The eCommerce industry is developing rapidly, with the number of online shoppers is estimated to hit 2.14 billion Worldwide in the year 2021. Business owners are striving to meet customer expectations and stand out from their competitors, so whether to use an out-of-the-box eCommerce platform or to build custom eCommerce software is one of the most crucial decisions for them to make.
Custom vs. off-the-shelf eCommerce software: what’s the difference?
Premade eCommerce software are applications that enable retailers to build their online stores based on templates, as well as subscribe to a solution for managing sales and operations. eCommerce platforms can be cloud-based or self-hosted on your business premises. Among the well-known platforms we can list:
On the contrary, custom eCommerce software for enterprises are apps made from scratch and tailored to particular business needs. Miquido can take care of the backend development, as well as UX/UI and mobile design of such pieces of software. In this way, one can have a fully customized solution adjusted to the specifications of a particular online store.
In this article, we’ll explain the differences between the two types of solutions and try to advise about which one is best for your business. We took into consideration the essential aspects of both custom and premade options in order to deliver a complex comparison. Read on to learn about the details.
Recognizable design is crucial for enterprise eCommerce
Even though eCommerce platforms provide dozens of templates, they can each still be used by many e-retailers. The provided customizations might therefore not be enough when it comes to differentiating online enterprise stores. If you need a recognizable design that will help you stand out and build an identifiable brand, then you definitely need custom eCommerce software.
In addition, a personalised online store is an absolute must if you have any exceptional ideas or requirements when it comes to user experience. A unique online store should offer extraordinary features that can help you deliver an excellent customer experience.
Scalability of eCommerce is key for a growing business
If you run a business or plan to open an online store, then you are probably following a strategy to scale it and increase revenue. Alongside growing visitor numbers to an e-store, its platform needs to grow as well.
Off-the-shelf eCommerce solutions usually enable scaling up to a point because they provide a few plan levels. For example, Shopify offers an advance plan for $299. Nevertheless, these might still be insufficient for your enterprise, as they have their limitations. Depending on your business specifics, you might need, for instance, more than 15 accounts for staff.
This is where custom eCommerce software can come to save the day. As they are tailor-made for your needs, you can develop them and grow your business at any time. Cloud-based solutions (AWS) are easy to scale and cost-effective because they’re provided on a metered pay-as-you-go basis. Plus, there are no limits regarding the number of users, products or categories. Therefore, you can grow your team and assortment freely.
How much does eCommerce software cost?
Most of the time, cost is a crucial factor when it comes to making all business decisions. To make the right choice you need to consider the overall budget.
Off-the-shelf platforms characterize the subscription model. For example, you can build your store in Shopify’s editor using even a free template, but you probably won’t have access to every feature that’s on your wish-list and you’ll be obligated to pay a monthly fee in order to do so. The cost depends on the chosen plan. If you decide to go for an advanced solution and select Shopify Plus, which is dedicated to enterprise online stores, the monthly fee will start at $2,000 per month.
Another popular eCommerce platform, BigCommerce, provides similar pricing and an extra option for enterprises.
Additionally, Magento is an in-between solution, as it’s an open-source eCommerce platform written in PHP. Building a website in Magento requires tech skills, so the cost of this solution includes a Magento Commerce license ($24,000 per year) and the developer’s salary.
When it comes to custom enterprise eCommerce software, there is no fixed cost. The budget depends on your specifications and required features. At Miquido, we start cooperating with a potential customer by holding discovery workshops, during which we can learn about the client’s needs and preferences. This way, we can jointly establish priorities among features and choose the technologies that we’re planning to use. We can adjust a solution to the budget and add new options over time depending on the client’s preferences.
How long does it take to develop eCommerce software?
The unquestionable advantage of pre-made eCommerce software is saving time. You can quickly get your business off the ground as soon as you set up your e-store. If you have all of the necessary information, product descriptions and pictures, as well as a vision of how your e-store should look like, then you can create it in just a few days. It’s a suitable solution only for less demanding businesses, though, as it may lack functionality.
Creating custom eCommerce development software can be time-consuming since you need to find a reliable team and build a website from scratch. The good news is that if you invest the time and effort into creating a modern, user-friendly and secure system, it will be sufficient for years. We charge our clients hourly so that they only pay for the actual work carried out on their digital products.
