Should you use existing ecommerce platforms or build a custom one?

Begin by thinking about the whole customer journey

  • What is your customers’ job-to-be-done? What does the customer need?
  • How will/did the customers learn about the product or service?
  • How will the customers end up on the ecommerce platform?
  • If from Google, what were they searching for?
  • If from advertisements, what are their expectations?
  • Are there extra steps required before purchase? Contract creation? Configuration? Location selection?
  • How wide is your offering? Are there critical differences between buying patterns, customer segments, internal processes, and data between product lines?
  • What are your sales channels? Are there similar requirements between them?
  • Online
  • Retail
  • Customer service
  • Field service
  • Sales representatives
  • All the above?
  • What sort of content will help them with their purchase decision? How will you help them find that content once they arrive?
  • What other features (such as chats, wizards, etc.) will be necessary to help a member of the target audience to commit to the purchasing decision?
  • How will your online and in-store experience need to be integrated?
  • How will the product or service be delivered? How about reverse logistics?
  • How do the customers expect to be contacted afterwards for support?
  • How can you turn the customers into repeat customers? How do you want to stay in touch with them?
  • What will the data flows be like? What information needs to flow between the ecommerce solution, ERP, warehouse systems and so on?
  • How up to date do you need your data to be (e.g. inventories)? Real-time?
  • Last, but definitely not least: How will the web shop be run and managed? How easy should it be? Do you have specified experts whose job is to operate the site?
  • Maybe the products are complex to buy, require a lot of customisation, or have other needs that require rethinking the purchase flow: product recommendation, configuration wizards, etc.
  • Maybe the availability, delivery and so on is dependent on multiple factors and requires a lot of back and forth information flow between the ecommerce solution, ERP, warehouse management systems and other systems.
  • Maybe the order fulfilment process is unusual and requires a more complicated process than just adding items to the cart and checking out.

How well does your ecommerce fit the standard template?

  • They allow the company to manage static content pages.
  • They allow the company to manage product information (prices, variants, bundles, etc.).
  • They allow the customer to browse products, add them to the cart, pay for them and receive confirmation.
  • They allow the customer to register, login and track their purchase history.

Supporting the customer journey

  • Making online purchases
  • Requesting support for their purchases
  • Managing their warranty and extended support
  • Managing their customer loyalty program memberships
  • Participating in a community around the product

Key requirements for any ecommerce solution

The costs of a custom development project

  • Theme customisation: At the most basic level is building a new theme to an existing ecommerce solution. These allow you to change the colours, layouts and so on to meet the brand guidelines but also add simple dynamic elements like wizards to guide the user in their decisions.
  • Plugins/Apps: Most ecommerce solutions support plugins, which usually allow you to modify the business logic, such as by adding additional steps or logic to the checkout flow.
  • APIs & Headless ecommerce: Many ecommerce solutions provide APIs that can be used to synchronise data between them and external systems. These can even allow you to build a completely separate user interface as a custom development project but still taking advantage of the existing solution for business logic, administration and so on.
  • Fully custom solution: Of course, it is possible to build everything from scratch. Even then it is usually possible to take advantage of existing services such as a headless CMS service to avoid having to develop content management features, for example.

Turnkey product as a steppingstone to a custom solution

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Columbia Road

Columbia Road

Nordic digital sales consultancy. We help companies get more revenue and more customers in the digital era.