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8 use cases and real-life examples of headless CMS

How do companies in different industries use headless CMSs to enhance their content experiences.
Jing Li

Jing Li

May 22, 2024
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The diversity of customer needs and complexity of data scenarios that digital content is expected to handle is growing. Yet many teams are stuck on legacy technologies that make it hard to simply update content, let alone scale the experience to meet new needs.

A headless content management system (CMS) structures content data to be delivered to many different frontend applications - or “heads”. By structuring data, companies have the flexibility to adapt their content to a wide variety of channels, use cases, and integrations.

This article examines when a headless CMS is suitable and how companies in different industries use it to enhance their content experiences.

#When to go headless?

Each use case for a headless CMS may differ. However, companies typically use headless CMSs for two main reasons:

You need the flexibility to build what you want

A headless CMS allows companies to build what they want to fit a particular use case. In contrast, traditional CMSs can lock developers into using certain frameworks or technologies and don’t allow them to build as they see fit.

The result is developers turn down business requests due to technical limitations. For example, it’s harder to build the mobile app version for the eCommerce store and pull information from the PIM system for swift updates on inventory levels.

On the other hand, a headless CMS allows you to choose your frontend technologies and frameworks, integrate easily with necessary tools (e.g., Algolia for search), and deliver features as per business requirements.

Businesses typically leverage the flexibility of the development process to create eCommerce websites, highly composable websites, and customer portals.

You want to leverage content-as-a-service (CaaS)

Content as a Service (CaaS) is a service-oriented model where the “Service Provider” delivers the content on-demand to the “Service Consumer” via licensed cloud-based subscription services.

This allows content to be created and stored within the CMS and channeled to any platform via APIs. It provides raw content to other systems that further refine the content to be rendered on the end platform.

Through CaaS, businesses can leverage a modular content approach. Modular content can be broken down into small blocks (such as author, title, and captions) rather than larger portions (such as an entire blog post).

This allows content editors to create content that can easily be used across projects. They can generate schema for complex content and reuse it more efficiently across different channels. Video platforms and media products, for example, have complex structured metadata. Headless CMS can store and adapt it to different use cases.

CaaS is used for various purposes, including knowledge management platforms, media platforms, B2B publishing websites, and product catalogs.

#8 examples of successful headless CMS adoption

Now, let’s look at 8 examples of successful headless CMS adoption for different use cases.

1. Composable members platform

Hygraph<>Samsung case study

Industry: Consumer electronics

Use Case: Membership portal

Headless Success: Samsung Electronics Germany (SEG) went from a mobile-only members platform to a cross-channel solution that quickly responds to local needs and boosts customer engagement.

Samsung case study Stats

Samsung Electronics is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of consumer electronics. Samsung’s German membership platform was originally created as a mobile app, but a web version became critical as the loyalty program expanded. The team quickly found it difficult to replicate the app’s functionality using Adobe Experience Manager's rigid templates. Any component that differed from the global AEM templates had to be statically built by an external agency and go through a time-consuming global governance process, which limited the team’s ability to meet local needs.

Moving to a headless CMS allows the team to structure content so that the same experience can be delivered to the mobile app and a single-page application on the web. With Hygraph’s API-first CMS, frontend developers can change the content structure and create features without impacting the global backend infrastructure, allowing them to quickly build and test local solutions.

Using structured content instead of static, hard-coded pages also means that content managers can now easily add and edit content independently. This has cut the time to update pages in half, leading to an estimated 15% increase in user engagement on frequently updated pages.

2. Website with structured content

Hygraph<>Komax case study

Industry: Manufacturing

Use Case: Public website & B2B customer portal

Headless Success: Komax moved from a monolithic, on-premise architecture to a composable, cloud-based tech stack, improving site performance.

