Headless commerce continues to be a hot topic in the ecommerce and retail industry. At BigCommerce, we’re committed to helping merchants create differentiated shopping experiences anywhere with a powerful commerce engine on the backend.
Our commitment to headless commerce has evolved over the last couple of years. Back in 2018, BigCommerce began to decouple the once stand-alone platform’s presentation layer via a WordPress plugin developed by Modern Tribe.
Since that launch, BigCommerce has partnered closely with additional agency partners and CMS, DXP, and PWA solutions to build out headless commerce integrations and frameworks applicable no matter the frontend you choose, including:
Acquia ACF, built and supported by Third & Grove
Gatsby, built and supported by Third & Grove
Drupal, built and supported by Acro Media
One goal of these partnerships is to enable brands to leverage the technology stack instances that give them a unique competitive edge in the marketplace. Another goal is to give you as a merchant, agency, or developer more freedom and flexibility when choosing a frontend solution that allows you to create an online storefront that converts while also best suiting your business needs.
We seek to make our platform more open than traditional SaaS. Headless commerce is just one of the many ways BigCommerce leverages APIs to open the platform to customizations and integrations. In addition, our:
Checkout API and SDK allows for fully customized checkout solutions, wherever your shoppers check out.
Storefront API enables creation of highly performant, differentiated shopping experiences that can be highly customized to the customer.
Channel and Listings API allows more flexibility and freedom to sell your products where you want and how you want (multi-language, multi-brand, etc.).
Wishlists API allows more dynamic options and flexibility for shopper wishlists.
Price Lists API allows creating customized pricing that is targeted to customers in the way you want.
This accounts for only a few of our available APIs that enable you to connect your existing systems and homegrown solutions. For a more complete look at available APIs, check out our list here.
As BigCommerce further opens up the platform via APIs, we still maintain PCI compliance for our brands, as well as out-of-the-box integrations with payment gateways, email service providers, ERPs, OMS tools, PIMs, tax software, shipping solutions, and more.
The competitive retail environment requires brands to build strong digital experiences for their customers –– and no technology should be so biased as to stand in the way. After all, there’s only so much applicability a single all-in-one solution can provide to a diverse variety of businesses on a global scale. One size doesn’t fit all and specializing in commerce is only part of the equation.
Fashion brands have very different needs from a manufacturer of lightbulbs. A wholesale distributor of medical devices will operate very differently from a pillow startup focused on rapid growth via Instagram.
The one thing these businesses all have in common is to be able to quickly, efficiently, and securely solve for the ability to transact, fulfill orders, and deliver goods sold. This is where BigCommerce truly shines and being able to deliver these commerce services directly to where a merchant needs them to be is incredibly powerful.
To that end, BigCommerce has focused on delivering the core competencies of an enterprise-grade ecommerce platform to be consumable outside our SaaS walls, accessible via API and GraphQL, and embeddable wherever it’s needed, regardless of vertical, geographic location, or size of business.
The features of headless commerce are conditional based on the head in question, but there are a few key features of BigCommerce’s headless commerce capabilities despite the CMS, DXP, PWA, or other front-end solution you use:
Choose Your Front-End: With headless commerce, brands can choose what front-end technology they want to use for their business, regardless of if BigCommerce has a formal connector available.
API Speeds: Headless isn’t possible without API efficiency. BigCommerce APIs can process over 400 calls/second, are bi-directional, and publicly available.
API Availability: BigCommerce currently makes over 92% of our platform accessible via API, allowing brands and agencies to bring as much or as little of the commerce engine into their environments.
Documentation: We have public developer documentation and have open sourced our BigCommerce for WordPress plugin to help others build new headless implementations.
Multiple Checkout Options: Choose the checkout experience that meets your and your customers’ needs. You can create a cart redirect URL that takes shoppers to the BigCommerce domain so they can check out with built-in security (that can still be customized with Checkout SDK). Alternatively, you can use BigCommerce APIs to build an in-context, self-hosted checkout experience. You can also create an embedded checkout and keep the shopper on a remote storefront for another quick and secure option.
Channels View: Manage multiple front-end experiences from a single BigCommerce Control Panel. Each shoppable experience is treated as a channel, much like Amazon or Facebook.
