms are the ones that couple the front and backend under one roof. These well-known monolithic ecommerce solutions were the only available digitalization strategy before headless became a thing. It is their all-in-one approach that now holds more cons than pros.
While the complete control of the platform is the main advantage of the traditional monolithic ecommerce, here are the 3 disadvantages of this approach:
Lack of customization
Slow DevOps and time-to-market
High risk of chain reaction crashes & downtime

To create new experiences or add new touchpoints in a traditional ecommerce approach, you must upgrade both the front and backend systems. Such change needs might frequently occur, turning even small projects into significant issues.

Headless eCommerce

With headless eCommerce architecture, you avoid the typical update headaches and enjoy actual acceleration. Headless eCommerce is a logical consequence of the evolution of selling online. With the current pace of customer behavioral changes, the business's need for speed is a real struggle. So, headless eCommerce is an approach to keep up with the pace of emerging touchpoints and experiences.

Virto Commerce is a truly headless eCommerce platform. We provide an isolated layer of business logic GraphQL-based API to simplify channel connection. The Virto B2B eCommerce platform functionality is fully available through APIs that satisfy the principles of SOA (service-oriented architecture). You can add more channels while maintaining a unified presentation across multiple devices and touchpoints. With Virto's headless ecommerce platform, you don't have to worry about rearchitecting when adding and selling across new channels.

Headless eCommerce architecture has many benefits, and with a headless platform, you can easily customize business logic for any channel in one place and provide excellent CX. According to McKinsey, B2B customer experience improvement can lower customer churn by 15% and costs-to-serve by up to 50%. So, headless eCommerce solutions are here to stay.

Learn How Headless eCommerce Boosts Businesses

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Headless eCommerce

More and more B2B organizations are declaring themselves to be experience-led companies. For those who desire want to provide superior employee and customer experience, headless eCommerce software is the best approach. While using headless technology can provide companies with many benefits, there are some disadvantages as well.

Let’s look at the main pros and cons of headless eCommerce.

The 9 Benefits of Headless eCommerce
There are many benefits to adopting a headless approach in ecommerce. It enables B2B companies with:

True acceleration and faster websites with better page speed
Easier development process and flexibility
Scalability & performance
Easy testing of the new technologies 
 
Full control of platform architecture 
Marketing efficiency
Fast time-to-market with multinational rollouts
Improved customer acquisition metrics
Omnichannel and multitouch experience

Let's take a look at some of the most significant advantages of headless ecommerce solutions.

  1. True acceleration and faster websites with better page speed
    According to Google, the likelihood of a bounce increases by 32% as page load time increases from 1 second to 3 seconds. When it comes to eCommerce speed is a critical decision-making factor. Besides, it’s an important SEO metric. The slower your website, the higher the churn rates.
    Fortunately, headless ecommerce platforms enable businesses to centrally store content and deliver it via APIs anywhere.
    This technology provides far quicker delivery than traditional ecommerce platforms and enables exceptional customer experience.
  2. Easier development process and flexibility
    Headless eCommerce architecture means an easy development process.
    If a development team is using a particular technology or language, the headless architecture allows them to preserve what works with their process while refining their dev procedures. Headless eCommerce enables development teams to enjoy true flexibility and choose the best-of-breed backend and frontend solutions.
  3. Scalability and performance
    Headless eCommerce technology is future-proof. As more touchpoints and technology emerge, headless allows brands to quickly adapt without losing performance.
  4. Easy testing of the new technologies
    Headless architecture provides the freedom to development teams to try and pick the best solution or technology. A headless environment also allows the business unit to quickly test and try new ideas. When you need to make changes in the customer-facing layer the frontend can be replaced without disrupting backend processes.
  5. Full control of platform architecture

    In the headless ecosystem the content delivery is detached from content management since it provides full ownership and control of the architecture. With a headless approach, B2B brands can keep what works while adding or upgrading what doesn't.
    Virto headless B2B platform is API-first and can be integrated with basically any frontend system and application through APIs.
  6. Marketing efficiency
    In eCommerce promotional tactics are endless and marketers both in B2B and B2C use their imaginations generously to boost online sales. With a headless eCommerce platform, marketers are able to execute all their promotional ideas.

