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Scaling digital experiences with a headless CMS

Katy White
Katy White
Principal Digital Consultant, Design & Technology
9 min read
1 July 2021

Every business has a different growth trajectory. Technology that doesn’t scale in the right directions can become a blocker to future growth, and is one of the reasons why a headless approach is increasing in popularity; as businesses can gain more flexibility and discover greater possibilities for customisation and personalisation.

There are several reasons for the shift towards headless architecture, but speed and scalability most often drive the decision to implement a headless technology stack.

Unleashing the power of microservices

By combining best-of-breed platforms, with niche functionality specialised for commerce, search, payment or data management and so on, businesses can completely customise their front-end to suit their unique needs, as opposed to working with a predetermined tech structure provided by an all-encompassing solution.
When these platforms are integrated with a headless CMS, brands benefit from a centralised content hub. This makes editing much easier: a change in one place is seamlessly deployed everywhere the content is located. Unification improves brand consistency and compliance, and gives marketers more freedom to launch and optimise campaigns in real-time. As a certified Contentful partner, DEPT® utilises the future-ready cloud-native solution to help organisations accelerate growth. 

Scaling omnichannel content management

Content consumption is evolving to be more fluid with audiences moving from one device and platform to the next, looking to be immersed and entertained without any interruptions. For brands to keep up with the demand for digital experiences, they need to move fast and avoid bottlenecks of multi CMS silos that can form in different markets or sub-brands when systems’ aren’t connected. 

Creating an internal single source of truth through the headless CMS connects departments and streamlines delivery. Push-button deployment moves content into production and radically increases the velocity of fresh content on a global, enterprise scale. Brands can better align content across channels, repurpose existing content to improve its impact and ensure the right message reaches each target audience. The possibilities are limitless. Contentful’s open APIs work seamlessly with other tools or microservices and equip marketers to deliver a truly omnichannel strategy. 

The solution is not only favoured by businesses and their marketing teams, but also by digital builders, according to Depsters that were recently Contentful certified.

Advancing commerce and beyond

Headless commerce allows businesses to adopt new touchpoints without needing to rework everything else. Contentful’s building block approach integrates with emerging technologies like AI-powered voice assistants, wearables, and smart applications, while still leveraging traditional channels like web, social media and SMS. 

“A modern stack of integrated solutions is required for brands to keep pace with changing commerce by delivering relevant content when, where and how consumers expect it. Contentful runs on the world’s leading commerce platforms, including CommerceTools and Amazon, advancing businesses’ application of these platforms by supporting features such as AWS Auto Scaling,” said Daniel Proctor, Senior Developer at DEPT®. “Wherever Contentful is integrated, its content delivery API (CDA) enhances performance with fast, flexible, caching that can be tailored to individual customer needs and locations. As a result, Contentful effectively manages large spikes in traffic, maintaining a strong cache hit ratio (CHR) and seamless scalability as businesses grow globally.”

DEPT®’s Solutions Architect, Andy Whitehead adds: “The Contentful Marketplace has so many applications available to extend its capabilities through third-party services. You can also write your own custom extensions to work for any different scenario. Contentful’s in-depth documentation and software development kits (SDKs) simplify custom work and make collaboration between developers easier, whether that’s joining a client’s in-house team or getting caught up to speed when optimising the platform down the line with new functionality.” 

Content delivery plays a key role in all industries, not just e-commerce. Moving quickly, without being held back by development constraints of some more traditional CMS platforms, is critical for conversion rates and is a growing requirement when building a stable solution at scale. This applies in a B2B context as well. More than 80% of business purchasers surveyed by Salesforce want consumer-level customer experience, and more than two-thirds of respondents say that they have switched vendors to get it. There’s a huge opportunity for B2B business owners to tap into through better technology and personalisation, considering 77% of B2B buyers surveyed by Gartner described their most recent purchase as very complex or difficult.

Reducing development time

Contentful’s new take on content as a service (CaaS – a sub-group of SaaS) simplifies the set-up and deployment processes, allowing developers to get started faster and spin up solutions that reduce businesses’ reliance on technical teams.

