One-Stop Guide – Selecting Right Technology Stack for eCommerce Store
Sector: Digital Commerce
Author: Nisarg Mehta
Date Published: 05/19/2023
- Why Having the Right Tech Stack is Critical for eCommerce?
- Limited Scalability
- Inefficient Integration
- Security Vulnerabilities
- Limited Customization
- High Maintenance Costs
- Poor User Experience
- Difficulty in Talent Acquisition
- Platforms, Solutions, and Technologies for eCommerce
- eCommerce Platforms
- Cloud Storage
- Order & Payments:
- Returns Management:
- Inventory Management
- ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning):
- Order Fulfillment & Shipping
- Personalization & Recommendation
- Product & Digital Asset
- Customer Service
- Data Analytics & Insights
- Separate the Front and Back End
- Use a Scalable Architecture
- Check Compatability with Your Existing Environment
- Consider Your Team Skills
An eCommerce technology stack encompasses a set of applications, frameworks, platforms, and solutions necessary for operating and overseeing an eCommerce business.
These technology and automation solutions are specifically designed to integrate with prominent eCommerce platforms and other tools, enabling the establishment of an efficient supply chain and a robust eCommerce infrastructure.
Deciding the tech stack for an eCommerce platform or application in the past was straightforward. There were limited technologies and frameworks available, and solutions architects would have to pick among them only.
However, in the current eCommerce scenario, where jargon like headless and omnichannel are in trend, it gets trickier for decision-makers to pick the right technology stack. Even with eCommerce platforms, you’ll have to think about the perfect ecosystem of third-party services to get the best out of your eCommerce strategy.
But the main question is, is having the right tech stack really worth it for eCommerce?
Let’s find out.
Why Having the Right Tech Stack is Critical for eCommerce?
If you don’t pick the right technology stack for your eCommerce store or platform, you might face several challenges, such as security vulnerabilities, limited integration, etc. Basically, this decision decides whether your investment will bring in the desired results or not.
Here are some pitfalls of picking the wrong tech stack for eCommerce:
The technology stack you pick for your eCommerce environment may lack the ability to handle increased traffic, transactions, and growing product catalogs. This can result in slow loading times and poor performance, ultimately hindering your ability to scale your eCommerce business effectively.
Imagine choosing a technology stack that cannot handle high website traffic during peak shopping seasons like Black Friday. As a result, the website becomes slow and unresponsive, leading to frustrated customers, abandoned shopping carts, and lost sales.
An incompatible technology stack can make it challenging to integrate with third-party tools, services, or APIs essential for eCommerce operations, such as payment gateways, inventory management systems, or shipping providers. This can lead to operational inefficiencies, manual workarounds, and a disjointed customer experience.
For instance, integration with ERP and other systems is critical for large-scale eCommerce enterprises. This means that they cannot choose platforms like WooCommerce for their technology stack. This doesn’t mean that WooCommerce isn’t good; it’s just that it doesn’t fulfill the enterprise-level eCommerce requirements.
Choosing an outdated or insecure technology stack can expose your eCommerce platform to various security risks, including data breaches, unauthorized access, and potential financial loss. It is crucial to prioritize security measures and select a stack that provides robust protection against cyber threats.
Different eCommerce businesses have unique requirements and functionalities. Picking the wrong technology stack may limit your ability to customize and tailor your platform according to your specific needs. This can restrict your ability to deliver a personalized experience, implement desired features, or differentiate your brand in the competitive market.
High Maintenance Costs
Opting for a technology stack without considering the long-term maintenance and support requirements can lead to increased costs over time. Outdated or niche technologies may lack community support, making it difficult to find skilled developers or obtain timely updates and bug fixes. This can result in higher development and maintenance expenses.
Poor User Experience
The wrong technology stack may hinder the user experience of your eCommerce platform. Slow page load times, clunky navigation, or limited responsiveness can frustrate users and drive them away. A seamless and user-friendly experience is crucial for customer satisfaction, engagement, and, ultimately, conversions.
Difficulty in Talent Acquisition
If you choose an obscure or outdated technology stack, it may be challenging to find qualified developers with expertise in that particular stack. This can lead to recruitment difficulties, longer development cycles, and potentially compromises on the quality of your eCommerce platform.
