Businesses go through different phases and as we evolve we have different needs. Online stores are also evolving and, depending on how, you may find it more convenient to rent, a bespoke store, a store linked to an ERP … I explain the pros and cons of each option. Let’s see.
We first define the essential requirements for an online store to meet its sales goal and make it easier for you to manage marketing and sales:
- Fast charging (less than 3 seconds is ideal).
- It should navigate well on any type of screen or device.
- Be prepared to conduct omnichannel advertising campaigns.
- Make it easy to maintain
- Make it easy to upgrade
When you plan to start an online store and start asking for quotes, you will see that you get information, broadly speaking, about three types of online store:
- Store integrated in the ERP.
- Developed with open source (WordPress, Prestashop, Magento).
- Template customization + online store plugin
- The size + online store plugin
- Developed with private code.
Store integrated in the ERP
There are companies that create management software such as SAP or ERPs that integrate online stores. This option interests you if your store needs to be linked to the ERP / SAP you already work with for billing, inventory, production control, etc., as you can access data and modules that they allow you to update the stock simultaneously or have a forecast of production demand, or avoid stock breaks, and so on.
This option requires a minimum investment of € 15,000 and implies that your business is consolidated.
In general, I do not recommend an online store made with private code, unless you have it integrated into your ERP. I only see drawbacks:
- You will always depend on the company that scheduled it for you, as only they know the code.
- If you ever break off relationships, you will most likely lose the web, as these companies don’t usually share their programming codes.
- Upgrading environments will always depend on how quickly this particular business evolves and updates. You may be obsolete due to a lack of updates.
Open Source – WordPress / Prestashop / Magento Template Customization
Themes (themes or themes) are seemingly “cheap” and a solution to budget problems, but because they are prefabricated packages they carry a whole host of built-in products (plugins), most of which you probably don’t need. It’s like when you buy a new cell phone and it comes with a bunch of apps that you didn’t order, that you don’t use, that take up a lot of space, and that you can’t uninstall.
- Low initial investment. From 2000 €.
- Possibility to do the customization and reduce costs (you will invest in time and training).
- Short expiration. Not very evolving.
- The design comes standard and allows limited customization.
- They’re loaded with plugins and features that most companies don’t need, overloading the database and hurting SEO.
- After customizing a template, if we want to validate it for Google SEO tests, a thorough “cleaning” of the code, plugins and database should be done.
- It is a prefabricated product that must respond to the very different business needs, therefore, at the level of design and architecture, it is you who will have to adapt to the possibilities it offers you.
- If you’re looking for a high degree of customization, it will come out more expensive than custom-made.
- UI / UX criteria are often not met in templates.
With all this we have a complicated back-end (code) that means that if you ever want to make any adaptations or modifications that go beyond the standard, your developer will have to invest many hours or, directly, he will have to tell you “this cannot be done”.
So, we can say that a template (theme) is NOT an EVOLUTIONARY WEBSITE. It can be a very heavy travel companion.
Open source – Custom shop
It means that the code is open source, so there are thousands of programmers who know and use it, support it, feed it, improve it and continuously optimize it (quite the opposite of private codes). What is custom coded is the web and its design, but then the WordPress, Prestashop or Magento platform is integrated.
- When doing it from scratch, the UI / UX criteria can be taken into account during the design phase.
- If the programmer knows the SEO techniques, in the development phase you can already make him meet indispensable SEO requirements = You save the cost of SEO optimization.
- The back end (code) will be clean and easy to maintain = You reduce the cost of maintenance.
- The possibilities of adding-removing-redesigning items are endless because there is nothing pre-set = You reduce upgrade costs.
- The design is free and unique.
- High initial investment. From € 5,000.
- Long implementation, more than a month
It is a platform like WordPress, Prestashop or Magento, which allows a high degree of customization of your templates, with the difference that they care a lot about providing them with a good level of SEO. Therefore, they are not loaded with unnecessary add-ons.
It is a payment platform. You have to pay monthly fees for maintenance and hosting on your server. But unlike private platforms, if you want to switch providers you can export the database and not lose the entire store when you stop paying the fee.
They are the websites or online stores for rent. In some cases you can customize the template yourself and in others only they can make it for you. In all cases, the degree of customization is minimal, the rental fee is indefinite and the database will never be yours. Examples of this type of service are: CESW, Smoolis or Squarespace.
- The initial investment is low + fees of 30 € -40 € / month.
- Quick implementation. Less than 1 month.
- It’s a rental. The moment you stop paying the fee you lose the store, information and database.
- The templates they offer are limited. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people.
- If your business is evolving and you need to create a new line of business, chances are you’ll have to pay extra to customize a new template.
- The company that provides you with the website should offer you a good service and support because everything you need will depend on what they can offer you.
Real cases, NOT success stories
With 12 years of experience making websites, we’ve seen frustrating cases and unpleasant experiences, and we’ve learned to avoid the mistakes we see too often in many projects. In our case, we have learned that the best option is
FLEE FROM THE TEMPLATES
We can tell you that 100% of the projects that involved modifying a template that the client already had working, have been unruly and unsatisfactory processes, both for us and for the client. There are always, always, problems with plugins that just don’t work and the project ends up requiring many more hours than we anticipated.
This is unfortunately a very common case:
- Marta has decided to start a small online store of hygiene and health products, so far she starts with less than 100 items. Ask for references from trusted companies in the area. You get 3 budgets.
- Choose the middle budget, neither the most expensive nor the cheapest. She doesn’t know what templates are, or wordpressos, or magents.
- The company that decides to do the project has a good reputation and is dedicated to making websites. What can go wrong?
- Invest € 3000. They deliver a self-managed store made with a custom WordPress template to a minimum (basic design changes, zero SEO optimization).
- You quickly learn how to upload products and manage it.
- Errors are emerging:
- The web takes a long time to load.
- The cart does not do the sum of quantities well.
- The “accept conditions” button is not displayed on the mobile phone, which blocks the sales process.
- The individual tabs for each product do not have a well-defined url and cannot share a product via whatsapp or xxss.
- The semantic structure has not been respected and at the level of SEO the web is not positioned.
- A total of € 5,000 has already been spent to keep the store in good condition, but has failed to resolve some of the bugs.
- He has decided not to continue with the company that created the website.
- He looked for a programmer to “look at his wordpress” and fix these problems. The programmer tells him that the template is a mess and prefers not to touch it because a lot of things can be disassembled.
- It has to start all over again; invest in a new store without mistakes.
That’s why Sokvist only offers the option to program a custom website from scratch, install the minimum of essential plugins and encode the maximum of open source functionality. It is the way to create clean, fast, agile and profitable websites in the medium term.
Let the web stop being a problem and become a solution.
… Myself, Judit, of Sokvist