“Contentful is programming language agnostic, meaning teams can work in their preferred language and businesses moving into the model can keep content as it is without having to migrate data, for example, as they move from an HTML site to a React single-page application (SPA),” commented Andy Blyth, Technical Architect at DEPT®. 

He further adds, “Contentful is constantly adding new features and functionality, allowing businesses using the service to evolve with the latest technology. Tagging has recently been released, grouping pages or objectives by characteristics or usage, which creates content classifications and eases the process of organising various components and multimedia files for editors.”

“Contentful is constantly adding new features and functionality, allowing businesses using the service to evolve with the latest technology.”

Andy Blyth, Technical Architect, DEPT®

Publishing content at scale

Chris Eccles, Technical Architect at DEPT® describes a Contentful project currently in development: “We’re working with an online learning provider that also performs English language tests for university, professional or migration applications. Contentful is populating the platform and we’re using its new web app, Compose. Setting up structured and reproducible fields is straightforward and the content management interface is the most intuitive I’ve ever seen. It uses a page-based model to streamline the process of adding and publishing content at scale, giving editors clear and flexible templates to quickly deliver uniform digital experiences, and in this case, across all of its programmes and courses.”

Contentful’s uncluttered interface experience helps reduce the level of intimidation and complexity for the user with simple logic and drag-and-drop features. Its ability to integrate with more no-code and low-code (NC/LC) tools means people from cross-functional teams have the ability to offset business demands for development, automate processes and accelerate digital transformation.


“The content management interface is the most intuitive I’ve ever seen.”

Chris Eccles, Technical Architect, DEPT®

Solutions for future business goals

Making the move to microservices via integrated headless solutions like Contentful creates the foundation for growth, however that may relate to your business. It’s easy to look at a new piece of technology and relate to case studies that highlight how it helped other companies increase volumes of sales, but growth is more dynamic and often involves changing workflows, governance, supporting technology and even security needs. 

Overconfidence in a system’s ability to scale, without taking into account growing pains and unforeseen complexities can block innovation and lead to technical depth. In today’s ever-changing landscape, it’s difficult to predict what the future will hold, therefore, creating a solution built for change will underpin any avenue.

Putting Contentful into practice

Over the years, DEPT® has supported various companies with the successful application of Contentful. We collaborated with global shipping container supplier CARU Containers on a digital transformation project that involved building a new B2B online store fuelled by Contentful and Salesforce. 

The new website was launched across ten countries as part of the refreshed CARU brand. Content pages were created to tell the story of the company, the employees, and each product. Additionally, there was content for social sharing and digital advertising: whitepapers, listicles, infographics and interviews. Content was displayed dynamically and adaptive to the language and country of each visitor, allowing one site to match up with an international audience. This content suite gave CARU positioning on LinkedIn, Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and the Google Display network. During the six month period of analysis and improvement, conversion grew by 400%, a sizable improvement that any company would be happy to see.

Content was also a key ingredient in transforming the 2021 Eurovision Village into a 3D Virtual World. The Eurovision Song Contest was streamed live, alongside additional DJ sets and performances and fresh content was served up daily throughout the nine-day festival. DEPT® integrated Contentful as the CMS, enabling a partnership agency to interact with guests and communicate updates in real-time, such as changes to the line-up.

We’ve also collaborated on projects for leading seafood supplier, Sykes Seafood; B2B travel company, Cartrawler; the Global Psoriasis Atlas; student discount platform, Totum; and the world’s number one chemical distributor, DigiB.

To stay ahead of the competition, agility and adaptability is a must. If your company has already implemented a headless stack but isn’t maximising its capabilities to their full potential, or is still weighing up the options, we’re here to help.

Contact us to discuss your digital landscape and how Contentful may be able to fit into it, perhaps by enriching your product information management (PIM) solution with marketing content or translating content in a mobile app.

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Principal Digital Consultant, Design & Technology

Katy White