One example of this is using a relatively niche or less-popular technology stack called “Erlang.”
Erlang is a programming language known for its concurrency, fault tolerance, and scalability features. However, it is not as widely adopted as more mainstream languages like Java or Python. If a company chooses to build its eCommerce platform using Erlang, it may face challenges in finding developers with expertise in this specific technology.
Platforms, Solutions, and Technologies for eCommerce
Discussing the technologies as per the area:
1. eCommerce Platforms
eCommerce platforms are software solutions that enable businesses to build, manage, and run online stores. These platforms provide a range of features and tools to facilitate the entire eCommerce process, from creating product listings to processing payments and managing inventory.
As of 2023, the top eCommerce platform, as per the market share, is WooCommerce.
However, in terms of usability, functionality, and business scale, there are five eCommerce platforms that we recommend. Here are some of these:
It might get challenging for you to pick the right one among these eCommerce platforms. So to select the right eCommerce platform, consider the following:
- Assess your business needs: Identify your specific requirements, such as the size of your product catalog, desired customization level, integration needs, and scalability requirements.
- Assess your business needs: Evaluate the costs associated with the platform, including subscription fees, transaction fees, add-ons, and development costs.
- Evaluate ease of use: Consider your technical expertise and the platform’s user-friendliness. Look for intuitive interfaces, drag-and-drop functionality, and pre-built templates.
- Examine available features: Review the platform’s built-in features, such as payment gateways, inventory management, SEO tools, and marketing capabilities. Ensure they align with your business objectives.
- Consider scalability: Assess the platform’s ability to handle your expected growth in terms of product range, website traffic, and sales volume. Look for options to upgrade plans or add functionalities as your business expands.
- Analyze integration options: Determine the platform’s compatibility with third-party apps and services you require, such as payment gateways, email marketing tools, or shipping providers.
- Research customer support: Evaluate the platform’s customer support options, including available channels (e.g., phone, chat, email), response times, and knowledge base resources.
- Read user reviews and testimonials: Gain insights from other businesses using the platform. Look for feedback on reliability, performance, customer support, and overall satisfaction.
- Test the platform: Take advantage of free trials or demo versions to explore the platform’s features, customization options, and ease of use. Ensure it aligns with your expectations before making a final decision.
- Consider future growth: Select a platform that accommodates your long-term goals, such as expanding into new markets, adding new features, or integrating with emerging technologies.
2. Cloud Storage
Cloud storage and computing have become integral components of modern eCommerce infrastructure. If you opt for an off-the-shelf eCommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, you’ll get cloud storage and computing capabilities along with the subscription.
However, if you’re building custom eCommerce, you’ll have to pick the right cloud service by yourself.
Consider the following cloud storage and computing technologies commonly used in eCommerce:
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
AWS provides a comprehensive suite of cloud services, including storage, computing, databases, analytics, and more. Services like Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) offer scalable and durable object storage, while Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, offering a range of services for storage, analytics, virtual machines, and more. Azure Blob Storage provides scalable object storage, and Azure Virtual Machines offer flexible computing resources. Azure also provides integration with other Microsoft tools and services.
Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
GCP offers various services for cloud storage and computing, including Google Cloud Storage for object storage and Google Compute Engine for virtual machine instances. GCP also provides additional services like BigQuery for analytics and Cloud Functions for serverless computing.
IBM Cloud offers a range of cloud services, including storage and computing options. IBM Cloud Object Storage provides scalable and secure storage for large amounts of unstructured data. IBM Virtual Servers offer flexible computing resources, and IBM Functions allow serverless computing capabilities.
DigitalOcean focuses on providing cloud infrastructure for developers. It offers scalable and affordable virtual machines (Droplets) for computing needs. DigitalOcean Spaces provides object storage for storing and serving large amounts of data.
As a leading cloud provider in China, Alibaba Cloud offers a wide range of cloud services, including storage and computing. Alibaba Object Storage Service (OSS) provides reliable and scalable object storage, and Elastic Compute Service (ECS) offers flexible and scalable computing resources.
