Getting an e-commerce website setup for your business has never been easier or cheaper than it is now, yet we are often in the position of having to redo brand new websites that have just been setup but cannot be used due to hitting an impassable platform limitation or realising high hidden costs associated with seemingly simple customisations.
The DIY option typically involves signing up for a hosting plan, installing some shopping cart software, such as WordPress + WooCommerce and taking care of everything else yourself, such as domain registration, SSL, security, emails, backups etc. This approach can sometimes work ok to a point, if you are a technical person with some knowledge of how hosting, domains, security etc. works or you are enthusiastic about it and willing to learn. The problems start the moment you want to get out of the beaten path and customise something in your custom setup, unless you are a highly skilled developer with lots of time on your hands, chances are you will get stuck very quickly and you will need to seek help. Help can be found, but if you are working with one of the open source platforms, the help is typically somebody highly skilled charging you hourly rates.
The Drag & Drop website builder option has gained some popularity lately. This option has severe limitations in terms of what you can do. It is extremely easy to set up the standard aspects of what you need and it is extremely difficult or often impossible to do anything beyond that.
In our experience, pretty much any website, which is not a complete flop, will require at some point some customisations and enhancements to the standard setup. The more successful a website is, the more adjustments and customisations it will need.
One of the most common problems we come across is website setup on a platform not fit for purpose or not suitable for local operations due to lack of reliable well maintained integrations.
When choosing an e-commerce platform and a provider to put your business in their hands, it is very important to find out if the platform and provider are in a position to deliver should you need any changes to the default setup, including when it comes to back-end functionality and integrations with various other systems, most typically payment gateways and courier companies, but also communications related, such as email and SMS integrations, accounting integrations, supplier / ERP integrations and more. If a provider is not capable of delivering this and you go ahead with them anyway, you are setting yourself up for major and expensive challenges going forward.
Although it is not that complicated to switch e-commerce providers while your e-commerce operation is relatively small, it is still a hassle and it takes up your valuable time, time that you can use for growing your business rather than dealing with technical challenges and changing providers. Making the right decision as early as possible can save you lots of hassle later.
Hosted E-commerce Solutions
Many years ago, you had no other option but to go the DIY route mentioned above. Today, fortunately, due to the ever increasing popularity of e-commerce and large investments in the industry, things have changed and you are able to sign-up for a Hosted E-commerce Solution.
With Hosted E-commerce, all the technical aspects of the setup and there are many, such as hosting of your website and email, domain registration and management, SSL certificates and security, replication and backups, fault tolerance and high availability, software and infrastructure upgrades, wide variety of integrations and more, are all taken care of by the provider.
The RetailConnection packages include support, so you can always drop us an email or use the live chat to contact us and have your questions answered and problems addressed. Packages also include development time, which can be used to enhance your website as and when needed without incurring additional expenses (depending on the scope of the required changes). Even when the customisations are more significant, the RetailConnection platform is designed with customisability in mind making it quicker and cheaper to modify and customise your website, compared to other platforms.
Picking the right provider for your e-commerce needs can be challenging, especially if you are not sure what to look for. We make it easier by offering free obligation-free consultations, platform demos and trial accounts. We would encourage you to request the same from the shortlisted providers you are considering. Be properly informed before making the decision, it can save you lots of money, time and hassles in the future.