Building your online store: which platform is the best and can you do it yourself?
Every day, entrepreneurs and marketing professionals make dozens of decisions. The main dilemma often is whether to do it yourself or to outsource it. Are you launching a new brand or a product with a dedicated online store or are you looking to develop a temporary campaign with an online store? You’ll have to decide whether to build the online store yourself or to work with an agency. Discover the pros and cons of both options below and find out which platforms are best suited for your company.
Building your online store yourself: a good idea?
Perhaps you are comfortable working with online tools and know how to adapt a template to reflect your brand’s identity. In that case, you may be toying with the idea of building an online store yourself. Why not? There are lots of online platforms that you can use to build your own online store, even if you don’t have a background in webdesign or development. Some tools that you can use to build an online store include:
- Shopify: one of the most popular options in Belgium because of its many different features, but certainly not the cheapest option. Pay monthly or yearly, with a pricing plan based on the features you need, from basic to advanced.
- Wix: a popular option for designing websites, but did you know that you can also use it to build online stores? It has great visual templates and the platform is cheaper than some other platforms. However, keep in mind that cheaper often also means fewer options in terms of design, functionality and service.
- Lightspeed: an interesting option if you also have a brick and mortar shop, because you can easily link it to your cash register system. The standard features of the online store are very limited and difficult to expand, however.
Please note that these types of tools are only lucrative if you’re a smaller company with a relatively ‘simple’ online store. (International) growth and expansion, which implies more customers and requires adding more features, can be a tough obstacle that is almost impossible to overcome in some cases. Building your own online store is not easily scalable
Why you should consider hiring a professional
Are you looking for an extensive tool with more features and possibilities? Why not take a look at WordPress and Magento (that we use at Kick and Rush)? The only pitfall: they are relatively difficult to use, which is why it is better to hire a specialised developer to build your online store for you. And that’s not just because a web agency can create a more professional-looking website. There’s more to building an online store than just having a visually appealing design.
Starting with safety, which is paramount. There’s nothing more disastrous for your image than when your online store is hacked, with all the personal data of your customers leaked online. A specialised agency can develop a well-built website and take the right security measures, which are continually updated, to prevent hacks and data breaches.
Ideally, you should work with a web agency that can also assist you with the logistics of your online store. It should at least be able to advise you about the best available options. There is more to logistics than you might think, especially if your customer reach is growing. Starting with a smooth checkout and secure payment methods right down to the seamless delivery of the parcel to your customer.
Open-source versus closed-source
A growing number of suppliers, such as courier companies and social networks, have launched their own tools for building an online store. While this may sound like a good option if you already use their services, you need to think one step ahead. Although the platform is well-designed and can be set up quickly, it is in your interest to always maintain some form of independence.
You never know when this provider will decide to suddenly stop offering this e-commerce service. Because these are closed-source tools, you also stand to lose your store in the process – help! Closed-source means that you pay a licensing fee to the provider. You don’t own the source code of your online store. With open-source systems such as Magento, you (or your web agency) always retains the ownership of your online store. Giving you more freedom, independence and certainty about the future of your online store.
At the end of the day, however, a lot of the custom-designed aspect is all about functionality. Adding gift vouchers, having your customer take a quiz to know which products he or she needs, a special partner login... These are all extras that the classic DIY packages are unable to offer. A partner that contributes ideas and implements your wishes effectively is a godsend in this case.
Having a kickass website built – and much more.
At Kick and Rush, we are e-commerce experts. We eat webshops for breakfast. Our team thinks about your concerns, focussing on strategy and an effective web design in addition to custom merchandise. But there’s more! We offer logistics solutions and continually work on improving the safety of your online store with safety updates. We can even create your packshots if you want!
Whether you are looking to develop a temporary campaign such as ING’s Football Madness, want to build an online store in the long term or work B2B and want us to develop a dealer platform for you, like we did for Toyota. Thanks to our different scalable packages and Magento expertise, there’s always a kickass answer to your digital question. We can take the entire project off your hands or work with your in-house team.
Karim is a Marketing Manager with a love for love brands.