eCommerce is more popular than ever. But, to stay afloat, merchants need to create eye-catching sites that can change quickly and support different experiences.
But, legacy eCommerce solutions often limit merchants' creative control, making it hard to grow, adapt, and add functionalities. In contrast, Jamstack, a modern web architecture that decouples the web experience layer from data and business logic, improving flexibility, scalability, performance, and maintainability for eCommerce, makes it easy.
By embracing composability and modern tool stacks, merchants have the freedom to curate unique, blazingly fast storefronts that attract consumers.
This post covers
- A brief history of eCommerce
- The problem with legacy eCommerce solutions
- Jamstack to the rescue
- Benefits of Jamstack for eCommerce
- Best 10 eCommerce solutions for Jamstack
This post will discuss why Jamstack is a better option than legacy solutions. We'll also go over the best Jamstack eCommerce solutions to use.
A brief history of eCommerce
While in the works since 1979, eCommerce rose in popularity in the mid-90s with giants like Amazon and Alibaba. It provided convenience to consumers by allowing them to shop on their own time and discover products quickly.
Today, eCommerce is in its heyday. Social media, new distribution channels, and connected devices let merchants reach consumers faster than ever. The pandemic just furthered this. UNCTAD found that eCommerce rose 19% during the pandemic to nearly $26.7 trillion internationally. This means the market is growing rapidly.
But that also means an increasing need for more supplies, tons of items being shipped daily, and lots of competition. Today's merchants need to stay ahead to survive, and a legacy solution like Shopify's WooCommerce might not be enough to keep you afloat.
The problem with legacy eCommerce solutions
In the 90s, businesses had to excessively focus on maintaining online stores.
Legacy solutions fixed this. They coupled the frontend and backend functionalities into one package. It resulted in the first technology to curate the presentation layer (frontend) while managing shipping, inventory, etc. (backend). Finally, businesses could spend less on maintaining sites.
However, legacy solutions also created monolithic sites that were hard to scale, quickly bogged down, and had security issues. Any of these will be a significant roadblock in the current eCommerce market.
Forward-thinking brands should keep in mind that legacy solutions, like WooCommerce, present:
- Rigidity: Traditional eCommerce confines developers to a box of predetermined options. The frontend is pre-defined by engineers, causing websites to look the same. It, as you imagine, makes it hard for your online store to stand out.
- Not being able to keep up: Legacy solutions helped give structure to sites, but they can't always handle traffic spikes. Plus, with rigidity, launching new experiences becomes a cumbersome ordeal. A redesign could cause the whole project to be rebuilt.
- More potential to being attacked: Being monolithic, legacy eCommerce platforms expose more areas for potential cyberattacks. As competition and traffic rise, you don't want your reputation or customers' data threatened.
- Limited omnichannel experiences: It's hard to manage content across channels with legacy solutions. Many users nowadays, though, find online stores through their phones and smart devices, and without support for mobile and IoT devices, storefronts built on legacy platforms are missing out.
Jamstack to the rescue
Enter Jamstack: a modern, headless web architecture that fixes legacy platforms' issues and more.
That flexibility and freedom transfer to maintaining your eCommerce store. A Jamstack site leverages reusable APIs and GraphQL that help deliver your content from your headless CMS to your frontend to support your design so that you can scale up and down seamlessly.
As a result, you don't have to worry about rebuilding your entire storefront or being too rigid to scale your business.
As the market continues to grow and change, you want a solution that will grow and change with you. Traditional eCommerce platforms sound great on paper but won't help you stand out. In addition, they don't provide the amount of flexibility that Jamstack eCommerce solutions can.
Benefits of the Jamstack architecture for eCommerce stores
Let's dig a bit more into the benefits of using Jamstack for eCommerce.
A Jamstack site provides total control of both the backend and the presentation layer. As a result, your team has the freedom to curate unique, eye-catching designs that sets you apart from the crowd.
Even more, you can build your storefront or progressive web apps (PWA) using whatever tools and frameworks your team prefers. Developers can rely on third-party eCommerce backends and spend more time on the frontend. This helps lower web development time and cost.
