In 2022 worldwide eCommerce sales are expected to reach $5.4 trillion. The question is how to stand out in such a profitable and, thus, competitive niche? The answer is: to build a unique website that will attract customers and align with your business goals.
When developing an eCommerce website you have two possible ways: build it from scratch or use a ready-made solution. Canned solutions have a lot of advantages but are not suitable for every business. Some companies need an exceptional experience that cannot be created with templates. In this article, we will take a look at the most common scenarios when custom eCommerce website development is the best option and explain why (based on experts’ opinions).
When is custom eCommerce website development a good idea?
Today the market is saturated with multiple pre-made solutions to build a website. There are different e-commerce website platforms to choose from depending on your requirements and budget. Many eCommerce websites can get away with one of these solutions and live happily ever after. Nevertheless, in some cases, business requires a website built from the ground up.
A website needs custom development when there are:
- complicated integrations, especially with other bespoke software
- unique functionality
- demand for extra high-level security
- the business has outgrown the off-the-shelf solution that can no longer handle the high volumes of users and orders
In other words, eCommerce website builders are great for basic online shops. But if you aim to build a website like Amazon, for instance, then you definitely need custom development.
Benefits of custom eCommerce development
There is a set of advantages to building your eCommerce website from scratch. Let’s dive into them.
Unique design improves user experience and empowers brand
Custom eCommerce website design brings along a distinct representation of the brand and makes a good impression on customers. They feel more engaged by enjoying quality and uniqueness. Customers are not interested in average-looking websites. The more entertaining your store appears to your visitors the higher the chances they will buy from you and share their experience with others. This is especially significant for websites with high-end products where the book is often judged by its cover.
All-in-all custom design has the following benefits:
Nick Edwards, Director at Snow Finders, is sure that canned solutions can’t make your website look as reliable as custom-made. “Your site becomes the public face of your product’s and customer service’s quality. People will be less trusting of your unremarkable and incomplete website. They appreciate the effort, and if your website appears to be lacking, you will receive bad feedback”.
Gives a competitive advantage
“A lot of the time, out-of-the-box site-building platforms can do a good job but it will make your site look like every other site using the platform. To really get unique and let your brand identity shine through right from the start, a custom website is invaluable”, – Dragos Badea, CEO at Yarooms.
“Your website is where you will most likely make your sales, and utilizing it to its full potential is the key to a successful eCommerce brand”, – Ann McFerran, CEO of Glamnetic.
Functionality meets all your requirements
A canned solution most likely will not have every necessary feature for you. Sure, you can upgrade and customize, but if you customize too much your website becomes very unreliable and expensive to maintain. At the same time, custom-developed websites are tailored according to your needs: they include all the vital parts and none of the redundant features.
“If you have a lot of user types, unique user flows, and features, it will be much easier to build your website from scratch. Custom development can even be cheaper in the long run because you never know what you’ll run into if you customize an eCommerce platform too much”, – Sergii Opanasenko, COO at Greenice.
A custom website is as flexible and scalable as it gets
Business is a living and breathing organism that should change and adapt. So it is very likely that after launching the website you will need to make some changes and improvements, or even pivot completely. Custom web development allows you to change your site in any way you want at any time.
In addition to this, modern cloud hosting solutions can make your website scalable, so you will be ready for any sudden traffic spikes.
“Pre-designed websites and applications are neither adaptable nor expandable, which limits their lifespan. The scalability and flexibility of the custom web apps ensure that they can adapt to future demands and requirements. This feature of the custom web application allows you to save a significant amount of money and resources”, – Shiv Gupta, CEO of Incrementors Inbound Marketing.
Unlimited integrations are available
You likely use several separate tools to run your business. There is a tremendous value in letting these systems ‘communicate’ with each other with the help of API integrations. Imagine if every tool was integrated with your website and you didn’t have to switch back and forth and re-enter data manually?
Your website can become more user-friendly and you and your users can save tons of time, all with the help of integrations with third-party systems.
“Integration with other systems is a typical requirement for eCommerce websites. For example, on the back-end, you may have an order entry system that you use to track every order from the time it is placed to the time it is fulfilled and shipped. You must, however, enter that order into your invoicing and accounting systems. Depending on the back-end software you select, integrating it with your eCommerce website might be relatively simple or time-consuming. In the latter instance, you should probably use a custom-built website”, – Anthony Mixides, Managing Director at Bond Media.