Komax case study Stats.png

The Komax Group provides technical solutions for automated wire processing across multiple market segments. As the company expanded its online presence, scaling its on-premise Sitecore CMS solution became hard. It was a monolithic application, so even a small change could impact the entire system, which prevented the team from adding new features or integrating data from other systems. Updates were time-consuming, and content editing often required HTML knowledge, which led to many basic tasks being outsourced to a digital agency.

The team moved to Hygraph headless CMS as part of their overall switch from an on-premise architecture to a cloud-based tech stack by choosing best-fit solutions for content, product, and customer management and using APIs to connect the data and send it to the frontend. This decoupled setup allows developers to adapt to new requirements without having to rewire the entire architecture.

Komax website architecture

Komax specifically picked GraphQL-based solutions for their new stack because of the efficient way that GraphQL APIs fetch data. This ensures fast content delivery and makes it easier to support different data needs across the public website and B2B portal.

The new setup gives developers more flexibility, allowing the Komax marketing team to update content without worrying about taking down the whole system. Content editors now work with reusable components such as banners, buttons, and text blocks to create and publish content with no code needed.

Hygraph components

3. Robust media platform

Hygraph<>Telenor case study

Industry: Telecommunications

Use Case: Video streaming platform

Headless Success: Telenor went from manually editing metadata to programmatically adding thousands of videos to their streaming platform every month.

Telenor case study Stats.png

Telenor is a leading Nordic mobile, broadband, and TV service provider and one of the largest telecommunication companies worldwide. The company had created a homebrew content solution to launch its video streaming service. Still, as the service became more successful, the team looked to move to a feature-rich CMS that could free up developers from manually editing thousands of metadata entries each month.

A headless CMS treats all content as structured data, making it a strong solution for metadata management. Telenor now uses Hygraph’s schema builder to define the metadata structure and programmatically adds, edits, and deletes metadata entries in bulk using GraphQL mutations. Developers can use programmatic updates to evolve and localize the metadata schema continuously. At the same time, a friendly UI makes it easy for the content team to work with and manually edit content data.

With GraphQL, data can be given a structure and hierarchy that makes it very efficient to fetch data from multiple sources. This is why GraphQL APIs are a good fit for the high-performance needs of streaming platforms. Telenor uses Hygraph’s GraphQL API to make millions of monthly API calls with less than 100ms latency.

4. Learning management system

Hygraph<>2U case study

Industry: Education technology

Use Case: Learning Management System

Headless Success: 2U uses structured content to efficiently handle the diverse content types and metadata needs of the education providers they partner with.

2U case study Stats

2U partners with colleges and universities to power online degree programs and courses, providing a Learning Management System (LMS) that gives students worldwide access to higher education. 2U had built a homebrew content solution to support its LMS platform and was finding it hard to scale content as it expanded to new partners, products, and use cases.

Working with a fully hosted, headless CMS makes it easier for the 2U team to work efficiently with their many education partners. As a software-as-a-service platform, Hygraph takes care of content infrastructure, and the UI features that make it easy for a broad range of stakeholders to work with content. It also provides granular user permissions, audit logs, and easy integration with single sign-on (SSO) services that keep partners’ data secure.

2U already used GraphQL APIs across its tech stack to ensure high performance when streaming education content, so a GraphQL-native CMS was a natural fit. 2U can now structure its partners' diverse metadata and use Content Federation to ensure fast load times of accurate, up-to-date content.

5. eCommerce website

Hygraph<>Lick case study

Industry: Consumer goods

Use Case: eCommerce website

Headless Success: Lick created flexible content models that allow marketers to quickly build rich eCommerce pages without developer assistance.

Lick case study Stats.png

Lick is an online home decor company that helps people transform their space with designer wall paint and modern wallpaper. They were already using a headless CMS to power their eCommerce site. Still, the project was built and managed by an external agency, and the workflow relied too much on the agency developing different content models for every new landing page. Lick wanted a solution that gave the internal team more control over using and reusing content.