    With Virto's headless platform, the marketing department can exercise loyalty initiatives, customer segmentation, personalization, blogging for SEO and education, social media promo tactics, email marketing tactics, and more.
  7. Fast time-to-market with multinational rollouts
    Most enterprises are present in multiple geographies and need an eCommerce engine that supports a multicurrency, multi-language approach. With a headless eCommerce platform, you are able to create an engine that is repeatable, designed for optimized rankings in different countries (SEO), and linked to the overall global data orchestration infrastructure. For example, Virto Commerce helped HEINEKEN to launch an eCommerce platform in 15 countries. Read the case study to learn more.
  8. Improved customer acquisition metrics
    Headless approach enables lower customer acquisition costs since with a headless eCommerce solution your company is content-led with an improved user experience which means organic traffic. And as we know organic traffic is more affordable than paid advertising.
    On the other hand, better CX thanks to headless eCommerce software means improved conversion rates and repeated purchases.
  9. Omnichannel and multitouch experience
    Recent Google research showed that a single-touch eCommerce strategy is no longer adequate. Because they can earn rewards, 51% of smartphone users are more likely to use a company's mobile app when browsing or shopping on a smartphone. Moreover, HBR, calls modern consumers “omnichannel consumers” as 73% of them use multiple touchpoints within their buying journey.

In order to provide great customer experience across different channels, to be able to modify them and improve constantly without losing the speed to market, B2B companies need headless eCommerce platforms.


Now, let’s divide the advantages of the headless eCommerce platform by user groups - customers, business, and developers.

Benefits of headless eCommerce for customers

Smooth product ordering process

The ease of the ordering process is the cornerstone of any online store. By providing great CX and a convenient frontend, headless eCommerce solutions allow brands to optimize the ordering process and improve the ordering user experience. If your customers find it easier to order on your website with a one-click ordering option, be it B2B or B2C, you will beat the competition.
More eCommerce touchpoints
Headless ecommerce allows brands to connect their eCommerce engine to any frontend and create personalized interfaces. This gives the customers more eCommerce choices, for example, social eCommerce, IoT, voice eCommerce, and so on.
Great CX and met expectations
Customer and employee experience are very important. Since customer expectations are only evolving with time, businesses need to keep up and meet these expectations in order to win market share. 
Unlike traditional eCommerce solutions, Headless eCommerce allows you to improve your CX and meet your customers’ expectations in a timely manner.
Benefits of headless eCommerce for developers

Integrations

Through the APIs, your eCommerce development teams can integrate your headless eCommerce platform with best-of-breed solutions and achieve the best results. This gives dev teams the necessary freedom to provide excellent software for modern-day consumers.
Full architecture ownership
In the headless environment, developer teams can maintain what works while enhancing or updating what doesn't. This provides complete ownership of the architecture and ensures low-risk changes.
Rapid updates
With headless ecommerce developers can easily update what doesn’t work without touching anything that performs properly. This enables true acceleration and adaptability for companies. On the contrary, it’s very difficult to do any quick frontend changes in traditional eCommerce solutions since you need to change the backend as well.
Scalability, flexibility, and performance
Headless architecture empowers the developers to be more creative, and improve software performance thanks to decreased downtime and future-proof technology. As new devices and tech stacks appear, your headless solution easily keeps up.
Quick testing of new technologies 
With a headless ecommerce platform your developers enjoy the possibility to try and test the latest and best technology with zero risk. They can test their hypothesis without risking the whole platform.

Benefits of Headless eCommerce for Business

improved cx and flexibility
Personalization and Customization
Headless eCommerce allows you to build personalized and custom shopping experiences and meet your customers where they are. For example, if you see demand for social eCommerce you can quickly create a custom frontend that enables this new channel. Or you can provide a special interface different from the rest for your prime B2B accounts to make their ordering experience smoother.
headless and traditional commerce
Agility

Headless eCommerce empowers enterprises to be agile and quick. It also allows them to win market share and beat the competition. If you are able to quickly match your customer expectations and constantly develop in shorter timeframes, eventually, you will be leading the industry.

