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eCommerce platform vs. CMS + eCommerce platform: What to choose?

Marketing
Olena Teselko
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Storyblok is the first headless CMS that works for developers & marketers alike.

The modern eCommerce market is highly competitive and constantly evolving. In these conditions, brands need to go above and beyond to succeed. While many companies focus on branding and marketing as a magic wand, a powerful and modern tech stack is what they might be missing. 

Previously, many businesses relied on standalone eCommerce platforms to power their online storefronts. However, this is no longer enough. Today, in order to provide rich content experiences, it's essential to embrace content management platforms in addition to eCommerce ones. This article will explain why.

Why use a standalone eCommerce platform only

Standalone eCommerce platforms have long been the go-to solution for businesses looking to establish their online presence. They offer a comprehensive suite of eCommerce features and capabilities, providing merchants with a one-stop solution for managing their online stores. 

1. Key eCommerce features and capabilities readily available

Standalone eCommerce platforms such as Shopify or BigCommerce excel in offering a wide array of essential features and tools necessary for running an online store. 

From product listings and inventory management to payment processing and order fulfillment, these platforms provide merchants with all the necessary functionalities to streamline their eCommerce operations.

2. Simplified management with all functionalities integrated into one platform

One of the primary advantages of standalone eCommerce platforms is their centralized management. With all essential tools and features seamlessly integrated into a single platform, merchants can efficiently manage their entire eCommerce business from one dashboard.

This simplifies tasks such as updating product information, tracking sales metrics, managing customer orders, and increasing productivity and operational efficiency.

Limitations of using a standalone eCommerce platform only

1. Limited functionality beyond eCommerce capabilities 

While standalone platforms excel in providing eCommerce-specific functionalities, they often lack the flexibility and versatility required for businesses with diverse needs. Beyond basic operations, these platforms may fall short in supporting additional features or integrations, such as advanced content management, complex workflows, or specialized marketing tools.

2. Security concerns 

Consolidating all aspects of the eCommerce business within a single platform can pose security risks. In the event of a security breach or vulnerability in the platform, merchants may face the potential risk of exposing sensitive customer data, financial information, or other critical business assets. 

This centralized approach makes standalone eCommerce platforms attractive targets for cyberattacks, necessitating robust security measures and regular updates to mitigate potential threats.

3. Challenges in creating rich content experiences due to platform limitations 

While eCommerce platforms focus primarily on facilitating transactions and managing product catalogs, they often lack the robust content management capabilities required for creating immersive and engaging content experiences. This limitation can hinder businesses' ability to differentiate themselves in a competitive market and connect with customers on a deeper level through compelling storytelling, interactive media, or personalized content. As a result, merchants may face challenges in effectively leveraging content marketing strategies to drive brand awareness, engagement, and conversions.

Features ComparisonStandalone eCommerce PlatformeCommerce platform + Content Management System
eCommerce functionalityKey eCommerce featuresKey eCommerce features
Building content experiencesLimited editing capabilitiesRich content management capabilities
Omnichannel eCommerceNot possiblePossible
Localization, personalizationLimited capabilitiesCan be extended with integrations
Performance and scalabilityMight be limited Increased performance, SEO and scalability
Tech stackLimited by one platformCan be continuously improved and changed
SecurityHas more vulnerabilities Better security

Why integrate CMS with an eCommerce platform

The short answer is to extend your capabilities. The longer answer is that you get so many more opportunities to build the infrastructure YOUR business needs. While content management systems, such as Storyblok, bring various features to the table, they can also serve as a central hub for other related integrations. Let's dive deeper into what you get when adding a Storyblok to your eCommerce stack.

Dedicated content management environment

By integrating a CMS like Storyblok with an eCommerce platform, businesses gain access to rich editing capabilities, collaboration tools, content scheduling, and robust roles and permissions management. This is especially convenient for marketing and content teams as they can now access a centralized content hub to manage content independently without requiring the assistance of developers.

With Storyblok's Visual Editor, merchants can easily create visually stunning content. Additionally, features like content scheduling ensure timely publication of updates, promotions, and entire campaigns. Storyblok's user-friendly interface encourages collaboration among team members, streamlining the content creation process and ensuring consistency across all touchpoints.