Moving to Hygraph CMS was one step in Lick’s shift to composable commerce. They decided to develop the website in-house and chose a modular stack of tools connected by a homebrew REST aggregation layer. After shifting to the new stack, Lick has seen a dramatic drop in bounce rates on product pages, and “add to bag” conversions have increased by 20%.

Lick website architecture.png

With Hygraph, Lick developers can create flexible content models for repeating site elements, like product variants or paint colors. Marketers can use these models to build and publish unique landing pages without writing code.

The content models take advantage of GraphQL’s ability to structure complex data, allowing the team to easily define relationships between models and use GraphQL union types to use a single model for various use cases. Lick also sets field validations in models to ensure that content is published with all relevant data and that the customer experience is consistent.

6. Product inventory management

Hygraph<>Burrow case study

Industry: Consumer goods

Use Case: Product & catalog inventory management

Headless Success: Burrow adopted agile eCommerce with global product inventory management of over 20,000 variations in production

Burrow case study Stats.png

Burrow is a direct-to-consumer eCommerce furniture company from the US. As the company and product line began to scale, the Burrow team sought a backend-as-a-service system that allowed for structured content and was powerful enough to accommodate their ambitious pace of scaling.

By adopting Hygraph, Burrow created highly complex data modeling structures and content with over 20,000 variations of their core product line. The flexible content modeling and GraphQL relation types enabled the team to use Hygraph as a data-rich repository for their catalog content instead of a traditional PIM. In addition to the static website content, backend notifications, shipping notifications, and product availability estimates are also handled via Hygraph.

With Hygraph’s headless CMS, Burrow has built optimized workflows at scale. The development team can migrate content programmatically and update changes to product arrays and inventory, eliminating manual work and ensuring the end user sees the most accurate data. The clean Hygraph UI makes it simple for content managers to quickly update content without involving the development team.

Working with React, BigCommerce, GraphQL, and Express.js, the Burrow team has built a strong foundation for the future as they continue to grow. The Burrow team now has a scalable infrastructure using best-of-breed, MACH-compliant services to complement its business model.

7. B2B publishing platform

Hygraph<>Biocentury case study

Industry: Technology

Use Case: News & publishing platform

Headless Success: BioCentury federates accurate data for biotechnology leaders

BioCentury case study Stats.png

BioCentury offers a robust knowledge base for customers like C-level biotech executives and investors. However, the existing infrastructure has grown too complex, preventing BioCentury from delivering more content to customers and improving the user experience.

Previously, the BioCentury website had a monolithic setup. A rigid, template-based publishing process made it difficult for BioCentury to maintain a best-of-class user experience. With the previous CMS, improving content displays that matched their visions would have taken a long time, so BioCentury adopted Hygraph’s headless CMS.

Hygraph empowers BioCentury to create any form of content they imagine using structured content. The content team can now easily publish and maintain content on their frontend, using Hygraph as a headless CMS connected with CRM and eCommerce systems to programmatically create, edit, direct, and deliver content to the necessary places.

The ability to quickly create flexible content models has brought BioCentury closer to its goal of developing a robust content hub. The time from idea to publishing has decreased by 81%. BioCentury’s new website is a high-performing project powered by Angular, NodeJS, ZoneJS, Express, HammerJS, Stripe, and Hygraph. Since its adoption, BioCentury has increased content engagement by 120%.

My eyes lit up at how intuitive content modeling is. Hygraph gives unlimited possibilities of what we can connect and build.
David SmilingCTO at BioCentury

8. SEO-friendly websites

Hygraph<>Autoweb case study

Industry: Automotive

Use Case: High-performance website

Headless Success: AutoWeb upgraded the tech stack of its SEO-optimized website that makes 7-digit revenue using Hygraph

Autoweb case study Stats.png

AutoWeb was one of the first internet companies in the automotive market to reach consumers across the U.S. Despite this, the technology used back then was not up to the task of delivering a modern digital experience. AutoWeb has, therefore, migrated from an in-house CMS solution to a modern content hosting platform and from the old stack to a Jamstack approach.

