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Best ecommerce tech stack in 2020

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Wojtek Kulikowski

Following article is the most up to date guide to choosing an ecommerce solution for running your business. Throughout the article we will try to answer following questions:

      πŸ‘‰ What is the best way to transform a brick and mortar store into an ecommerce business?
      πŸ‘‰ What technologies should I use to attract the most customers?
      πŸ‘‰ How a modern tech stack could be your advantage over your competitors?

But first, who are we?

My name is Wojtek and I am a co founder of Self Made, a software development agency specialised in software automation, ecommerce and digital transformation. If you want to know more about any of those subjects, say hi atΒ contact@selfmade.dev!

Let's go!

Can everybody sell on Amazon?

Amazon took the ecommerce world by the storm. Not only they offer a range of their products, but also allow others to sell through their platform. While their value proposition to a seller is extremely high β€” they offer best product discovery, easy setups and unbeaten product shipment β€” selling on Amazon has its drawbacks as well. You don't have much control over your brand, your products will not be available in countries that Amazon doesn't support.

For reasons above, selling on Amazon will suit people relying on their discovery and fulfillment (Amazon FBA). However, if you're building a strong brand and people usually want to buy your products from other channels (like YouTube channel or an Instagram page) you should definitely invest in your own platform.

Customer facing solutions

When talking about the storefront of our digital business we usually should optimise for following metrics: conversion rate & latency.

Conversion rate

Conversion rate is simply calculated as the number of visitors divided by the number of sales. What makes you buy something from a website? It should be easy, accessible and as seamless as possible. When building a your online store you should always put the most relevant products at the top, give them nice big buttons and make the checkout work byt the first time.

While these are the low-hanging necessities, optimising your conversion rate will be much more complex. In particular, you should consider implementing those tools:

      πŸ‘‰ A/B testing (eg. Google Optimize) β€” running the google script on your website will allow you to experiment with different versions on live audience. Then, after a proper trial, Google will tell you which version performed better and wether the test is reliable
      πŸ‘‰ Live chat (eg. Intercom or Smarstupp) β€” people be indecisive, especially when making bigger purchases. Will this sofa fit my room? Maybe I should watch it in person. Where can I find the sizes? These are questions that customer ask themselves and they could ask you if your store had a connected chat! Trust is unbeaten in ecommerce
      πŸ‘‰ UX audits β€” while this one is not a tool as such, you should definitely ask an expert if your shop theme is easy to use and trustworthy by your customers. The devil is in the detail and you don't want to miss critical mistakes that pass under your eye.

Honourable mention β€” one of the most interesting developments in this space is Fast Checkout. They launch on September 2nd and promise to deliver one-click payments to any ecommerce website. Once they do, you probably should check them out.

Latency

Latency is the time between when user requests the content and when they actually get it. With more and more demanding internet customer base, low latency is proven to be essential for a great conversion rate. Studies performed by Amazon & Google show that even small numbers, like a 100ms increase in latency can cause massive sales losses. How to get the faster websites in 2020?

Static site generation

On older devices, painting the page with bloated JavaScript can take ages. With SSG, the content will be generated on the build phase before even exposing it to the world. This way, parts of your store that are the same to any customer entering your site can be sped up significantly. For example, the homepage usually looks the same for everybody. And as this is the most important part of your sales funnel, it should be loaded instantly with SSG. Our framework of choice for implementing SSG is Next.js.

Content delivery networks

Have your store ever gone viral? If no, you probably want it too. However, your Wordpress site doesn't like that β€” to handle all the new traffic you would have to add new servers, balance the traffic between them, and when the traffic slows down β€” remove the servers to avoid additional costs. This is not effective.

With CDNs like Cloudflare or Vercel you don't have to worry about the increasing traffic. Instead of serving the content by yourself, you delegate that to a company that is solving all the scaling problems for you.

With an addition of some great CMS like Contentful or Sanity you will need backend only for payments or and your custom features. No need to pay for just visitors!

Backend solutions

Ok, so we know how to deliver the best experience to our users. What about the boring stuff like payments, shipping or confirmation emails? These are your possible solutions:

Shopify

Right now, Shopify is the largest independent ecommerce solution out there. They will provide you with their own orders, shipping & payments management tools. If you want, you can use Shopify as a backend only, especially when you need some custom user experience. However, if you're short on resources, Shopify themes will be your friends as well.

WooCommerce / BigCommerce

Similar to Shopify, both Woo- and BigCommerce will power your selling shop, but you will find much less support for both of them on the internet. Shopify is currently the most reliable.

Custom backend

While you obviously can build your own backend for the ecommerce store, please keep in mind, that you should only do that if all of the above solutions clearly lack the necessary features. Building a backend like that will not only be complicated but will also force you to deal with occasional technical bugs and stuff that is not related to your business.

Summary

Being present online is a must for any brand in 2020 & it has never been easier to do it. However, if anyone can do it, the market becomes even more competitive. Lucky, you now know how to win against your market rivals using technology! If you'd like to know more, please feel free to reach out through an email or DMs, we may be able to help you πŸ˜‰