Customers are the most important part of any business. Industries have been developing and changing for ages to meet the needs of their clients, and the age of technology has just continued this trend.
More and more people are shopping online, meaning that businesses everywhere are looking for ways to sell their products and services directly through the users’ screens. The two most popular options are open source platforms and custom eCommerce development. Understanding these platforms allows you to determine what’s more suitable for your business accurately.
Businesses looking for a quick but high-quality solution should look more closely into open-source platforms. You don’t have to work from scratch when using these, as you already have pre-made frameworks and many available third-party extensions and plug-ins.
This allows you to get your store up and run it relatively quickly. Furthermore, it fosters a certain degree of customization as a wide variety of extensions and plug-ins are available online. Some of these are even free, so you can test what you and your customers like best before investing in a better option.
Since open-source platforms don’t require a large upfront investment, they’re great for businesses just entering the eCommerce world. If you plan on growing your business further, though, this might not be the long-term solution you are looking for.
Collaborating with other businesses is easy, as the framework you use is public and most likely used by others. This might explain why open source is becoming more popular, even among already established businesses.
The biggest drawback of open source platforms is that they’re more vulnerable than custom eCommerce development. Third-party applications and extensions may make setting up the site easier, but they’re not always the safest options out there.
The first thing that deters business owners from an open-source platform is the fact that it costs a lot. However, the initial cost should be viewed as an investment, as it definitely pays for itself in the long run. The biggest advantage is that you get to build your website and applications completely from scratch.
Custom eCommerce website development doesn’t use any pre-made frameworks, so you can make the system as unique to your target audience and brand as you want. For example, suppose you’re planning on taking your business to higher levels. In that case, a custom eCommerce experience may suit you better as it allows you to scale and expand on the existing system once you need it.
This also applies to website design, allowing you to broadcast your brand value and voice to your audience at all times. The importance of the design shouldn’t be underestimated, as people value aesthetics as much as functionality. A custom site allows you to check both of these boxes effectively.
Suppose data mining discovers trends and patterns in customer behavior, like what pages your customers prefer and how they navigate your site. In that case, you can add other custom features to meet these trends and patterns and make the experience even more smooth and comfortable.
SEO is also an essential part of any online business, and this type of store allows you more control over your SEO tactics and methods. This will enable you to rank higher than your competition and change your strategy if you see it’s not working. Every custom design part should serve as a different puzzle piece of a good SEO strategy. To create a beautiful final picture, you can always rearrange the components or replace them with new ones without compromising your vision.
The main drawback is that this type of online store doesn’t allow for much collaboration with third-party tools. This means that you’ll have to develop your tools to complete the customer experience instead of simply collaborating with another business.
Both of these options have benefits that you can use to your advantage. The safest way to make the right decision for your business is to outline your needs and goals. If you’re on a strict budget or just trying to get your business into the eCommerce world, open-source platforms are more suitable for the time being.
If your budget isn’t a concern or you’ve been in the eCommerce world for a while, switching to custom eCommerce development can take your business to new places. This option is more fruitful for long-term business opportunities and better customer experience, but it’s not always easy or cheap to set up.
Regardless of what type of eCommerce website you go for in the end, a good customer experience is essential for increasing your revenue. Analyzing your customers’ patterns and preferences can point you in the right direction and make it easier to meet their needs. Aside from that, there are several general things you should focus on.
First of all, don’t skimp on web design. The interface is the first impression you make on any visitor on your site, so make it a good one. Stay away from bright colors and overly complicated designs that make navigating the site harder. Choose a readable font instead of a fancy cursive one, and make the site as easy to navigate as possible.
Secondly, make sure your site is functional on multiple devices. People today don’t use just their computers to shop, and you can miss out on a lot of business if you don’t make the site functional on mobile phones and tablets. Finally, remember to keep the design uniform across all devices and include the same options across multiple platforms. The less effort your customers need to get to their purchase, the better.
Next, make sure that customer service is available at all times. If you opt for custom eCommerce development, you may even get the chance to create a chatbot that answers your customers’ most frequent questions in a matter of seconds. On top of that, make sure the users unmistakably reach a human customer service representative and indicate their working hours.
Finally, ensure that the descriptions and images of the products you’re selling are accurate. This provides positive customer reviews, and people return to do business with you again. Avoid overstuffing the descriptions with keywords to boost your SEO rankings, as it can backfire.
In reality, these ingredients to a good customer experience are just the standards that your open platform or custom eCommerce website needs to meet. The customer is more important than ever before in an online setting as people can simply get the identical product from somewhere else if they don’t like your site. Meeting these standards ensures that you retain your customer base and expand it with time. Which platform allows you to do that better is entirely up to you.
Both of these options have their strengths and weaknesses. Determining your business needs and figuring out a better way to sell to your target audience is key to deciding which option you should go for. Whatever you end up choosing, make a good customer experience your top priority, and your online store will thrive.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.