Wait A Minute
If you have been doing some online reading about E-commerce platforms, you’ll often hear that shopify wins on value. On a quick glance, this seems true. Shopify, a software as a service, product only charges you a minimum month subscription and a percentage off your sale. It features no hosting setup, simple menu clicks and a sort of ‘store setup wizard’. Prefect for the get go.
On the other hand, Opencart requires more technical knowledge. Both of software and server side in order to get things started. This usually includes engaging a software consultant to get you on the go.
But I think this is way too over simplified.
When you scratch the surface, lower price might not always be cheaper. Especially when you consider other costs.
DIY Can Be A Headache
First and foremost, Shopify still requires knowledge to setup. There are countless options, taxes, shipping, payment options to configure to get your site up right. Then there’s the design. Templates can only take you so far and soon you’ll find things are a little out of place. This could leave a would-be e-store owner spending countless hours struggling to get things setup. You could spend a few weeks and still come out with something that does not quite fit.
When you find that you’ll spending more time than saving, it might be time to reconsider a professional installation.
Customization Is A Pain
You’ve almost got that pop out site 95% done when all of a sudden you realize that a feature you desperately needed is not available. Maybe you are a tailor that wants to store your customers measurements in the system. Or maybe you want to export some information to your accounting software. That 5% is why many larger companies simply choose to build their stores using open source or commercial software.
I’ve often come across clients who started out with a cheap solution, only to find the cost of switching many times their original cost.
Expertise Could Be The Difference
Just like any profession, you need to go to an expert when things get serious. If you are feeling sick, you need to go see a doctor, not Aunt Maggies magic soup. An expert can advise on branding, product display and even discount setups. When you think about it, if a web store is handing thousands of visitors a day, a few percentage difference in conversion rate can make hundreds and thousands of difference, many times the cost of the expert. What is the cost of a poor system?
What About Training?
By far, the biggest issue I have come across, is companies treating e-commerce like a silver bullet. As long as they set it up, things will magically fall into place. The best tool is only as good as the person using it. If you think about it, while an installation might cost a few thousand dollar one time, the person using it will cost you a few thousand dollar every month. To not have them trained up is like pouring money down the drain every month. Compare this to the amount you save going DIY. Make sense?
Not only must your staff be trained, but the solution must fit in a workflow that makes sense to the company. Otherwise, it just would not be used.
Software has the potential to be cheap or even free, but that does not mean you that it’s the best choice.
I love SAAS and opensource software. I use Gmail and dropbox. But when a piece of software is important and its not my main business, I often outsource the solution over to experts who specialize in that area. I want to be focusing on what makes the most sense to me. This is actually what I recommend to my clients who want to setup a online store. Do not always select what is priced cheapest.