Omnichannel Experience
All companies desire to provide a seamless customer and employee experience across different channels. With a headless approach, this is more than possible. The evolution of online shopping has led 52% of companies to provide an omnichannel strategy. You can be in that percentage with a headless architectural approach.
Powerful Marketing Engine
Headless ecommerce is fantastic for development teams and empowers marketers to be more creative and boost online sales. The headless approach allows marketers to attract organic traffic, decrease lead gen costs, and execute different promotional initiatives that are endless in B2B eCommerce world.

Disadvantages of Headless eCommerce

In the era of digital commerce, headless eCommerce architecture promises to make a significant impact. In a world of quick reactions and fast changes, headless eCommerce provides needed agility and flexibility to many.

However, a company must be ready to face the challenges of headless solutions to succeed.
We have prepared a list of all five challenges the headless approach may pose for your company.

1. Different Perspectives and Understanding of the Project
One of the most challenging things that quick changes entail is keeping a big team on the same page. Frequently there could be so many changes, initiatives, and tests that the team needs help to keep up with them. Besides, the developers, marketers, and product owners have their different views, tasks, and wants, which are all possible thanks to headless eCommerce.

So, one of the primary challenges of headless ecommerce is having your team be on the same track.

2. Impossible WYSIWYG
WYSIWYG or what you see is what you get, becomes impossible with a headless ecommerce approach. This is a logical continuation of the last challenge we discussed.
Real-time previews are frequently absent from headless ecommerce and CMS solutions, and although the content structure is very much feasible, the lack of an integrated hierarchical taxonomy may be the reason for a time-consuming process.

3. Ensuring the Security of Multiple Layers
Headless eCommerce platforms are often considered to be safer than traditional eCommerce platforms. However, this isn't a guarantee of security and the absence of risks.

Notably, the security for the eCommerce APIs and the front layer must be defined separately. The integration and security capabilities of cloud platforms might vary in scope. And usually, a company is in charge of protecting the presentation layer. This presents a significant barrier that would be difficult to overcome for the unprepared.

4. Limitless Scalability might Become The Limit
Headless eCommerce allows you to experience limitless scalability. With a headless approach, you can scale, add new touchpoints and provide a truly excellent customer experience. However, it takes work to have the ideal scaling journey. You need to standardize processes, configure the content structure, maintain the content quality, and create workflows that translate different visions of all corporate entities.

5. Employee Onboarding Pace
It could take some time for the employees who are used to the traditional approach to become used to headless eCommerce. Some employees will have to unlearn traditional ecommerce habits and need to retrain themselves.

Ask Us How We Power HEINEKEN with Headless eCommerce

Pros and Cons of Headless eCommerce over Traditional eCommerce

Let’s schematically look at the pros and cons of headless eCommerce over traditional eCommerce.

Flexibility
Quick updates
Control
Tech & Team Complexity
Customer Experience
Marketing freedom
Scalability
Cost
Headless eCommerce + + + + + + + +
Traditional eCommerce + + + + + + + +

As we can see, with numerous benefits, the introduction of headless e-commerce is not justified for all companies, and we will discuss this aspect further.

Which Companies Should Invest in Headless eCommerce?

Headless ecommerce is not a magic spell, it does not by itself solve all the business problems. But it is an approach that addresses very specific problems that arise as business complexity increases. Our experience shows that it makes sense to implement headless ecommerce for the following companies:

  • Companies that sell through multiple channels
  • Experience-led companies that want to provide superior CX
  • Companies that seek speed-to-market and want to try and test new ideas quicker than their competition
  • B2B, B2B2C, D2C, and large B2C companies
  • Companies mainly operating in manufacturing, wholesale distribution, automotive, FMCG, HVAC, industrial machinery manufacturing, food and beverage, aerospace and defense industries.

Does every ecommerce store need a headless solution?

