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Building the perfect ecommerce tech stack: A guide for fashion brands

How can fashion brands level up their ecommerce game? What do they need to gain a competitive edge and meet the changing demands of savvy shoppers? The solution? Composable commerce.

Karolina Matuszewska

Top-notch, highly customizable components give brands the ability to scale, innovate and be flexible. This allows them to cater to their fan bases by building faster sites and creating an exceptional online shopping experience that keeps customers coming back. 

In this guide, we'll demonstrate how to handpick parts for your dream ecommerce stack to transform your brand's online presence. We’ll show you the winning setups the leading fashion brands use. 

Why fashion brands migrate to composable ecommerce tech stacks

An ecommerce tech stack is an array of software applications, tools, platforms, and frameworks that work together to build, manage, and optimize an online store.

Composable ecommerce stacks use an architecture where components can be easily replaced and developed separately. Unlike in the case of monolithic ecommerce platforms, the components of a composable platform can be swapped out easily without affecting any other integrations. With this approach, fashion brands’ development teams gain agility and can use best-in-class microservices to construct a setup that’s best aligned with the brand’s unique business objectives.

Brands can leverage this elasticity to satisfy customers’ desires, quickly embrace new technologies, and maintain a competitive edge. From a business perspective, the composable approach is also more cost-efficient, as you only pay for the tools and features your store really needs. 

Composable architecture comes with a clear advantage – it offers more flexibility and cost efficiency than monolithic platforms, which aren't usually built for a specific store’s unique needs.

Also, composable platforms scale better – when a brand grows and expands into new markets, there is less worry about adding and maintaining new features or higher traffic slowing the website down.

Fashion brands are ditching monolithic architecture and turning to composable commerce because it supports: 

1. Unlimited options to make your store brand-authentic 

Composable architecture gives fashion brands the design freedom to make their storefronts brand-authentic and pixel-perfect. Instead of trying to force-fit templates and extensions that don’t match their store’s design, brands can craft a consistent storefront and weave in storytelling techniques that better resonate with their customers. And it’s no secret that visually attractive stores drive engagement and help your brand expand its fan base. 

2. Brand differentiation

With composable architecture, fashion brands gain the capacity to showcase their creativity and uniqueness. They can select components tailored to their requirements, allowing them to design original storefronts that offer visually coherent experiences and stand out from the competition. 

3. The complexity of fashion and lifestyle products

Fashion products often come in a range of sizes, colors, cuts, prints, patterns, and materials. There are different categories, collections, and promotions. Add localized product information and different size charts for multiple markets to that, and things get complicated. Most monolithic platforms can’t link this data in a meaningful way to pricing or campaign data – not to mention the extra costs connected with manual admin work.

4. Customer-oriented approach 

Flexibility and best-of-breed approach allow fashion brands to create stores that align with shoppers’ preferences. This means offering exceptional site speed and performance combined with smooth and personalized experiences. And by ensuring a store that is visually coherent from homepage to checkout, brands establish an air of professionalism. This, in turn, builds trust with buyers. 

5. Development agility and control

Building integrations with composable architecture is faster and simpler, which in turn reduces reliance on the roadmaps of third-party service providers. Developers have the freedom to create or change any microservice, like shopping cart or delivery experience, without impacting other microservices. The modular architecture makes it straightforward to scale and upgrade components.

6. Greater innovation and shorter time-to-market 

As composable architecture is made up of decoupled services, it’s easier to upgrade and tweak them independently. This allows the development team to focus on innovation and implementing new features and services. It also shortens the development cycle, as you can work on individual components without redeploying or retesting the entire platform and system. Because of this, fashion brands can keep up with the latest trends and offer shoppers an optimized experience. 

7. Scalability and enhanced flexibility

With composable commerce, brands develop easier-to-scale stores and customize experiences across multiple touchpoints. Combining different tools and services makes it possible to sell internationally using local currencies, payment options, and localized content. 

8. Seamless integration with existing technology

Composable commerce tech stacks for ecommerce are designed with an API-first approach to allow easier integration with existing software, tools, and systems. By doing so, brands can upgrade their platform capabilities and cater to customer expectations, today and in the future. 

9. Optimal business alignment and growth 

Using composable architecture, you can choose only industry-specific components essential to your business. This lets fashion brands better align their tech stack to business objectives and minimize costs by spending only on services they require. 

Successful migration of a fashion brand to a composable ecommerce tech stack

Named after the tennis legend, Björn Borg makes fashion clothing, shoes, underwear, and accessories. As a sustainably minded company, it focuses on making products that will last a lifetime.

The Swedish brand first built its store on Magento 1, then on Magento 2 (both monolithic ecommerce platforms), until it started suffering from the serious limitations of these setups. The launch of the second platform was a challenge for the entire team, requiring a year to solve technical problems with platform and system updates. In addition, there was no way to improve the front end and create an on-brand experience for shoppers.

