Choosing a Technology Stack for E-commerce Websites
eCommerce Oct 05, 2018
Main / Blog / Choosing a Technology Stack for E-commerce Websites
Thanks to e-commerce software, retailers can sell services and products online. In terms of e-commerce development, there are a lot of options to choose from. On the basis of business needs, retailers can use existing e-commerce tools and technology or hire an e-commerce development team to develop a custom solution from scratch. Still, how do you find the best technology for an e-commerce website?
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In this article, you will learn about:
- What the choice of e-commerce technologies depends on
- A tech stack for e-commerce development
- Modern e-commerce platforms
- The main features of e-commerce platforms to choose from
Let's get started!
What does the choice of e-commerce technologies depend on?
The main differences between an online shop and an ordinary website are the shopping cart and payment gateway features. This could be achieved in different ways by applying different technologies.
Depending on your budget and business needs, you can choose from:
- Shopping cart software
- E-commerce software
- Custom e-commerce platform development
Let's have a closer look at the differences between these solutions and factors to consider when looking for the best one for your business.
At the first glance, e-commerce software and shopping cart software are similar. They both empower e-commerce website with necessary functions. However, they are still very different.
Shopping cart software is the best option if you already have a website and want to add a product catalog and process payments. Such solutions include extensions and plugins for websites. In addition, shopping cart software provides limited merchant tools, payment gateways and a virtual storefront. Still, depending on the software and website, some customization may be possible.
The price of such extensions varies from free options to $500, depending on the feature list and e-commerce shop size. You can choose this option if you have a very limited timeline and budget and you do not plan to scale your business in the future. Remember that such software does not support responsive design, so you lose your potential mobile traffic.
E-commerce software provides users with an all in one, full-featured solution. Depending on the type of platform, it could include hosting, payment processing, marketing tools, security, design and merchant tools. You can build a professional e-commerce website using one of multiple platforms and CMS to give your customers a great user experience.
To be specific, an attractive storefront and convenient customer journey are key factors for driving conversions. In addition, there are many responsive themes available for the most of the existing e-commerce platforms, so your potential customers could enjoy mobile shopping.
Online shops made on existing e-commerce platforms are great for small and medium businesses, with light or medium traffic.
The cost of such e-commerce technology solutions starts at $29 per month. However, if you want advanced features, custom modules, and personalized e-commerce design, be ready to pay an additional fee.
Custom e-commerce development is the most expensive and time-consuming option. However, it gives online retailers many advantages. With the custom online shop, you can add any functionality since the pre-built framework does not limit you. You are free to decide the way your customers will find the products, add items to their shopping cart and make a checkout. You also have total control of your online shop storefront, so you can customize it for your market segment.
This type of development suits big companies with a large product catalog and high traffic. In addition, custom e-commerce development is popular for creating two-sided marketplaces, like Amazon and eBay.
You can integrate your online shop with any payment solution and CRM.
However, for that type of e-commerce development, you will need the help from an e-commerce development agency that will create the website from scratch. In addition, you should have a clear vision of your future project including the functionality of your admin panel, online shop architecture and the customer journey.
The price of a custom e-commerce website varies from $30,500 to $422,000+.
A tech stack for any e-commerce store
Let’s dive into the e-commerce website technology stack.
Front-end e-commerce technologies
The front end is what your website visitors see when they use your online shop. If the product page loads for too long, your customers would leave the online shop without making a purchase. The optimal loading speed of an online shop is 2.5 seconds. If your online shop does not provide this result, you will lose profit. The website loading speed is also a ranking factor for searching engines.
Responsive design is another important requirement for front-end development. In 2017, mobile e-commerce sales accounted for 34.5% of total e-commerce sales. To receive orders from mobile device users, your online shop must have a responsive design.
Back-end e-commerce technologies
Back-end technologies are very complex. Still, without the skeleton, an e-commerce website would not work well. The back-end of an online shop is responsible for order management, adding products to the catalog, SEO settings, editing of website pages, online shop scaling, payments, and user registration. If the back-end is built with errors, the whole e-commerce website will not function.
