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How To Build The Enterprise Tech Stack That’s Right For You (2024)

How To Build The Enterprise Tech Stack That’s Right For You (2024)

These days, tech leaders are expected to pull off a huge balancing act. Getting customers to stick around means building a great buying experience, but this often means spending a ton on tech costs. 

Increasing profits while managing expenses is a tale as old as time, but the rise of ecommerce the past couple years has pushed this challenge into hyperdrive. Ecommerce isn’t an added bonus to your enterprise anymore—it’s a bare minimum, and there’s real pressure to attain levels of speed and simplicity that will make user experience feel futuristic. Without, of course, breaking the bank. 

All this makes picking the right tech stack to build around absolutely vital.

Recently, IDC surveyed 1,000 execs from the world’s largest retailers and got the lowdown on how they’re approaching the tech stack puzzle. Twenty-seven percent are fully headless and modular, using a mix of modules and apps from different vendors. Twenty-nine percent use a full-stack platform, an all-in-one solution. And 45% utilize a composable front-end and a full-stack back end—the ideal blend.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the tech stack options in the marketplace, evaluating them to suit your needs, and ultimately, helping you choose the approach that’s right for you. 

What are enterprise tech stack options? 

An enterprise tech stack is the ecosystem of software solutions that support the different workflows running in an ecommerce website or online store. In designing the right tech stack for your business, there are several approaches to choose from. We’ve outlined them here: 

  • Monolithic systems are built off of a traditional model for building software that’s self-contained. The front- and back-end experiences of your ecommerce storefront operate off of the same code base, which allows new or emerging retailers to spin up an ecommerce storefront quickly. However, the shared resources and workflows in a monolithic architecture make it difficult to scale and create more custom online shopping experiences.

  • Headless commerce is an ecommerce architecture that separates the front-end layer from back-end operations, which communicate with each other through an API layer. This decoupling gives retailers more flexibility to create a variety of front-end experiences across different customer touchpoints, while also creating more freedom on the back-end to use the services that meet your business’s unique needs.

  • Modular commerce is often confused with headless commerce, but it can offer an even greater level of flexibility. This approach allows developers to use their preferred best-of-breed tools, rather than using prepackaged solutions that need to be manually configured to work together. As a result, modular commerce lets developers swap components out on an as-needed basis.

  • Microservices architecture decouples every facet of an application into loosely coupled and independently deployable components and services. While this approach gives retailers the most flexibility out of all the options we’ve discussed, many businesses run into more obstacles after rolling out a microservices-based solution than anticipated.

What are the benefits of enterprise tech stack options? 

Each tech stack approach comes with its pros and cons. What’s right for your business will have to do with how far along you are in your digital journey and where you’re looking to go. 

  • Full-stack commerce platforms offer comprehensive, all-in-one solutions. Their top benefits are that they’re cost-effective and easy to use; they’re suitable even for companies with basic digital commerce requirements. 

  • However, as enterprise commerce expands, more advanced omnichannel models offer companies greater scalability and more room for innovation. In fact, 91% of companies currently using full-stack are moving to a blended SaaS commerce platform. The blended approach—a full-stack back end and composable front end—can be optimal for some companies. This mix of preintegrated modules and optionally selected applications provides cost effectiveness, improved customer experience, and faster time to market.   

  • Finally, fully headless and modular platforms may be the best bet for digitally mature companies with a more developed omnichannel mix and stronger in-house IT (74% of companies currently using blended SaaS commerce are moving to this approach). This mix of modules and applications from different vendors provides more advanced features, better integration with existing systems, and enhanced security and compliance. 

Is there a best enterprise tech stack option?

No. The “best” option depends on the needs of every unique business. Whatever the case, a business needs a SaaS software provider that supports optionality and can grow with it. According to our recent IDC study of SaaS commerce platforms, 67% of companies are changing or are planning to change their current commerce platform architecture. 