Magento, however big and advanced, wasn’t designed to manage the complex business logic of apparel products.

Björn Borg needed a different approach that would give them more creative freedom. They needed to launch new products and features quickly, offer a smooth payment process, and have a fast-loading store. The composable architecture offered by Centra’s ecommerce platform did the trick, paving the way for success on a global scale. Today the brand is achieving record sales and serves 14 markets in five languages from one storefront that’s tailored to every shopper’s needs.

Here’s the tech stack on Centra that supports Björn Borg’s global ambitions:

Headless ecommerce platform: Centra

Returns: Returnado

CMS: Storyblok

Framework: Gatsby

Hosting: AWS

GrebCommerce (a Grebban bundle of ecommerce services)

Checkout: Klarna

Payments: Adyen

Marketplaces: Google Merchant

Email automation and loyalty: Voyado

Visit our clients' success story section for more details on replatforming to a composable tech stackAn ecommerce tech stack is an array of software applications, tools, platforms, and frameworks that work together to build, manage, and optimize an online store.

The best ecommerce tech stack: How to choose the core building blocks

How to go about selecting microservices? In a nutshell, it’s best to start with an analysis of your current setup, technical capabilities, and architecture. This step should reveal critical issues you need to address. Next, gather existing and future requirements your new tech stack has to meet. Review existing processes and map out new scenarios that eliminate the major pain points.

Below is a list of key items you need in a composable ecommerce setup.

1. Headless ecommerce platform 

The cornerstone of your composable architecture is a headless ecommerce platform that connects and orchestrates all the microservices responsible for orders, inventory, returns, shipments, catalogs, marketing, returns, and more. Brands can select the optimal components for the back end while curating personalized experiences for buyers on the front end. You can choose a platform that has most services baked in.  

A headless architecture allows you to deliver an end-to-end solution while drastically reducing cost, time, and effort.

But what should you look for in a new ecommerce platform? Here are the core business operations that the platform needs to support:

  • Commercial. You need tools to manage pricing, promotions and vouchers, recurring orders, order quotations, and a marketplace model. 

  • Order and inventory management. This covers order acquisition, confirmation, tracking, and maintenance. Plus, it includes handling returns, delivery methods, and shipping, providing customers with available delivery slots. The platform should be able to store the entire order history from payment to returns, allowing you to update order information and add new details. By tracking inventory from purchase to sale, you can monitor trends and respond to them to always fulfill orders and be alerted if a shortage occurs.

  • Merchandizing. If you want to showcase your fashion items using different techniques to influence purchasing decisions, you need the right set of tools. Your ecommerce platform should support different product recommendation, configuration, and presentation techniques.

    Read more about the most effective ecommerce merchandizing practices in another blog post. 

  • Supply chain. This involves suitable capabilities for inventory and warehouse management, return handling, and assortment planning. You'll also need tools to handle logistics and transport, pick and pack options, and manufacturing.

  • Ecommerce analytics. Making informed decisions regarding your brand involves collecting and analyzing store-specific data from every store area that impacts your business. That demands software for analyzing traffic, optimizing the sales funnel, and tagging. Proper analytics assists you in identifying, understanding, and sharing data patterns associated with commerce.

    It should be possible to gather granular data, such as order intake and order value, products, average return value, cancellation rates, or returned product value, etc. Finally, it’s important to have filters to focus on selected periods or business areas.
    Centra's dashboard

    The Centra analytics dashboard built into the back end

  • Physical. Make sure the platform allows you to connect tools and data used for operations across brick-and-mortar stores, e-stores, warehouses, and the rest of your ecommerce ecosystem. For instance, you may want to turn your physical store into a part of a fulfillment system. So, in case the store’s stock levels are uncertain, you can allocate goods from the central warehouse to that store to ensure they’re available for customers. Alternatively, you could offer ship-from-store – by converting physical stores into warehouses, you can route shipments based on inventory from those stores. With the right platform, you can let customers buy online and then pick up or return items in-store, and order items from the store.

    The platform should also integrate with software that handles, for example, various loyalty programs, appointment shopping, and online catalog for in-store displays and ordering. 

Before choosing your ecommerce platform, consider a few other aspects:

Ownership costs. Assembling a composable ecommerce tech stack involves significant costs. First, identify initial and ongoing costs. The initial costs include things like discovery, platform evaluation, selection consultancy, infrastructure fees, design and development, third-party integrations, etc., while ongoing costs cover maintenance, hosting fees, third-party app and integration fees, payment related, etc. 

For more information read in: Total cost of ownership of different types of ecommerce platforms

Tax calculations. To sell globally you need a set of tools to handle the different taxes and tariffs of each country you do business in. Automation is indispensable for this task – it streamlines calculations and minimizes the risk of human error.

Multiple payment service providers. To meet customers’ expectations, you need to ensure a range of payment options and currencies. A headless platform should offer support for multiple payment methods and providers by design. 

