Prior to making an e-commerce website, C-level executives and business owners need to decide between a market-ready solution and tailor-made software development. Choosing the option that aligns with their goals, organisations succeed in attracting clients, boosting user engagement, and increasing revenue.
To come to the right choice, it is important to highlight the most essential requirements, estimate budget, and research opportunities. Aiming to help companies understand what approach or strategy is better for them, our business analysis experts have prepared an article comparing custom e-commerce platform development with market-ready solutions.
Basic features an e-commerce website should have
To develop an e-commerce website, companies should include features such as:
- a catalogue of goods and product description pages
- product search
- shopping cart and checkout page
- user registration and account management
- online payments that can be enabled using a payment gateway such as Stripe, PayPal, or Braintree
- third-party integrations, for instance, Twilio, Mailchimp, etc.
- an admin panel to manage the content of your e-commerce platform
Based on business-specific needs, organisations can add many other modules, such as cryptocurrency payment systems or an artificial intelligence-based chatbot instantly answering user questions.
When choosing between an off-the-shelf and custom e-commerce website, make sure the vendor can deliver all the required features.
In addition to the most essential features, both market-ready solutions and tailor-made e-commerce platforms should provide:
- Data security — Companies have to protect user personal data from hacker attacks, malware, ransomware, and other threats.
- High availability — An e-commerce site should be able to handle heavy loads to make the system stable even when simultaneously processing thousands of requests.
- Scalability — Being able to easily add new products and services, businesses will be able to grow their e-commerce platforms faster.
- Design responsiveness — It is crucial to create a responsive design to ensure a consistent user experience across all devices: smartphones, laptops, desktops, etc.
- Enjoyable user experience (UX) — The site should provide intuitive navigation, fast page loading speed, and a seamless UX.
- A user-friendly interface — It is important to have an appealing user interface (UI) design to attract customers, improve their loyalty, and increase the conversion rate.
To develop a successful solution aligning with industry needs, business owners and C-level executives should consider advantages and disadvantages of market-ready and custom e-commerce websites.
Why do some companies use a market-ready e-commerce platform?
Making an e-commerce website on a platform such as BigCommerce, Shopify, or Magento, companies can reduce time-to-market and expenses. Off-the-shelf solutions offer basic functionality useful for most organizations. Client support generally works well due to solid experience in the field.
Benefits of off-the-shelf e-commerce websites:
- Fast time-to-market — With a market-ready e-commerce solution, an organisation can quickly launch an online shop. In this case, decision-makers need to compare suppliers and choose the best option in terms of price, functionality, technical support, client reviews, and ratings.
- Lower costs — Due to having basic functionality and limited options for customisation, the cost of off-the-shelf software is generally lower.
- Security — The supplier of a turnkey e-commerce solution is generally responsible for enabling safe data storage, which is important for providing the security of sensitive payment information.
- Rich functionality — Choosing a market-ready e-commerce platform, clients generally get access to a wide range of features provided by the vendor.
Drawbacks of market-ready e-commerce solutions:
- No flexibility — Organisations have limited control over prices, updates, feature rollback, etc. Therefore, if the cost increases, the client has to pay more than expected.
- Extra costs — Businesses are charged for incorporating additional features and plugins, integrating third-party services, etc. To create new modules that aren’t included in the original template, they would probably have to hire software engineers.
- Additional customization — With a turnkey e-commerce platform, a company will need to adjust their website to the existing software systems such as CRM and ERP. For instance, the supplier may not provide the required plugins or APIs (application programming interfaces). In some cases, it might be impossible to modify the original feature in order to develop an e-commerce website that meets specific requirements.
- Risk of the platform closing — Even suppliers of popular off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions can cease operations.
Why do businesses choose custom e-commerce website development?
The main advantage of building a customised platform internally or delegating this task to a specialised software development company is that an organisation can make an e-commerce website tailored to their specific business needs.
Advantages of making a custom e-commerce website:
- An engaging user experience — With a tailor-made online shop, it is easier to ensure design responsiveness, a seamless user experience, and intuitive navigation.
- Enhanced page loading speed — By writing quality code and following best development practices, software engineers enable fast page loading speed and enhanced performance.
- High data security — As in the case of using off-the-shelf software, custom e-commerce website development can provide data security by adding features such as role-based access control and data encryption. IT companies also take into account security standards, for instance, GDPR and HIPAA, and ensure compliance with them.
- SEO-friendly — Since a custom-built site loads faster, its search rankings will be higher.
- Unique design — Turnkey e-commerce platforms offer various basic themes, each used by thousands of businesses. As such, it is difficult to avoid similarities with other products. Thanks to custom e-commerce website development, companies create unique branding themes.
- Full control — The client can decide what features should be added and when. As a result, it is much easier to meet user expectations by making changes according to their preferences. In this case, companies pay only for what they really need.
- Seamless integration — A custom e-commerce platform is easier to integrate with the existing software systems and processes.
Disadvantages of custom e-commerce website development:
- Higher costs — Making a tailor-made solution, a software engineering company will build features and create a design from scratch, requiring a higher initial investment. A quality product will save you money in the long run, but if your current budget is limited, you should consider off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions.
- More time-consuming — As the project will involve stages such as UI/UX design, development, testing, and debugging, launching an online shop will take more time.
Before hiring a custom e-commerce website development company, it is important to make sure the vendor offers post-launch project maintenance to detect issues, fix errors, and monitor the system performance after release.
Employing off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions, you will be able to significantly reduce time-to-market and initial costs. In most cases, vendors take care of data security, which is also important.
However, a turnkey platform requires customisation, resulting in extra time and money. With multiple plugins, the page load speed can decrease. In addition, you never know how the vendor will develop its software in the future.
You should employ market-ready e-commerce solutions if:
- your company has a limited budget
- you plan to launch a product within tight deadlines, for instance, to pitch it for investors
- you only plan to launch a small project that involves a few web pages and basic functionality
Choose custom e-commerce website development when:
- the product has to be tailored to business-specific requirements, for instance, integrate with the existing CRM, ERP, and inventory management systems
- you want to take advantage of having a unique branding design
- you aim to ensure high availability, scalability, and fault tolerance
- your company needs to develop an SEO-friendly website providing fast page load speed and an engaging user experience even under heavy loads
- suppliers of turnkey e-commerce software don’t offer the required functionality or otherwise deliver many unnecessary features
Although a custom e-commerce platform is more costly, the investment pays off over time. To receive a quality solution, you should turn to a trusted e-commerce website development company. With tailor-made software, you won’t depend on third-party suppliers.
If you are thinking of making an e-commerce website or improving your existing product, contact our team to receive a project consultation. Having delivered over 50 customised e-commerce projects, we are ready to help you to accomplish your business objectives.