Rely on a Stable, SaaS Foundation: Headless commerce exists with players like Elastic Path, CommerceTools, and Moltin, however, with those options, you’re having to build everything out which can be both time-consuming and expensive. There is no “platform” in the background in place to manage commerce; you use their APIs and reference implementations to build commerce from scratch. BigCommerce’s approach brings a scalable commerce engine to the table and allows brands to embed that engine where it’s needed.
Consolidated Commerce for Multi-Site Use Cases: Brands can spin up as many front-end experiences as they need using the technologies of their choice, simultaneously powering multiple storefronts and consolidating the commerce management experience into a single BigCommerce control panel view.
Simplified & Highly Scalable Catalog: Particularly for WordPress users, there is no need to code or install additional Woo apps to support complex catalogs. The BigCommerce platform solves for large, complex catalogs out-of-the-box, with the ability to serve up to 600 options/variants per product.
Reduced Burden of PCI Compliance: Enhanced ecommerce security and peace of mind. Increase conversion and security with the option for BigCommerce’s fully-embedded checkout. Deliver the fast, responsive checkout shoppers expect, while reducing the burden of PCI compliance.
Best of Both (Dev) Worlds: You don’t have to choose between using a best of breed frontend technology or an ecommerce platform. Instead, leverage the utility of both to harness the creation of immersive online experiences. With our approach to headless, brands can leverage our APIs or pre-built integrations extend their connectors to make use of the full functionality of the front-end while also tapping into our apps as well.
Platform Agnostic Approach to Multi-Channel: You no longer need to have the rip-and-replace conversation with headless commerce. Brands can continue to use the tools they prefer, developers can tap into BigCommerce’s extensibility to enable commerce where it’s needed (regardless of presentation layer), and brands can reduce their tech debt burden by integrating BigCommerce into their core tech stack (versus having to rip out/replace mission critical systems). This means that brands aren’t limited to a single tech stack; they can literally run a BigCommerce storefront, 10 WordPress sites, a custom mobile device checkout built in React, and a few Drupal sites…all from the same BigCommerce instance.
Highly Extensible: Our connectors utilize BigCommerce APIs to bring product data and commerce functionality into the desired front-end platform. Developers can continue to build on, enhance, customize, and extend additional aspects of the core BigCommerce platform using our APIs and webhooks to build truly unique front-end experiences.
Hub or Spoke: Headless commerce is just the beginning. By enabling brands to use BigCommerce APIs to take our backend commerce engine into the front-end experience platforms of the world, we’ve begun our journey of platform decoupling. To that end, the utility and placement of the BigCommerce platform is largely up to the merchant’s needs to determine where we’ll sit. Sometimes, we’ll be the hub, being the primary system that all other systems plug into. Other times, we’ll be a smaller hub, or even spoke, helping connect systems together that have their resulting functionality delivered elsewhere. And that’s just how we like it.
BigCommerce has developed a WordPress plugin that brings together the flexibility and openness of the WordPress platform with the scalability and robust commerce engine that is BigCommerce. WordPress was our first iteration of headless commerce.
WordPress is a robust and highly extensible Content Management System (CMS), built for just that: content management. At scale (think $250k GMV+), managing a catalog, orders, shipping, etc inside of a platform built for content (not commerce) becomes challenging for a number of reasons.
With BigCommerce for WordPress, you manage content in WordPress and commerce in BigCommerce.
Once installed on WordPress, the plugin is powered by the BigCommerce API, passing over the merchant’s entire product catalog. In developer terms, this blending of two platforms is known as headless.
WordPress delivers the front-end experience (website) while BigCommerce handles the commerce-specific aspects of the website (catalog management, transactions, order/shipping management, etc).
With BigCommerce for WordPress, we’re providing a much needed solution to the WordPress community that solves for scalability issues faced by WooCommerce merchants. More importantly, it opens up our platform’s ability to serve the complex content and experience needs of brands who prefer working in an open source ecosystem vs. locked into a SaaS platform.
BigCommerce for Bloomreach taps into the efficiency of our platform APIs, allowing merchants to seamlessly integrate BigCommerce and BrX, blending the worlds of content and commerce for truly connected experiences.
Create remarkable front-end experiences by combining headless commerce with Bloomreach Experience, including its open-source content management system featuring AI-powered Search and Merchandising tools.
Streamline how quickly you take ideas to market at scale. Create robust, customer experiences and deploy in as little as six weeks with a design-first commerce solution that delivers engaging, personalized online buying experience.
