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Startups’ Guide To Choosing The Right Tech Stack For Accelerated Growth

Startups’ Guide To Choosing The Right Tech Stack For Accelerated Growth

Brands with ambition to scale and to have a national presence need to be online and offline equally with a seamless and the same consumer experience across both

Inc42 and Google Cloud’s recent panel discussion decodes how brands can accelerate growth by choosing the right tech stack

The panel uncovered how tech leaders from names such as GlobalBees, FabAlley, Kapiva and Google Cloud have gone about choosing and scaling tech stacks

Pandemic changed consumer behaviour in many ways. While the categories of wallet share reorganised itself, discretionary spending lowered and allocations to home and education got larger. Not only that, it also brought about a permanent change in the interface through which consumers discover and buy. While the debate for online vs offline remained strong pre-Covid, it’s now settled not as a binary choice between the two, but both emerging as equally important. 

Brands with ambition to scale and to have a national presence need to be online and offline equally with a seamless and the same consumer experience across both. In the truest sense, the consumer has won.

The foundational pieces of the technology stack are differed for online commerce and offline commerce. We talked to a few technology leaders that are helping build high growth brands to learn from them on what their choices for their technology stacks have been.

“Only 20% of the technology stack ever truly gets in front of the customer. The 80% behind the scenes is what actually shapes the customer experience,” said Rajesh Ramdas, head of customer engineering, cloud natives at Google Cloud.

Ramdas shared the key areas in which technology leaders in ecommerce have been categorising their stack — user growth (storefront, marketing tech), shopping experience (product recommendation AI, catalogues, payment gateways & aggregators), supply chain (order management, warehousing, logistics, last mile fulfilment) and to serve it all as a horizontal, technology infrastructure to scale.

When you are helping build and scale multiple brands at the same time — like Rahul Chaudhary, head of tech & product, GlobalBees is doing — “consistency” is the most important factor across your technology and architecture choices. His recommendation has been to always start with the off-the-shelf solutions, iterate quickly to see what works well and then focus on customising components with highest ROI across the board.

Akhil Gupta, VP of engineering, FabAlley actually has done the unconventional – 80% of the tech stack has been built in-house. FabAlley’s customer demographic is one that is highly influenced by images. Banner optimisation and management is a micro-product for them internally with business and marketing stakeholders from the team using it heavily. Since they also have an offline presence, they have gone to the extent of building their own web-based PoS that is tightly integrated with their supply chain components and data in the backend. In Gupta’s experience, this heavy investment in custom tech has given them the undue advantage of control and flow of data across the business.

With a modern Ayurveda brand like Kapiva — which is present both offline and online, and is experiencing over 150% growth YoY — Arshdeep Singh, director of tech at the startup, has gone the route of prioritising API-driven architecture choices. Singh chose to build Kapiva on top of BigCommerce rather than Shopify because it had better API support. He strongly believes that running a Headless-CMS is the most flexible future-proof choice you can make and ensure that your data flows seamlessly between systems. His team has also built internal tools on top of Google Sheets to reduce friction and prioritise speed to solve business problems.

“It was pretty evident by the choices made by these technology leaders that it is important to keep momentum by picking the right ‘off-the-shelf’ components to begin with, but then quickly focus on building ‘bridges’ between systems rather then re-inventing the ‘lego blocks’ that do something incrementally better than before,” he explained during the session.

We also did a deep-dive into how AI is helping shape the future of commerce. With the panelists, we covered how AI can help move the needle on the holy grail of “conversion”. At which stage do brands feel confident to start adopting Retail Recommendation AI and improving customer support experience by removing language barriers.

Lastly, we got a sense from the technology leaders on the panel about the tech stack choices they have made that are very India-specific and mistakes they would not want other technology leaders to make in the early days of building a brand. Some of these golden nuggets are the best kept secrets and hacks that you surely don’t want to miss. For more, take an hour on a lazy afternoon and watch the entire video with this amazing panel.