Omnichannel refers to providing a seamless and integrated shopping experience across various channels, including online stores, mobile apps, social media platforms, and physical stores. To achieve omnichannel capabilities, eCommerce businesses may leverage the following technologies and solutions:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems: CRM systems help manage customer interactions and data across multiple touchpoints, enabling personalized experiences. Top CRM systems for eCommerce include Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho CRM.
Point-of-Sale (POS) systems: These systems integrate online and offline sales, inventory, and customer data to provide a unified view of customer interactions. You can pick among Square, Lightspeed, Vend for this.
API integrations: APIs facilitate data exchange between different systems, enabling synchronization of inventory, customer data, and order information across channels. MuleSoft, Zapier, Dell Boomi are the best options for eCommerce.
4. Order & Payments
Efficient order and payment management is crucial for a smooth customer experience. The following technologies and solutions are commonly used in this area:
- Payment gateways: Integration with payment gateways allows secure and convenient online payment processing. Examples include PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree.
- Order management systems: These systems handle the entire order lifecycle, from placement to fulfillment, tracking, and customer notifications. This functionality should come along with your eCommerce platform.
- Fraud detection and prevention: Advanced fraud detection tools and services help protect against fraudulent transactions and ensure secure payment processing. You can use Signifyd, Sift, or Riskified for this.
5. Returns Management
Returns management involves handling product returns, exchanges, and refunds. Technologies and solutions in this area include:
Return management systems: These systems streamline the returns process, including initiating return requests, tracking returns, and managing refunds or replacements. Returnly, Narvar, Happy Returns are the top option for return management.
6. Inventory Management
Effective inventory management is crucial for maintaining stock levels, reducing stockouts, and optimizing supply chain operations. Key technologies and solutions in this area include:
- Inventory management systems: These systems track inventory levels, manage stock movement, and provide real-time visibility into product availability. TradeGecko, SkuVault, Cin7 are the top eCommerce inventory management systems.
- Barcode and RFID technology: Barcodes and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags enable accurate and efficient inventory tracking and management. You can utilize Zebra Technologies, Honeywell, Impinj for RFID.
7. ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)
ERP systems integrate various business processes, including finance, inventory, procurement, and order management. They provide a centralized database and streamline operations.
Examples of popular ERP systems used in eCommerce include Oracle NetSuite, SAP ERP, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.
8. Order Fulfillment & Shipping
Efficient order fulfillment and shipping processes are essential for timely delivery. Technologies and solutions in this area include:
Shipping carriers and logistics providers: Integration with shipping carriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL enables automated shipping label generation, package tracking, and delivery coordination.
Marketing technologies play a vital role in promoting products, driving traffic, and increasing conversions. Key solutions in this area include:
Marketing Automation: Marketing automation tools allow eCommerce businesses to streamline their marketing campaigns and reduce marketing costs with automation. HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, and Marketeo are the best in this category.
Digital advertising platforms: Tools like Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Amazon Advertising, and display advertising networks allow businesses to run targeted ad campaigns.
10. Personalization & Recommendation
Personalization and recommendation technologies enhance the customer experience by providing tailored product suggestions. Some common solutions include:
Recommendation engines: AI-powered recommendation engines analyze customer behavior and preferences to provide personalized product recommendations. Top options include Dynamic Yield, Barilliance, and Salesforce.
Customer segmentation tools: These tools categorize customers based on their behavior, demographics, and preferences, enabling personalized marketing campaigns and offers. The top tools for this are Segment, Optimizely, and Emarsys.
11. Product & Digital Asset
Efficient management of product information and digital assets is crucial for eCommerce success. Technologies and solutions in this area include:
Product information management (PIM) systems: PIM systems centralize and manage product information, specifications, and digital assets in a structured manner. Examples include Akeneo, inRiver, and Pimcore.
Digital asset management (DAM) systems: DAM systems organize and provide access to digital assets such as images, videos, and documents, ensuring consistent branding and content delivery. You can use Widen or Adobe Experience Manager for this.
