E-commerce platforms vs. web development company — how to build an e-commerce store?

Let’s assume that you’re running a very successful, locally known store with various women’s sportswear. The product is so original that on your brand’s Instagram you get loads of questions from foreign people, asking where they can acquire it. What does it mean? Your target audience is located abroad so you should grow internationally. But how? Starting your own e-commerce store is the best choice.

That’s a great idea, yet you’re rather a non-technical person. You started browsing the Internet and after checking tons of forums and Quora answers, you realized there are two solutions — asking web development company to build the website or using the e-commerce platform and creating it by yourself.

Both approaches have some pros and cons. On the basis of some qualities, let’s consider what would be better for your business.

Professionalism. If you choose a right team, your website will be prepared by bunch of professionals, who regularly trace current market trends and build similar websites at least few times a year. It means you can rely on them and sleep peacefully, just waiting for the outstanding results. When it comes to creating the website by yourself, as a layman you never know what the final outcome will be. It’s possible that you spend a lot of time on something, that doesn’t match your expectations in the end.

Unlimited possibilities for customizing the site. To be honest, web templates (a pre-designed resource, that anyone can use as a layout) can look very attractive nowadays, especially when they’re filled with a content and beautiful images. You should be conscious that the website completed with something else could lose its luster. It’s obvious that the first impression of the site could be crucial when it comes to the customer’s retention. Nevertheless, by choosing a ready pattern you’re not going to stand out from your competitors. Especially when you don’t have access to the full code on e-commerce platforms and you are not able to make many adjustments. Professional web development company will understand your needs and tailor the appearance of the online shop to your requirements.

Even more important is customizing the website in terms of checkout page optimization. If the checkout process is too long and complex or the customer can’t see total order cost up-front, it will discourage him to continue shopping and influence on the purchase negatively.

Software house will suit all details so that you could get the highest conversion. It means, they will help you convert the visitor of the website into your company’s client by making the checkout process clear and easy. Of course e-commerce platforms place a great emphasis on it too, yet it’s the general solution that doesn’t have to work in your case. With a great software house you can tailor the checkout page to the particular need (shop, assortment, target group) and optimize it on and on.

Independence and facility. With web development company you can bring the website from one server to another, without losing the previous appearance. When you decide to switch the platform for your website on the e-commerce site, you will have to create everything from scratch.

What’s more, when creating a content on e-commerce platforms, you have to use a special template markup language. It could be troublesome for a person who doesn’t know some coding basics.

Content Management System. By having your website built, with a help of the outsourcing team, you are able to apply all sorts of content you want so that you can feature your products. Managing your content on an e-commerce platform could be a great challenge for someone without technical background, especially if they use a complicated CMS which is not as flexible as you could expect. Suddenly you must become a webmaster, designer, copywriter and a SEO specialist instead of focusing on the core of your business. Moreover, on many e-commerce platforms there is new blogging software (much different from Wordpress, which you may be already familiar with) that takes time to learn.

No additional costs. You pay (a lot of money) your chosen web development company to build your website and that’s all. There are no additional costs later (providing that everything is as you arranged with a company in the beginning). When it comes to the e-commerce platforms, the situation is quite different — mainly because of the subscription model. If you want to use some other, extended functionalities, in many cases you have to pay. For instance, when you need more than one language on the website, a platform like Shopify most likely won’t help you with it. You have to buy a special app or extend your account to Shopify Plus, what costs of course. Moreover, consider that installing too many apps may slow down your website.

Summing up, e-commerce platforms are great for beginning entrepreneurs, because of their easy application. Of course it’s much more cheaper to open the online shop there.

Nevertheless, sometimes it turns out that the longer you exploit it, the more additional costs come up. Many basic functionalities are not taken into consideration and then you have to pay to buy relevant apps that could also influence on a page slow down. You’re also limited with customizing the website and changing the code, whereas web development company can tailor every detail as you wish.

If you’re a beginning start-up with not a big range of products, it’s reasonable to start with an e-commerce platform in order to get an overall insight into selling online.

However, when you think about your business in a serious way, with long-term objectives, it would be better to find a software house that will build your online shop from scratch, making it distinctive from the start. The initial estimate could scare off sometimes, yet after a long time it could turn out that the IT project was cheaper than buying some more apps continuously.

Need help building your e-commerce website or web application?

Dotinum is a software house from Poland with 15 years of experience. We have designed and developed many awesome products. Check out our portfolio.