With the help of custom development, it is possible to integrate your website with nearly any type of software, even a bespoke legacy system. This will never be possible with a mass-market eCommerce platform.
You get the ultimate level of cybersecurity
As a rule, hackers find some weak spots in popular CMS platforms and attack the bunch of websites that use them. Open-source solutions are especially exposed to the threat as their code is available for everyone for free. With custom development, it is much harder to find and exploit vulnerabilities as the code is unique and belongs only to you and your team.
A true story: our Greenice website was initially built with WordPress and was hacked a month after the launch. The same happened to one of our clients who switched to Magento and got compromised almost instantly. However, throughout over a decade of custom development, our team has never seen attacks on custom-made websites.
Why are hackers so attracted to eCommerce? The reason is money. So there is an urge to secure transactions on the website which is problematic for canned solutions. Thomas Kwon, CEO of Idea Maker, says:
“As an eCommerce business, you deal with sensitive customer information, such as credit card details. With custom web development, you get access to secure third-party software and API integration, like the PayPal payment portal. Allowing users to purchase products through payment providers they trust instills a sense of security, making shoppers feel comfortable using your website”.
Optimized coding accelerates page speed
Loading speed is extremely important both for users’ satisfaction and website ranking on Google. Today page speed belongs to one of the Core Web Vitals analyzed by Google to rank websites. If it takes too long to load any of your content you automatically lose your SEO positions.
That is why many business owners are focused on boosting their websites’ performance. However, the abilities of canned solutions are limited, as well as their speed, especially if they have too many plugins and extensions.
“When you use an online site-building tool to create your website, you may expect it to follow a specific format. Most have functions that you do not require. You’re not only paying for these things that aren’t necessary, but they’re also making your website hefty. They may lengthen your loading time, causing unsatisfied visitors to abandon your site before making a purchase”, – Daniel Carter, Marketing Manager at Perspective Pictures.
Custom-made websites possess only vital features, no extras that slow down the loading process and cause severe bugs.
“Slow website load times lead to increased bounce rates, reducing your likelihood of generating sales and lowering your SERP rankings. When developing a custom website, you choose how the site is designed and on which tech stack it’s built. This means your website can be created with speed optimization in mind, implementing the necessary technologies to ensure an efficient web design”, – Thomas Kwon.
One more example from our experience. When our agency website was powered by WordPress it was slow, and no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t pass the Google PageSpeed Insights test. After we migrated to a custom website we saw significant improvements in speed.
The downsides of custom eCommerce website
Of course, there are always two sides to the coin. We have already named the numerous advantages of custom web development, but, to be fair, we should also mention its disadvantages. In a nutshell, custom web development is expensive and time-consuming.
For example, a store powered by Shopify will be ready in 1-3 weeks while building the same thing from scratch will take months of work.
This, in turn, influences the custom eCommerce website cost because of how long it takes to build everything from the ground up.
All of this makes custom development a serious undertaking that requires careful consideration. So it may not be the best option for a Proof of Concept or Idea Validation when you need to launch fast and cheap with minimal risks. You will also need to look into marketing your website. If you have a great site and it’s built using Google’s E-A-T conditions then you should make sure your marketing is on point. If you need better SEO there are a lot of great ways to boost your site’s ranking. Learning about SEO is essential to knowing what you need on and off site to bring your site exposure up.
There are chances that out-of-the-box solutions don’t suit your business. So the only other option is to search for eCommerce web design services to build your site from the ground up. This option has multiple benefits:
- your brand representation and functionality will be tailored exactly to your needs
- such a website will be able to change and grow along with your business
- high security
If you have an idea of a unique website and are wondering how much it will cost, capture everything in writing and reach out to several web development agencies. We’d love to help!
Author’s Bio: Inna Lebedeva is a market researcher and writer at Greenice web development company. She explores today’s trends in IT business and provides useful insights for startups. Inna covers a wide array of topics from remote work to eCommerce development. Her writing is always based on deep research and expert interviews.