12. Customer Service
Providing excellent customer service is essential for customer satisfaction and retention. Technologies and solutions in this area include:
- Helpdesk and ticketing systems: These systems streamline customer support processes, track inquiries, and enable efficient ticket resolution. Zendesk, Freshdesk, Jira Service Desk are the top options for these systems.
- Live chat and chatbot solutions: Live chat and AI-powered chatbots provide real-time assistance and automate customer interactions. Examples of this include Intercom, LiveChat, and Chatfuel.
13. Data Analytics & Insights
Data analytics and insights help businesses gain valuable insights into customer behavior, sales patterns, and overall performance. Technologies and solutions in this area include:
Business intelligence (BI) tools: BI tools transform data into visual reports and dashboards, enabling data-driven decision-making. Tableau, Power BI, Looker are the best BI tools out there for eCommerce.
Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics algorithms leverage historical data to forecast future trends, customer behavior, and demand patterns. You can consider among DataRobot, RapidMiner, IBM Watson Studio for predictive analytics.
Tips to Pick the Right Tech Stack for Custom eCommerce Development
If you’re building custom eCommerce for your business, consider the following modern approaches to get the best out of your efforts:
1. Separate the Front and Back End
Traditionally, a monolithic architecture was used, where all components were tightly coupled. However, businesses now prioritize agility and scalability, leading to the adoption of new architectures like headless commerce and microservices. Headless commerce decouples the frontend and backend, enabling flexibility in creating customer experiences across multiple channels.
Shopify Composable Components are a great way to get started with headless commerce.
Microservices architecture breaks down the backend into smaller, independent services that can be developed and scaled individually. These changes allow businesses to adapt to evolving technologies and meet the demands of the digital marketplace.
2. Use a Scalable Architecture
Choose a tech stack that supports scalability, allowing your eCommerce platform to handle increased traffic, transactions, and data as your business grows. Scalability ensures that your website remains responsive and reliable even during peak periods.
3. Check Compatability with Your Existing Environment
Consider your current infrastructure, systems, and tools. Look for a tech stack that integrates smoothly with your existing environment to avoid compatibility issues and simplify the implementation process. Compatibility enables seamless data flow and efficient workflows.
4. Consider Your Team Skills
Evaluate the skills and expertise of your eCommerce development team. Choose a tech stack that aligns with their knowledge and experience to ensure efficient development, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Familiarity with the tech stack reduces the learning curve and improves productivity.
Examples of Modern eCommerce Tech Stacks
There are numerous combinations available for building an eCommerce tech stack. However, there are also several popular ready-made stacks commonly used for eCommerce. These include:
- MongoDB is a NoSQL database
- Express.js is a backend framework
- Angular is a frontend framework
- Node.js is a server-side runtime environment
MEAN Stack is known for its flexibility, real-time capabilities, and ease of development.
MERN Stack is known for its versatility, high performance, and ability to create dynamic and interactive web applications.
LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Perl/Python. It is one of the most widely used tech stacks for web development.
- Linux is the operating system
- Apache is the web server
- MySQL is the relational database management system
- PHP/Perl/Python are the programming languages used for server-side scripting
LAMP Stack provides a stable and mature environment for eCommerce applications and has a large community of developers.
Python-Django is a popular tech stack for eCommerce development. Django is a high-level Python web framework that follows the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architectural pattern. It provides a robust toolkit for building secure and scalable web applications.
Python-Django offers features like an ORM (Object-Relational Mapping) for database operations, built-in authentication and security measures, and a large number of reusable components.
The .NET Stack, developed by Microsoft, consists of several technologies, including C#, ASP.NET, and SQL Server.
- C# is a versatile programming language
- ASP.NET is a framework for building web applications
- SQL Server is a relational database management system
The .NET Stack provides a comprehensive set of tools and libraries for eCommerce development, offering features like performance optimization, security, and seamless integration with other Microsoft technologies.
The continuous advancements in technology and the seamless integration of various solutions have presented significant opportunities for eCommerce businesses.
Draw inspiration from the aforementioned examples and options, and consider the potential benefits of incorporating similar approaches into your own tech stack. By embracing these strategies, you can enhance your e-commerce operations and leverage the power of technology to drive growth and success.