E-commerce products on the market
E-commerce products on the market
If you want to start your online store, but you do not have a large budget for its development, various online platforms come to the rescue, which guarantee not only error-free functionalities, but also the appropriate display of your products. What platforms are we talking about?
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According to Gemius, there are over 28 million internet users in Poland. It is nearly 75% percent of all inhabitants of Poland. What's more - out of these 28 million Internet users, as many as 73% have shopped online. According to Visual Capitalist, we spend $ 1 million (!) on the Internet every 60 seconds, while at the same time Amazon sends nearly 7,000 parcels. The above numbers are only the tip of the iceberg of the e-commerce market in Poland and in the world. More and more companies are deciding to start an online business or diversify their sales through an online store. The e-commerce market is constantly growing, so it is extremely worthwhile checking how you can become a part of it.
When developing an online store, you have to decide whether you want to use a ready-made, available platform or create a store from scratch, tailored to your needs. Both directions have their advantages and disadvantages, however, the decisive factor in this matter is the budget you have for implementation. Below you will find more information to help you make your decision.
These types of platforms include WooCommerce, Prestashop or Shopify. We can divide them into free of charge (open source) or paid (SaaS) software with a monthly or annual subscription. First, let's look at open source solutions - e.g. Woocommerce, which was created in 2011 as an open source e-commerce plugin for Wordpress. It is currently one of the most popular free of charge platforms - according to some estimates, almost 18% of all online stores operate on it. This type of platform will be suitable especially when you are starting out or have a limited budget.
Advantages of ready-made platforms
A WooCommerce based store can be expanded and customized with various plugins and extensions. Of course, the authors of platforms and plugins also care about profit, so some of them are free, and some require a fee settled in various models (one-time cost, subscriptions). The plug-in installation itself is virtually hassle-free and does not take much time.
Users of open-source platforms can also count on constant updates covering not only security issues (here we especially address people who use or want to use WooCommerce - installing updates is very important!), But also improving the speed of operation or additional functionalities.
In addition, by using open source platforms, you have the possibility of virtually unlimited personalization of the store, starting from its layout and the entire graphic layer, including ready-made templates available on the market. What’s more, the templates themselves can also be freely modified. However, it is worth bearing in mind that such modifications usually require more specialized knowledge and programming experience.
Disadvantages of ready-made platforms
What is the disadvantage of open source platforms? At the very beginning, you need to uninstall plugins that you will not need at all. In addition, some functionalities that many store owners will find essential are unfortunately paid for. It should also be remembered that each installed plugin increases the risk of failure, because it is building a store from different bricks, created by various companies from around the world. It can happen that there are conflicts between plugins which will cause serious problems with the store. The second significant disadvantage is the fact that when adjusting the store, you modify the ready-made platform. This way, it will never be a tailor-made solution for you. Also, these types of modifications can cause various problems, especially with the continued maintenance and updating of the store.
The cost of implementing a store based on ready-made platforms is usually from a few thousand to tens of thousands zlotys - depending on how advanced the store is and the number of modifications to be introduced as well as the scope of work (e.g. implementation of a dedicated graphic design). In some cases, with simple stores that do not require such activities, you can also install the store on your own. However, if you carry out the work yourself, it is also necessary to configure the domain and hosting, which causes a lot of problems for less experienced users. You should also bear in mind that if you do happen to crash (which of course cannot be ruled out), you can only look for help on official internet forums, because technical support is very limited, or actually unavailable.
Tailor-made e-commerce products
A tailor-made e-commerce engine is a way to create an original store and distinguish it from others. It is also a way to create unusual product, introduce unique processes (e.g. related to sales or customer service) and much greater possibilities of automation. If you are at the beginning of your adventure with online sales, consider whether this type of product is for you.
The advantage of a tailor-made platform is, above all, that your store will ultimately be original, fully adapted to your requirements and processes in the company. A tailor-made store usually involves designing the graphic layer from scratch, so you can be sure that there is no competing store on the market that looks the same. Due to the fact that your store will be created entirely from scratch, you will have an impact on the shape and method of operation of each of the implemented functionalities. There are actually only two limitations to its implementation - budget and time. The rest is a matter of ideas and adaptation to your requirements and the specifics of a given industry.
In the case of building an e-commerce platform from scratch, you need a team of experienced programmers, as well as other people necessary to implement this type of project - UX specialists, graphic designers, a project manager or testers. Thanks to this, you gain technical support not only during the creation of the store, but also during its maintenance.
The cost of tailor-made platforms.
When choosing a tailor-made platform, you certainly need to take into account a larger budget for the implementation of the project. Building a professional e-commerce platform costs a minimum of tens of thousands of zlotys in the case of a simpler store and even several hundred thousand zlotys in the case of more advanced systems. The more extensive the store and more functionalities, the greater the workload of the design team, and thus the budget will increase. The costs are primarily influenced by hundreds or even thousands of hours of work of the entire project team. It is also the cost of preparing and implementing the infrastructure on which your store will operate.
Project implementation time
The second disadvantage of a tailor-made platform is time. If you want to quickly implement and start your online business, this is not for you. Building the entire platform from scratch may take from several to several dozen months. However, you can start with the basic functionalities necessary to start, and at a later stage, after launching the store, further expand it and introduce new options. This type of approach has an additional advantage - you earn on your store, so investment in development is easier. In addition, you implement functionalities based on observation of customer behavior and their feedback, thanks to which your customers will see that you are meeting their expectations and developing your store for them.
If you do not want a store based on a ready-made platform, but on the other hand you do not have a budget of hundreds of thousands of zlotys and you want a platform that will allow you to build an e-commerce engine from scratch, it is worth considering a platform called Sylius. It is open source software, developed in 2010, sometimes referred to as an e-commerce framework. It definitely facilitates and speeds up the creation of a tailor-made e-commerce store by using base parts and preliminary ready-made elements. At the same time, while maintaining high technological quality and strong openness to further expansion in any direction.
Examples of Sylius functionalities
- multi-channel and multi-lingual sales from one panel
- extensive product descriptions, allowing you to place photos, additional files, shipping and tax information, product features
- multi-level product categories
- extensive management of promotions, including the definition of promotion rules, duration, and the possibility of using promotional codes
- product reviews
- multi-currency service
- the possibility of using the most popular payment operators, such as Przelewy24, PayU, Amazon Pay or PayPal
Your store can also be easily integrated with modules for shipping products via couriers (including DHL or UPS), InPost parcel machines or any payment systems. In addition, you can also use ready-made functionalities to create newsletters, run a blog, and even create personalized ads for your clients.
With this approach, as with building an e-commerce engine from scratch, a dedicated graphic design is usually implemented. The project is tailored to all requirements and implemented functionalities.
Sylius is a very good basis for a dedicated implementation and its use allows you to initially save hundreds of man-hours of the project team, without negatively affecting the quality of the implemented system. It definitely translates into both the budget and the time needed for implementation. With this approach, the comprehensive implementation of even a quite advanced store may be limited to a few thousand zlotys. Of course, the final cost depends on the details, such as the level of advancement of the graphic design, implemented functionalities or the number and complexity of integration with external systems.
Whichever platform you choose, remember that online sales are the future of worldwide trading. If you are just starting out and you do not have experience in this business, you do not need to start with an advanced, tailor-made platform, the construction of which at the very beginning will generate high costs. The method of small steps works perfectly in this case.
Each of the presented products has its advantages and disadvantages - it is up to you, your budget and, most of all, your vision on whether or not you will be successful.