By connecting Drupal and BigCommerce, businesses can achieve the best of both worlds. They can take advantage of robust and secure ecommerce on the backend while using Drupal to differentiate digital experiences on the frontend.
A leading Drupal agency and key contributor to Drupal Commerce, Acro Media, built the open source module.
BigCommerce for Drupal allows businesses to create a seamless, content-rich customer experience while leveraging the security and performance of BigCommerce on the backend.
SitecoreExtend for BigCommerce is an app launched by iMedia that will allow Sitecore CMS users to offer a more extensive commerce solution. The app eliminates the need to manage product data in two places and enables users to maintain rich content alongside a powerful commerce experience delivered by BigCommerce.
This connector allows Sitecore users to harmonize their content and selling efforts, resulting in dynamic browsing experiences for shoppers.
Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) brings together a content management system (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM) in a single place.
It’s a comprehensive solution for building websites, mobile apps, and forms, directly alongside marketing content and assets.
The BigCommerce integration has native connections to Adobe Creative Cloud, making it easier to get content to market faster and create personalized experiences.
Our BC4AEM integration was built by our partner TA Digital.
Acquia Commerce Framework provides a decoupled digital solution that enables developers and sellers to offer integrated commerce experiences quickly (reducing development time by up to 80%).
BigCommerce for Acquia Commerce Framework (ACF) empowers merchants to deliver a contextualized commerce experience, allowing users to make purchases in the context of the content they’re interacting with (i.e. the ability to add a product to your cart directly from the blog that mentions that product). This reduces buying friction, speeds up time-to-checkout, and enables integrated browsing sessions for visitors to your content-driven site.
With BigCommerce for Acquia Commerce Framework, sellers can embed a BigCommerce-powered shopping experience into their branded content and media delivered through a Drupal front-end. Learn more about the ins and outs of Acquia Commerce Framework here.
Gatsby uses source plugins to pull data into Gatsby from a wide range of sources –– from a CMS, static files, or a REST API. This ability allows Gatsby to connect to just about any platform –– including BigCommerce. Here’s a template you can use to make it happen.
Integrating with BigCommerce means that you can leverage all of the ecommerce power that BigCommerce offers with the flexibility of React and Gatsby’s blazing fast load times on the front end.
Announced in October 2019, DEITY Falcon for BigCommerce is a PWA frontend that gives BigCommerce merchants that ability to deploy highly-engaging native-app like experiences.
Deity is a well-known PWA and microservices oriented platform that takes a modular approach to solving enterprise-level PWA needs.
The partnership between DEITY Falcon and BigCommerce means businesses can have both a highly scalable and secure ecommerce backend and use PWAs to create the web and mobile experiences their customers are coming to expect.
As brands look to ensure growth in a time of changing digital experiences, headless commerce is a surefire way to create a customized content experience without having to recreate the wheel or sacrificing your preferred front-end technology — which saves you both time and expenses.
Whether you’re looking to create a harmonious content-forward commerce experience, build a native mobile app-like experience with PWA technology or want a simple built-in shopping functionality on your website, BigCommerce is lockstep with you in identifying a solution that works for your brand now and five years from now.
We’re continuing to invest in headless commerce As more large-scale technologies decouple the layers of their platform, users will continuously find ways to customize web experiences that match the growing demand that consumers have for innovative marketing and user experiences — and our flexible and extensible platform is set up to adapt to this changing landscape.
Tracey is the Director of Marketing at MarketerHire, the marketplace for fast-growth B2B and DTC brands looking for high-quality, pre-vetted freelance marketing talent. She is also the founder of Doris Sleep and was previously the Head of Marketing at Eterneva, both fast-growth DTC brands marketplaces like MarketerHire aim to help. Before that, she was the Global Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce, where she launched the company’s first online conference (pre-pandemic, nonetheless!), wrote books on How to Sell on Amazon, and worked closely with both ecommerce entrepreneurs and executives at Fortune 1,000 companies to help them scale strategically and profitably. She is a fifth generation Texan, the granddaughter of a depression-era baby turned WWII fighter jet pilot turned self-made millionaire, and wifed up to the truest of heroes, a pediatric trauma nurse, who keeps any of Tracey’s own complaints about business, marketing, or just a seemingly lousy day in perspective.