Not every eCommerce store needs a headless platform. While there are many benefits to headless software, it’s not absolute. We will further look at the examples of headless eCommerce implementation projects in the next section and learn about the companies that adopted the headless approach.

There are a lot of B2B organizations that still use monolithic eCommerce platforms. For some enterprises, it’s sometimes recommended by digital agencies. Overall, the monolithic solution's self-contained architecture makes deployment, management, and maintenance easier although there are many known drawbacks.

Many companies from the food and beverage, HVAC, automotive, and CPG industries have successfully implemented a headless ecommerce platform from Virto.
See Virto’s headless implementations.

If you want to learn more about the theoretical aspects of headless ecommerce, including its definition, meaning, and architectural details, we recommend the following materials:

1. What is Headless Commerce - definition, meaning, architecture
2. All you need to know about Headless Commerce: Virto Commerce Expert Articles Collection

Best 16 Headless eCommerce Platforms

#1: Virto Commerce

Virto Commerce is a truly adaptable platform that foresees and solves the problem of infinite re-platforming as customer expectations evolve and your business grows. It helps businesses provide the perfect customer experience to every audience through its API-driven architecture and seamless integrations.

  • Founded in 2011
  • Price: Varies based on the needs of the customer and order volume
  • Pros: Virto Commerce’s platform contains the widest OS compatibility for customization and add-on support. Its robust API-driven architecture provides seamless integration with ERP, CRM, order management, and more. Virto’s cloud-based headless eCommerce platform can handle unexpected high loads, and its FastOrder module can handle over 100 orders per second from your online store. Its pricing method makes it an excellent option for both small and large businesses.
  • Cons: Some default platform features of Virto Commerce need to be supported even for users who don’t need those features.
virto commerce headless ecommerce platform

#2: Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus is a powerful platform targeting enterprise-grade businesses. The headless ecommerce Shopify Plus platform lets merchants make any digital screen into a potential sales channel.

  • Launched in 2014
  • Price: Begins at $2,000 per month
  • Pros: Shopify Plus lets developers build storefronts with either tools they know or by using built-in Shopify Tools. It supports over 4000 third-party plugins, making it a highly customizable headless eCommerce solution.
  • Cons: The price of Shopify Plus places this platform out of reach for many smaller businesses. Additionally, it doesn’t support B2B selling options without the addition of third-party apps.
shopify plus headless ecommerce platform

#3: Salesforce Commerce Cloud

Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a highly scalable, flexible platform with scalable APIs separating back-end services from the frontend customer experience. The result is incredible customer experiences on the front, while keeping the back end flexible.

  • Launched in 2022
  • Price: Based on the percentage of gross merchandise volume
  • Pros: Salesforce offers pre-built packages made specifically for headless implementation. Their scalable platform allows users to manage millions of SKUs and manage hundreds of shops from a single back end.
  • Cons: Since the cost to use Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s headless eCommerce solution is based on gross merchandise volume, the cost for this service increases as companies sell more goods. This pricing model can be difficult for SMEs. Salesforce’s suite of products works well together, but integrating technology outside of Salesforce’s umbrella can be challenging.
salesforce headless ecommerce

#4: BigCommerce

Big Commerce is a one-stop solution with high customizability for developers and store owners to manage their shops. Its ready-made tools include plug-ins for many popular headless eCommerce CMSs.

  • Price: Begins at $29.95 for 50k in sales per year
  • Pros: BigCommerce’s scalable, robust platform supports omnichannel selling and supports an unlimited number of digital or physical goods. Not only does it have built-in SEO capabilities, but its platform also allows companies to launch their online stores quickly and modify them as needed.
  • Cons: BigCommerce only supports one language, though more are available through plug-ins. It also requires users to upgrade their plan if their sales exceed a certain threshold.
bigcommerce headless ecommerce

Learn How Headless eCommerce Takes Businesses to New Heights

#5: nopCommerce

nopCommerce offers an open-source eCommerce platform with high customizability. Its powerful, secure platform is free to download and is based on the API.NET framework.

