Is it wise to build my own customized eCommerce website?
And why a Custom Ecommerce Website Design?
A custom eCommerce store is an online platform that allows members to purchase branded items on-demand directly from the store that provides them
More and more entrepreneurs are deciding to create an online store. They have a good business idea and wish to realize that idea quickly, by getting the benefits of electronic commerce over traditional. Great e-commerce websites don’t just happen by chance. They are carefully planned from start to finish to turn casual visitors into paying customers.
Individuals, small businesses with tiny budgets, exploring & experimenting with online sales who don’t have an adequate budget may think of having more affordable options such as a rented solution or template-based e-store, however, for those businesses where online sales & eCommerce is vital to your business, investing in a custom eCommerce website design makes a lot of sense.
What do I get with Custom E-Commerce Website Design?
Although they require a larger time investment, custom e-commerce websites return in the form of greater control, flexibility, and scalability.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the considerable benefits of customizing your e-commerce website outweigh the convenience of using a ready-made product. Here are detailed reasons that can help you deliberate.
- With custom e-commerce website design, you get full control over the look & appearance and most importantly features & functions of the shopping cart. Unlike rented solutions which are fixed and rigid and do not offer the ability to customize the experience, a custom eCommerce website design offers tons of FLEXIBILITY.
- Want to change your checkout process so it’s a simple one-step process? You can do that with a custom solution.
- Want to offer a rewards program for frequent shoppers? Done.
- Want shoppers to be able to share their purchases on their social media networks? It can be done.
Essentially with a custom e-commerce website design, you pay more upfront but you get a virtually unlimited future capability in most cases. This can be a boon in 6 months when you want to add new functions and features.
It’s sort of the difference between buying a Smart Phone and an old school flip phone. They both can get the job done but the Smart Phone is infinitely expandable through 3rd party apps, giving your ever more features and options.
Let’s examine some of the features you may be considering or should be considering
You have customizable or modular products
If you want to give shoppers a lot of options for customizing the products they buy, then you should reflect this variety by making use of a custom e-commerce website.
One common use case is a T-shirt store that allows you to customize the sizes, colors, fonts, and graphics on each T-shirt. With so many different variables in play, each creating a different cost, you may want to charge a separate price for each T-shirt.
An out-of-the-box e-commerce system won’t be able to accommodate all of these options for a single product, let alone all of them. Complex orders like these will require a sophisticated custom e-commerce solution to handle them.
You have specialized or unique shipping options
Selling objects that are of a consistent size and weight, with no special considerations required is one thing, but the greater variety of products your e-commerce store offers, the more diverse your customers’ shipping concerns will be.
In turn, a custom e-commerce solution will seem even more appealing.
For one, your customers may want the choice of different courier delivery services, whether that’s FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the U.S. postal service.
If you’re shipping items internationally, you may also need to worry about customs.
Another issue that may arise is shipping items that require strict temperature controls (such as pharmaceuticals, tobacco, fine art, and personal care products). These may need to be refrigerated in order to prevent spoilage and preserve freshness.
There are specific rules for your industry
Not all industries are alike. It’s likely yours has unique regulations or rules.
For example, as mentioned above, refrigeration can be an issue. Perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy may need special care, as may liquids.
Each carrier has also its own rules about prohibited items. For example, USPS bans the shipping of items such as airbags and gasoline domestically, and aerosols and dry ice internationally.
If you’re in an industry that deals with products like those listed above, then using a custom e-commerce solution is a wise idea.
This will help you ensure that you comply with the shipping standards of the industry and of each carrier that you use.
You ship for multiple vendors
Another strong reason for using a custom-built e-commerce system, when it comes to shipping, is using multiple vendors.
The more vendors you have a relationship with, the more likely it is that you’ll need to use multiple carriers and have special shipping needs.
For example, one vendor who makes jewelry out of her home might strongly prefer to use USPS because it’s the closest to her house, while another wants to use FedEx because they have a special discount.
As a result of this multiplicity of options, you might have to make customization to your e-commerce platform that limits what your shoppers can do.
For example, certain carriers are willing to ship to PO boxes, or let the receiver sign for the package in advance, while others don’t provide those options.
You have a custom coupon or promo codes (or rules on when they can be applied)
An out-of-the-box e-commerce system may include functionality for coupon codes, but it may also be very rigid or limited in scope.
For example, you may want to allow shoppers to use the code only up to a certain number of items, or to prevent the code from being used with specific items or brands if a vendor doesn’t allow discounts on a certain product.
Unfortunately, not every ready-made e-commerce solution can accommodate these special rules.
You need to integrate with back-end software
The need for integration with other systems and software is a very common one for e-commerce websites.
For example, you may have an order entry system on the back end that you use to track every order from the time it’s placed to the time it’s fulfilled and shipped. However, you also need to input that order into your invoicing and accounting systems.
