What is headless CMS? Serving your data across multiple touchpoints

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Aleksander Olszewski

Content Manager

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All the content you create and share online needs to be presented in an appealing way. To do it efficiently, you need to separate the content itself from the way it’s presented to the user. That’s where a headless approach comes into play. It’ll help you to share your content across all the touchpoints effortlessly.

If you want to explore the headless possibilities for eCommerce, you should definitely check out our eBook describing 14 top solutions that will play a major role in this area in the upcoming years.

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Explaining headless CMS

A headless CMS means a sharp separation of the back end from the front end. Your back end stores all the content and data and serves it to the front end through API.

Separating the way things are presented from the content itself is useful and efficient. It has a long history. You might be familiar with HTML and CSS. In the old days, HTML used to store the content of the website. The CSS was its style and appearance. If the CSS didn’t load when you came to the website, you’d just get plain black letters on a blank page.

While front end and back end were always kind of separated, headless takes this separation further, making them communicate with each other through API. Your headless CMS serves the content, and any front end that receives it makes it digestible, and beautiful, for the users.

What is the headless CMS for?

There’s no doubt that the world is going headless. It’s a strong technical trend. As an eCommerce company, we see it everywhere here at Divante. We support this trend because it gives you the upper hand in a couple of important business aspects.

Thanks to headless, you can separate the front end and all the vivid, variable, experimental features from the stable back end core of your system. You can plug all of them in and out as you please. The result allows you to easily optimize the front end and scale it better.

The front end is responsible for how users feel and perform on your website, and that’s where enormous potential to build an advantage is. You need to optimize it, seize the new opportunities, adapt to changing needs, and overcome problems. This all needs to be done quickly. Think of it like your chopped-off front end is a lightweight race car that helps you overtake the competition.


eCommerce is an industry that is very eager to adapt headless architecture. That’s because the speed and reliability of content delivery is an extremely important issue in online shopping. There are countless fierce competitors watching over your shoulder all the time. Any optimization might contribute to a major change in conversions and revenue.

Other industries

Let’s go beyond eCommerce. Even if you’re in a totally different industry, it’s still useful to learn about the innovative ideas happening in eCommerce. The big players that used to stick to the old monolith architecture tend to gravitate towards headless now because it’s a proven way to keep technical and business agility.

The most important factor is the competitive environment that pushes businesses to increase the efficiency of content delivery. Your content has to be efficiently served by your content management system (CMS).

“We see a lot of people do headless CMS these days. A huge chunk of our customers buy Contentstack. Others choose Contentful or Amplience. It's very much like what we're doing for commerce. They're doing it for content with the exact same approach.”

Kelly Goetsch, Chief Product Officer at commercetools, four-time O'Reilly author, and Co-founder and President of the MACH Alliance
(Headless architecture and microservices in eCommerce platforms)

The future is headless

Headless is basically an approach to building architecture. However, it matches a bigger trend of splitting big, complicated structures into small microservices that deliver a fraction of the features or even just a single feature. This attitude is going to stay with us for years to come.

“The dramatic shifts in the market we saw this year have made us all realize that the flexibility and speed of implementing enterprise software are more crucial than ever. The so-called headless approach is helping companies to innovate faster by separating the back end from the front end. It’s a genuine game-changer in software development (...).”

Tom Karwatka, Advisory Board Member at Divante
(Headless toolkit)

So, if you’re looking for a solution that’s going to serve your company for longer, you should definitely focus on one that adapts headless and microservice approaches. Otherwise, you may lose the possibility to adapt to new channels and wind up with obsolete technology. Dumping it will require another resource-consuming pivot and additional investments.

Microservice-based architecture and CMSs

It’s all about agility. In order to grab your piece of the pie in the market before anybody else does, you need a quick, lightweight, and easy-to-roll-out front end. To keep it that way, you need to make a division between it and the rest of your complex system. The more intertwined it is, the more it’ll slow you down and complicate your every move.

“If you deal with enterprise systems of any sort, like eCommerce, fintech, etc., you may be convinced that complex systems require complex architectures.

“This is somewhat true because the architectures aren’t getting any simpler. However, the way they’re managed and accessed is. Teams prefer to divide the complex systems into services or microservices  that are  deployed separately to serverless infrastructures. This way, they avoid the expensive dev and maintenance operations to provide more business value faster and easier.”