  • Company began in 2008; headless eCommerce launched in 2021
  • Price: $850 annually
  • Pros: nopCommerce has one of the lowest price points of the headless eCommerce platforms at just $850 per year. It has unlimited customizability but is also highly functional straight out of the box. Its integration capabilities, combined with SEO and marketing features, make it one of our top choices for headless eCommerce platforms.
  • Cons: Even though it’s easy to use out of the box, you may need additional skills in software development to properly utilize upgrades.
nopcommerce headless ecommerce

#6: OroCommerce

OroCommerce is a flexible, open-source B2B ecommerce platform built from the ground up. 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 a SaaS cloud environment as well as an on-premise setup.

  • Launched in 2015
  • Price: Free for the Community Edition, the customized price for Enterprise Edition
  • Pros: OroCommerce’s platform allows users to manage multiple stores from a single interface. Since it was specially built for vendors, wholesalers, and retailers, it provides corporate customer accounts, custom catalogs, and other features specially developed for B2B use.
  • Cons: Its strong B2B focus and price points mean it may not be a good fit for smaller businesses or those in the B2C market. Customization requires strong developer skills
nopcommerce headless ecommerce

#7: Adobe Commerce (formerly known as Magento Commerce)

Magento came on the ecommerce scene as an open-source ecommerce platform. It was purchased by Adobe in 2018. While Magento Open Source remains free, the premium version of Adobe Commerce is a scalable, flexible headless eCommerce platform that creates seamless customer experiences across devices.

  • Launched in 2019
  • Price: Begins at $22,000 annually
  • Pros: Adobe Commerce’s cutting-edge platform is a flexible, scalable product that can seamlessly integrate with other Adobe products. It has nearly unlimited customization and a large community of developer support.
  • Cons: In addition to the cost of the platform, development costs can become expensive if your business doesn’t have an in-house developer. Even the open-source version can have high developer costs.
adobe headless ecommerce

#8: Elastic Path

Elastic Path is a headless platform that integrates template-free ecommerce as middleware into enterprise ERP systems. It supports a forum for first-time business API users, making it a beginner-friendly option. Elastic Path offers flexible, fast API, and the core objects can be customized and modified.

  • Launched in 2011
  • Price: Begins at $50,000 per year
  • Pros: Elastic Path was an innovator in the headless ecommerce space, so it’s no surprise that their platform is one of the best solutions for enterprise businesses. They offer a seamless, stable API and easy-to-access online tools.
  • Cons: The documentation may be inadequate for newcomers to get started, and customizing solutions can take a lot of time.
headless ecommerce vs. traditional ecommerce

Learn Why Your Business + Headless eCommerce = Profit

#9: SnipCart

SnipCart allows users to add a shopping cart platform to any website since it uses basic JavaScript and HTML. It includes features to help manage abandoned carts, giving companies the chance to minimize lost sales. SnipCart was created for developers and designers, rather than for merchants.

  • Price: 2% per transaction plus gateway fees. Clients with less than $629 CAD in sales per month are charged a monthly flat rate of $13 US.
  • Pros: SnipCart’s pricing system makes headless ecommerce architecture available to companies of any size. Their website offers copy-and-paste HTML scripts for many features and functionalities, adding simple customization abilities.
  • Cons: Larger enterprises may balk at the transaction fees Snipcart charges. Currently, there is no flat-rate fee option.
snipcart headless ecommerce

#10: Kibo eCommerce

Kibo eCommerce is a cloud-based platform designed for B2C and B2B retailers. It is built on the Kibo Unified Commerce Platform, which shares the services with other Kibo solutions.

  • Price: Upon Request
  • Pros: Kibo eCommerce’s cloud-based platform lets retailers quickly scale their ecommerce storefronts. Retailers can add features when customer shopping behavior changes.
  • Cons: The Kibo platform is robust, so it may take extra time (and developer expense) to get up and running. The company also focuses on larger businesses and may not be a good choice for smaller enterprises.
kiboecommerce headless ecommerce

#11: commercetools

Commercetools is a well-known headless ecommerce platform. Its cloud-based API model enables quick setup and smooth integration. Their headless ecommerce architecture is based on MACH (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) architecture principles.