With Shopify, your company can replatform for the final time. Shopify provides the freedom to innovate with the world’s most flexible and scaled commerce platform. You can grow your business on a full platform solution with Shopify Plus, and evolve into headless and composable commerce with Shopify’s Commerce Components. There’s no need for costly platform changes—with Shopify, your business can evolve simply by picking a new plan.

Image showing builds of enterprise tech stacks from Netflix, allbirds, youfoodz, and Fashion Nova.

How to evaluate an enterprise tech stack

1. Total cost of ownership (TCO)

Everyone wants a great customer experience, but not one that’s torpedoing your company’s bottom line. In today’s ecommerce platform landscape, costs can add up quickly, well beyond the initial purchase price. For example, Companies around the world have saved time and money by migrating to Shopify Plus.

In fact, according to research commissioned by Shopify from a leading independent consulting firm to study TCO across major platforms in North America, Shopify Plus’s TCO is 33% lower than those platforms studied. As you go about building your stack, consider the following.

  • Platform costs: These cover regular (i.e., monthly, yearly) fees paid to your tech services provider—the foundation of your stack budget. Because of Shopify Plus’s all-in-one approach, many fees are greatly reduced or cut out entirely. The same research found that Shopify has the lowest platform and ecommerce stack costs across studied competitors by 23% on average.

  • Implementation costs: How much will it cost to implement your infrastructure to a new tech stack? Shopify’s flexibility and scalability makes it the ideal destination for replatforming for the final time. On average, Shopify enterprise implementation costs 33% less than it does with its main competitors, according to the research we commissioned.

  • Maintenance and operating costs: These can add up quickly as tech stacks evolve with a business. Shopify Plus is a true software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that will automatically keep you up to date with the latest features. This same TCO research also found that Shopify's operational costs are lower than the competitor average by 19%.

  • Upgrade costs: Is your current commerce platform always the latest version? Upgrades can be time-consuming and costly if you’re stuck installing new versions of payment tools like Apple Pay or PayPal every time there’s a software change. With Shopify Plus’s SaaS capabilities, upgrades are done automatically and included in your monthly fees, so you can focus on running your business instead. 

  • Launch timeline: The days of waiting 12 months (or more) to get your brand online are over. When evaluating platforms, communicate your target launch date up front, along with your key requirements. Three months is possible with Shopify Plus’s accelerated onboarding, which allows for rapid integration with the rest of your tech stack tools. Once more, the research we commissioned found that enterprises can set up and launch a new storefront on Shopify in approximately 37% less time compared to the average competitor.

  • Total cost reduction: Reducing monthly fees and streamlining (or just plain eliminating) upkeep fees can make a huge difference in your tech stack budget. After replatforming to Shopify Plus, companies like Staples and Bombas (which saved $108,000 in their first year) greatly reduced platforming costs while enjoying booms in sales and customer experience.

2. Scalability comparison

When evaluating enterprise tech stacks, scalability potential holds immense sway over the future of your company. A bad choice can curtail expansion and cost you a lot of extra money. Here’s what you should monitor closely in each option: 

  • Number of customers: Can the architecture of your tech stack handle a big swell in customers? Shopify’s blended stack approach is built to handle Black Friday–level traffic—40,000 checkouts per minute have been done with ease. 

  • Number of engineers: Shopify for enterprises is backed by a network of engineers constantly rolling out new features and capabilities, on top of the thousands of apps already available in our ecosystem.  

  • Number of countries they sell in: We operate in more than 175 countries around the world—your global network is already in place.

  • Infrastructure: An adaptable infrastructure that can support a lot of users and transactions is key to scaling. Shopify Plus’s leading infrastructure is among the assets included in monthly fees. 

  • Headless framework and hosting: Headless commerce benefits include allowing for more scalable systems, as changes to your front end (webstore appearance, discount codes, etc.) can be made without losing any back-end functionality. That way, you can grow your ecommerce site without shutdowns or lag time.

