What should a perfect online store look like? Generally, anybody can answer this question as this resource needs to be fast, stylish, and comfortable for users, it needs to function perfectly on any device, and so on.

But how do you achieve it? Here, everything depends on the right concept and technology choice. Let’s now discuss how to choose technology for launching an online store wisely.

Where Does eCommerce Start?

Whatever you are trying to sell, eCommerce always starts with a platform, on which your store functions.

But what is an eCommerce platform as such? We refer to any digital eCommerce solution as an “eCommerce platform”. This means that this is a tool that allows for replicating the logic of sales online, which includes placement of the product catalog on the network, processing and payment of the order, delivery of the product, etc.

From the consumer's point of view, such tools look pretty similar, as they consist of some characteristical elements: catalog pages, product cards, and personal accounts. But the main differences are hidden and different platforms use completely different technologies and different eCommerce ideologies.

Generally speaking, now, there are three main kinds of eCommerce platforms: SaaS services, CMS systems, and solutions based on frameworks. Next, we will talk about their advantages and disadvantages.

When Choose SaaS?

The principle of software as a service, or SaaS, refers to the cloud model of a model of providing software by subscription. This means that the software distributor develops it as his own product, builds it, updates it, and supports the platform. The client gets access to the cloud software by paying the tariff plan.

The cloud model did a lot for the development of eCommerce. With its help, online shopping has become really widespread. Also, it is thanks to the cloud model, that any small business can open its own cloud online shop.

Today, SaaS solutions for eCommerce are as popular as never before. Almost everyone has heard about them: they include Shopify, Wix, BigCommerce, Horoshop, and other popular options. These services offer flexible tariff plans, and the ability to start online trading as in "van selling".

SaaS popularity is not something unusual, as this model frees entrepreneurs from the necessity to invest inst in their own online platforms. Service vendor is responsible for everything related to software support, which means, you can just focus on the needs of your business. This is the best solution for small and medium-sized businesses.

However, these convenient aspects have another, negative side: the client of the SaaS service gradually falls into the trap of dependence on others’ technologies. It is impossible to deeply customize someone else's service. In addition, vendors usually reserve the right to change the cost and content of tariff plans at their own discretion, which ultimately hits the customers' pockets.

Advantages and Disadvantages of CMS Solutions

What should a business do, if the owner is dissatisfied with the potential of cloud technologies? The only way is to create your own platform, which means using either a CMS or one of the popular frameworks.

CMSes, or content management systems, are often called "drivers" for creating sites. They emerged as an alternative to building web resources “from scratch” and offer templates, modules, and scripts from which you can build your own platform. eCommerce has a number of well-known drivers: Magento, OpenCart, WooCommerce, etc. 

Unlike SaaS platforms, CMS solutions are usually deployed on separate hosting and give owners much more independence. However, they are still difficult to customize and scale. At the same time, the site owner has to support the store on his own. Therefore, CMS stores are often compromise solutions that have neither the main advantages of SaaS (simplicity, quick start) nor the key advantages of individual development (complete creative freedom, up-to-date technologies).

As experience shows, any successful business sooner or later abandons CMS and comes to the need to create its own unique resource. It is about the development of web frameworks.

When It’s Time to Use Frameworks

Just like CMS systems, frameworks emerged as an assistant so that developers don’t have to build websites from scratch. But unlike CMS, frameworks provide a development environment that only lays out the structure of the product and provides the programmer with all the necessary tools to work with. The backend framework does not offer templates. We are talking about a framework on which developers can implement any ideas. Such development is always in demand. Such eCommerce frameworks as Laravel, Yii, Django, etc. are quite widespread.

Development of a commerce platform requires strong expertise and specialists who know programming languages and libraries well. This means that individual development requires more money and time, and is way more complex. However, the results are worth it.

Frameworks are necessary when a business seeks to establish its status and differentiate itself from competitors with a truly unique online store. In such projects, the advantages of individual development come to the fore. They include:

  • Maximum flexibility and openness to scaling;
  • No limitations in design customization;
  • The ability to choose an actual technological stack at your own discretion;
  • Freedom to build a unique UX with non-standard features;
  • The ability to independently control cyber security and data protection.

