What is a Shopify tech stack?
An ecommerce store consists of software solutions or applications that enable a brand’s desired workflows to be executed efficiently. The compilation of these apps is known as a tech stack.
A Shopify tech stack is therefore one that uses the Shopify platform as its foundation. And as arguably the most customisable and scalable platform available, it’s easy to see why brands around the world are choosing Shopify.
That being said, Shopify can’t execute everything an ecommerce store requires. This is where different applications are needed to seamlessly integrate with Shopify and extend the platform’s functionality.
Why should you review your tech stack?
The majority of ecommerce retailers are using a variety of applications to extend the functionality of their online store. Often, these have been selected individually as point-to-point solutions and while they may function well in isolation, they may not work together in the most efficient way.
When a Shopify tech stack is well assembled, applications will integrate with one another seamlessly, sharing data to enrich customer personas in your marketing tools, automating processes across your fulfilment processes, and syndicating that data into your customer service tool.
Reviewing your Shopify tech stack ensures your evolving business needs are strengthened by the most up-to-date technology. In order to get the most out of your tech, it’s worth conducting these reviews periodically as your business adapts.
In other words, don’t assume that the software you’re using now is the best fit for your brand.
Here are three key reasons that highlight exactly why consolidating your tech stack is worthwhile:
1. To improve efficiency
Where a tech stack has been assembled with only point-to-point solutions in mind, teams may be forced to operate in silos. Teams may have to open and action their daily work in multiple admins for customer service, logistics, refunds and returns, subscription management, and data analysis. This can become incredibly inefficient and lead to increased user error.
Therefore, reducing the number of apps and tools an ecommerce team has to manage can result in a streamlined workflow and greater productivity. Having multiple teams using fewer consolidated solutions can also promote increased cross-department collaboration, giving teams greater visibility over what’s happening across the business.
This is beneficial for a single brand, but even more applicable when running multiple ecommerce brands simultaneously. In short, having fewer tools in a tech stack helps an ecommerce team get more done in less time.
2. To centralise your data
Do all the apps in your tech stack talk to each other? If the answer is no, keeping track of all your data can be challenging and potentially inaccurate. On top of that, by manually examining individual data sources from multiple tools, you will only see a limited context for that data.
Consolidating your Shopify tech stack allows you to utilise apps that syndicate data easily. Having a tech stack which seamlessly shares data gives you invaluable insight into your customers’ experience. You can automate more processes through improved, cross-application data sharing.
For instance, imagine a customer has left a one-star review, citing a poor shipping experience. In a well integrated ecosystem, a ticket would be automatically created in your customer service platform. This would assign the task appropriately and pull in the necessary details of the customer who made the review, including the order and tracking details they are referring to.
In another example, a customer completes a product quiz, purchases a product recommended by the quiz application, and leaves a review on receipt of said product. The data from both the quiz completion, the product purchased and the product review data are all compiled on the customer’s profile within your digital marketing platform. This allows you to personalise future marketing communications and on-site experiences.
In a legacy, siloed tech stack, none of these tools would communicate with one another. You can see in this example how a more holistic view of your customers is available through an optimised tech stack.
This is also another efficiency gain, since collating and examining data from multiple sources is more time-intensive (and prone to user error) than simply reviewing a couple of reports that are pre-populated with relevant data.
3. To reduce cost
This final reason for reviewing your Shopify tech stack is arguably the most important, because the cost of apps can add up quickly. Regardless of the economic climate, learning how you can reduce your spend on technology is a worthwhile investment of time.
Consolidation of tech stack is a common way for retailers to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). For example, you might be able to save money by removing apps with duplicate functionality, or by identifying instances where free or basic app subscriptions are equally as performant as expensive premium tiers.
Thanks to the success and stability of the Shopify platform, the apps that extend its functionality are always improving. This means that you are guaranteed to find a way to support your requirements, however niche or unique.
It’s also important to understand that Shopify itself is continuously releasing new features. An example of this is Shopify Functions replacing Shopify Scripts, or the upgrade from checkout.liquid to Checkout Extensibility. These improvements could render redundant an app that you use, and are paying for, on your store. Therefore, it’s worth keeping up to date with new Shopify features to learn whether they replace the need for an app in your tech stack.
