Top 10: Headless CMS platforms

Updated: November 22, 2022

Whereas a traditional CMS typically combines the content and presentation layers of a website, a headless CMS is just the content component and focuses entirely on the administrative interface for content creators, the facilitation of content workflows and collaboration, and the organization of content into taxonomies.

See also: Top 10 Website CMS systems

2022. Payload raises $4.7M for its developer-first headless CMS

Payload, which develops a headless open source content management system (CMS), has raised a $4.7 million seed round. Unlike most CMS tools, Payload puts its emphasis on developers. The team behind the platform argues that typical app frameworks give developers the tools to create their backends but not the CMS-style user interfaces they would need to manage apps and their content. Like most open source startups, the company plans to launch a managed service, Payload Cloud, to power its monetization strategy and function as a hub for deploying Payload apps.

2022. Storyblok raises $47M to build out its headless CMS

Storyblok, a startup, that has built a headless CMS designed both for technical and non-technical users like marketers to manage content that appears across websites, apps and other digital interfaces for education, commerce, gaming and other kinds of publishers — has raised $47 million, funding that it will use to continue expanding its CMS platform with more functionality. The company’s tools are already used by some others 74,000 companies, including Netflix, Adidas, T-Mobile, Happy Socks and Deliveroo, which collectively have built some 120,000 projects on top of it, including the content across websites that need regular updates, side-quests in games, advertising features in apps and more.

2021. Shopistry bags $2M to provide headless commerce without the headaches

Shopistry, a startup that wants to turn the concept of headless commerce on its head, has raised $2 million seed funding. Shopistry enables customers to create personalized commerce experiences accessible to all. It expects headless (or modular) will become the dominant architecture over the next five years. Shopistry is already working with retailers like Honed and Oura Ring to manage their e-commerce presences without the cost, complexity or need for a big technology team.

2021. Prismic raises $20M for its headless CMS

Prismic, a company building a content management system, has raised a $20 million Series A funding round. Headless content management systems are a bit different from traditional content management systems. The backend and the frontend of your website operate totally separately. You write content in the backend where it is safely stored. The frontend of your application fetches content from the backend using an API and displays it to your customers and readers. Dissociating those two key parts of your content management system provides many advantages. It is more secure, it scales much better and it gives you a ton of flexibility when it comes to frontend framework and hosting. In addition to iterating on its CMS, Prismic manages the infrastructure for you. When you sign up, you don’t have to deploy the backend on your own server. You can connect to the admin interface and start building.

2021. Headless commerce startup Swell raises $3.4M

Most headless platforms (which offer back-end infrastructure separate from the front-end shopping experience) allow businesses to build a faster shopping experience, but they’re largely designed for marketplaces where you search, browse and purchase from a traditional product catalog. Swell, which has raised $3.4 million in seed funding, is designed to offer more flexibility when it comes to the underlying business models. It's described as the “future-proof backend” for e-commerce companies, which can grow and adapt with them as their business models evolve. Among other things, the company says it achieves this flexibility by offering API access to every component, as well as native subscription support and an unlimited number of product attributes.

2021. Chord, a headless commerce startup, raises $18M

E-commerce startup called Arfa has rebranded as Chord along with new $18M funding. The platform provides brands with “commerce as a service.” In other words, as a business moves into the world of headless commerce (where they buy e-commerce infrastructure that’s separate from the front-end experience), Chord is designed to provide all of their needs, across multiple products and features, including content management, a customer data platform and order management. Chord says its advantage over other headless platforms is customer database with “a single analytical layer” that’s collecting data across the platform.

2021. Saleor scores $2.5M seed round for its ‘headless’ e-commerce platform

Saleor, a Poland and U.S.-based startup that offers a “headless” e-commerce platform to make it easier for developers to build better online shopping experiences, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Saleor is described as an “API-first” e-commerce platform that takes a “headless” approach. The idea is that the platform does the back-end heavy lifting so that developers can focus on the front end where most of the value is created for users. Saleor has a simple vision of developer-first commerce: open-source, GraphQL and “fair-priced” cloud.

2021. Headless e-commerce platform Fabric raises $43M

Fabric, a startup powering e-commerce for companies like GNC and ABC Carpet and Home, has raised $43 million in Series A funding. Fabric positions itself as an only headless commerce platform that combines the simplicity of drag-and-drop configuration with the power to create rich modern customer experiences, without the need for a large dev team. Fabric has built 32 separate applications which can be integrated with existing commerce tools, and which collectively cover everything from customer experience to product information and order management.

