What is a headless CMS? Explained in 5 minutes

What is a headless CMS? Explained in 5 minutes

July 21, 2022

By: Gijs Boddeus

5 min. reading time

A lot of technologies and platform have been added in the last few years. They have all been created to simplify separate parts of e-commerce and web development. For example, the term headless is mainly linked to a CMS (Content Management System), but can therefore also be used for e-commerce.

What does headless mean?

The term headless is pretty clear: without a head. So a headless CMS is a CMS without a head or face. The only thing you can do with it is manage and read content. You are completely free to do with your content wherever and however you want. So you can use the same content in an app as well as on your site. So the front end and back end are separated and you can exchange.

The way this is done is based on APIs. Through these APIs you can access your content and use it in your application or site. This gives the developers on the front end more freedom in what technology they use to create the website or web store.

Traditional e-commerce platforms, including the current Afosto platform, make the choice for you. The language in which you have to build your web store is then already chosen for you. So you will have to learn this language and you are limited in plugins you can install.

Why is headless better?

Because the developers are free in how they build the front end they can use the latest techniques. Take an example of the site you're on right now. Afosto.com is built with Strapi, a popular open source headless CMS. This is where we manage our pages, blogs and menus. The site itself was created in GatsbyJS, a widely used Static Site Generator (SSG). The creators of Gatsby have combined all the modern techniques and best practices of the web into one platform. This allows you to create super fast websites that score high for pagespeed. If you test afosto.com with Lighthouse (the technique behind Google's Pagespeed Insights), you'll see that all the gauges are green. afosto-lightspeed-score.png full report

So since the content is separate from the site itself, we could also replace Gatsby for another platform. We at Afosto use ReactJS for the frontend, since GatsbyJS also uses this it was quick for us to learn. Another widely used framework is VueJS. For this there is also an SSG made called Gridsome. So you have free choice in technology and CMS.

What is headless e-commerce?

The CMS is responsible for the content, but that's not enough for a webshop. Your products must also have a place (PIM), your customers must be registered (CRM) and a shopping cart must be maintained. Nowadays there are separate platforms created for each part that specialize in, for example, product management or order management. This gives you the freedom to choose the platform that best meets your needs. Many traditional e-commerce platforms offer everything in one, so-called monolith. In this, the front end and back end are intertwined. With headless, the front end only issues commands to the back end to update an order, for example. Read this blog to learn more about headless commerce.

Afosto & Headless

Afosto has its own CMS system along with a brand new order management system, warehouse management system and a fulfillment solution for managing and fulfilling your orders. This system is built on decades of experience in the rapidly developing world of E-commerce. Headless is a development of recent years that we follow closely and with which we are currently experimenting with some of our customers. Are you also curious about the possibilities of working with Afosto? Then check out the various possibilities on the site or request a demo!

Share this article
Subscribe for free updates, trainings and content
Be ready for the future with Afosto OMS system