Which framework to choose? This is a matter of project parameters and in some cases personal preferences of specialists. In our practice, we prefer Laravel. This popular PHP framework has a number of important advantages:

  1. The framework is being shared for free and is available to any developer, its output code is on GitHub.
  2. The entry threshold for specialists remains low. The documentation is very detailed, and novices can easily find answers to all questions on resources like GitHub and Stack Overflow.
  3. A strong community has formed around the framework, which continues to develop it. Thousands and thousands of packages and libraries are written for Laravel.
  4. Laravel tools allow the product protected from cyberattacks like SQL injections and XSS attacks.
  5. The demand and simplicity make maintaining and developing products on Laravel quite simple. You will never have problems finding specialists with knowledge of this framework.

Our partners at WEZOM have created hundreds of products for eCommerce during 20 years of their work. This is why we asked them what the scenario of such a project might look like. They mentioned one of their recent cases as an example. They developed a new eCommerce site for the top Ukrainian lingerie manufacturer Anabel Arto.

The client made a decision to update the platform, abandoning a popular CMS option in favor of individual development. The new solution provided by WEZOM was created on Laravel, and it was its distinctive feature. Laravel is a modern and stylish platform that helped the client to improve brand positioning, and, as a result, sales increased.

How the Technology Stack Is Chosen

In simple words, the technology stack is the entire set of development tools and tools: architectural patterns, programming languages, frameworks, CMS, etc. When it comes to custom development, the right choice of technology is crucial. A successful stack will ensure that your site benefits your business and stays relevant for a very long time. The wrong stack of technologies will lead the project to a dead end - to the point that the development will have to be started anew.

Professional teams choose a stack based on project parameters:

  1. The concept of the product (resource purpose, client's industry, and market, etc.);
  2. The scale of development (from small test MVPs to large corporate solutions with huge traffic);
  3. The complexity of functionality (from elementary "digital business cards" and landing pages to completely unique solutions);
  4. Deadlines (when exactly does the client need the finished product?)

The optimal technology stack is defined considering these factors. If the product is needed urgently, a CMS would be the best solution. If the creation of an MVP is a higher priority for the client, then, a web framework would be better. This is why the technology stack for eCommerce can look like this:

  • Laravel. The WEZOM team's favorite web framework, which we already talked about above. It is based on the MVC architectural model.
  • WS Server (Swoole engine). Technology for exchanging data between the client and the server in real-time.
  • RESTful API or GraphQL. These are architectural approaches and tools for building APIs that define the connections between the frontend and the back end. GraphQL is usually chosen for larger and more complex projects.
  • Block and integration testing (Unit testing, Integration Testing). In block testing, the product module is tested separately, in isolation. In the case of integration, a group of interacting modules is tested.
  • PostgreSQL, MySQL. These are relational database management systems. They store data in tables that are linked by common column values.
  • Git. A popular distributed version control system that helps build product collaboration.
  • Elasticsearch. A search and analytical engine used to organize "smart" full-text search. Provides horizontally scalable search and multithreading.
  • RabbitMQ. An open source message broker that is distributed and horizontally scalable.
  • Docker. A software platform for rapid development, testing and deployment of applications.

Does the technology stack affect the key performance indicators of an online store? Definitely. As an example, the speed and stability of the resource under load depends on the quality of the backend - that is, on the choice of framework and product architecture. 

Engines like Elasticsearch directly affect the user experience, because they provide fast and correct text search with hints in product catalogs. The uniqueness of the design, unusual features for UX, resistance to cyber threats - all these characteristics of an eCommerce resource also depend on the correct choice and correct application of technologies.

So What Technologies Should You Choose for eCommerce?

You can choose any eCommerce technologies – provided that they meet all the requirements of your business and guarantee the creation of a really useful product with a long life cycle. It should never be forgotten that the effectiveness of any tools directly depends on the "direct hands" of the specialists who use them. Therefore, the most crucial thing is to entrust the project to an experienced and responsible team that can offer both optimal development technologies and create a design that matches the capabilities of the chosen technology for fast and seamless implementation of all UX/UI solutions.

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