It can be pretty daunting if you're a merchant looking for an e-commerce solution. You know what you're selling and you know you want to sell online, but that's about it.
The vast selection of e-commerce options available may cause you more confusion than clarity. Should you trust the flashy advertising and promise of quick setup, low fees and exceptional customer service that some e-commerce providers make? Or should you partner with a web development company for an enterprise e-commerce solution?
Many merchants turn to an e-commerce SaaS (short for software-as-a-service) to set up their online store.
Companies like Volusion and Shopify tend to be a low-risk solution for non-web-savvy merchants who just want to start selling. Most e-commerce SaaS companies have a pretty straightforward process: purchase a plan; pick a store design template; add your products, configure your payment/shipping methods and go. The cost is typically much lower than an enterprise e-commerce solution.
There are tradeoffs with e-commerce SaaS, though. You likely will have to accept limitations on the user experience design and visual design of your store. Most providers' templates are hard to truly make your own without coding knowledge. They may offer custom design solutions, but they will come at a higher cost.
Also, if your business has special shipping configurations or third-party integrations, a SaaS may not be able to accommodate those needs.
Finally, you may find your provider's customer service too unresponsive or impersonal for your needs. After all, you are not their only customer.
Partnering with a web development company, such as Integrity, for your e-commerce project is ideal if you are looking for a truly custom online shopping experience.
Perhaps your product inventory or product options are too large for a SaaS to handle. Perhaps you have certain immovable restrictions on who can buy your products or where your products can be shipped.
Most commonly, we've found that merchants seeking an enterprise e-commerce solution require a highly complex integration, either with an internal backend system or a third-party program.
Partnering with an enterprise e-commerce provider means you will have a team of user experience experts committed to recommending the best possible architecture for your store. They are also likely to provide thorough training and be more responsive after your store launches, because they have intimate knowledge of how it works. You may not be their only customer, but they will treat you like you are.
The biggest setback with enterprise e-commerce development is usually budget. You may find the cost of this approach exceeds your budget or is higher than you anticipated spending. However, the project cost is directly related to its scope. If your project demands a high level of customization or integration, expect to pay more for it.
Integrity Founder and CEO John Simanowitz advises that if you're looking for an enterprise e-commerce solution, "Find a web development company who has been there, understands the inherent pitfalls, can fully understand your project and is willing to get into the details to accurately set your expectations."
Integrity has extensive experience working with e-commerce SaaS providers as well as enterprise e-commerce development. Read a selection of our e-commerce case studies and contact us with your project idea.
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