  • Launched in 2013
  • Price: Free 60-day trial, quote-based pricing thereafter
  • Pros: As one of the innovators of headless ecommerce, commercetools is a cloud solution offering full API support. Hosting isn’t required, and they’re constantly upgrading and adding additional features.
  • Cons: Commercetools is not an end-to-end solution, and may require extensive work to build the front-end experience
logicommerce headless ecommerce

#12: LogiCommerce

LogiCommerce is a scalable, easy-to-use platform with omnichannel features. It seamlessly integrates with third-party solutions.

  • Launched in 2018
  • Price: Starts at €69/month for the most basic plan
  • Pros: LogicCommerce’s software has a short learning curve, making it easier to implement and bring new hires up to speed on the software. It allows users to create good commerce experiences across channels.
  • Cons: With no free trial available, LogiCommerce users who aren’t satisfied may still have to pay for the service.
logicommerce headless ecommerce

#13: Spree Commerce

Spree Commerce is an open-source headless ecommerce solution. It allows users endless customizations and supports any currency, 45 languages, and any payment method.

  • Launched in 2021
  • Price: Free
  • Pros: Spree Commerce’s open-source position may make it an affordable option for companies that have in-house developers to customize the platform for them.
  • Cons: While Spree Commerce’s software is free, your business may need to hire dedicated developers to customize it and provide ongoing support.
spreecommerce headless ecommerce

#14: Spryker

Spryker is another headless ecommerce provider. It uses an API-first approach, allowing large- and mid-sized businesses a flexible option to tailor to their needs.

  • Price: Upon Request
  • Pros: Spryker provides a modern tech stack which developers can use to create a unique headless frontend experience.
  • Cons: Spryker has a steep learning curve, and users note its website has out-of-date information which can make developing even more challenging.
spryker headless ecommerce

#15: Shogun

Shogun is a front-end headless ecommerce page builder which works with Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento. Customers use drag-and-drop features to build custom storefronts without help from developers.

  • Launched in 2015
  • Upon Request
  • Pros: Shogun’s framework makes it easy for customers to modify their storefronts on their own terms. It allows users to create flexible, custom storefronts without having to use a developer for every change.
  • Cons: Some users may want more advanced features that aren’t available with Shogun. It also only works with Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce.
shogun headless ecommerce

#16: Foxy.io

Foxy.io, formerly known as FoxyCart, is a flexible headless ecommerce platform based on PHP and HTML. While it’s not an all-in-one system, it gives retailers quick checkout flow and gives buyers a painless buying experience.

  • Launched in 2019
  • Price: Begins at $25/month, $2000+/month for enterprise clients
  • Pros: Foxy.io is highly versatile and uses Hypermedia API, providing seamless integration with many third-party services and website providers.
  • Cons: While a certain number of transactions are free each month, Foxy.io charges a per-transaction fee once customers go above that number.
foxy io headless ecommerce

The Recap of the Main Characteristics of the Headless eCommerce Platforms

Platform
Year Launched
Annual Price
Customizability
Virto Commerce 2011 Upon request High customizability + add-on support
Shopify Plus
 
2014 from $2,000 per month High customizability
Salesforce Commerce Cloud
 
2022 Based on the percentage of gross merchandise volume
 
Low customizability
BigCommerce 2009 Begins at $29.95 for 50k in sales per year Low customizability
nopCommerce
 
2008 (headless eCommerce launched in 2021) $850 annually High customizability
OroCommerce 2015
 
Free for the Community Edition, the customized price for Enterprise Edition Customization requires strong developer skills.
Adobe Commerce 2019 $22,000 annually High customizability
Elastic Path
 
2011 $50,000 per year Customizing solutions can take a lot of time.
SnipCart
 
2013 2% per transaction plus gateway fees. Clients with less than $629 CAD in sales per month are charged a monthly flat rate of $13 US.
 