The most popular programming languages used to develop back-end include PHP, Ruby, Java, and Python.
Often an e-commerce website requires additional tools to meet business needs. For that, e-commerce developers integrate third-party services to the online store code. The most popular integrations are:
- Payment gateways
- Analytics tools
- Shipping modules
- Social networks
- Multi-vendor stores such as eBay and Amazon
Such integration as alternative payment methods might be very handy to make the customer experience even more convenient and increase your conversion rate.
Here are some of them:
|Description||Stripe is an E-commerce payment gateway that is known for its security features. During a transaction, the system receives payment information and processes it with its secure server, avoiding a store’s internal data.||Authorize.Net has been providing its services for over 20 years. This is a classic payment gateway that handles transactions between your web resources and your customers. Authorize.Net offers both traditional gateway and all-in-one options.||PayPal can be called the best payment gateway among top providers. It appeared in the late 90’s and is still a powerful instrument for performing transactions. More than 165 million users entrust PayPal with their money and make purchases online using this service.||Braintree was launched in 2010 and, since that time, it has become a competitive player among top payment solutions for online stores. Braintree accepts payments from Venmo, Coinbase, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal.|
Analytics tools show important business metrics, such as conversion rate, CLV, bounce rate, shopping cart abandon rate and others.
The examples of analytic tools are:
|Description||Kissmetrics is a comprehensive analytics tool that helps you with advanced reporting for your website. It drills down to an individual level rather than identifying the broad aspects on your website. It enables you to answer important questions like the number of times a customer has checked your site or visited your product page. If your focus is on remarketing and want to identify the channels bringing in the highest ROI, KissMetrics is the analytics tool you must invest your time and resources.||Pickwick is an open source option for your eCommerce website, now renamed as Matomo. It is directly installed on your server, instead of being hosted remotely. Pickwick empowers eCommerce sellers to be in control of their sites.||For an eCommerce business to be successful, it is a must that no decisions are made based on mere assumptions. Hotjar is one tool that is extremely valuable to modern online merchants and helps in improving the on click-through and conversion rates of their websites. With Hotjar you can view heatmaps of your website along with real-time recordings of your visitors.||There’s one thing that every eCommerce entrepreneur wants- customers spend money instead of bouncing. And the best analytics tools make sure that this dream does turn to reality. Woopra is one such advanced analytics tool that targets abandoned carts. It might be something related to your pricing or more number of steps during the checkout process, Woopra can help you identify everything.|
|Cost||Customized pricing based on a user's needs||$500.00/month||From
€89 / month to €589 / month
|From $79.95 /month to $1,199.95 /month|
Shipping modules are important for online retailers because they inform customers about the shipping cost and delivery time of their orders.
Below we share some examples:
|Description||ShippingEasy lives up to its name by providing a user-friendly, web-based shipping solution that’s perfect for small to medium-sized businesses.ShippingEasy integrates with most major eCommerce software platforms. The dashboard includes shortcuts to various reporting options.||Easy to set up and use, Shippo offers the features and functionality most small businesses are looking for in a web-based shipping platform.||Primarily an inventory management platform, Sellbrite is designed for small to medium-sized companies. It covers orders, products, channel analytics, and inventory. While shipping management is not a primary feature of Sellbrite, it does offer integration with ShipStation and Amazon.||ShipStation is a competitively-priced, web-based platform that’s fairly intuitive to use, though some of its features have a steeper learning curve than you might expect. It integrates with nearly every other platform you might want to link it to, and if it doesn’t, you can use their custom integration features.|
|Price||It’s free if you ship 50 or fewer orders per month, with pricing tiers ranging from $29 per month for a maximum of 500 monthly orders; to $149 for the unlimited enterprise plan.||It allows merchants who ship up to 200 orders per month to opt out of monthly fees, and pay only five cents plus postage for every order shipped. Higher-volume merchants will have to subscribe to their Professional plan, which caps out at $125 per month for up to 5,000 shipments.||Pricing ranges from $49 to $399 per month.||Plan prices range from $9 per month for up to 50 orders, to $159 per month for unlimited shipping.|
CRM is another popular integration, especially if an online shop has many customers. The customer relationship management system helps online shop managers to collect customer data such as name, email, telephone number, history of purchases, etc. Such integration is useful in analyzing customer behavior on the basis of previous purchases.
