Top 13 Headless CMS, and Why You Need to Know About Them in 2020

You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about headless CMS solutions – that they can help you deliver content in a more agile and flexible way with more freedom to give customers the digital experience they demand.

You want to be able to get your teams to work together efficiently and effectively – not just across different departments, but across different regions, countries and languages. Headless CMS helps facilitate that by separating content management from the presentation layer so that teams of marketers, content specialists and creatives can design and edit content from one centralized location and publish it across channels – ensuring a consistent customer experience across web, mobile apps, in-store, wearables, IoT and any other channel the future might bring!

What is a Headless CMS?

A headless CMS is so-called because it separates the content and commerce functions (the ‘body’) from their front-end delivery and presentation (the ‘head’). The presentation is no longer tied to the CMS, which creates a great deal of flexibility and agility when managing content across different channels.

The two layers ‘speak’ to each other via REST API requests, which makes headless CMS a highly versatile tool, serving up content regardless of the design of the channel on the front-end.

Download the Enterprise Guide to Headless Commerce Front-ends to explore the possibilities that this separation creates for a more dynamic customer experience.

The Best Headless CMS Solutions for 2020

If what you’ve heard makes you excited about the possibilities, but you’re a bit confused by the array of different options available and how they would interact with your existing ecommerce architecture, then here’s our overview of the best headless CMS solutions for enterprises in 2020 (in alphabetical order). 

Acquia Headless Lightning Provides Ease of Use

Acquia headless lightning

Built on Drupal, the open-source content management system, Headless Lightning is a headless CMS that is simple for front-end apps and services to integrate with. 

Its UI has been designed for easy use by people who are unfamiliar with Drupal, so your content and marketing teams don’t need to be open-source developers in order to take advantage of this solution. 

Headless lightning uses a JSON API module, which makes working with this CMS solution intuitive. It opens the door for a much wider range of people than those who are already experts in Drupal. Their use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) creates a robust cloud infrastructure and benefits from increased security, maintenance, patches and updates.

Adobe Experience Manager –  Is AEM A Headless CMS? 

Adobe Experience Manager

AEM is a headless CMS, however, it works best in conjunction with Adobe’s adjacent technology in the content management field. Their digital asset management (DAM) system works in conjunction with AEM, meaning your teams can tag content in AEM, which is stored in Adobe’s DAM. This makes content intuitive to find and recall, allowing people working in different departments and even countries to collaborate more smoothly.

Adobe emphasizes ease-of-use and has a high level of tech support, meaning not everyone involved in the process needs to be a technical wizard. They want to allow you to “personalize experience at scale”, and they suit enterprises with a need to manage wide-ranging commerce and marketing operations.

Amplience Drives Digital Transformation

Amplience Dynamic Content

Amplience’s CMS, Dynamic Content, aims to “re-define CMS for retail”. The single, centralized touchpoint for content means that your creative teams are freed up to work on the things that they know best without having to worry about development and integration. Their offering includes a calendar interface that facilitates collaboration between different teams as they aim to empower content teams to work together in an agile environment. 

Dynamic Content also lets you preview work across channels. Amplience is focused on the perfection of this backend function, delivering it with an “API-first” approach, which gives a great deal of freedom to creative teams and agile front-end solutions to provide powerful customer experiences.

Speed and Personalization with Bloomreach

Bloomreach Experience Manager

Bloomreach Experience Manager (brXM) focuses on speed alongside strong development and personalization features. It is built with both developers and marketers in mind. You can implement changes quickly and without disruption, and seamlessly scale when required. On the marketing side, brXM lets you retain personality and attention to detail with a “server side personalization engine” that utilizes the same data across customer touchpoints.

The lightweight technology means you have the freedom to apply your existing data and analytical tools, amplifying their effectiveness.  

Ideal for businesses with strong in-house and/or third-party development, Bloomreach provides a flexible solution, with the capability for custom APIs, meaning you not only retain the best tech you already have in your arsenal, but can use it in a more light-footed and focused way.

Is Contentful a Headless CMS? Contentful

Contentful provides a strong cloud-based headless CMS solution. They describe their approach as “unified, connected, low risk”, and one which allows enterprises to scale with ease. The strong emphasis on integration with complementary providers means you don’t need to worry about dropping the various backend systems you’re using. 

Their cloud platform provides a lot of support to clients which, along with the flexibility of their product, makes Contentful a good fit for enterprises that need a quick turnaround between development and delivery.

It also features flexible APIs, so your developers can quickly get to work in this environment.

ContentStack – Designed for Integration with Headless eCommerceContentStack

ContentStack promises to deliver “idea to deployment in record time”. The UI works with modular blocks, letting your teams make changes and edits without needing a developer to be involved in the process.