Before the change, the old stack did not let the team take a performance leap with the website. Furthermore, Autoweb's rigid backend made creating different templates and other content difficult.

Autoweb chose Hygraph for its ability to change the schemas and the level of customization it offered. Moving to a headless CMS improved Autoweb’s velocity and flexibility. The development team now spends days instead of weeks or months on new components, templates, or content initiatives. This allows AutoWeb to launch a site in half the time it used to. As a result, they increased overall monetization on their website, with the most significant increase being a 20% increase on one of their websites.

#Considerations for a successful headless CMS adoption

Moving to a headless CMS means a paradigm shift for many companies. It can seem overwhelming with so many headless CMS vendors to choose from and numerous technology pieces to decide on. Here are some technical considerations to help you succeed in headless CMS adoption:

Content Modeling

A headless CMS usually comes with a blank slate, allowing you to create any schema you need. This enables companies to balance what developers expect from the schema and what editors expect. However, with this flexibility, it’s still possible to make structures too complex and surpass the required needs.

Before moving to a headless CMS, it is critical to assess your content and clearly understand how to map it out in the new system. Setting up an efficient schema is essential to ensuring both developer and editorial productivity. Some headless CMSs offer thorough onboarding processes to ensure your content models are thoughtfully set up. Use these experts to ensure your content models are carefully set up.


Headless CMSs typically provide RESTful or GraphQL APIs, enabling developers to programmatically retrieve, create, update, and delete content. These APIs enable developers to integrate content from headless CMSs into various frontend frameworks, platforms, and devices, giving them the flexibility to deliver content-rich experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints.

When selecting a headless CMS, it's crucial to consider the limitations of its API. These constraints often include rate limits on the number of requests allowed within a certain time frame, such as the number of requests per minute or hour. Understanding these limitations is vital, as exceeding them can lead to API throttling or temporary service interruptions.


A headless CMS should be capable of seamlessly connecting with other components in your tech stack. That means integrating third-party services and tools like eCommerce platforms, marketing automation systems, analytics tools, and more.

For example, Hygraph offers three ways to extend its functionality.

Ready-made integrations: The Hygraph Marketplace is a collection of apps built by either Hygraph or its partners for developers to supercharge your Hygraph projects.

App Framework: Developers can use the App framework to extend Hygraph's UI. They can build apps integrating Hygraph with third-party services or custom integrations tailored to specific needs.

Remote Sources: If you don’t want to build a service or store data in your stack, Remote Sources allow developers to fetch data from external sources. This Content Federation utility enables teams to add content from other systems and sources to the Hygraph API without migrating content. This allows you to enrich your content entries or fetch third-party data from your Hygraph GraphQL endpoint and use only one API endpoint on your front end.

#Headless CMS unlocks the full value of content

A headless approach helps companies organize, discover, and use their content data to meet diverse needs.

In a survey of 400 technology leaders in the state of CMS, 84% said that their current CMS keeps the organization from unlocking the full value of content. While CMS challenges differed in each industry, as seen in the figure below, the most reported issues overall were that changes can only be made by a small group of people (46%), difficulty adding new data and content types (40%), and difficulty integrating the CMS with other systems (36%).

The 8 examples of success in this article show that a headless approach can help solve each of these challenges.

Top CMS challenges

In the modern era of content management, companies need more than just a headless CMS. They need a robust content platform that can manage content on any channel and integrate with other tools in the Martech stack to manage the digital experience from end to end.

Hygraph is a next-generation headless CMS. In addition to the marketer—and developer-friendly capabilities necessary to create and manage content experiences on any channel, Hygraph easily integrates with other platforms to help businesses orchestrate the entire digital experience.

If you’re interested in learning how headless CMS can unlock the full value of your content, we’d love to have a chat.

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Blog Author

Jing Li

Jing Li

Jing is the Content Marketing Manager at Hygraph. Besides telling compelling stories, Jing enjoys dining out and catching occasional waves on the ocean.

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