The most popular CRM integrations among our customers are:
- Microsoft Dynamics
|Description||Salesforce CRM is a software app that lets you track all customer information and interactions in one location to follow more leads.||Zoho CRM is the winner of our 2017 Expert's Choice Award. It enables you to track opportunities, forecast sales, efficiently manage contacts, and much more||InfoFlo is a software tool that lets you fully integrate and manage contacts and improve business relationships by efficiently tracking leads and creating a sales process.||HubSpot CRM is the winner of our 2018 Best CRM Award. It is a free CRM platform that offers a powerful set of tools that can transform the way your team works.|
|Price||From $25/month to $300/month||From $18/month to $100/month||From $99.00/user to $79.99/month||
Integration of an online shop with multi-vendor marketplaces, like eBay and Amazon, helps online retailers to increase conversions and sales channels. Below we share some popular tools:
|Description||Sellbrite, a leading multi-channel platform for Magento merchants, helps you build, manage and grow your multi-channel ecommerce business and increase sales.||Allows automate your online business so you can focus on selling more products, not manual data entry. See how nChannel integrates popular eCommerce systems like Magento, Shopify, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce and more.|
|Price||Starts at just $200/m for up to 300 orders per month.||From $350.00/month|
Modern e-commerce platforms
Now it is time to determine what an e-commerce platform is.
In most cases, a platform for online retail combines both front-end and back-end technologies to provide users with a working tool to gain profit in online retail.
What business owners can expect from an e-commerce platform:
- The system that helps set up and maintains the website to sell goods online.
- Integration with third-party apps for advanced SEO, marketing, multichannel retail, merchandising, order management, and client relationship management.
- The convenient and short customer journey to drive conversions. Often e-commerce platforms also include centralized order management and a single view of inventory across sales channels.
- For exceeding customer expectations and differentiating your brand, a modern e-commerce platform should include personalized customer experience and responsive website design.
- Flexibility to scale your online business. Most online retailers enjoy using particular platforms for their online stores because of the agility since it can be useful for business growth.
Finding the best technology to build an e-commerce website for your business is very important since it can provide your company with significant advantages over your competitors.
What e-commerce platforms does Dinarys offer and what is the difference between them?
When the new client is hiring us for e-commerce development, there are many things to take into account from the very beginning such as the business size, the number of items, the industry, the expected amount of traffic and more. Our approach is that modern online technologies should solve particular business issues. After we have analyzed the business, we offer hosted or self-hosted solutions. Below we will share the difference between them and give you a short description of the particular platforms we are working with.
Hosted e-commerce platforms
Hosted e-commerce platforms mean that the e-commerce platform hosts your online store on its server. Moreover, hosted e-commerce platforms offer not only hosting but also technical support and shopping cart functions.
In most cases, for using such technology to build an e-commerce website, you should pay a monthly fee based on your online shop size and the number of financial transactions.
A hosted e-commerce platform would be a great solution for beginners in online retail because it is simple to manage. Still, online retailers should fill product details, add items and customize the website for their needs.
Our clients often hire us to make all the changes for them. However, such platforms have a lower technical barrier to entry, so anyone could create an online store.
This e-commerce platform is known for its user-friendly admin panel. Still, it has some downsides, as any hosted e-commerce platform. Users have very little space for customization. It means that if you want to provide shoppers with a unique shopping experience, you should consider an open source solution.
