Ecommerce Strategy, Website Choices

The right ecommerce system for me?

There is no such thing as a best Ecommerce system but there is a “best for you”

Your choice of system depends on a number of questions:

  1. Is this “proof of concept” or is this going to be your long-term living?
  2. How much money do you have initially (Or are you prepared to risk)
  3. Are you prepared to exchange capital outlay for long-term savings OR do you want to pay in a drip feed fashion?
  4. How much design flexibility do you require?
  5. Are you going to want to optimize the site going forward with loads of ecommerce functionality and add-on’s?
  6. How dirty are you prepared to get your hands?

The overriding question is how serious you are and how long term you are thinking.

So bearing in mind the above there is one core choice that needs to be made, do you:

  1. Use someone else’s tools and systems to create your site on their server (Called a “Hosted Solution’)

OR

  1. Create your own website in your own server
    (Called a “Self Hosted Solution’)

An explanation of what this means:

Using someone else’s tools and systems.

  1. You create a site on their server by using drag and drop functionality or using standard themes.
  2. Relatively easy to implement
  3. Design is relatively flexible
  4. Seemingly cheap in that you only pay a small monthly fee and/or PLUS a transaction cost

Be aware:

  1. It will require significant time on your part (do not underestimate this)
  2. You have to get your hands dirty and learn the tools
  3. The site will never be “exactly as you want” – you are using standard tools and systems
  4. If the site becomes successful you are going to have to start again as:
    1. The “on” costs will become significant.
    2. The site is unmovable, it resides on their server.
  5. You are not able to use 3rd party tools to truly optimize the site for search engines or for user experience in order to maximize traffic and sales.

Create your own website in your Server.

  1. This requires you to install a theme or template in your server, alternatively you can recruit a web company to set this up for you
  2. If you do this yourself you need an element of technical knowledge and awareness of what you are doing.
  3. Design is completely flexible BUT either you need coding knowledge or you need to use a web developer.
  4. Generally this requires a lump sum to setup your own site with hosting costs, a theme and perhaps a developer.
  5. NO on costs or transaction charges

Be aware:

  1. Even utilizing a theme is not really for the complete amateur, it is often better to pay the $350-$500 for a developer to install and setup a theme
  2. You will need to get your hands dirty and learn the tools
  3. The design can be exactly as you want (BUT you pay)

 


Here are some example situations:

Startup, low budget, untested product, little requirement for dedicated design, little or no capital.

Solution
Use a hosted solution and invest your time in setting up your own site. Accept that if things go well you will have to spend again.

Reason
Too much risk to spend capital on an untested product

Startup, some budget, untested product, desire for some dedicated design.

Solution
Use a hosted solution; spend your budget on a coder to “tweak” the design to your requirements. Accept that if things go well you will have to spend again.

Reason
Too much risk to spend capital on an untested product

Startup, some budget, tested product, desire for some dedicated design.

Solution
Use a self-hosted solution; spend your budget on a coder to “tweak” a standard template.

Reason
Little risk, the focus should be on reducing long-term costs (monthly and transaction fees) and to own your site – one that can be optimized to ensure maximum traffic and conversion ratios.

Startup, extensive budget, tested product, desire for dedicated design, experience in digital marketing.

Solution
Use a self-hosted solution; spend your budget on a dedicated design with dedicated functionality that enables you to continually optimize to ensure maximum traffic and conversion ratios.

Reason
Little risk, you are digitally aware you have a dedicated design requirement and you are going to need to continually optimize the site for SEO and for conversions – you need all the flexibility you can get WHILST owning the site

Assumptions:

The above thoughts are based on the following assumptions:

  1. Hosted site fees – from $29 monthly plus transaction charges – (note successful stores seldom pay this little) as there are way too many “supplementary charges”
  2. Self Hosted – Theme plus installation plus one years hosting $350-$500

As a closing statement if you think you are in anyway going to be successful then you need to plan for owning your own site and ensuring your ongoing transaction charges are sustainable.

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