A Quick Guide To Choosing The Right eCommerce Technology Stack
In 2021, retail eCommerce sales amounted to a whopping 5.2 trillion dollars globally! There is no denying the fact that eCommerce is the future of retail and the sooner you enter the market, the sooner you can carve a space for your business in this ever-competitive industry.
One of the most influential factors in the success of an online store is the technology stack that goes into building it. The performance of your eCommerce application, the features, the ease of upgrading the application or scaling it in the future — all of these are determined by the eCommerce technology stack you choose to develop your online store.
In this blog post, we take you through the various elements of an eCommerce tech stack and guide you in choosing the best one for your business.
Let’s get started!
What is an eCommerce tech stack?
An eCommerce tech stack is a collection of programming languages, software tools, and digital platforms that online store owners use to run their businesses. All these tools work together to optimize daily tasks across different channels, such as customer service, order fulfillment, returns, payment processing, etc.
The components of an eCommerce tech stack are divided into two categories:
1. The front-end (client-side) tech stack
2. The backend (server-side) tech stack
The frontend or client-side is what users see when they visit your website or mobile app. This is part of the application that shoppers interact with directly and includes features, such as fonts, colors, image sliders, shopping carts, drop-down menus, etc.
The three major technologies used for eCommerce frontend development are:
- HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language): Used for creating a structure for the content displayed on the screen
- CSS (Cascading Style Sheets): Used for designing the elements of the content like font, colors, layouts, etc.
As the name suggests, the backend is part of an application that works behind the scenes and is not visible to the end users. The backend provides business logic to an application and facilitates interaction between various components, thereby making the software live and available to the end users.
There is a lot going on in the backend all the time and so, it consists of several technologies including:
The first choice of your tech stack has to be about the operating system for which you want to build your eCommerce store. There are four commonly used operating systems globally:
- macOS and iOS
- Linux OS
Of these, Android and Windows dominate the market while MacOS and iOS are yet to catch up.
Programming languages and frameworks
As we mentioned earlier, the backend powers an eCommerce store with business logic. A programming language is what creates that logic.
There are a number of programming languages in the ecosystem that you can choose to build the application backend. The following are some of the common languages (Along with their frameworks) used to develop eCommerce web applications:
- Ruby with Ruby on Rails framework
- Python with Django and Flask frameworks
- PHP with Laravel and CodeIgnitor frameworks
- Scala with Play framework
Each language comes with its own pros and cons. It’s recommended to consult an expert development partner while choosing a programming language and a framework for the backend development of your application.
Web Server: It’s where the application is hosted. Servers are responsible for receiving and processing client requests as well as sending back the requested output to the client. Apache and Nginx are two popular open-source web servers that are also free of cost to use.
Databases: This is an essential part of the backend ecosystem. A database is where the entire data of an application and its users is stored. MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, Firebase database by Google, and DynamoDB by Amazon are top and widely-used databases.
AWS S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Solution): It offers scalability, performance, security, and industry-leading data availability to eCommerce applications.
Popular tech stacks for eCommerce development
At this point, you may be confused about what technologies to use for your eCommerce store, out of so many options! If you are building a web app for the first time, it’s best to go with tried and tested eCommerce tech stacks that are known to support online stores efficiently.
Let’s look at some of the most popular eCommerce technology stacks.
1. MEAN stack
The MEAN stack is an acronym for MongoDB, Express.js, Angular, and Node.js. This technology stack is widely by businesses for building large-scale eCommerce applications.
The MEAN stack provides extraordinary performance, especially when your site requires speed and scalability.
Another tech stack, MERN, is also quite popular. The only way MERN differs from MEAN is that the former uses Reactjs, instead of Angular.
2. .Net stack
It is Microsoft’s proprietary tech stack, which was developed in the early 2000s. It includes technologies such as:
- Operating system: Windows
- Framework: ASP.NET
- Web server: Microsoft SQL
- Database management: Various
This Microsoft tech stack has been used by eCommerce businesses for over a decade now. With its evolving frameworks, massive ecosystem, and a large pool of talented developers, the .NET stack is one of the best choices for building a secure, comprehensive online store.
3. LAMP stack
LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. This tech stack is can help you build your store in a much shorter time, compared to other stacks like MEAN and .NET. However, it comes with two drawbacks, such as not being scalable and low performance.
The biggest advantage of using the LAMP stack is its secure architecture and well-established encryption practices.
As its name suggests, this tech stack is based on python language and uses the Django framework for backend development. The Django framework is used with Python to ensure reliable performance and high security in an eCommerce website.
With the inclusion of Apache and MySQL, this tech stack is an ideal choice for building a quick MVP for your eCommerce store.
3 tips to build a sustainable tech stack for your eCommerce store
Despite the above well-tested popular stacks, there is no one size that fits all when it comes to eCommerce development. Here are some factors to consider while choosing the technologies to use in your eCommerce app:
1. Opt for headless commerce solutions
Headless commerce is a modern approach that allows companies to become more flexible and agile. It separates the front end and the back end of eCommerce applications, unlike the traditional eCommerce app development approach.
In traditional eCommerce sites, back-end functionalities are connected to the frontend framework. This means that if there is any change done to the back end, then it has to be dealt with on the frontend too. Here are the reasons to shift to a headless commerce approach:
- Reach customers on emerging touchpoints
- Improve the digital experience on existing mobile and web applications
- Enhance the process workflows and eliminate downtime
- Offer omnichannel experience
2. Include scalable technologies
Scalability is essential while developing eCommerce web apps because it increases the capacity to deal with a surge in web traffic and order fulfillment. Scalable eCommerce applications help in minimizing downtime and ensure great customer experience. Therefore, it is vital that you include technologies that offer scalability in your eCommerce tech stack.
For example, React for eCommerce is an excellent choice since it provides easy maintainability and scalability to the frontend of your web app. One of the greatest benefits of choosing React is you can start small and add extra and more powerful tools whenever you need them.
3. Avoid plugin overload
Some website platforms like WordPress use several plugins for the optimization of web pages and functionalities. Sometimes, these plugins slow down the speed of the website and that can affect the shopping experience of your customers.
Instead of implementing several plugins for different functionalities in your site, use a platform that includes several features in one. eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are designed to optimize online stores with the right APIs, apps, and direct integrations.
The technology stacks of top eCommerce tech giants
One of the world’s largest eCommerce platforms, Amazon started by selling books but gradually expanded to sell electronic gadgets, furniture, clothing, accessories, and much more.
The technologies used in the Amazon app tech stack are React, Java, MySQL, Amazon EC2, Redux, Amazon SQS, Perl, etc. For more information, you can check Amazon’s complete tech stack here.
Walmart, an American multinational retail corporation, operates a chain of discount department stores and grocery stores in the United States. It operates in 24 countries. It has 10,526 clubs and operates under 48 different names.
Python, Node.js, React, Java, MySQL, AngularJS, Ruby, etc., are the major technologies used in the Walmart eCommerce application. Find more about the tech stack here.
An American company, Etsy focuses on vintage and handmade items. It sells bags, jewelry, clothing, etc. This eCommerce tech giant had 4.32 million active sellers with a revenue of $2.47 billion in 2022. Below, you can check the tech stack of Etsy:
For further information about the tech stack, you can check here.
The choice of the technology stack can make or break your eCommerce store. Therefore, while choosing one, get a detailed understanding of how the frontend and the back end of an app work. Evaluate various technologies available for building the application thoroughly and then choose the ones that serve your business goals the best.
We strongly recommend consulting an eCommerce development company to build the right stack for your business and ensure continued growth.