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Keep reading to get the full lowdown on the key technologies you should consider when building your eCommerce technology stack, including:
What is an eCommerce tech stack?
A technology stack is a mix of tools, apps, programming languages, and platforms used to develop a website or a mobile application. So, in the context of eCommerce, it’s all the systems that facilitate the effective marketing and sale of products online.
Technology stacks are made up of the server-side backend, and the front-end, which is the client-side. In terms of the front-end, most eCommerce businesses opt for a headless approach. This is when the front-end is disconnected from the back-end, meaning it can be updated without interfering with the back-end. As a result, you can make incremental changes and improvements to refine the customer experience to better influence your KPIs.
The two primary software development frameworks are LAMP (Linux, Apache Web Server, MySQL, and PHP) and MEAN (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS, and NodeJS). They’re both very different and which one you choose will depend on your business objectives and available resources.
LAMP vs MEAN
LAMP is the most well-established open-source framework with a large community that offers support. You’ll need to ensure you have a strong team of developers with different skill-sets to deliver projects using LAMP. The downside is that it’s not very scalable, and it’s relatively low-performance which isn’t ideal for an eCommerce business.
Choosing the right technology for eCommerce success
With growing demand and expectations from online shoppers, it’s imperative to ensure the solutions you go for enable you to deliver amazing levels of customer service.
The good news is, there are a wealth of options available. Tap into the many benefits of personalization or hyper-personalization with artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Also, consider augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities so customers can properly visualize your products. Not to mention everything else, from marketing, communicating your sustainability credentials, inventory management, and tracking to payment processing and post-purchase services. In short, there’s a whole bunch of technology at your fingertips.
Now, let’s look at some of the different technologies you can explore for your eComm tech stack. Once you’ve scoped out your costs, you’ll also need to balance speed with maintenance requirements and identify which labor-intensive tasks you want to automate. Below, we’ve set out nine of the key components of any eCommerce tech stack.
Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)
All in all, Product Lifecycle Management systems do what they say on the tin. They help you monitor products as they move through the product lifecycle, from ideation, right through to commercialization. In other words, they oversee manufacturing workflows and enable different departments involved in product creation to collaborate. Important to note that PLM software is only required by businesses involved in the manufacturing of products.
Examples of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Technologies:
Enterprise SaaS Product Information Management (PIM)
Product Information Management platforms enable you to gather, store, enrich, and distribute product data from one central hub. Create a single source of truth for all your product information, content, and digital assets required to effectively market and sell your products on and offline.
PIM platforms automate up to 80% of manual tasks relating to product data management, which will massively boost productivity. Check out the diagram below to see the PIM set-up, and how it fits in with other tools and solutions:
In addition, working from a central hub enables different departments to collaborate with ease and efficiency so you can quickly get your products to market. Any good PIM solution will enable you to easily reach new sales channels and territories, which is a must in the ever-competitive eCommerce environment. Overall, you can totally streamline large aspects of product data management so you can focus on wider business objectives.
Some of the PIM platforms out there include:
Digital Asset Management (DAM)
Like PIM platforms, Digital Asset Management (DAM) software enables you to store all your digital assets in a central location. Collect them from any number of internal or external data sources. This means, you can then enrich and distribute them across all your sales channels with ease and speed, ensuring they’re all optimized for the different channels they’ll be published to.
A good DAM system will give you the ability to store large volumes of different file formats. This includes everything from videos and images to sustainability credentials, BIM files, and product data sheets.
As we mentioned earlier, the use of AR and VR is on the rise. DAM software supports these file types, as well as PDF documents, audio files, images, videos, and much more. As such, you can create confident customers by serving them with high-quality assets that enable them to clearly visualize your products.
Here are some DAM solutions you should look at:
Inventory and order management
Inventory and order management are two key aspects of making sure you deliver a seamless and satisfying online product experience. They keep track of and update all information relating to stock level, orders, and deliveries. Typically, this information would previously be stored in Excel spreadsheets, which are hard to keep up-to-date and accurate.
Inventory and order management systems enable you to avoid overstocking and understocking of products. The right solutions will show you which products perform well at different times of the year, so you can maximize sales with data-driven insights. Furthermore, you need a solution that enables you to show real-time stock levels on your online store. The reason is twofold. Firstly, you won’t disappoint customers by offering a product that isn’t available. Secondly, you can create a sense of urgency by letting customers know when stock levels are low.
A selection of inventory and order management systems you could look at:
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP solutions are designed to help organizations manage a range of business processes. In addition, it also provides the capabilities to gather, store, manage and analyze data from multiple different business activities. These include day-to-day tasks such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk and compliance, and supply chain operations.
While ERPs can also manage data relating to your products, like SKUs, weights, and dimensions, they’re not designed to manage other rich types of product content required to effectively market and sell products online. This is where your ERP will work wonderfully in tandem with your PIM. You can import the data from your ERP to your PIM. From there, you can then add your marketing copy, digital assets, and everything else you need to blow your customers away.