High customizability
Kibo eCommerce Unknown
 
Upon request High customizability
commercetools
 
 2013 Free 60-day trial, quote-based pricing thereafter
 
Low customizability
LogiCommerce  2018 Starts at €69/month for the most basic plan
 
Medium customizability
Spree Commerce 2021 Free Customization requires strong developer skills.
Spryker 2014 Upon request
 
Customization requires strong developer skills.
Shogun 2015
 
Upon request High customizability
Foxy.io
 
2019 Begins at $25/month, $2000+/month for enterprise clients
 
High customizability

Are there any free headless eCommerce platforms?

There are several open source headless platforms that are free to download and use. Spree Commerce, Magento Open Source, and nopCommerce all have headless ecommerce open source solutions.

However, while the platform itself may not have a fee, other costs need to be considered. Businesses will still be responsible for hosting and domain extensions. These platforms also may require a developer to customize, adding even more to the costs. It’s also worth keeping in mind that most open source headless platforms won’t offer customer support, so businesses using them will need to figure out any problems on their own. This could come with a high price tag for companies without in-house developers.

Headless eCommerce Examples

The advantages of headless eCommerce look good on paper, but what about in the real world? These websites maximized their headless eCommerce platforms to get seamless customer experiences with powerful back-end performance.

Headless Shopify Examples

Pure Daily Care is an at-home wellness and skincare solution. It combines beauty and technology into easy-to-use products.

Clare’s mission is to make shopping for paint easy and exciting, and it uses Shopify’s headless ecommerce platform to display its vibrant paint colors and create a simple-to-use user experience.

Figs is a healthcare brand offering medical apparel like scrubs, lab coats, and other types of clothing and accessories. Their electrifying website pops with bright colors and a responsive UX.

Headless React JS Examples

Target recognized that many customers used different devices for shopping, often beginning to shop on one device before buying on a different device. It utilizes headless ecommerce to provide a seamless experience for customers, no matter how they’re shopping.

United Airlines’ adoption of a headless ecommerce platform allows them to maintain a consistent customer experience across platforms.

Virto’s Headless eCommerce Examples

Heineken needed to improve its CX and create a mobile and desktop platform users could seamlessly use to allow 24/7 ordering, access to account information, and inventory management. Using Virto’s headless ecommerce platform, it launched across 15 countries and standardized the launch process for new markets. Heineken saw a 1000% increase in online transactions, and a 65% reduction in implementation costs, and expects to have processed €5 billion in B2B sales by 2025.

Learn how HEINEKEN Kick-Starts Digital Transformation in 15 Countries with Virto Headless eCommerce Platform
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headless ecommerce
Bosch case study

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Bosch Thermotechnik

Bosch Thermotechnik is one of the world’s leading suppliers of heating products and hot water solutions. Since it relied on distribution channels to sell its products, it didn’t interact directly with customers. Bosch was looking for a solution that would allow them to gain insight to the customer experience, such as data about how the products were being used. Virto created a customer loyalty portal built on Virto Commerce. Using this portal, customers can register their products, receive points, and use the points to make purchases. This solution gives Bosch Thermotechnik vital marketing information while keeping customers engaged with the brand.

Royal Brass and Hose

Royal Brass and Hose, a high-quality mobile equipment products distributor, wanted to create a self-service web experience so customers could select, create, and manage orders online. Their solution needed to be scalable, flexible, and have the ability to support both B2B and B2C needs. Virto Commerce built a headless ecommerce solution to provide customers with a new, easily accessible ecommerce experience. Since its implementation, RB&H has seen an 11% increase in online sales.

Royal Brass and Hose  case study
Lavazza case study

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Lavazza by Bluespresso

European Coffee brand Lavazza by Bluespresso needed a robust, flexible platform that could handle complex pricing and order lists. They also needed to create a unified B2B and B2C solution to streamline workflow and avoid duplicate work on the backend, while integrating five other digital platforms. Virto Commerce created a flexible and scalable solution that could handle data integration and provide insights into customer behavior while allowing customers to place orders, manage order history, and view invoices from one interface.

Headless eCommerce CMS

What is headless eCommerce CMS?

A headless CMS is a content management system where the content is stored (the “body”) separately from where it is presented (the “head“).

