Monkey Monday - December 4th, 2023

How to Evaluate Your Ecommerce Tech Stack

Web Design

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We’re back with our Monkey Mondays! Just me today, Chris will be joining us again soon. But today I am flying solo.
This Monkey Monday is for all of you folks who sell online.
One of the big drivers we see at the moment (especially in retail) is cost and how it’s driving a shift towards SaaS eCommerce.
Now before you jump into migration or dismiss SaaS the sensible thing is to do is to evaluate your tech stack.
It should be pretty high level and maybe take an afternoon to get something together
When we do this for merchants we start with a simple spreadsheet with 3 tabs. The first is a list of most of your features and nuts and bolts on your existing site.
The first column would be the title Shipping and Delivery
The second is a description. Integrating with shipping carriers to calculate shipping costs, generate labels, and provide tracking information etc.
The third what tech or partner is providing the solution
You can then have some notes along the side
The purpose of the sheet is to start exposing a rough idea of use cases that your delivering and how.
The second tab should then consolidate your whole list of tech partners and vendors
We start with the vendor name, then the main thing they provide and then yearly cost. You ca then work with an eComm consultant, or agency partner or directly with the SaaS provider to see what, in principle would be replaced.
The third tab is your existing business. You want to list in order of importance
Your number of expected orders for the year ahead
Your Average Order Value (checkout)
Your online revenue
Your offline revenue (ePOS)
Your current platform
Potential timescales
Whether you need B2B, Multi Store front and how your inventory is managed
These are the questions good SaaS providers like Big Commerce need answering to help give you comparative price
It can get complicated so try and keep it top level. But this should let you compare the price of your stack vs SaaS.
If you want to try and evaluate your tech stack quickly you could download our spreadsheet template.
It’s not definitive but we often use it as a springboard to get the conversation started. We have broken down some of the basic requirements into headers, like marketing or internationalisation to help and it’s good to think about some of your goals as well as what you have already.
Okay, so if you want to get super involved some cool things to do in reviewing your tech stack. Are
  1. Survey your whole team! Ask them what their pains are what tech they love and hate and what could make their life better
  1. Poll your customers. Get insights and build out a better list of use cases and audience intentions
  1. Chat with your agencies. They may have their own challenges in dealing with your existing tech
4. Have a clear set of goals for you business and how eCommerce should help achieve them
This will give you a huge board of ideas and improvements that could be critical in delivering a better stack.
What you will want to gain at the end of this is not only a potential saving but much more importantly a stack more suitable for you, your customers, your agencies and your team.
It can give your dev team fewer pains supporting things out of hours and free them up from drudgery server maintenance and start creating way cooler tech for you.
Your eCommerce managers should be able to focus more on personalisation, promos and content. Your marketing team will be able to switch on better channel marketing and have more time on creative.
So, reviewing the stack may start from a driver to evaluate costs but end up in much more meaningful place.
Finally, there is a lot of support out there to help you improve.
First off you have agencies that can help with this sort of thing, maybe even go a bit further with a small discovery or scoping project. They are often connected to a variety of tech partners and may be able to get demos of systems (plus the odd free lunch) to deliver things in a different (maybe more modern way).
Then you have SaaS providers like Big Commerce who, in our experience, are really great at working through spreadsheets like this and helping break down what will work, what might be third party and what might be bespoke code. They’ll be able to advise on how companies that look just like you have done this and the success that they have had and might even connect you to some of those people.
Between the agency, the commerce provider and the tech partners they can sometimes even provide subsidies towards the migration project.
Like many great things… It all starts with a spreadsheet.

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