Moving functionality to Shopify native offerings, where possible, not only reduces your costs but potentially increases your site speed with a less bloated code base.
How to consolidate your Shopify tech stack
Having an understanding for why tech stack consolidation is important is great, but is of no use if you’re not sure how to apply that knowledge. Here are the steps that we use to create a streamlined tech stack and ensure clients enjoy the benefits discussed above.
1. Document required functionality across your site(s) and collate a list of apps needed
When Swanky conducts an application architecture review we leverage the MoSCoW framework and our own experience to review existing and potential functionality across a retailer’s ecommerce operation. The MoSCoW method of prioritisation brings clarity to this process by considering the: ‘Must Haves’, ‘Should Haves’, ‘Could Haves’, and ‘Won’t Haves this time’.1
We also flag any missed opportunities or gaps in a site’s functionality that could improve conversion, automate otherwise manual processes, or generally facilitate a better customer experience.
2. Review and compare available tools that offer similar functionality to those already in use
We would review the current applications in use and highlight those that have limited functionality or poor reliability. It’s also important to assess the cross-platform integration capacity of all apps in the present tech stack, and flag any that are unnecessarily siloed.
Taking time to understand this will likely add efficiency gains for your ecommerce team that are invaluable in the long-term, as noted above.
3. Research apps and make decisions
As a final step, we then research and help select complementary applications that are good at delivering their specific purpose, and able to syndicate and share data with other tools in your tech stack. Wherever possible, these apps will automate processes that are otherwise being actioned manually.
Periodically cycling between these two steps will allow your tech stack to remain up-to-date with your brand’s requirements and increase efficiencies across your team.
Tech stack consolidation examples from Swanky
Our team of Shopify Plus experts routinely consider how best to utilise apps on some of the largest and most complex Shopify sites worldwide.
One example of a recent tech stack architecture review and consolidation we worked on was for BLC Cosmetics, an Australian-based cosmetics group.
Across six of BLC’s websites, we ensured all email functions were on the same platform, before doing the same for reviews and customer service. A key factor in us recommending platforms was how well they integrate with other solutions (to deliver all the benefits discussed above).
We also suggested a variety of apps for implementation in the future, including solutions for gift cards and pre-orders, as well as options for testing and experimentation platforms.
This consultation project not only facilitated cost savings and efficiency gains, but simplified and standardised the store management process across brands – an important benefit as BLC looks to expand its portfolio, allowing their staff to work across websites without needing to familiarise themselves with the architecture of each one.
Already on Shopify, the brand came to Swanky looking for an online makeover, as well as an improved experience for the small team working behind the scenes on the website. Specifically, they wanted a tech stack that would support the cross-border growth of the business, improve the overall customer journey, increase efficiency of internal workflows, and reduce time spent doing repetitive administrative tasks.
During the discovery phase of the project, we conducted a review of Bouclème’s existing Shopify tech stack, alongside an assessment of the brand’s current and future requirements. Crucially, we considered how well each app talks to each other and pinpointed opportunities for improving the sharing of data.
Bouclème’s consolidated Shopify tech stack includes:
- Yotpo (for loyalty and reviews)
- Recharge (to manage subscriptions)
- Klaviyo (to power email and SMS marketing)
- QuizKit (product quiz and personalised recommendations)
The fluidity of data between these apps allows the Bouclème team to provide a cohesive customer experience across channels. For example, Yotpo integrates with Klaviyo, allowing information like loyalty points to be pulled into emails. Meanwhile, the integration between QuizKit and Klaviyo means that data captured in the quiz can be used to build detailed customer profiles in Klaviyo, which can then be leveraged to provide personalised post-purchase marketing communications.
You can learn more about our work with Bouclème and how we consolidated the brand’s Shopify tech stack in this case study.
Does your Shopify tech stack need streamlining?
The insight we’ve shared in this article will help you on your way to a consolidated Shopify tech stack. We hope this leads to greater efficiencies for your ecommerce team and that you can enjoy the benefits that this begets.
If you’re looking for help in discerning the best Shopify tech stack for your ecommerce store, start a conversation with us today.