The new era of eCommerce CMS - How to make it work for you
How can you make sure your content finds its audience? This is the essential issue in any online business where content management is the determining factor. When it comes to eCommerce, it is extremely important to be able to precisely know what your target audiences want, AND to be able to deliver it to them in time and as a simple/quick experience. Additionally, the current availability of internet on so many devices means that you have to deliver it to the right place too, what is often called omnichannel publishing. So how can you make sure that’s the case?
The traditional approach to content management (usually called “monolithic”) pioneered the technology in the last decades, however considering the modern issues in eCommerce, it has some serious flaws in a number of areas:
- Responding to market trends and creating the appropriate content for them requires a lot of effort and is consequently slow (due to heavy reliance of marketers on the IT team in creating new landing pages, limited editing possibilities, etc.)
- Inconsistencies in content due to the high number of manual inputs required
- Standards and quality control are hard to implement
- The interdependence of the front-end and the back-end means a limited programming framework, restricted content types, and often higher maintenance
- Big scale changes and redesigns require immense effort
- Extremely high rates of resource consumption
- Targeting and personalization require complex and time consuming tasks (due to the aforementioned reasons)
Some eCommerce platforms have tried to mitigate the problems, by offering their own content management systems (CMS).
an online platform that offers companies the requirements of running a store, including the shopping cart, inventory, payment, and shipping management. Bigcommerce and Shopware are ecommerce platforms.
A system that allows users to create, customize, modify, publish, and manage all digital content (text, image, video, audio, etc.) in any form. Storyblok and Wordpress are CMSs.
However the results are always less than optimal, as a CMS and an ecommerce platform are inherently different. The administration of your company’s store and the creation (and maintenance) of your website and all your digital content are of course important, and should remain clearly defined. The core problem with merging the two together is that administration, customer experience, and marketing will all be deeply interconnected which is something you should always avoid. Creating a responsive and fast website with personalized user journeys, and managing payments and shipments should be done separately in order to avoid sacrifices to quality on either side.
Because of all these issues, many prominent businesses like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon have moved away from the monolithic approach. In fact Amazon was one of the early proponents of the change to a modern approach. In 2002 Amazon made the switch from the traditional monolithic system to one driven by APIs (Application Programming Interface).
API-first: The New Era of Ecommerce CMS
The most notable result of the API model, is the seamless integration of data and technology. Many companies have a tall stack of technologies and customer data which have to firstly work in perfect sync, and secondly be easily accessible in any moment to create successful targeted content.
Thanks to APIs, your CRM and CMS can function perfectly well together. It doesn’t matter what ecommerce platform you are using, as long as your CMS prioritizes APIs, you can easily make them work together. Using the API approach also means building and managing a network of customer touchpoints all based on the same foundational pillar of tools.
If a business decides to go the modern way, it makes sense to use a CMS which is built specifically with APIs as its core. These content management systems are known as “API first” or “Headless”. Headless in this context simply means that the front-end (the presentational end or the “head”) is separated from the back-end (the engine or the foundational pillar, the “body”). This way, you can fit as many different “heads” (websites, apps, etc.) as you want on the same “body”. Storyblok is a prime example of the new “Headless” movement.
Usually when speaking of Headless CMSs, the major problem which is brought up is the lack of proper visual preview for the content creators. However Storyblok has solved this issue by creating a unique visual editor.
You can click here to see the visual editor in action.
Who Should Take This Approach?
Like any other issue, the choice depends on each individual case and there is no universal answer. The most important thing to remember is to consider your own goals and current needs of your business before making a decision.
Here you can find a quick comparison table to help you with having a structured overview:
|Traditional CMS||Headless CMS|
|Approach||Monolithic||Headless through APIs|
|Targeted Devices||Web-only||All devices|
|Setup||Based on specific CMS rules||Based on your existing tech stack|
|Coding||Co-existing content, CMS, and Front-end code creates dependency, making each addition a complex task||Content is independent and works with API calls. Any new "head" can be added with simplicity|
|Customer's Interface||Pre-built templates with minor customization possible||Absolute control over the presentation of content|
|Technology Choice||Dictated by the CMS||Free Choice|
|Redesign||Changes require modifying the whole system||Changes are isolated to cases|
|Cross Platform Support||-||Yes|
Checklist: Taking the Headless Approach for Your Next eCommerce CMS
There are many different cases where a Headless approach may be preferable to a traditional CMS. These are some of the cases where a Headless CMS would be the better fit for an eCommerce business:
You want your content and products to stand out amongst the competition by giving your users an individually tailored experience that is unique to your brand.
Speed is a priority in your business. You want your customers to have a quick experience on your platform, but also you want them to receive their personalized content as fast as possible.
Your business requires omnichannel presence and cross platform support is a primary issue.
Your business produces a lot of content and/or needs to update its existing content regularly.
Flexibility and customization are high-importance concerns.
Keep a Traditional CMS for Your Business if:
Your business does not rely on publishing content on different platforms/channels/devices and is exclusively website-based.
Your website is simple and you prefer pre-built templates and themes.
You don’t publish or update content on a regular basis. In other words your business has a small set of products that stay unchanged.
With the ever-growing connectivity of different devices to the Internet and the rising popularity of eCommerce among consumers, moving towards omnichannel publication seems inevitable. For businesses who deal with larger amounts of content and/or prioritize personalized customer journeys, there is a modern solution to content management.
While there is no absolute answer, the headless approach fits perfectly for a diverse range of businesses, and addresses the usual shortcomings of the traditional systems.