Shopify allows retailers to add many useful features with the integration of add-ons. To add a new feature to your online shop, you can use one of tons of paid or free apps and install it to your website.
The cost of using Shopify starts at $29 per month + $2.9 +30% fee for using default payment gateway. If you want a custom theme or design and integration of many add-ons, the cost will be higher.
This is one more popular hosted e-commerce platform. The platform allows even beginners to create and launch an online store. However, it allows even fewer customization opportunities than Shopify.
Still, to give your online shop a more personalized look, you can buy a paid theme.
The platform has a convenient and simple admin panel and basic built-in e-commerce functionality.
The cost of using BigCommerce starts from $29.95 per month + 1.5% transaction fee. The platform also has a credit card processing fee.
Self-hosted e-commerce platforms
This means that the platforms give customers only software without web hosting. The list of self-hosted platforms includes a variety of open-source solutions. We can compare them with buying and installing a WordPress website. In the end, you receive not a single blog, but a platform for your future online shop with endless opportunities for scaling and customization.
Self-hosted platforms suit technical savvy online retailers or businesses with the budget for hiring an e-commerce team. They are well documented and users can change the website look and functions according to their business needs. For additional features, website owners can integrate their existing store with additional modules or develop a custom module or plug-in with help from developers.
Users have total control of self-hosted website not only in terms of personalization. You can choose the hosting service you like and then if needed, move the online shop to another server easily.
This is a leading platform, which is popular among medium and big companies. The platform gives users total control over the functionality and design giving users a unique experience. Still, to use Magento, you should have at least a basic knowledge in web development.
Technically, this is a plug-in for WordPress websites with e-commerce functions. So if you want to turn your blog into an online shop, consider this option.
It also allows ultimate customizability. For changing the functionality and adding product filters, you can hire any WordPress developer.
WooCommerce has many useful add-ons and extensions for increasing sales in an online shop and for improved marketing activities.
If your business needs something custom, you can easily find a qualified developer or hire an e-commerce team to develop it from scratch and to carry out the testing.
Main factors in choosing the e-commerce solution
Type of project
The type and size of a project are the main factors we ask our customers about when they hire us for e-commerce development as the type of project will determine the whole tech stack of an online shop.
If the retailer has less than 500 items for sale and a limited timeline, we offer online shop development applying an existing solution like CMS or WordPress, especially if the customer wants to receive a working prototype within a strict timeline. In such cases, the developer tech stack should include:
- PHP, nginx for WordPress plug-in,
- nginx, MySQL, Ruby for Shopify
- PHP, nginx, Sass for BigCommerce
In this case, we would apply a different compilation of technologies. When the customer wants to develop an online shop for about 500 items for sale, high traffic and custom features, we offer open-source solutions, like Magento. In this case, the tech stack would include
- Apache, nginx, PHP and MySQL for Magento
- Nginx, Bootstrap, jQuery UI for Prestashop
- PHP, HTML/CSS, MySQL, DHTML for OpenCart.
Big and complex projects
If you are going to invest in custom two-sided platform development, a social network or an online shop of enterprise size with many integrations and custom features, this would require different technology stack.
- PHP (5.5 and 5.6), HTML5, JQuery, RequireJS for Magento Enterprise
Now you know how technology stack for ecommerce website development varies depending on the project size and the business goals.
The budget for e-commerce development
When planning the budget for your future online shop, you should consider such factors as timeframe, available resources and future maintenance.
In addition, think about in-house resources for setting and maintaining the online shop. If your business does not have any IT specialists, consider the cost of hiring an e-commerce team for initial settings and further technical support.
However, there are many other factors that will influence your future budget, such as:
- Domain name
- Hosting service
- SSL certificate
- The feature list
- The design
- And other components of the e-commerce website.
If you want to use an e-commerce platform, below you will find the cost estimation for both hosted and self-hosted solutions.