Ensures safe transactions
Jamstack files have a layer of protection. First, they're not tied to one database or server, meaning they don't connect to sensitive information such as your customers' data and payment information. Also, Jamstack eCommerce stores use static files with fewer security holes.
This gives you the confidence to provide your customers with safe and secure transactions.
Jamstack sites are easy to maintain and scale.
You'll experience fewer tool updates, 500 errors, and more, causing low maintenance costs. Your team can focus on improving conversion rates over maintaining the store.
If your site's traffic peaks, a Jamstack website can handle it seamlessly. All content is on a content delivery network and pre-rendered; all content is close to the visitor. As a result, not only do pages load faster, but they can quickly scale depending on traffic.
Best 10 eCommerce solutions for Jamstack
Shopify was founded by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake in 2006. It offers an easy-to-use storefront API using GraphQL that can help you create almost every element for your store. While Shopify traditionally isn't headless, its API can support a Jamstack application by using Shopify Plus as a backend.
- Good for: Customizations, easy set-up, small businesses
- Price: Starts at $29/month, $79/month, and $299/month. Shopify Plus starts at $2,000/month
Headless commerce in the wild: Kotn
Kotn is an example of a headless Shopify store. With the flexibility going headless gave them, they could easily manage their store as it grew. In addition, this lowered the need for workarounds, giving their staff time to focus on their products.
Charles Ouellet founded Snipcart in 2013. Snipcart is a shopping platform tool that leverages HTML and JS. With it, you can fully customize and manage shipping and inventory. It can also be integrated into any website.
- Good for: Customized shopping, easy management, shipping
- Price: Charges 2% of all transactions
Headless commerce in the wild: INGMARSON
INGMARSON chose Snipcart to expand its shopping cart's functionalities. Snipcart helped them easily manage carts, calculate costs, and upload products. It saved them time and energy.
Commerce Layer, started in 2017 by Filippo Conforti and Massimo Scardellato, is a headless commerce platform and order management system. It features customizations for almost every element of your site, especially global shopping. You can leverage APIs to add global shopping capabilities to any channel.
- Good for: Global shipping, mobile transactions, IoT
- Price: Free, $649/month, and custom
Headless commerce in the wild: Non-stop dogwear
Non-stop dogwear used Commerce Layer to expand internationally. After their current stack wasn't helping them, they chose Jamstack to improve their scaling. Now, they ship to 74 countries and have the flexibility to look at other business models.
Eddie Machalaani and Mitchell Harper began BigCommerce in 2009. As a SaaS platform, it offers an API-driven shopping experience through CMS, app, and DXP. The platform's presentation layer is decoupled from its eCommerce engine, letting developers run any number of stores across frontend solutions from one single hub.
- Good for: Omnichannel experiences, very large stores
- Price: $29.95/month , $79.95/month, and $299.95/month
Headless commerce in the wild: Skullcandy
One company that uses BigCommerce is Skullcandy. Using Jamstack's APIs, Bigcommerce helped Skullcandy keep up with the demand. They seamlessly kept inventory up to date, interacted with credit card companies, and translated all information into an ERP system.
Commerce.js, founded by Andrew Underwood and Devan Koshal in 2016, is an API-driven infrastructure for developers. It boasts helping any business, from startup to enterprise, build purchasing experiences across channels, including VR commerce.
Their managed backend provides enterprise-grade APIs to build carts, upsells, and more.
- Good for: Multiple channels, purchasing experiences, any business size
- Price: Free, $79/month, $349/month, and custom
Headless commerce in the wild: Leon & George
Leon & George started with Commerce.js and Jamstack. As a result, they began their business with complete creative control. As a result, they could quickly create and launch a french storefront in just a few days.
Harry Chemko began Elastic Path in 2000. Essentially, Elastic Path is a composable API first headless commerce system. It's focused on providing simple solutions to complex enterprise businesses. It boasts microservices and a product manager.
