E-commerce tools and software can help your business grow, but we recommend a simple tech stack to begin with. The beauty of eCommerce businesses is that they can be tested and launched very cheaply. Moiz Ali founded Native with $1,000. Ryan Bartlett founded True Classic with $3,000. You don't need a huge up front investment to test whether your idea has legs.
At Head West, we recommend starting with a very small tech stack. We call it the Bare Bones Tech Stack™. Software costs can add up quickly, and focus is key for new businesses starting out. We think this stack can actually scale your business to at least $10M in revenue. Keep in mind that most software tools help to optimize what you already have, and there will never be a substitute for creating a product people actually want. If your business isn't growing, it's likely not because of the tools that you're using. Go back and iterate on the product or marketing before investing more into software tools. We see too many companies with bloated tech stacks because they see larger companies using these tools and want to mimic them. Don't be that company. Start small and lean.
The Head West Guide - Bare Bones🦴 Tech Stack™
Here are our recommended tools:
🛒 eCommerce platform – Shopify (cost: $29 / month when paid annually). Shopify can scale from your first dollar in revenue to your one billionth and is by far the best of the eCommerce platforms out there for new eCommerce businesses. You can use Shopify to host your site, take orders, and fulfill them. See our guide on eCommerce Platforms for more info.
🌐 Domain – Namecheap (cost: varies based on domain). Easy to use and cheaper than competitors like GoDaddy (sorry Danica!). Free Privacy protection as well. You are required to give public information when you register a new domain (full name, phone number, email address, and physical address). Namecheap will prevent this from becoming public for free.
⚖️ LLC registration – Incfile (cost: $199 + $90 Delaware state filing fee, total = $289). Register your business as an LLC in Delaware. It’s the state where most large companies are registered and has the most case law. Many investors wont invest in a company unless it’s registered in Delaware (not legal advice - check with your lawyer!). Incfile offers an excellent service at a great price. Read our full guide on Legal Filing Services for more info.
📊 Data and analytics – Shopify (cost: free with plan) + Google Analytics (cost: free) + Google Sheets (cost: free) + Microsoft Clarity (cost: free). These tools are all you need to get started. Microsoft Clarity is great for watching session recordings to see how actual users are navigating your website. We find the Clarity heat maps to be less helpful (people click on CTAs and navigation). Data platforms will always pitch you on where these tools fall short, but we’ve found the insights on more advanced platforms to be interesting but not actionable especially for a business that’s doing less than $10M in revenue.
📧 Company Email – Google Workspace (Gmail) (cost: $6 / user / month). Use gmail to set up your business email with your domain name.
🙏 Customer Support – Gmail (cost: $6 / month). Start the help@yourdomain email address alias which will forward to your business email, and use this email to handle all customer service inquiries. See our guide on Customer Support Tools for more info for the best tool as you scale.
✉️ Email Marketing – Klaviyo (cost: free up to 500 sends / month then $20 month for 5,000 monthly sends). See our guide on Email Marketing Platforms for more info.
⭐ Reviews – Judge.me (cost: free). Judge.me is great for brands just starting out. It’s cheap, easy to install, and has all the basic functionality you need. Its basic plan is free, and its more fully featured plan is only $15. Eventually we recommend switching to something more robust, but Judge.me is great for brands just starting out.See our guide on Review Platforms for more info.
💳 Business Credit Card – Capital One Spark Cash Plus card (cost $150 / year). If you plan to spend more than $7,500 annually on your business, then the 2% cash back will cover the annual fee and any spend beyond that will create tax free cash back (not tax advice - speak to your accountant!). See our guide on Business Credit Cards for more info.
💰 Banking – Mercury (cost: free). Mercury makes it easy to get a bank account for your business. Mercury is focused on startups, and the application takes ten minutes. Mercury will give you all the banking basics that you’ll need: FDIC insured checking accounts, virtual debit cards, and ACH payments for vendors. See our guide on Banks for eCommerce Companies for more info.
💲 Paid Marketing – Facebook & Google Ads account (cost: varies). Don’t try to optimize five channels at once. Pick two and focus on them until you’ve scaled your brand beyond $10M. We recommend Facebook and Google Ads, but TikTok might be more appropriate for certain brands. Taking on too many channels at once will distract you and prevent you from truly scaling a channel. There is a temptation to believe that your brand will scale if you just launch another paid channel - avoid it. Focus is key!
🌱 Organic Marketing – Instagram (cost: free), Twitter (cost: free), TikTok (cost: free), Blog - Shopify (cost: free with plan). Go ahead and grab the Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok handles when you purchase your domain. You don’t need to post on all of these channels when you’re just starting out (we actually don't recommend it), but you will be happy to have the handles as you scale and want to use the channels. Tip for creating a new Twitter account with the same email as an existing account: add a period anywhere in your email address. Twitter will see this as a new email address, and you will still get the confirmation email because periods aren't recognized by most ESPs like Gmail.
🗂️ Task management – Notion (cost: free). Notion is a super powerful project management tool but task management at this stage (one person) is highly personal. Find the system that works for you and worry about a more robust system once you have more than five people at your company.