While e-commerce has been thriving for years now, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly boosted online sales. It helped the e-commerce industry grow considerably since most consumers could no longer visit physical stores to shop. Expenditure on online shopping alone managed to account for nearly 18.6% of the total growth in retail during the pandemic. However, it appears that online sales might slow down a bit as the world is returning slowly to normalcy and stores are opening up. That being said, e-commerce has witnessed several new trends during the pandemic era, such as AR technology and promotional videos to grab consumers’ attention.
The most popular e-commerce platforms in 2020
Today, there are several e-commerce platforms to shop from, so if you’re looking to build a custom e-commerce website, survey your competition and use developing tools to create the most attractive website for yourself.
- Shopify: Used in more than 175 countries, Shopify has an easy-to-use interface, custom domains to pick from, and is ideal for small and medium businesses.
- WooCommerce: WooCommerce, a completely free shopping cart plugin, is perfect for small businesses looking to save money on creating a platform that already has a WordPress presence.
- BigCommerce: While BigCommerce is definitely pricier than other e-commerce platforms, it comes with many features such as bandwidth without limit, a large number of themes, etc.
- Magento: Magento has been a great fit for small and medium businesses that have the required number of people and time to create a website, with benefits like instant purchase and global sales.
- OpenCart: OpenCart is open-source software that you can easily integrate with your website and many extensions and themes you can use to have the best experience.
- 3dcart: An extremely easy to use interface and platform, 3dcart comes with advantages like two-factor authentication for extra safety and is a scalable platform.
- Drupal: A free e-commerce platform, Drupal is great for smaller businesses with a smaller budget and helps to help customers customize the website as per their needs.
Things to consider before developing an e-commerce platform
- Focus on the target audience: First, you must understand the product you’re selling and then understand your customers better. A good practice is to make a list of questions and assign suitable choices as responses, so your customers can answer them to the best of their abilities.
- Conduct thorough research on the industry: It is important to understand your industry and your target customers before starting web development. Consider all factors such as the age demographic, consumer tastes and preferences, etc., so you can develop the e-commerce platform and its components like product categories, filters properly.
- Focus on branding: Perhaps the most crucial thing here is to decide how you want your brand to be known. Please take a look at the most popular e-commerce businesses, their logos, catchphrases, multiple features such as clear product images, genuine reviews, and what they stand for as a brand. Consider those and design a unique logo, something that sets your brand apart, and strategize accordingly.
- Keep an eye on the budget: You should exercise caution when managing your development budget. Understandably you could get excited and end up spending too much, but it is a good practice to make financial decisions carefully and revise the budget each time, so you don’t exceed it.
- Observe your competitors: It’s always good to observe how your competitors are managing their websites- what are the tools they are using for promotion, are they using social media, what’s their page design like? Give equal importance to the technical tools they are using, such as their domain name, content management system, etc.
- Create an MVP (Minimum viable product): Naturally, selling products is the first task of an e-commerce platform. Meanwhile, the ultimate aim of an e-commerce MVP is to evaluate a certain business’s capabilities and hence drive customers to purchase things from that business. Seek help from an MVP if you aim to run a unique, innovation-led e-commerce platform with a great algorithm and superb product selection.
The benefits of custom e-commerce development services
While an off-the-shelf e-commerce software might seem more viable to companies because it is cheaper than custom development, a business may suffer heavily in the long term if it goes for off-the-shelf software rather than a custom one, as it may fail to cater to specific needs. Here are some of the benefits of custom e-commerce development:
- Unique processes and requirements. You get to help your customers through different billing processes, choosing items, checkout, etc., which is only possible with a customized platform.
- Custom SEO. A custom e-commerce platform will come with the search engine optimization you specifically need, unlike the generic one provided by off-the-shelf software.
- Improved conversions. Higher levels of customer satisfaction will lead to increased conversion rates.
- New tech and more updates. Using a customized e-commerce platform will ensure you have new technology integrated, and hence better performance.
- Business integration. If you want your e-commerce platform to be integrated directly and efficiently into your business, it can be done only through customized e-commerce web development.
- High quality, aesthetic appearance. Your platform needs to look good and reflect your brand, only possible through customization.
Whatever decision you make, you need to choose between hiring in-house developers or outsourcing your development process to software contractors. We believe that hiring and an in-house dev team is not economically reasonable for most e-commerce businesses. In the next section, we explain why outsourcing can be more beneficial.
Why should you outsource custom e-commerce website development?
- Cost-saving. If you choose to outsource to a development company, you can save on costs like payroll, rent for the office, etc., as you are hiring offshore developers.
- Access to high tech. Should you outsource e-commerce website development, you will have access to top technology via the skilled developers who work for you.
- Focus on core business. Not only will you have to pay offshore developers much less, but you don’t need to spend your management resources on working with a tech team because it will be under the control of the outsourcing company. This you can invest in your core business.
- Save time. You save a lot of money when you hire outsourced developers, but you also save a lot of time because you don’t have to train them, thus increasing productivity.
- Flexibility. Higher flexibility is possible with these outsourced developers in a short period of time, which would otherwise not be possible with an in-house team.
How much does it cost to hire an e-commerce programmer in different countries?
It is fairly expensive to hire e-commerce programmers, especially in-house, for your company. However, if you want to hire programmers at affordable rates, the easiest way is through outsourcing. If you seek outsourced programmers, you can save a lot of money and rest assured of the quality, as these programmers are very skilled. The rates to hire e-commerce programmers in different countries vary, such as in Ukraine, Eastern Europe, $37 an hour, $55 in Mexico, Latin America, $25 in the Philippines, Asia, and $20 in Egypt, Africa.
Tips for sourcing and hiring offshore e-commerce developers
- Check their profiles. Before hiring the offshore developers, conduct a thorough check of their profiles, take a look at their previous work, seek reviews, and so on to determine their reliability and skills.
- Make code review. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you can hire a freelance contractor for a couple of hours who will evaluate your future contractors. There are plenty of platforms like Upwork where you can hire a developer online for a short-term project.
- Ask for references. A good portfolio of your potential outsourcing is important, but real feedback from their former customers will give you most of the answers on your hiring decision stage.
- Discuss everything related to the workflow. Your working hours, communication style, reporting, etc., should be discussed in advance so that both sides are comfortable during their work on the project.
- Don’t choose the cheapest option. Good developers are never cheap. In offshore countries, development rates might be lower than in North America, Western Europe, or Australia because of the lower price of living there. But still, you should be ready to pay if you want to have the job done on a high level.
In this article, we touched on the main aspects that businesses should consider building their e-commerce websites. Each platform, development model, and hiring style can be the best decision in different circumstances. We hope this article raised the questions that will help business owners understand what’s best in their case.