Possible integrations. It’s vital to know beforehand what components you can add to your platform and how easy it is (or isn’t). Some monolithic platforms may force you to use a limited number of integrations, leading to vendor lock-in or additional fees. 

Personalized customer service Having high-touch support from the vendor is extremely beneficial. It ensures you won’t get stuck solving problems on your own and can focus on your business operations without interruption.  

2. Payment service providers (PSP)

Payment service providers are fundamental to a tech stack for ecommerce. Their task is to make payments convenient for consumers and brands. 

PSPs enable merchants to accept electronic payments from bank transfers, through credit cards, to e-wallets. Most PSPs support you with cross-border payments by processing multiple currencies and enabling transaction reporting. 

Another advantage of using a PSP is security. Payment service providers perform sophisticated encryption processes to protect user information and have to comply with security policies and procedures such as The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Committee (PCI SSC). PSPs must follow these privacy and safety standards in order to process payment card information. 

Popular PSP vendors include: 

  • Adyen. The Dutch payment provider gives businesses a comprehensive tool for managing payments, data, and finances. 

  • Klarna. Swedish fintech delivers payment processing services for ecommerce for direct and post-purchase payments.  

  • PayPal. The American company facilitates payments between individuals and businesses and offers a debit card for payments, business credit card readers, and lines of credit.

  • Stripe. The Irish-American payment provider allows businesses to process online payments and credit card transactions. It supplies payment processing software as well as APIs for ecommerce stores and mobile apps. 

A payment processor can structure fees in different ways within its own pricing strategy, using, for example, tiered pricing, interchange plus pricing, and flat fees. 

Compatibility with your tech stack

See if certain PSPs will work with other components of your ecommerce platform. For instance, some of Centra’s customers such as Björn Borg, STAND STUDIO, and NN07 integrate with multiple payment providers to offer consumers more convenient ways to pay. 

Legal landscape

Fashion brands that go global need to navigate the legal landscape. Almost every region has its own regulations for financial data transfers, and many countries have their own versions of existing regulations. In addition to that, dedicated regulations govern different types of cross-border payments, e.g., the Cross-Border Payments Regulation (CBPR) that is in effect within the European Union. 

Acceptance rate 

This is the percentage of transactions that are accepted out of all those that are attempted. It varies among various PSPs. A transaction may be declined for legitimate reasons, such as insufficient customer funds or a stolen card report. Since payment handling involves many parties, procedures, and often spans across national borders, the way payments are processed can influence their approval. The higher the rate, the more frictionless the checkout. 

The approach a gateway provider takes to payment approval may depend on the financial risk a particular PSP covers, or the ownership over the payment flow – i.e., how they route payments. In some cases, acceptance rates may be affected by certain systems or regulations.

When choosing a PSP, learn about their experience in a given market, capacity to manage cross-border transactions, and typical acceptance rate. Additionally, the payment processor should be able to understand the type of business you run and the risk of fraud it might face.

Support for local payment methods 

Many of your customers don’t pay with international credit cards. Payment methods vary from country to country – from prepaid cards and open invoices, through local credit cards, to “buy now, pay later”. Shoppers want to see localized prices and pay in their preferred local currency using payment methods they trust and are familiar with. 

Read more about localized payments in another blog post.

Support for recurring payments 

If your brand sells in a subscription model, whether it’s fixed or variable payment, pick a PSP that supports it. Recurring payments are a win-win option. Shoppers don’t have to remember to order their favorite products and enter transaction details each time. For your brand, these payments save time and effort with processing transactions, help increase customer retention, and bring extra revenue streams. 

Support for express checkouts

To maximize conversion and ensure fast and smooth transactions, it’s worth implementing express checkouts. Different payment providers offer this under names like express flows, one-click checkout, or instant payments. The idea is to reduce the number of clicks during checkout and payment for customers. When they purchase in your store, the store saves their payment and billing details to facilitate fast payments when they come back.

API support

Ideally, choose a provider that uses the API-first approach, meaning that development teams can deploy a PSP faster and more frequently. Working with a PSP that follows that approach allows you to integrate payment processing seamlessly with your existing tech stack and incorporate multiple PSPs without much hassle.  

Customization of the payment gateway 

It’s good to be able to modify the checkout to ensure consistent on-brand experiences. This means that the payment gateway, layout, forms, and other steps in the transaction follow a uniform design, so the customer's experience doesn’t change.

Localization options

Making shoppers feel comfortable and welcome in your store involves localizing checkout, forms, and other transaction elements. It’s wise to select a PSP that gives you the power to offer your customers all possible information in the language of their choice, especially regarding payments.   

3. Content management system (CMS)

Another element of your composable commerce setup is a content management system – a simple-to-use editor for uploading and managing digital content with no code required. 

The CMS market has shifted in recent years, making it challenging to pick the right one. It’s not only about choosing the vendor, but also the model: headless or a hybrid of monolithic and headless. 