Depending on the back-end software that you use, integrating it with your e-commerce website can be fairly straightforward, or it can require a good deal of work. In the latter case, you’ll likely want to use a custom-built website.
Your customers have unique needs
Some businesses service an impatient clientele and want to make the purchasing process as easy and fast as possible, while others would like to create a sense of familiarity, personalization, and friendliness. Depending on your customers and the shopping experience that you want to create, a custom e-commerce website may be the best way of providing it.
You have unique reporting needs
Your customers may want to view a report of all their orders from your website during a given period for compliance reasons. Being able to generate this report for a certain timeframe is a feature that not all ready-made e-commerce solutions possess.
You want to use a specific credit card processor
Not all pre-built e-commerce solutions come with support for all credit card processors. Although most small businesses use their bank’s credit card processing service, you may have a good reason for choosing another company, such as lower fees or faster availability of funds.
You have security concerns
The predominant security concern when running an e-commerce website is protecting your customers’ personal data, in particular, their payment card information. As part of your business, your website should be in compliance with the 12 requirements of PCI DSS (Payment Card Information Data Security Standards).
Without third-party support via a custom-built platform, it’s difficult for companies to know that they’re doing e-commerce security in the right way. You know how to run your business, of course — but can you also really say that you’re providing shoppers with the most secure transactions when doing business with you? Using a custom-built website allows you to benefit from the expertise of developers and security professionals who know how best to protect customers’ information.
You want to build really great features for your shoppers
If your business is unique, your e-commerce website should reflect that uniqueness by offering special features. Once you’ve hit the growth stage, you can start building a suite of fancy features that will improve your conversion rates. For example, you may want to build a personalized shopping experience with a custom look and feel for each customer.
Unfortunately, most pre-built e-commerce solutions sacrifice customization options in favor of providing a standardized, predictable offering. This means that if you want to create a really special customer experience for your shoppers, you’ll probably have to strike out on your own with a custom-built website.
You’ve outgrown your out-of-the-box e-commerce solution
At a certain point, every business hits a “wall” when it comes to its out-of-the-box e-commerce solution. You start to feel growing pains as you realize that the software can’t do everything that you want or need it to. This is likely roughly around the same time as you’re interested in improving metrics such as the average revenue per customer, the number of repeat buyers, and the percentage of abandoned shopping carts.
In fact, many businesses find that it’s nearly impossible to go back to using a pre-built e-commerce solution once they’ve had experience with a custom-built platform. The convenience and simplicity of having the software created exactly to your specifications is just too powerful.
You want to connect your inventory or vendors
Another concern as your business grows is being able to maintain a healthy number of products in stock at all times. To do so, you’ll need to communicate with vendors so that you can replenish your inventory when you’re running low.
Custom-built e-commerce websites can connect to your inventory management system and your network of vendors so that your inventory is handled automatically. When there are only a few of a given product left in stock, the system can generate an order and send it to a vendor so that you don’t unexpectedly run out of a popular product.
Custom E-Commerce Websites Designs Can Help You Close More Sales
With the ability to fully control & dictate the user’s shopping experience, you gain the ability to better control the outcome of your online sales efforts. If you can selectively guide & prompt the user based on best practices and proven methods, you can simply get better results.
There is a revolution going and more is being learned every day about visitors’ behaviors, motives, how they find you, how they research you, how they proceed through the checkout process and why they buy. Companies are using this intelligence to squeeze more online sales out of their visitors.
The ability to react and respond to this changing information is what is separating those who succeed and those who barely get by. We are in the age now of what is being referred to as “Big Data” – the accumulation of so much information & metrics that it can’t be easily processed through traditional methods. Luckily, tools are cropping up that are making analysis of this information easier and actionable.
This means that as you accumulate knowledge and information, you’ll want to define HOW you’re doing things and the only way to be able to do that is with a more custom eCommerce website solution.
So, what is the cost of an eCommerce website?
The total cost for a custom eCommerce website is typically between $5,000 – $25,000 for small size business and up to $65,000 for medium and up to $150,000 to 350,000 for large enterprise businesses.
Why is there such a wide range of costs?
Well, because not all eCommerce sites are the same. If you want a basic one with minimal functionality, it’ll be more affordable than a world-class website that has thousands of products, complex payment, and delivery systems across the world.
Integet specializes in eCommerce websites for small to large businesses and we can discuss your online store that suits your needs and business objectives. It is always better to get one agency or company to design and develop your eCommerce website so that you have the consistency, no delay, minimal communication issues, packaged costing that saves you a good chunk of cash as opposed to if you hire different vendors and agencies for design and development. Once your eCommerce website is launched, we also offer regular maintenance to make sure your online business runs without interruption.