Customizations of eCommerce software
Depending on your business specifics (your industry, brand and products) you might need different features. While e-commerce platforms such as Shopify do offer a wide array of features, they still have their limitations. These solutions are designed in general terms for all types of online stores, so they probably won’t be able meet all of your expectations as a result.
If you need some exceptional features and non-standard options, then you can build your own store and implement the required functionality. Furthermore, custom enterprise e-commerce software can always be changed and optimised. You can monitor the buyer journey and regularly improve the customer experience.
Collaborating with a team of World-class professionals creates an opportunity to implement unusual features. For example:
- a virtual fitting room thanks to the usage of augmented reality
- product recommendations – content-based filtering (based on product similarity), collaborative filtering (based on the behaviour of other customers) and personalised offers (based on previously shown interests)
- customer segmentation to meet customer expectations
- data science and app usage analytics to make data-driven decisions
- churn prediction – thanks to predictive analysis retailers can re-engage customers before they leave an app
- dynamic pricing – machine learning enables adjusting pricing to demand
- voice assistants to provide another shopping channel
- custom analytical dashboards that can calculate KPIs
- marketing automation via email or push notifications, etc.
- automatic price suggestions in an online auction
Such features, especially those powered by AI, can effectively enhance the customer experience and in turn increase conversion rate.
Why does performance play a significant role in e-commerce?
Out-of-the-box solutions require adding third-party extensions to provide necessary functionality. The problem with this is that the more extensions on a website, the worse its performance will be. Third-party extensions take up a lot of space and can slow down your online store. And we all know how significant a fast-loading website is in the e-commerce industry. Every second of delay can increase frustration for a customer.
On custom-built websites, you can implement just those plugins that you actually need. Additionally, you’re able to choose among different libraries that can be distinguished according to performance. Therefore, you can boost your e-commerce website in many ways.
Security of e-commerce software
Among the most disruptive issues in the e-commerce industry are definitely cyber threats. Cybersecurity concerns not only business owners, but also customers. You need to provide data privacy and secure payment methods in order to deliver trustworthy services. For example, retailers are obligated to build websites that are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and, if they are based in the European Union, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Out-of-the-box eCommerce platforms usually meet such requirements, although it’s still worth checking that a chosen provider works in compliance with your local law. On the other hand, trusted developers and security experts can make sure that your tailor-made online store is as secure as possible. At Miquido we pay extra attention to security concerns. Cybersecurity is one of the main fields that our quality assurance team thoroughly tests before releasing any digital product.
Business owners very often need to integrate their online stores with other systems, such as inventory management software, a customer support system or accounting software. eCommerce platforms offer integrations with dozens of tools, but nevertheless they still have some limitations.
As mentioned many times already, a custom-built website can be fully adjusted to the client’s needs. System integration can be straightforward, but sometimes it requires some exceptional developing skills. Fortunately, we have what it takes to sync your solutions so that you can benefit from automatic updates and facilitate some processes.
“What if I already use a ready-made solution but I want to scale my business?”
Don’t worry, you’re not the only business owner in this position. In fact, it happens quite often that premade software becomes insufficient over time. You can, however, still create a new website, transfer your data and continue growing your business. You can also benefit from your previous experiences and identify pain-points or plus-points in order to build a converting website.
Custom enterprise eCommerce software examples
We’re happy to present a few of our digital products:
Herbalife Go – an all-in-one solution to manage a diet. This mobile app enables users to order Herbalife products, plan meal schedules and monitor fitness results.
HelloFresh – a mobile meal kits delivery service. Users can order the necessary ingredients to cook a meal whilst following a recipe available on the website.
Empik Go – an UX-first mobile app for reading and listening. We combined audio and ebooks into a single app for smartphones or tablets, and made the features compatible with an Empik.com account.
OnkyoMusic – a high-resolution audio store. We created a simple, user-friendly design on the outside with a complicated architecture and the latest technology underneath, for full customisation and a performance boost.
Is custom enterprise eCommerce software for me? Consider going for a custom solution, if:
- your website needs to handle thousands of users
- you have specific shipping options
- you have extraordinary reporting needs
- your business requires custom and non-standard features
- you’re planning to use innovative technologies and Artificial Intelligence consulting services
- your business offers customizable products
- you use custom promo codes
- your website needs integration with other, special systems
- you have security concerns
- you’re aiming to stand out from your competitors and create a recognizable branding