Why fashion brands opt for a headless CMS and you should too

With a headless CMS, you publish content more flexibly, develop faster, support omnichannel, and scale easier. 

Your fashion brand's website communicates its identity and showcases its creativity. This requires freedom and flexibility in creating storefronts – something a headless CMS is perfect for.  

Omnichannel support

An API-first approach in a headless CMS allows fashion and lifestyle brands to go beyond a single storefront. Your team can develop unique content once and then publish it across mobile apps, marketplaces, points of sale, and social media. 

Increased performance

A headless CMS gives fashion brands speed and enables maximizing performance with intelligent caching and a global CDN. As a result, your pages will load uninterrupted even during traffic-heavy events like seasonal sales or Black Friday. 

More efficient content management 

This type of architecture makes it possible for APIs to access content more easily, build product pages and catalogs, launch marketing campaigns, and update them in real time. Marketers can reuse content and components for multiple projects, increasing efficiency and enhancing team collaboration. 

Personalization options

Fashion brands rely on modern headless CMSs because of their personalization and localization tools to optimize and develop content tailored to specific audiences. Brands can better serve customers in different markets and languages by presenting them with relevant content.

Complete control over content creation

The flexibility to create, change, and update content independently of the back end helps fashion brands stay ahead of industry trends. Marketers also gain control over the content to provide on-brand experiences across multiple platforms and tell their stories the way they want to. 

Faster time to market

For such a dynamic industry as fashion, speed in releasing campaigns and products is paramount. The headless approach reduces time to market. With all assets stored and managed in one place, launching campaigns and expanding into new markets is accelerated.  Developers can modify the front end without concern for the back end, which speeds up the process. 

With a headless CMS such as Storyblok, you get advantages like a scheduling and releases feature to cluster content into releases and automatically publish them at optimal times for sales.

Best-of-breed technology 

Fashion brands use headless CMSs because of their best-of-breed approach. It enables brands to select technologies and frameworks according to their unique requirements. Brands can enrich their storefronts with functionalities and apps native to the given CMS, or they can create their own to fit brands’ preferences and elevate the shopping experience. 

More security 

A headless CMS is safer than a traditional CMS because there’s only one endpoint from which your data can be accessed, reducing the attack surface.

Hosting

Are you going to host and maintain your content? Choosing between a hosted all-in-one platform and non-hosted CMS comes down to customization, functionality costs, and maintenance. 

Learn more about Centra’s clients with headless CMS such as Storyblok 

(Stronger) and Contentful​​ (Nudie Jeans), or a hybrid WordPress (Holzweiler, Tobe Outerwear, and Ideal of Sweden) in our case study section.

4. Wholesale management platform 

A wholesale management module helps handle B2B operations, data, and logistics. Fashion brands aim to replicate the direct-to-consumer experience in their wholesale operations. In a perfect scenario, your ecommerce platform brings wholesale and direct-to-consumer sales together as a native integration.

The list of all necessary features for wholesale operations is a long one. We’ll focus on the most significant: 

Digital showroom

The digital showroom gives brands an easy-to-use, customer-friendly way to place preorders, reorders, and orders on hand. Preferably, it should be possible to invite retailers from around the world to visit your stunning showrooms, browse online lookbooks, and order goods. For example, Centra allows you to handle multiple orders with multiple buyers at once. 

Integrated PIM for fashion products 

A PIM built into your wholesale platform is a must. It supports the creation, modification, and publication of product information on all channels. Advanced PIMs allow you to set predefined and user-defined attributes with any data type. 

Support for complex product variants 

The complexity of fashion and lifestyle products is often a challenge for standard wholesale platforms. Large catalogs with tons of SKUs for different colors, cuts, and sizes can cause trouble. The most logical move would be to invest in a wholesale platform that addresses these problems by offering bulk uploads, handling multiple variants of colors and sizes, and user-defined attributes. 

Support for bundles and discounts 

Consider a platform that has extensive functionality, including advanced promotions and discounts. This will give you more flexibility in terms of control over pricing, stock, discounts. 

Support for standard fashion sales campaigns 

Some platforms, like Centra, support rule-based per-account discounts and campaigns, making it possible for each wholesale account to purchase the right products at the right times. You could provide different options, such as base price lists, pre-negotiated discounts, and off-price campaigns. 

Other B2B features that fashion brands want include:

  • Customer groups for sharing of discounts, pricing, and eligibility

  • Shareable or customer-specific price lists

  • Tiered or volume pricing 

  • Credit limits, payment terms 

  • Customer group and customer-level product availability

  • Purchasing roles or levels

  • Quotations

  • Advanced shipment management and support for omnichannel commerce

  • Logins and specific views for sales reps, agents and buyers 

  • Shoppable lookbooks

  • International tax handling 

Overstock prevention 

The wholesale platform should allow your retailers to place orders before the incoming stock reaches the warehouse. This helps eliminate potential errors and gives you more control over future and existing orders – based on the availability of inventory and delivery windows.