- Good for: Enterprises, product management
- Price: Cost is based on scale, timeline, and implementation
Headless commerce in the wild: Swisscom
Swisscom decided to work with Elastic Path to turn their monolithic system into a headless one. But, unfortunately, their old full-stack platform weighed down innovating the customer's experiences. Jamstack and Elastic Path helped Swisscom fix this by transforming customer's experiences with PWA and customer support.
Saleor is a platform for creating storefronts. Started in 2020 by Mirek Mencel and Patryk Zawadzki, it has an open-source and cloud platform featuring all the core functionalities you need. It boasts a powerful product configuration tool and a focus on PWA. Their administration dashboard allows you to manage products, people, and functionalities easily.
- Good for: Management, cloud functionalities, PWA
- Price: Based on monthly orders; starts at free, $695/month ,$1795/month, and $6795/month
Headless commerce in the wild: Pfeiffer & Frost
One company that uses Saleor is Pfeffer & Frost. They focused on moving from an old PHP system to a headless one. Saleor helped them meticulously get to know their system and how to adapt to their needs. Now, they can easily manage their apps, metadata, and the people behind them.
Medusa kicked off in 2021 by Sebastian Rindom, Oliver Juhl and Nicklas Gellner. Boasting as a Shopify alternative, it's a composable open-source eCommerce platform with endless customizations for merchants. You'll receive the building blocks to start creating experiences immediately out of the box.
Also, Medusa integrates seamlessly with Contentful CMS, a headless platform with rich features.
- Good for: Customizations, composable eCommerce, contentful CMS
- Price: Free, premium support version with tailored price
Headless commerce in the wild: Tekla
Tekla chose Medusa to combat a bad site with WooCommerce. In return, Medusa gave Tekla the improvements to up their game. Their powerful third-party plugins and fully automated RMA flows allowed Tekla to scale to 50 markets and 6 currencies. It also improved their SEO.
Bård and Aleksander Farstad founded Crystalize in 2017. Crystallize is a blazingly fast solution with low latency. In addition, it has a GraphQL-based Project Information Modeling (PIM), meaning you can deliver rich, custom made experiences with just one component.
They'll give you rich marketing content, transcoded images, and videos hosted on their CDN.
- Good for: Rich content, CDNs for large stores, digital products
- Price: Free, $299/month, custom
Headless commerce in the wild: MyRevolution
MyRevolution turned to Crystalize to create better shopping experience. Having a headless eCommerce service gave MyRevolution full control of their customers' experience. This, along with customer-friendly subscriptions, led to a 72% conversion rate increase.
Vue Storefront was built by Bartłomiej Roszkowski, Filip Rakowski, Patrick Friday in 2017. It's an open source frontend framework written in vue.js that can be connected to any eCommerce platform.
It allows you to create seamless PWA experiences. Also, every component can be customized and replaced with your own material: images, icons, custom HTML markup, you name it!
Lastly, it scaffolds offline experiences.
- Good for: Mobile UX, PWA, offline elements
- Price: Price not Specified
Headless commerce in the wild: TALLY WEiJL
Vue Storefront provided TALLY WEiJL with a modern store that moved with the time. Freeing itself from a coupled Magneto architecture, they were able to capture the interest of Gen Z. With PWA functions; they have a 131% increase in Mobile revenue.
Today's eCommerce market is rapidly growing. But, unlike the early days, it demands omnichannel abilities, tight security, and flexibility. Traditional solutions, like WooCommerce, cannot hold up.
Enter Jamstack. It helps you build flexible, blazingly fast sites; Jamstack eCommerce solutions further this by giving you tools to take your business to the next level. But, like anything, it does have downsides.
For example, building a Jamstack website requires specific technical knowledge, meaning it'll be challenging for non-technical users to build Jamstack sites. If you are looking to hire a developer, this will not be a problem for you.
However, if you're a small business that's just starting, start with a more traditional platform to test your market and build a customer base, as while Jamstack eCommerce solutions are low-cost in the long run, they require a budget upfront.
So, all things considered, before choosing Jamstack, make sure it's right for you.