ContentStack helps your workflow by giving you the ability to create multiple environments for each stage of the production process, from development to testing. 

It comes with integrations for marketing and commerce tools, so you can use it in conjunction with headless ecommerce solutions, marketing automation, and analytics tools (amongst others).

Focus on Marketing and eCommerce with CoreMedia

CoreMedia Content Cloud

CoreMedia Content Cloud lets your teams preview content via API requests, giving their Headless PLUS CMS power and agility. Its JSON format makes integration with front-end platforms an uncomplicated process.

The Content Cloud provides flexibility for ecommerce needs, featuring out of the box integration with third-party ecommerce systems as well as quick and easy integration with custom ecommerce solutions. 

CoreMedia addresses your marketing requirements with their UI, the CoreMedia Studio, giving marketers the ability to design omnichannel customer experiences and preview before publishing, all in one place.

e-Spirit Lets You Keep Your Existing Architecture

e-Spirit FirstSpirit

e-Spirit say their product, FirstSpirit, aims to combine “the power of an enterprise-class CMS with the agility and flexibility of a headless CMS”. 

FirstSpirit is compatible with a wide range of complementary services, including front-end delivery services, which means that when you come to choose a ‘head’ for your headless CMS, your life is made a lot easier.

As FirstSpirit is a hybrid CMS, it can work in parallel with the CMS you already have, giving you omnichannel integration without having to go to the trouble of redesigning your entire content architecture.

Magnolia CMS – Open Source and User-Friendly

Magnolia CMS

“Headless from day one” Magnolia CMS is open-source and built for flexibility, organization, and ease of use by publishers. It’s clear Magnolia was built with integrations in mind to support a myriad of technologies across ecommerce, analytics, and SEO, to name just a few. 

“Connector packs” allow the user to seamlessly extend the CMS to other systems with company-provided blueprints and pre-built connectors.

Its rich omnichannel delivery capabilities can curate and reuse content across any touchpoint, making this CMS ideal for busy business professionals.

Oracle Content and Experience Cloud Powers Collaboration and Personalization

Oracle Content Experience Cloud

Oracle offers its Content and Experience Cloud as a headless CMS by making stored assets available to front-end clients via REST APIs. This gives you the freedom  to work with content at the point of delivery.

A recent Gartner report noted that personalization, optimization, and search capabilities were among the features that Oracle customers valued in their content management solution.

Salesforce Hybrid CMS Delivers Outstanding UsabilitySalesforce Hybrid CMS

Salesforce’s hybrid CMS is a great solution for organizations that already use the Salesforce CRM. It will improve businesses’ ability to scale more rapidly and in an integrated way, without losing the personalization that’s essential for today’s customer. Usability is center-stage, Saleseforece believes everyone “from novices to experts” will be happy using their CMS. 

While this suits companies using existing Salesforce products, the content is not at all limited to delivery over their frameworks, with headless APIs facilitating third-party integration.

Sitecore  – Versatility Plus AutomationSitecore Experience Commerce

Sitecore says their Experience Commerce (XC) platform allows you to “natively merge content, commerce, and data in a single, enterprise-level commerce solution.”

With a system of modules or “small objects”, Sitecore’s CMS works by letting the front-end summon the content object. This makes it an incredibly versatile content delivery system, irrespective of the final destination and layout of that content. This approach to storing and recalling content means the app (or page, or wearable device, etc.) can “natively reuse” the module. It also means that you can trust that content will be automatically updated across channels.

Watson Content Hub Provides Intuitive Search Functions

IBM Watson Content Hub

“Powered with cognitive capabilities” that make it easy to find images and other content, Watson Content Hub lets you search for content by tags and gives you the ability to add multiple tags to one piece of content. It makes finding and retrieving what you need intuitive, saving time and helping workflow between teams. 

Developed by IBM, the Content Hub is a powerful and robust cloud-based CMS, with the embedded content delivery network ensuring scalability and speed.

Why You Need a ‘Head’ for Your Headless CMS

Separation of content management and the presentation layer allows your business to develop a user experience that meets the rigours of today’s complex and multi-channel environment. But to unlock this potential you need a ‘head’ for your headless CMS. 

A storefront for headless commerce can be the “head” of your headless CMS. For a full exploration of a modern decoupled storefront, take a look at our Enterprise Guide to Storefronts for Headless Commerce.

A headless CMS can provide huge benefits in scalability, agility, freedom and flexibility. There might be a dizzying array of products to choose from, but finding a headless solution that fits your business needs, along with a decoupled storefront, can transform your customers’ digital experience. If you’re in the market for a headless CMS, contact one of our headless commerce experts – they can help you navigate the headless ecosystem and walk you through the different options for your new “head.”

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