Additionally, wholesale management should include:

  • Ease of integration. No matter how comprehensive and advanced your wholesale management, make sure it’s flexible enough to incorporate new services and functions without delay. This could be new payment gateways, email services, marketing, and personalization tools, third-party logistics (3PL) or fulfillment, and CRMs. 

  • Content marketing features. Content marketing is crucial in promoting your brand and engaging consumers. To make the store visible to search engines, you need to handle content efficiently.

  • Scalability. Check if wholesale management software meets the growing needs of your business. Assess if it’s possible to handle higher traffic, and expand the product portfolio as your business grows.  

  • Flexibility. In today's world, technology advances rapidly, so going for an adaptable wholesale platform is the best way forward. Such a platform lets you implement new features, import and export data from different sources, and add and modify content as needed. 

Read more about different wholesale platforms and a comprehensive list of features for your fashion brand in our comparison.

5. Front-end framework

A website's front-end technology allows brands to deliver an engaging and functional customer experience. Front-end frameworks let you set up custom storefronts that reflect your fashion brand’s character. You gain complete freedom to create a flawless web store exactly how you want it. 

In addition to that, those frameworks mean development teams can use rewritten code modules, standardized technologies, and other building blocks that cut development time.

Popular front-end frameworks commonly used in fashion ecommerce include:

Vue.js

  • An open-source, lightweight framework primarily for generating interactive user interfaces and single-page applications (SPA). It’s a progressive framework, so it adjusts to the complexity of a project. 

  • With Vue.js, your development team gets freedom and plenty of technical options to design custom, brand-authentic storefronts. 

  • It’s particularly popular because of its ease of use, and the ability to extend or develop new features without impacting the entire codebase. Vue.js gives developers numerous components and ready-to-use integrations for faster development. All of this makes Vue.js a great fit for brands that focus on creating unique storefronts and updating them often for different audiences, campaigns, and product collections. 

  • Having a small bundle size and loading only what is required, an ecommerce store will load faster with Vue.js. 

Brands that use Vue.js include ASKET, Tally Weijl, and The North Face.   

Node.js 

  • This open-source JavaScript framework is used for back ends and front ends. 

  • It’s designed to develop scalable applications and can be adapted to suit your business needs. That makes it an ideal choice for brands that expand and often change their products and campaigns depending on seasons and industry trends. 

  • Node.js ensures good site performance, supporting brands in creating websites with multiple functionalities and features working simultaneously, without slowing down any operations. 

  • Working with Node.js makes it possible to roll out updates quickly and at the minimum costs. 

If you would like to see some examples of brands using Node.js for their storefronts, check out the success stories of Ideal of Sweden, Craft Sportswear, and Stronger.   

Gatsby

  • A React-based framework with a GraphQL data layer that lets development teams easily integrate APIs, analytics, content, CMSs, and third-party services, and employs a plugin library. 

  • Delivers dynamic web experiences.

  • Appreciated for producing fast, responsive, and SEO-friendly storefronts. Optimized for performance, Gatsby loads only fundamental HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

  • Makes it easy to set up a site using themes, plugins, and starters. 

  • With Gatsby Cloud, a custom cloud infrastructure that uses smart caching, it’s easier and faster to develop a website.

Take a look at the success story of Björn Borg, which built its front end with Gatsby.

Next.js

  • One of the most popular headless ecommerce frameworks for creating high-performing static web pages. With this open-source and flexible framework, developers gain UX independence to customize storefronts as they want, without limitations of templates, plugins, or any CMS.

  • Lets you make different digital assets like dashboards, web portals, and interactive user interfaces.

  • The framework’s internationalized routing functionality is suitable for ecommerce, allowing users to navigate to different pages according to their language preferences. 

  • Speeds up and simplifies the website development process. 

Find out how Next.js has helped our customers build their storefronts: Eton, CHIMI, STAND STUDIO, STIGA Sports, True Motion, byTiMo (Next.js + Storyblok)

6. Front-end hosting 

Your online store's success is heavily influenced by your ecommerce platform and hosting provider. This impact boils down to properly managing web servers, ensuring security and fast page loads.

Choosing a hosting provider for your store depends on its requirements. Think about the traffic, sales volume, budget, how many domains you want, and in-house technical skills.

The first step is to decide between software-as-a-service (SaaS), self-hosted (known as on-premises), infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), or platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

Then, check whether your web hosting service offers the following:

  • Scalability: Is it scalable to fit the needs of your growing shop or product catalog? 

  • Data storage: Ecommerce pages consume a lot of storage since they display multiple high-resolution images that are more space-consuming. 

  • High uptime: With high uptime, your store stays up and running even if traffic surges or hardware problems crop up.   

