Most retailers are well aware of the need to sell online in order to reach today's tech-savvy customers. Proper ecommerce solutions not only showcase products and services effectively, but also provide a quick and easy purchase option to ensure the user experience is as enjoyable as possible.
The challenge many companies face when looking to implement an ecommerce solution is how to choose and implement the most cost-effective, yet successful system. With so many ecommerce options available, it can be difficult to navigate the marketplace and find the best fit for your business, while also ensuring you choose a solution that integrates smoothly with your already established website.
That being said, one of the first decisions business executives need to make is if they should purchase an "out-of-the-box" solution that must be adapted to their needs or just work with a developer to build a custom solution.
With an out-of-the-box solution, businesses choose a pre-existing solution, which they then must integrate into their current website CMS. Out-of-the-box solutions are especially popular among businesses that lack capital but wish to expand and increase revenue quickly. Since out-of-the-box software is generally cheaper, readily available, and takes less user involvement during the integration process than a hosted solution, it is a good first step many companies take advantage of due to its user-friendliness.
Unfortunately, the trade-off of is that businesses with multiple product offerings might find it difficult to find out-of-the-box solutions that seamlessly integrate with all aspects of their business models. Because the solutions are pre-made for a general retailer, many organizations also end up paying for excess features they have no intention of using.
Conversely, creating custom ecommerce solutions offer organizations and users more opportunities to engage in interactive and thorough development processes. This results in ecommerce experiences that cater specifically to the intended customers, while providing more enjoyable user experiences and usually higher conversion rates.
A cultural center (theater, opera, symphony), for example, may want to offer their customers the option to purchase tickets to events online. While a pre-existing model might work for businesses that sell one product (like T-shirts or books), a ticket to a play is a little more difficult because of the changing factors involved with each purchase. Users need options to pick the performance they want to go to, the time that works best, and the seat they want to sit in. Choosing a custom ecommerce solution can make this seating process extremely easy for the end-user, showing patrons open seats and what the view is like from that section. It's just one good example of the extra features a custom development allows an organization to implement.
Overall, there are certainly pros and cons with each option. Still wondering which option is for you? A couple key considerations may help you evaluate when it's time to make the choice.
1. Determine the requirements your ecommerce solution must have and then prioritize them. If all your top needs can be met by an out-of-box solution, then it may be the right choice. If the list requires too many specific features, start talking with a developer about how they can be built into a custom solution.
2. Research how an out-of-box solution will integrate with your other applications. In today's world of big data, you'll want to not only sell products with your ecommerce solution, but track specific metrics within the sales process. Make sure this is possible. If not, you may want to build an option that can work more closely with current technology.
3. Don't assume the capabilities of an out-of-the-box solution. It can be very easy to make assumptions about how certain features perform but don't rely on your judgment alone. Fully test the out-of-the-box solution in order to make a fair assessment of its capabilities. From here, you can determine how much it would cost to either utilize existing features or build out your own.
4. Finally, don't just determine what you need now, but also look to the future. The last thing you want is for your business to experience significant growth, only to be held back by a limited ecommerce solution. Find a program that can grow with you and handle more business than you might think possible.
Overall, both out-of-box and custom ecommerce solutions can prove successful. The most important thing is to evaluate how each will fit into your needs. Don't try to shove that square peg into a round hole. The one that best meets those needs will prove to be the most successful in the long run.
About the Author: In 2001, Roy co-founded Adage Technologies combining a passion for technology and the desire to build a company focused on driving business value through Web technology. As President, Roy's energy and customer-centric approach have helped to grow Adage to a well-respected Web and software development firm.