Content MarketingEcommerce and Retail

5 Reasons Companies Are Going Headless

Choosing the right content and commerce platform is a critical decision for digital leaders. And whether to opt for a headless solution or an all-in-one suite is one of the most important considerations. 

Headless solutions have been rapidly gaining traction among businesses.

According to a recent report, 64% of enterprises are now taking a headless approach. Among enterprise organizations not currently using headless, more than 90% plan to evaluate headless solutions over the next 12 months – up 15% from 2019.

WP Engine, The State of Headless

What is a Headless CMS?

A headless content management system (CMS) is a back-end system where the content repository (the body) is separated or decoupled from the presentation layer (the head). This differs from traditional (also referred to as monolithic or coupled) CMS platforms where the content repository and presentation layer are tightly integrated. 

In order to display content stored in a headless CMS across different channels and devices, content is delivered from the headless CMS to a chosen presentation layer via an application programming interface (API). A key benefit of taking this approach is for the flexibility of delivering content in a chosen programming language and presentation layer, be that a website, voice-controlled app, point-of-sale display, or smart device. 

A headless solution could be right for your business if one or more of these sound familiar: 

Reason 1: We need to innovate faster but are systems are holding us back

Many enterprises have a complex digital ecosystem formed of accumulated platforms in their digital experience stack. In a recent McKinsey survey, CIOs reported that 10 to 20 percent of the technology budget assigned to new products is diverted to resolving issues related to technical debt. 

This makes it difficult for them to act with the speed of their younger, digitally-native competitors. And while a headless CMS isn’t going to solve all their legacy woes overnight, it does mean that with content in one single repository they can rapidly publish across multiple channels without affecting other systems. 

This removes the reliance on developers and engineers to deploy channel-specific content and empowers marketing teams to make their own content changes, bypassing legacy systems.

For instance, we leverage the advanced headless CMS, Contentful, for our client ITV to enable them to update their shows in one place (the headless CMS), and optimise the structure of the content for the end channel it will be displayed on. 

Reason 2: We want greater flexibility to select the best tools

Taking a microservices approach – individual pieces of functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed – means businesses can invest in the best tools they need at the right time. This is especially advantageous to businesses who can’t justify a costly replatform or who want to trial a new revenue stream – for example, a retailer looking to explore D2C sales. 

A survey of more than 2,000 IT executives on current business practices, found that highly composable organizations came out of the pandemic ahead of other organizations when it came to overall business performance, reduced risk and operating costs, and increased revenue.

Gartner, 2022 CIO Agenda

Another benefit to taking this approach is that you are able to select the front-end experience layer and what code base a digital product is built using, meaning you can create seamless, beautiful front-end experiences paired with best-in-breed back-end technologies. 

Freeing teams up to use codebases such as Angular and React can lead to both significantly improved user experience and is also simpler for development teams to manage deployments. 

Reason 3: We struggle to manage content and data across multiple channels 

If internal teams are having to manage content through multiple CMS’s across multiple channels, it leads to brand inconsistencies as well as inefficiencies. Compounding the challenge is managing the data across those channels – according to Gartner’s Data and Analytics Adoption Survey, even data-mature organisations list integrating multiple data sources and adding more agility as their top two challenges. 

Consolidating multiple platforms isn’t always possible, so instead, a create once, publish many approach can mitigate this challenge, but only if platforms are seamlessly integrated and data can freely be shared between them – this is where a customer data platform (CDP) becomes critical. 

To enable businesses to rapidly deliver connected experiences, many API-first software vendors now offer pre-built integrations between various platforms in a typical agile technology stack. One such integration is the BigCommerce app Candyspace built for Contentful customers. The app pulls product information from BigCommerce into Contentful, enabling agile, omnichannel selling at scale, within a matter of minutes. 

Reason 4: The channel preferences of our customers is rapidly evolving

With the rapidly growing list of digitally-enabled devices and channels from wearables to social selling, it’s harder than ever for businesses to make future-ready technology decisions. 

Internet of Things (IoT) could enable $5.5 trillion to $12.6 trillion in value globally by 2030, up from $1.6 trillion in 2020. 

McKinsey: The Internet of Things: Catching up to an accelerating opportunity

Businesses need to test the effectiveness of new distribution channels as existing ones become saturated. It’s imperative to learn fast and pivot quickly to understand how the channel behaves, adapt your digital strategy accordingly, and do this in the cheapest and fastest way possible to gain a competitive advantage. 

Whether it’s non-fungible tokens (NFTs) or selling in the metaverse, brands need to take note of changing consumer habits and a headless approach can enable them to do this at speed and at minimal risk. 

Reason 5: We’re struggling to attract and retain top tech talent

It’s very much a job seekers’ market with 72% of tech workers saying they’re looking to move jobs in the next year. A recent Gartner survey reported that businesses believe a shortage of talent to be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of 64% of new tech they’d like to adopt. 


Modern headless platforms are built with modern programming languages that are preferred by the majority of developers, meaning it’s easier to attract and retain quality talent and simpler to deploy. 

In summary, taking a headless approach is beneficial for companies looking to select the best digital tools available for each component of their digital ecosystem; for businesses who operate in unpredictable markets where customer channel preference frequently changes; and for companies struggling to attract and retain talent due to outdated and legacy technologies.

Disclosure: Martech Zone has inserted affiliate links in this article.

Rosie Stano

Over the years, Partner and Marketing Manager Rosie has built unrivaled relationships with platform and analytics partners to help clients meet their objectives. In her spare time, she can be found playing jazz flute and critiquing the local coffee on her blog.

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