  • High performance: No matter how many shoppers browse your web store or place orders, your website will perform smoothly. The vendor must ensure, among other things, sufficient hosting resources and proper cache size. 

  • Automatic backups: Every ecommerce store should have automatic backups. You can then retrieve the store’s content in case of unwanted changes, hacking, or data loss. 

  • Security: Your store hosting requires the best safeguards to protect privacy, files, and data – both yours and visitors – against potential fraud and vulnerabilities. 

  • Technical support: If things go south, support should be available. 

  • High bandwidth: Bandwidth specifies how much data you can send over the network to your website visitors. A high-bandwidth plan prevents overcharging in case of heavy traffic.

The market for hosting providers is strong and you should be able to find one that ticks all the boxes. Here’s a short list of the major players:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS). This global giant delivers cloud hosting that connects both virtual and physical servers. Thanks to that, websites don't rely on any one machine. The AWS infrastructure was developed for the most demanding industries, that is, military and global banks, guaranteeing its top security. AWS ensures high performance thanks to the massive infrastructure powering its servers. It is a remarkably customizable platform that you can adjust to your specific needs. Big names that use AWS are Nordstrom, Netflix, and Facebook.  

  • Microsoft Azure. The second best-known provider, a public cloud computing platform that sells top cloud services for computing, storing, and networking. It hosts more data centers than any other cloud platform. Azure ensures highly reliable storage capabilities and security. Companies that use Azure include ASOS, L’Oreal, and Marks & Spencer. 

  • Netlify. The US-based cloud computing company offers hosting and serverless back-end services, and edge computing for dynamic websites and web apps. It is the go-to platform for running modern Jamstack web applications. Among Netlify’s clients you’ll find businesses from Fortune 500 companies such as Unilever and Verizon. 

  • Vercel. An American cloud computing provider. It enables developers to easily host Jamstack websites and web services, deploy them instantly, and scale them automatically. Featuring automatic failover and global replication, Vercel handles traffic spikes thanks to cutting-edge serverless technology. It’s also a native Next.js platform that allows for the fastest Next.js builds. Vercel’s customers range from Under Armour and Nintendo to The Washington Post. 

7.  Marketplaces and product feeds

Your business can be expanded more affordably through online marketplaces than through other channels. Moreover, marketplaces offer new opportunities for overseas sales, and brands can utilize their advantages such as visibility on search engines, audiences, and reputation.

  1. Open or closed, your choice. In an open marketplace, such as Amazon, there are no restrictions or preselections on products – anyone can sell anything. 

    For fashion brands, a closed (i.e. curated) marketplace will be a better fit. First, you need brand approval to sell there, and the restricted access makes it more exclusive. The competition is also softer since fewer sellers offer the same items compared to open marketplaces.

    Closed marketplaces also foster a favorable environment to showcase goods because they make it mandatory to hold higher standards for photos and content. Popular closed marketplaces are Zalando, Farfetch, and Otto. 

  2. Assess which online marketplace will give you the most exposure. Getting wider exposure is crucial for your business, product, or service to gain credibility and strengthen awareness.

  3. Evaluate logistics support. Go for a marketplace with convenient pick-up and delivery options to make shipping more convenient for the buyers.

  4. Find out where your buyers shop. Read buyers' reviews, interview individuals, and explore marketplace topics on social media sites. You want to sell where your consumers shop.  

  5. Verify the marketplace’s reputation. Reputation doesn’t only mean popularity. It’s tied to the quality of service, reliable transaction process, and transparent policies and procedures. Consumers value buying from trusted platforms.

  6. See if a given marketplace will be easy to connect with your ecommerce environment. For example, with platforms like Centra, you can integrate with any marketplace whether it’s Google Shopping, Zalando, Facebook, Instagram, ASOS, Amazon, or Zalora. 

For more details, read the full article: Mastering the art of selling on online fashion marketplaces.

8. Personalization and email automation 

You should consider personalization and automation software when designing or upgrading your composable stack.
Personalization in ecommerce is the backbone of a sound marketing strategy. It influences buying behaviors throughout customer lifecycles and is something shoppers demand.

Source: McKinsey

Additionally, marketing automation features let you create leads and drip campaigns, send personalized emails, and post on social media, pivotal activities in your marketing efforts. 

Here are the main functionalities and features you should look for in personalization and automation software:

Dynamic communication flows allow you to add a personal touch and automate your texts, emails, and lead nurturing, then tailor them to different stages of the customer journey. 

Marketing automation covers many areas. For example, you can monitor key performance metrics and test and analyze email campaigns. Besides creating and adapting flows, it lets you use forms to capture new leads and buyer data. By having buyers' information at your fingertips, you can tailor the communication and offer to their needs, fostering relationships with them at the same time.

Excellent customer service relies heavily on transactional emails. Sending your buyers messages reminding them about an abandoned cart, enabling password resets, and notifying them about orders and shipping improves your service and enhances your credibility and trust.

