The State of eCommerce in 2017

Blog / Jon Farrell

It’s 2017 and if you own a business you probably have a website, but if you're in the business of selling a product - you need a website. There are many ways to build an online store, here are three options and the benefits of each:

Hosted eCommerce Product

The first option we're going to go over is a hosted solution like the products that Shopify and Big Commerce offer. With this option you sign up for their service, pick a theme, upload your products, and start selling without having to write one line of code. They take care of your hosting, your SSL, and give you all the tools you need to sell your product online. We can take this a step further and customize your theme to match your company's branding. The ease of this option does come at a cost. While the initial startup cost and monthly costs are low, as you grow your monthly cost could increase by 2x, 5x, or more if you need to buy a larger plan or need additional functionallity. On top of this, when you sign up for a hosted solution you're stuck with their server and settings. If you're having a busy season you can't just switch to a faster server or if the server you're hosted on is down you can't move your content to a different one. These may not be the first things you think about when creating a website but if you plan on scaling it's something to consider.

Self Hosted eCommerce Product

Another option is a self hosted eCommerce product like Craft Commerce, WooCommerce, or Magento. These are usually open-source packages that can be installed on any server as long as it meets that products minimum requirements. The self hosted route doesn't have quite as much polish right out of the box but allows for more flexibility. This flexibility applies to both the functionallity of the website and the server setup. If there's functionallity that isn't offered right out of the box we could build it for a one time cost. If you're having a busy season you can switch over to a faster server of your choosing. If your hosting company has a major outage you could deploy a backup to another company and keep selling while your competition is down. You may not be able to control every aspect of your website but you can control more than in a the previous option. If you want or need complete control of your website the next option may be the one for you.

Custom eCommerce Solution

When the first two solutions don't fit your needs there's always the option to create a custom solution. When we develop a custom solution for a client we first sit down and go over all of their wants and needs for the project. Combining a payment gateway like Stripe and a backend framework like Rails lets us do just about anything you'd like. You can choose exactly how you'd like every page to look, you can have complex product variation combinations, and you can control almost every aspect of the checkout process. A client of ours, Boston Boot Company, went this route when they first created their website. Later on, they wanted to simplify the checkout process and because we there weren't any limitations on the code that we could write we were able to do just that.

What solution would be best for you?

If you don't already have an eCommerce website or would like to improve the one you already have, drop us a line! We'd be happy to go over your options and create a custom proposal that fits your needs.