Rich content experiences

Unlike standalone eCommerce platforms, integrating a CMS like Storyblok allows for limitless design possibilities. You are not tight by themes offered by the vendor, instead you can create anything you wish. Additionally, Storyblok supports all possible content types including images, video, audio, and even immersive content such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

With Storyblok, merchants can seamlessly integrate interactive elements into their product pages, providing customers with engaging experiences that drive conversion rates. 

Furthermore, Storyblok's flexible content structure enables businesses to tailor content to their target audience's preferences, delivering personalized experiences that foster brand loyalty and affinity.

Omnichannel publishing

Due to the headless approach, integrating Storyblok with an eCommerce platform enables merchants to publish content across multiple channels and touchpoints seamlessly — all from one place. Whether updating product descriptions on the website or digital kiosk or optimizing content for mobile apps, Storyblok's omnichannel publishing capabilities empower companies to deliver consistent brand messaging and experiences across all channels. 

Quote from Rowin Peet, Product Owner at Accell Group

By having a best-of-breed selection between Storyblok as our CMS, Shopware as our eCommerce platform, and Algolia for search and indexing, we’ve essentially established and put down the right foundations for our growth into the future - whether that be in bringing more brands over to Storyblok, or exploring omnichannel eCommerce experiences for our brands.

Rowin Peet
Rowin Peet
Product Owner at Accell Group

Improved performance and SEO

Leveraging modern technology stacks like Jamstack, Storyblok leads to improved website performance and enhanced SEO capabilities. Storyblok's headless architecture enables merchants to separate content from the presentation layer, resulting in faster loading speeds and optimized content delivery. 

By delivering content through a content delivery network (CDN), Storyblok ensures high availability and scalability, enhancing the overall user experience and boosting search engine rankings. Additionally, Storyblok's built-in SEO tools empower brands to optimize content for relevant keywords and metadata, further improving their website's visibility and discoverability.

Enhanced localization and personalization

Integrating specialized tools like Lokalise and Optimizely with Storyblok gives you advanced localization and personalization capabilities. With Storyblok's multi-language support and translation management features, businesses can easily create and manage content in multiple languages, catering to diverse customer segments and geographical regions.

Additionally, Storyblok's integration with Optimizely enables merchants to conduct A/B testing and deliver targeted content based on user behavior and preferences, driving relevance and engagement across all channels.

Improved security

Adopting a headless approach to eCommerce with Storyblok mitigates security risks associated with traditional monolithic architectures. With ISO 27001 compliance and robust data security measures, Storyblok ensures customer data's confidentiality, integrity, and availability, protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access and cyber threats. 

By decoupling the frontend and backend layers, Storyblok minimizes the attack surface and gives brands greater control over security configurations, reducing the risk of data breaches and compliance violations.

Scalability and hustle-free updates

With a CMS-integrated e-commerce stack, businesses can effortlessly incorporate new features and functionalities into their online storefront. Whether it's adding a new payment gateway, implementing a loyalty program, or integrating with third-party services, Storyblok's flexible architecture ensures compatibility and seamless integration with existing systems. 

Meanwhile, Storyblok's cloud-based infrastructure and horizontal scaling capabilities allow companies to easily scale their online storefront to accommodate increasing traffic, sales volumes, and product catalogs. 

Future-proofed eCommerce stack

By adopting a composable approach to eCommerce, businesses can future-proof their online storefront against technological changes and market disruptions. Storyblok's API-first architecture and support for emerging technologies ensure compatibility with new platforms, devices, and channels, enabling brands to adapt to changing consumer behaviors and preferences. 

Wrapping up

Choosing the right technology stack for e-commerce websites is a critical decision that can significantly impact business success. While standalone eCommerce platforms offer convenience and simplicity, integrating a CMS with an eCommerce platform opens up a world of possibilities for content creation, customization, performance, and security. 

By adopting a composable eCommerce stack, businesses can create immersive and engaging customer experiences while staying agile and competitive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.