Timberland sends a personalized email reminding customers about an abandoned cart (source: moosend.com)

Loyalty and retention tools strengthen your relationship with customers by engaging and incentivizing them for repeat purchases. Here are some examples: 

  • Rewards. Shoppers can collect bonus points based on your terms. After they reach a certain score, they can exchange the points for a special offer and discount. 

  • Gamification: Use triggers and points when customers interact with you or recommend your product on social media. Give shoppers the chance to collect digital stamps. When customers collect X stamps, they will receive a gift or special offer. 

  • Customer clubs. The way you treat members can vary depending on their level of membership. For instance, use automation to celebrate birthdays and membership anniversaries, making customers feel appreciated. 

    Voyado: an example of a loyalty program message

Segmentation

The core feature of personalization tools is to segment audiences in different ways, e.g. based on:

  • Location

  • Demographics

  • Behavior

  • Profile properties 

  • Lifecycle stage

  • List membership 

  • Industry 

  • Company size

This enables you to craft the offering and messaging effectively so you reach the right buyers at the right time. 

Advanced personalized emails 

With some robust personalization platforms, for example Klaviyo, you’re able to compose tailored emails based on specific actions. It can be a welcome series for new customers, or messages with special discounts for bargain seekers. It’s also possible to send newsletters with store opening invites based on the buyer’s location or VIP-only news about new products.   

Creative assistant for easy on-brand campaigns

Platforms like Mailchimp allow importing your brand’s assets and save them as a brand kit, then customize designs with your brand's colors, fonts, logos, and more. As a result, you stay consistent with the on-brand look in all campaign assets you use. 

Showcase bestsellers to drive cross- and upsells 

By connecting your store to marketing automation software, you can highlight bestsellers for cross- and upsells. With store data, you can determine the top sellers and display them to customers as complementary offerings or simply make them the focus of your e-store. 

In its welcome newsletter, Bellroy highlights its most popular product categories. source

Subject line helpers to drive engagement  

To craft outstanding copy and raise open rates, some email automation tools, such as Mailchimp, offer data-driven feedback on word counts, punctuation, and emoji usage. 

Moreover, you can do A/B tests of subject lines to see which one catches the audience's attention, then automatically send the winning version. 

Personalized search 

By using personalization software, you can analyze visitor data collected on-site and historical data from your CRM, then guide shoppers to products faster with relevant search results. 

Product recommendations

Combining historical data with behavioral data enables you to recommend products to customers that are similar or related to those they have already bought. It’s handy for fashion and lifestyle brands, which can suggest fashion items or accessories completing a purchase. 

Product recommendations by Ideal of Sweden 

Personalized customer support 

When it comes to personalized chatbots, they come in a standalone version or are integrated into other applications. With a chatbot implemented in an e-store, you can help customers solve their issues on the spot. Use it to direct consumers to relevant product pages and give them incentives to explore your store. 

Personalization and automation vendors:

Voyado is a marketing and personalization platform that lets brands craft highly personalized content to foster customer loyalty and retention using data, AI, and analytics. You’ll find Nudie Jeans, Ideal of Sweden, and Björn Borg among the brands using Voyado. 

Rule is a digital omnichannel communication market leader in the Nordics. The platform assists brands in nurturing customer relationships, bringing more valuable traffic, utilizing personalized marketing, automation, and creating influential newsletter programs. Brands like NN07, Craft Sportswear, Soft Goat and Viking Footwear, and byTiMo use Rule for composing personalized messaging across their marketing channels. 

Optimizely, the big name on the market, offers marketers a digital experience platform suitable for experimentation, personalization, and content management. It delivers product recommendations, lets you test and optimize various touchpoints, and helps you manage content, assets, and data.  

Klaviyo is a suite composing a customer data platform, email, and SMS automation tools letting marketers personalize communications around price drops, abandoned carts, or product recommendations. It offers a library of pre-built templates for emails, signup forms, and SMSs. You can apply it for different ecommerce flows like welcome series, back-in-stock, or post-purchase. In addition, with Klaviyo, you track campaigns with ready-made and custom reports as well as data visualizations. Brands that use Klaviyo: Maya Delorez, Stronger, Xlash. 

Mailchimp is an advanced email marketing platform for creating and managing mailing lists, templates, newsletters, and advanced and predictive segmentation. Mailchimp equips its users with a subject line helper, creative assistants, and content optimization features. The platform also includes analytics enabling you to track the performance of your email campaigns. 

9. Content delivery networks (CDN)

A content delivery network utilizes servers located in different parts of the world to deliver web content more quickly, such as HTML pages, stylesheets, images, and videos, by bringing it closer to users.

CDNs decrease loading times for shoppers based far from the host server, for instance, American buyers who are shopping in Australian stores. 

Load speed is a crucial factor in improving the shopping journey. That's why a CDN is a must-have in a tech stack for ecommerce. 