Cost to develop a Shopify online store
The platform has three pricing plans, from $29, $79 and $299 per month. But remember that in the first 12 months you will spend around $600 for the design, software applications and add-ons. The theme could cost between $100 and $200. Depending on the features your business needs, apps and add-ons could be free or cost around $600 each. The additional cost is the work of an e-commerce development agency, which may vary depending on experience and location.
So, the cost of a simple online shop on Shopify: from $2000 to $5000.
The price on mid-size and big e-commerce projects would be higher: $20.000 - $50.000
Cost to develop a BigCommerce online store
This hosted platform offers also three pricing plans: $29.95, $79.95 and $249.95 per month. The default feature list could be enough for the first time. But if you will decide to improve your website, consider that the price on BigCommerce apps varies from free - $150.000.
Cost to develop a Magento online store
While Magento Community edition is free, expect to pay for the domain, hosting and the features you will decide to integrate into your online shop.
If you decide to hire a Magento developer, consider that this will cost from $5 to $50 per hour.
If you are going to create a complex website on this platform, take into account that Magento 2 Enterprise Edition license cost starts at $22,000.00. Still, Magento 2 Enterprise Edition is the most popular technology stack used by big e-commerce companies.
So, depending on your project size, expect to pay:
Anywhere from $1500 for a small online shop with very basic features to $100,000 for a complex e-commerce website.
The cost to develop a WooCommerce online store
The price for developing the online shop on this free and open-source platform consists of several components. At the beginning, users should buy a domain name for $10, the theme, which could be free or paid (around $50), hosting services for $350 per year, SSL certificate $50 per year, security features for $300 per year and additional extensions for $200 (depending on your business needs)
But remember that an open-source platform requires help from the developer. So, the total could vary: from $1000 to $3000.
|Basic online store development cost||From $2000 to $5000||From free||From $1500||From $1000|
|Advanced online store development cost||From $20.000 to $50.000||To $150.000||To $100,000||To $3000|
Basic and advanced features of e-commerce platforms
When it comes to e-commerce website features, we pay the highest attention to the business needs of our customers. If we have decided on the e-commerce platform for the future project, but the client needs additional features, most often, we offer existing extensions and modules to meet the business needs.
In some cases, we develop custom modules for some particular business requirements.
Below you will find the list of default features of an online shop.
- Shopping cart
- Payment gateway
- Product catalog
- Customer profile
- Order management
All e-commerce platforms have such features, but when your online business has grown, you might need more advanced e-commerce tools and technology such as:
- CRM integration
- Multi channel plugins
- Social sharing buttons
- Email marketing
- Related items section
- On-site search
- Online chat
- Products reviews
- Loyalty program
There are many modules and plugins with the following functionality but the price may vary depending on the e-commerce platform.
The most successful online stores often include many other useful functions, including:
- Abandoned cart recovery
- Suggested search results
- Animated shopping cart
- Product customization
- Video product demo
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Social proof
- 360 degrees product view
- Personal discount
What e-commerce platform is popular among successful online stores?
Successful online stores, apart from multi-vendor marketplaces, often belong to developed brands and companies. The most important thing for such businesses is to tell the online shop visitors about the company values and to attract the target audience with visual elements. Custom features are also popular among successful online shops.
By analyzing the following requirements we can state, that the most common platform among successful online shops is Magento. It is the most flexible solution among other e-commerce technology platforms. Moreover, Magento is popular among famous brands. For instance, such brands, as Nike, Ford, Coca-Cola, Christian Louboutin, Nestle Nespresso, Paul Smith, O’Neills and Lee Jeans made Magento the platform of choice because of its high customization and flexibility.
Online retailers could use many technologies for their online shop success.
Still, we believe that the tech stack is not as important as business needs and goals. When developing an e-commerce website, try to concentrate on what your business is and what you want it to look like several years after.
This will determine your future e-commerce platform together with a feature list and custom development.
If you have any questions concerning current trends in e-commerce technology stack, or you have an idea about your future project, do not hesitate to fill in the form and our team will contact you.
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