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—changing 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 difference between Headless CMS and Headless eCommerce

Is headless cms the same as headless еcommerce? The short answer is no. These are different classes of software—the first one is for online trading, and the second one is for content management.

When some articles claim that headless CMS is practically synonymous with headless еcommerce they only mean the resemblance based on the “headless” approach of the two. Both have the front layer decoupled or separated from the business logic on the backend. However, CMS which stands for content management system is not the same as the ecommerce platform.

Is headless CMS Good for Headless eCommerce?

Headless eCommerce and headless CMS are definitely better together. In today’s mobile-first and omnichannel world, headless CMS and headless ecommerce platforms together empower agility for enterprises. They allow businesses to try and test different ideas quicker and enable faster innovation.

In this compatibility, headless ecommerce and headless cms provide the following 3 advantages.

  1. Deliver one-of-a-kind and personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints.
    Headless ecommerce & CMS allow businesses to provide truly unique customer and employee experiences which inevitably leads to increased client happiness, cost-to-serve reductions of up to 50%, revenue growth of 15%, and increased staff satisfaction according to McKinsey.
  2. Quickly test & try new ideas with lower risk levels.
    Headless CMS and eCommerce allow business units to undertake new initiatives, test and try new ideas – even innovative ones or greenfield projects – without bringing risk into the legacy system, or delaying project delivery by months or sometimes even years.
  3. Adaptability and future-proof technology to keep your business unstoppable.
    Headless ecommerce together with headless CMS make your business unstoppable. As time goes monolithic platforms and legacy technology become outdated, new devices and technologies turn up. To keep up with ever-evolving customer expectations and deliver superior CX, businesses need to be reactive and quick. Pace and adaptability become crucial factors for B2B business success. Thanks to APIs as new technologies and touchpoints emerge, they can simply be added to what you've established on your back end without worrying about the future and changing customer expectations.

How to Integrate Headless CMS with a Headless eCommerce Platform?

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 two different approaches of the integration of Virto with a third-party headless CMS determined by whether the CMS can work in real-time or not.

Option 1. The first option 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 longer periods of time.

Option 2. The other option is when the headless CMS does not work in real-time. It's different from the previous approach by the exclusion of point-to-point connections between the headless CMS and the Virto Commerce storefront. In this case, in order for Virto to be able to render the page in the storefront, an asynchrony mechanism is implemented using the content buffer storage. The headless CMS is not required to be available continuously.

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.

The Most Popular 17 Headless eCommerce CMS

Headless content management systems (CMS) are becoming more and more popular as companies seek improved customer experience and scalability. Here is a brief list of the 15 most popular headless eCommerce CMS providers that are considered the best:

  1. Contentful
  2. WordPress VIP
  3. Strapi
  4. Hygraph
  5. Sanity
  6. Quintype
  7. Prismic
  8. Arc XP
  9. Contentstack
  10. Ghost
  11. dotCMS
  12. Magnolia
  13. Optimizely
  14. Directus
  15. AcquiaCMS
  16. Kontent.ai
  17. Adobe Experience Cloud

Headless ecommerce is not just a trend, it’s here to stay.

The benefits of headless architecture include better page speed for users, limitless scalability, customizable solutions, and quicker time to market. One must remember the challenges that headless ecommerce entails as well.

As technology changes, businesses need to be able to quickly customize their customer experiences without having to start from the beginning. Customers also expect easy-to-use agile websites.


Headless ecommerce technology provides the solution. Since headless ecommerce decouples frontend from backend, businesses can implement changes without the challenges that often accompany monolithic traditional ecommerce platforms. 

Schedule a Meeting with Virto Experts to Learn More about Headless eCommerce Platform

Virto Commerce’s powerful .NET core platform enables businesses to access new revenue sources with its scalable, flexible, agile capabilities. Virto’s multiple out-of-the-box features and competitive pricing can bring the benefits of headless commerce to any size business.

Schedule an intro meeting to see a demonstration of Virto Commerce’s headless ecommerce platform and learn how Virto can integrate with your existing architecture to create a fully customizable option for your business.