What’s more, CDNs lower bandwidth costs. Each request for a website consumes a significant amount of network bandwidth. But CDNs cache and optimize data, which means that an origin server can provide less data, thereby cutting hosting costs. 

If you are unsure which would be the best choice for you, consider: 

  • Reach: CDNs are primarily utilized to improve customer consumption of web content. As a result, your CDN servers must be near your consumers' locations. 

  • Performance: The main role of a CDN is to make ultrafast web stores and allow seamless shopping.

  • Security: What firewalls and other security measures are in place? Your CDN has to have full cybersecurity coverage to safely transmit data online. It should protect against malicious attempts like DDoS (distributed denial of service), hacker attacks, and block spam and bots.

  • Content audits: By performing an audit, businesses identify possible content bottlenecks and eliminate them to optimize workflows and experiences.

  • Purge mechanism: Occasionally, you’ll have to remove files from the CDN. How long will it take? What is the best way to do this?

  • Pricing: Is the product affordable and does it meet your business objectives?

  • Service and support: Can you immediately contact support if configuration issues or other concerns occur? 

10. Shipping and delivery services 

Shipping and delivery are integral to your ecommerce setup. People often choose the brands that give them the best delivery experience. About 85% of online buyers say a poor experience prevents them from buying from that retailer again. Consumers want the same level of convenience that they're used to from other brands. The solution is to integrate your ecommerce platform with customers’ favorite carriers.

Extra things to consider when selecting shipping and delivery options for your business:

  • Delivery services available to buyers. Consumers want goods to be delivered with the services they’re familiar with and like. Hence, local delivery is important for quality service.

  • Shipping rates. Shipping rates vary across carriers, and it mostly depends on the product’s weight, size, value, shipping destination, and delivery time. 

  • Tariffs, taxes, and duties. Selling internationally involves managing taxes, duties, and tariffs that vary by country. Ensure you handle those properly as it impacts the product’s price, shipping time, and ultimately customer satisfaction. 

  • Shipping times. Shipping times are affected by many factors, like inventory, supply chain, customers’ location, and so on. For instance, in the case of cross-border sales, it covers customs delays or disruptions in supply chains. However, most carriers provide you with information about expected or even guaranteed delivery times.  

  • Order tracking options. Precise tracking tools for both your brand and customers minimize support issues and boost buyers’ experience with your brand. 

Fashion brands using composable commerce ecommerce tech stacks

Here we’ll walk you through some examples of renowned fashion brands and their composable setups. 

Holzweiler  

Established in Oslo in 2012, the family-run Holzweiler fashion brand combines seamless, contemporary design with functionality. From silk, lamb’s wool, and cashmere scarves, the brand expanded to ready-to-wear fashion and accessories, drawing inspiration from art, architecture, and nature.  

Holzweiler's online store with a product category page

Holzweiler's composable ecommerce tech stack includes: 

  • Headless ecommerce platform: Centra 

  • CMS: WordPress

  • Front-end framework: Require.js, React.js 

  • CDN: Cloudflare 

  • Payment service provider: Klarna, PayPal

  • Marketing automation and personalization: HubSpot, Rule, Mailchimp

  • Marketplaces: Google Shopping, Facebook

  • Delivery experience: Ingrid

NN07 

Founded by friends in 2007, the Copenhagen-based brand NN07 seeks to reinvent the modern-casual men’s wardrobe. Its collection includes jeans, shirts, patterned knits, sweatshirts, and accessories. With an eye to taking care of the planet and people, NN07 creates products that will last. 

NN07's online store with a product category page

NN07 has the following ecommerce setup:

  • Ecommerce platform: Centra

  • CMS: WordPress

  • ERP: Navision

  • Wholesale management: Centra

  • Localized deliveries: Ingrid

  • PSP: Adyen, Klarna, PayPal

  • Email automation: Rule

  • Transactional emails: Mandrill

Djerf Avenue

Djerf Avenue's online store Djerf Avenue is a Swedish non-seasonal fashion brand born out of a passion for vintage.  Timeless, chic, and laid-back designs are the brand's trademark. The products are ethically manufactured in Portugal, Italy, and Sweden. Djerf Avenue’s portfolio includes clothes, swimwear, accessories, and bedding. 

Djerf Avenue has built its composable setup using:

  • Ecommerce platform: Centra

  • PSP: Adyen 

  • CMS: Storyblok

  • Shipping: Ingrid

  • Email marketing automation: Rule 

Final thoughts 

As ecommerce continues to evolve, modern buyers expect more and more sophisticated solutions in the e-stores they visit. That pushes brands to adopt innovative approaches, making composable architecture a perfect solution. 

With easily swappable components and technologies, it enables you to respond to market trends, keep up with complex customer demands, and create on-brand experiences. In addition, composable architecture helps tech teams build stores faster and continuously optimize shopping experiences to boost retention and loyalty.

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