By Jo Fraser, on Jul 7, 2020

The three best tools for agile ecommerce

The three best tools for agile ecommerce and shopping online

The App Framework makes it even easier to build an ecommerce site with Contentful. There are three integrations ready to go that do the heavy lifting for you: Shopify, commercetools, and Commerce Layer. These represent some of the best solutions on the market, and integrating any one of them will make creating and sharing content easier for your team. And we’re never one to limit your options. If you want to go further with other agile ecommerce tools and services, the App Framework makes integrating them easier.

While the tools you choose depend wildly on your use case and what your team is comfortable using, there is some merit in evaluating each service. If you’re setting up an ecommerce site or doing a re-jig of your services, it helps to have an overview of your options. Shopify, commercetools, and Commerce Layer are by no means the only ecommerce platforms you can use with Contentful. They are, however, the apps that are readily available in our marketplace. If you’re already using Shopify, commercetools, or Commerce Layer, the marketplace makes it possible to integrate them with Contentful with a few clicks. Unlike custom options that require a little more work, they are ready to go. 

Shopify: Used by more than one million businesses 

Shopify is an all-in-one commerce platform to sell products and services. When used on its own (not with Contentful), it’s an out-of-the-box solution that provides a domain, website template and hosting. You can get a Shopify store up and running in a matter of hours, and without much technical skill. It’s similar to website builders like Wix or Squarespace in that way. Used with Contentful as an app, Shopify is one of the easiest ways to reference products and services for sale into your content. You can use Shopify and Contentful to create rich product pages that your editorial team can update without any, or with very little, developer help. 

Shopify’s widespread popularity is in part due to its pricing; plans start at around USD29/month. This affordable entry point means anyone and their grandma can set up a Shopify store. Your favorite photographer probably sells their prints using a Shopify store. The price point and the easy set up mean Shopify is an approachable option for the person who wants to sell something online. As an enterprise business, you’re probably more interested in Shopify Plus. It has features like guaranteed service uptime, API support, and features like localization and automation. 

Once you have connected Contentful and Shopify, editors can reference products in their Contentful entries. 

Commercetools: A cloud-native, headless commerce platform 

Commercetools is a headless commerce platform. The base product does not offer a front end, and it isn’t considered an out-of-the-box solution. Commercetools attracts enterprise-level clients who are interested in using the platform as the ecommerce component in a larger microservices stack. Using a stack provides the technology to create highly customizable and unique content experiences. Because commercetools works with enterprise clients, it knows where it has to shine; the platform has 99.8% SLA and is cloud-native and API-first. People who work with commercetools praise its agility, fast implementation and its potential for customization. 

They do have front-end templates as part of their Sunrise starter project, which provides front-end templates for businesses who want to launch their digital experience quickly. This webinar provides more information on the Sunrise project and how it can be used with Contentful. In this instance, Sunrise works as the front end, commercetools manages product content, and Contentful takes care of the rest. 

Like Shopify, commercetools can connect with Contentful through the App Framework. The commercetools app lets your editors add products and product categories directly from commercetools and reference them in Contentful entries. Your editors won’t have to switch back and forth between platforms. 

Commerce Layer: Add ecommerce to any website 

Commerce Layer is an API-first commerce platform typically used on the JAMstack. You need a static site, a headless CMS (such as Contentful), your ecommerce layer (Commerce Layer), and a CDN. With these services, you can build a unique ecommerce experience. To quote Commerce Layer’s CEO, “It’s best suited for makers and innovators rather than theme buyers.” It doesn’t use any themes or templates. One of Commerce Layer’s strengths is its integrations. You can connect 100+ payment gateways (PayPal, Stripe, etc.) and shipping carriers. 

The strength of Commerce Layer is its compatibility with the JAMstack. If you’re interested in creating a fast, static ecommerce site with the JAMstack, Commerce Layer CEO Filippo Conforti talks through the process here. The Commerce Layer integration works in a similar way to the Shopify and commercetools integration. It allows editors to select products from their Commerce Layer account and reference them in Contentful entries.  

Connect all your favorite tools for agile ecommerce  

Shopify, commercetools, and Commerce Layer can all be integrated through our App Framework, but that doesn't mean they’re the only ecommerce solutions that work well with Contentful. We have a lot of customers using other API-centric ecommerce solutions such as Elastic Path, SAP Hybris and Magento.  

For custom ecommerce apps, it’s easy to integrate them because the App Framework  was specifically built to make integrations easier. For ecommerce, Contentful has an open-sourced library with the most common components that you can use as a blueprint to spin up a custom ecommerce app quickly. 

Are you interested in more information on using Contentful for agile ecommerce? Read more about how to increase your sales with agile ecommerce software solutions.

Jo Fraser

Jo's a Contentful web app expert and collaborates with our customer success teams to elevate the authoring experience. She's a long-time power user who knows the product inside and out.

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