For more on choosing the right commerce platform to suit your business, check out our commerce platform evaluation guide

3. Platform capabilities

Before you go shopping for new technology, it’s important to have internal conversations about what you’re looking for. What does your enterprise need (and what can it afford) to reach your business goals and keep things running smoothly? Consider the following: 

  • Platform uptime: Will traffic spikes hurt the platform’s uptime and speed of service? 

  • Commitment to commerce: Does this platform align with your commerce needs? Do they see your commerce needs as merely an added bonus, or truly transformative? 

  • Checkout: What type of checkout volume do you expect to handle? Will your checkout require new product, customizations, or functions? 

  • Payments: Will your checkout process require new payment options integrated into the system? 

  • Flexible theme design: Is your team able to maintain and adapt your platform’s theme without interruptions? 

  • Commerce-focused tools: As you grow your enterprise’s sales and customer reach, it’s important to consider what specific features are needed and how you can implement them.

  • Global selling: Where are your key customer bases located, and is your platform prepared to handle transactions in varying languages and currencies? 

  • Automation capabilities: Automated workflows can schedule and launch new products and sales and perform back-end work for you, so you can focus your time elsewhere. What are your automation needs? 

  • Speed: What sort of timeline do you have in mind for your business? How quickly are you looking to launch? 

4. Security and data compliance

It’s important to remember that any part of your tech stack is a possible vector for intrusion. Security issues can manifest because of changes in your browser technology, devices, or changes unintentionally brought to your codebase via a new feature or integration. It’s best practice to integrate tools into your build structure that can detect vulnerabilities before they reach the production site. Under the microservices approach, you’re more vulnerable because your stack involves so many individual components, each with its own security compliance issues outside your hands.

Read more about other advantages and disadvantages of microservices.

An adaptable enterprise commerce solution like Shopify greatly simplifies your security concerns. We make it easy to comply with privacy and data protection laws around the world: Shopify is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant (the highest security standard for companies that handle credit and debit card information) and has been issued SOC 2 Type II and SOC reports. These SOC certifications come from independent audits, verifying Shopify’s security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy controls. 

A future based on the right amount of flexibility 

How your company determines the ideal tech stack for the organization will drive success in the short and long term. While one option may seem ideal today, it may not be able to handle the demands of your business as it scales over the coming years. 

This is just one of several reasons why the world’s largest retailers run their ecommerce operations with Shopify, which is composable by default and is as flexible as your business needs it to be. Shopify offers a suite of best-in-class commerce capabilities for enterprises that are ready to use out of the box. But you can also swap Shopify-native capabilities for third-party systems, giving you total control over how you build your tech stack without locking you in to any specific capabilities or architectural design.

Enterprise tech stack FAQ

What is an enterprise technology stack?

An enterprise technology stack is the collection of software tools and technologies that supports the different workflows powering that enterprise’s digital presence (web apps, online store, etc.). This includes the client-facing front end (applications and languages used to design the website, storefront, etc.) and the server-facing back end (the server, application, and database working behind the scenes).

What is an enterprise in full stack?

A full-stack enterprise refers to the end-to-end development of all applications (front end and back end) in one comprehensive solution. The full-stack approach tends to be cost-effective and easy to use for enterprises with more basic ecommerce requirements. 

What is an example of a tech stack?

A common example of a tech stack could look like this: 

  1. Customer-facing front-end tech:JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, to build user interface (storefront website, shopping cart, etc.) 

  2. Server-facing back-end tech: scripting languages like Python, application servers like Apache, and database management systems like MongoDB. 

What is the best stack for ERP development?

What’s best for your enterprise resource planning (ERP) stack depends on your IT resources and specific business needs. Shopify's Global ERP Program lets you connect your ERP to your store using a suite of leading ERP apps including Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Oracle NetSuite, Infor, Acumatica, and Brightpearl.

This article originally appeared on Shopify Plus and is available here for further discovery.
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