ERP technologies to consider:
Analytics tools are a vital component for any business, especially for an eCommerce business looking to improve the online experience. Ultimately, these tools help you collect, store, and analyze large amounts of data on your customers. For instance, this might include demographics, regions, as well as their wants and needs at specific periods of the year. On the other hand, other platforms are more focused on Customer Experience (CX) and will help you identify lost baskets due to subtle technical glitches or slowdowns.
Understanding how your customers behave will form the backbone of your eCommerce strategy. Once you have an understanding of their behavior, tendencies, and preferences, you can use this data to attract more customers. Most analytics tools will also provide you with easy-to-interpret dashboards so you can action changes to maximize your performance.
Some of the top analytics tools you can use:
No eCommerce business would be complete without a sturdy eCommerce platform to support its growth ambitions. eCommerce platforms facilitate the sale of products online between merchants and customers. They have functionalities that range from web hosting, marketing, inventory management, payment processing, and order fulfilment.
In other words, your eCommerce platform brings your products to life and enables you to list online so customers can find them. Your eCommerce platform could take the form of an online marketplace, or it could be your own eCommerce website. Remember, the type of eCommerce platform you select will depend on your business objectives, as well as the solutions you already have in place. This is because some platforms may offer similar functionalities as other tools you already have.
A range of some of the leading eCommerce platforms:
Multichannel listing tools
In the current eCommerce climate, making sure your products get found wherever customers are looking is one of the best ways of maintaining a competitive edge. Multichannel listing tools enable you to take advantage of the growing number of sales channels. Each sales channel essentially has its own search engine. Just like Google, there’ll be certain requirements you need to meet to ensure your products get surfaced in customer searches.
Multichannel listing tools automate the process of gathering all the variations of your product data for multiple channels.
A great example of a multichannel listing tool is Feedonomics. The platform will clean and standardize product data, optimizing it for hundreds of different channels. Think of it as the connective tissue binding your eCommerce business. If you need to optimize product listings for different shopping channels across the globe, this is the platform for you.
The bottom line, multichannel listing tools make it super easy to ensure your business meets all the specific requirements of the different sales channels you’re listing on. So, whether you’re listing on Esty, TikTok, or Amazon, you can serve customers totally accurate and consistent product data.
Here’s a range of multichannel listing tools:
To guarantee the best online experience, you need to ensure the entire process is seamless from start to finish. This includes the payment process, which is why it’s vital to have robust payment processing systems in place. Around 50% of people will abandon a purchase if they can’t access their preferred payment method, so having a variety of options will likely contribute to lower cart abandon rates.
Some eCommerce platforms offer payment processing services, so depending on how your eCommerce tech stack is set up, you might not need to look at other options. However, if this isn’t the case, you need a means of accepting online payments from your customers. Payment processing platforms enable you to accept payments in different currencies and from multiple sources. This will include credit/debit cards, digital wallets, PayPal, and sometimes even cryptocurrencies. There will also be systems in place that will protect your customers’ payment data.
Check out some of these payment processing platforms
Search & Merch (Searchandising)
If you hadn’t guessed, search and merch (‘searchandising’) is the combination of two important aspects of eCommerce: search and merchandising. To expand, ‘search’ refers to when customers use a search bar on an online store.
Merchandising, however, refers to how products are displayed on a product page to attract and engage online shoppers. This includes strategically playing products on the website, to categorizing products so users can easily find them.
Searchandising takes it one step further. Essentially, it involves making it easier for shoppers to find products they want via search criteria you can control. By having more control over what customers see, you can highlight trending products and seasonal items.
Additionally, search and merch tools enhance the search function by providing more relevant results. Furthermore, well-optimized search and merch platforms will suggest alternatives if the desired product isn’t available.
In addition, these platforms are built on algorithms to understand the intent behind customer queries. This way, search and merch platforms suggest intelligent product recommendations. For instance, if a customer is looking at a particular laptop, the platform will suggest a suitable laptop case, and so on.
Ultimately, leveraging searchandising tools is a great way to increase key eCommerce KPIs, such as your conversion rate and Average Order Value (AOV). After all, isn’t that the aim of the game?
Below are some leading search & merch platforms to consider:
Yes, there’s a lot to digest. And yes – subscription fees can soon build up. As we said, your business and visions are unique, so it’s likely your eCommerce tech stack will be too. To add to that, it can be a case of trial and error. Before committing to certain solutions, it’s always good to see if you can test them out with a free trial.
Most importantly, you need to clearly define your objectives, where you want to go, and how long you want it to take. When choosing a platform, you can also consider reaching out to peers in your industry. This will give you an idea of the tools that are most suited to your industry. You can also check out reviews from dedicated software sites like G2, Sourceforge, and Captera.
All in all, there are always going to be tools that have similar functionalities to the other ones you’re looking at. So, it’s well worth researching as it can end up saving you a pretty penny! Building your eCommerce tech stack is the first step in enabling your business to thrive and achieve eCommerce excellence.