When it comes to eCommerce websites, there are generally two main options for business owners to consider. You can choose to go for a bespoke solution, which provides you with a website that is custom coded to your exact requirements.
Alternatively, you can choose an 'off the shelf' package that provides you with a number of templates that can be customised, resulting in a ready made eCommerce website. When customising off the shelf packages, there will inevitably be things that you want to change or functionality that you want to add, which you may not be able to within the limitations of the package. New businesses in particular may often overlook the more sophisticated functionality necessary to help them secure improved conversion rates or help them differentiate from their competitors.
In comparison, a custom coded eCommerce site is almost always going to cost a little more than an off the shelf package, in the long run, it can work out to be the more cost effective choice. However, both options have a number of distinct advantages and disadvantages, which are explored in more detail below, to help you decide which option is most suitable for you.
Custom Coded eCommerce Websites
A custom coded eCommerce website, provides you with a solution that is designed exactly to meet your specific requirements, and can often work out to be more cost-effective in the long run.
- Provides you with functionality that exactly matches what you need
- Easy to add on new and/or complex functionality as and when required
- Bespoke, lean content management system that is easy to use
- Bespoke features/functionality can be included that helps you to differentiate from your competitors
- Designed to meet the specific needs of your target audience
- Usability remains at the forefront; all website functions are designed to help you maximise conversion rates
- Much more freedom in the look, feel and functionality of the website
- Can be more costly
- Potential for longer development lead times
eCommerce Website Packages
An eCommerce package is a ready made software solution that can be purchased and customised. Packages such as Magento, osCommerce, EKM Power Shop and Shopify provide popular solutions, particularly for small business owners who are constrained by a small budget and need a simple solution.
- Can be quick to get up and running
- Often works out cheaper than a custom coded site
- A good solution for small shops with basic/standard requirements
- Easily supported by other developers familiar with the platform
- Content management systems are often clunky and provide access to options that are irrelevant to the site making them unnecessarily complex
- The front end look of your website is generally limited by the platform and available templates or skins
- For high levels of customisation, the time taken will be comparable to a bespoke build
- Use of rigid templates/skins can make updating or changing layouts difficult
- Although customisable, some aspects of functionality will remain generic
- Code is often bloated, which can lead to higher page load times, negatively impacting SEO
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