Piotr Karwatka, Advisory Board Member at Divante

(Headless toolkit)

In short, this approach splits your software into smaller applications that are easier to manage, update, scale, and swap for another when the time comes.

Multiple channels

What’s more, being connected through API means that you can basically use any technology out there along with omnichannel. It allows for plugging into multiple solutions at once. The headless CMS lets you use your data in more than one context. You can serve your content not only through your main website but also through external news aggregators, digital kiosks, mobile apps, internet of things (IoT) devices, voice assistants, AR, and countless channels that are currently still a dream.

This approach delivers substantial value. If you want to get more background on the solutions that apply this concept, check out the top 4 Headless eCommerce Platforms that will blow your mind with their features.

Adapting headless

Introducing headless to your business doesn’t have to be a revolution. You can slowly replace parts of your current system with this new technology.

If want to learn more on how it works in practice, check our massive guide on What is headless eCommerce? It’s an introduction and guide to headless transition and can help you get a bird’s-eye view on headless technology and going headless.


Examples of headless CMS

To get a better understanding of the possibilities that this new technology provides, check out the four headless CMS solutions that we’re fond of at Divante. They made their way into our Headless toolkit eBook that presents a selection of 14 top headless applications available on the market.

Contentstack contentstack logo

Contentstack is a powerful headless CMS that’s excellent for enterprise solutions focused on multilingual and multichannel content. It provides a great editing experience and makes creating advanced workflows pretty easy with customized and predefined blocks. Its primary focus is to provide the possibility to cooperate with multiple employees, agencies, and translators at the same time.

“Contentstack includes advanced, editable workflows and content statuses, and versioning. It also provides for the possibility to search a product database of an external system and has great support for multilingual, multichannel solutions with distribution channels in different timezones.”

Damian Kłaptocz, Business Analyst at Divante
(Headless toolkit)

contentstack headless cms screenshot


Contentful contentful logo

Contentful helps digital teams assemble content and deliver experiences quicker. It allows for easy customization and deep integration with any tech stack and is really easy to start working with.

It has an excellent user experience and user interface (UX/UI). It also comes with out-of-the-box integrations with Dropbox, Flickr, Box, Google Drive, commercetools, Algolia, Cloudinary, and many more. You also have the possibility to create your own extensions or use extensions from GitHub. It’s free to use for up to four environments.

“A content platform enables innovation by scaling content across geographies and business units while adapting to digital team, customer, and market changes.

Damian Kłaptocz, Business Analyst at Divante
(Headless toolkit)

contentful headless cms screenshot


GraphCMS graphcms logo

GraphCMS is a solution for small to enterprise businesses that want to use GraphQL to exchange data. It has a clear UX that’s very intuitive.

It’s also very friendly for new users. It comes with a quick-start guide that includes a set of tutorials, an API Playground for developers, and a support team that is really helpful.

“What attracts your attention from the very first moments with GraphCMS is the emphasis on performance and a quick response from the server.“

Damian Kłaptocz, Business Analyst at Divante
(Headless toolkit)

It has a free forever plan for up to five members but also allows for various environments, workflows, and content staging for premium users.

graphcms headless cms screenshot


Strapi strapi logo

Strapi is a customizable, modern CMS with a very flexible content structure. You can pick either the cloud or an on-premise option. It’s clean, readable, and very easy to start working with. It automatically creates API documentation and Swagger for developers. It’s complemented by a marketplace with plugins that are free to install and use.

It’s open-source-based, and you can get a free community edition with all the major features.

“Strapi is the leading open-source headless CMS. It’s 100% JavaScript, fully customizable, and developer-first. It’s also one of the few headless CMSs that can be hosted locally.”

Damian Kłaptocz, Business Analyst at Divante
(Headless toolkit)

strapi headless cms screenshot


Some more free resources on headless technology

Headless architecture is a vast topic. We launched a massive eBook a couple of weeks ago, and it has really gotten some traction.

You can download it for free here:

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But that’s not all. This post is a part of a major series examining the topic from various angles. Check out the posts below to find out more on headless technology:

Of course, if you need a hand with headless transition, reach out to us at Divante. We might have just what you need to make it happen seamlessly.

Published June 29, 2021