2021. Headless CMS Storyblok raises $8.5M

Storyblok, a “headless” CMS for developers and marketers to deliver content, has raised an $8.5 million Series A funding. The Austria-founded company’s platform counts Pizza Hut, Adidas, UPC, Greggs, Decathlon and others among its roster of clients, alongside many thousands of solo developers that use its CMS. That means it’s currently powering more than 60,000 projects, it says. It provides “highly customizable content blocks and visual editing tools” in contrast to other headless CMS solutions which are flexible for developers but might be less so for actual editors to edit.

2020. dotCMS Named FrontRunner for Digital Asset Management Software

dotCMS announced today it was named a FrontRunner for Digital Asset Management software by Software Advice. FrontRunners is designed to help businesses evaluate which software products may be right for them. Hybrid Headless CMS dotCMS offers the content foundation, as-a-service, for enterprises building and orchestrating connected, trusted and hyper-personalized digital experiences. Digital Assets are a key content type to build an emotional bond with any brand, and that is why we’re thrilled to be in this position offering key capabilities around Digital Asset Management.

2020. Nacelle raises $4.8M for its headless e-commerce platform

Nacelle, the startup that bills itself as a JAMstack for e-commerce, has raised about $4.8 million. Nacelle builds an easier path for e-commerce brands to embrace a headless structure. Headless web apps essentially mean a site’s front end is decoupled from the backend infrastructure, so it’s leaning fully on dedicated frameworks for each to deliver content to users. There are some notable benefits for sites going headless, including greater performance, better scalability, fewer hosting costs and a more streamlined developer experience. For e-commerce sites, there are also some notable complexities due to how storefronts operate and how headless CMSs need to accommodate dynamic inventories and user shopping carts.

2020. Contentful raises $80M for its headless CMS

Headless CMS company Contentful has raised $80 million Series E funding. Currently, 28% of the Fortune 500 use Contentful to manage their content across platforms. The company says it has a total of 2,200 paying customers right now and these include the likes of Spotify, ITV, the British Museum, Telus and Urban Outfitters.

2020. Commerce Layer raises $6M for its headless e-commerce platform

Commerce Layer, which has built a “headless” e-commerce platform — used to develop online sales strategies that use APIs to plug your inventory to take orders and payments from a variety of endpoints like other marketplaces, your own site and app (and the various payment systems you might use depending on the country you’re selling into), messaging services, social channels, and more — has raised a Series A of $6 million. Customers of Commerce Layer include Chilly’s (the fashionable water bottle company), Au Depart, Richard Ginori and more, who Conforti says help shape what his startup builds next: for example one of its customers wants an integration with Farfetch, the high-end fashion marketplace, and so they are building that to subsequently offer it as an option to others.

2019. Headless CMS company Strapi raises $4 million

French startup Strapi that develops open-source Node.js headless content management system has raised a $4 million. Strapi has become quite popular in the headless CMS space, with 500,000 downloads and 250 contributors to the open-source project. Anybody can download Strapi and run it on their own server. You can then develop your front end, fetch content in your mobile app using the Strapi API and more. Strapi lets you customize the admin panel so that you only see the fields you need when you add content. It works with SQLite, MongoDB, MySQL and Postgres databases. The company plans to build an ecosystem of plugins to expand the features of your CMS installation. Eventually, the startup could launch a hosted version of Strapi so you don’t have to manage the server infrastructure yourself.

2019. Contentstack raises $31.5M Series A round for its headless CMS platform

Contentstack, a startup that offers a headless CMS platform for enterprises, today announced that it has raised a $31.5 million Series A. The company says that it saw its revenue grow by 4x in the first half of 2019 compared to the same time period last year. The company tells that it is getting traction across industries, but retail, travel/hospitality, sports/entertainment and tech are doing especially well. Like most companies at the Series A stage, Contentstack says it will use the new funding to scale its sales and marketing team and build out its partner ecosystem and community around the product. Sampat also tells me that the company plans to expand beyond its core regions of the U.S., India and Europe by moving into the APAC region in the first half of 2020, mostly with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.

2016. Distributed content management system Contentstack launched of a set of mobile SDKs Contentstack, the headless content management service (CMS) that aims to challenge the likes of WordPress and Drupal in the enterprise, is getting a major update today with the launch of a set of mobile SDKs for Android and iOS, as well as a refreshed interface for both developers and content editors. The idea behind offering a headless CMS is that content tends to live on a multitude of platforms these days. So instead of having a monolithic CMS that also handles the presentation of the data, a headless CMS only focuses on content creation and developers can then integrate this data across different platforms.