Should You Build or Buy an eCommerce Platform?

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Within the last 15 years, eCommerce has seen an astounding rise to prevalence in B2C relationships. For many businesses, the physical presence of a store in a mall or retail space comes second to their online presence. 

Accordingly, it is critical that your eCommerce site represent your business and present the most professional, user friendly, and effective appearance and functionality. To do this, an eCommerce platform will be necessary. 

However, with all of the platform options available to a retailer, how can you be sure which is right for you? 

More importantly, should you build your own platform or buy?

Reasons to Build

You Want Freedom

You have a vision for your site, and you do not want a platform to constrain your ideas.
Many eCommerce businesses have unique plans for optimizing or designing their site, yet the options available to them in existing platforms aren’t quite right.  

If this sounds familiar to you, your business should definitely look into customizing a platform in order to allow for total design freedom.

You Want Complete Control 

For a business that wishes to stay in control of how their site functions and looks, both today and in the future, they are going to want to determine how their platform functions. 

Imagine being satisfied with the platform you are using, only to receive a broad platform update that provides features you don’t want or need.  Alternatively, you may be hoping for an update, but you must wait for the platform developers to decide when the time is right. 

If you do not want to leave your platform up to the fate of others, you should look to create your own in order to be the ultimate decision maker. 

You Need Flexibility

Going with the idea of control, if you build your own platform, you are able to dictate what features you want to be included and how you want them to be implemented in order to suit your needs as the business evolves. 

Additionally, you may have a management system that you do not want to part with in order to implement a new platform. 
For example, for a business in this kind of situation, a platform that they buy may not necessarily have taken their desired extensions into consideration. That business would have to decide whether to abandon the extension, or give-up implementing a new platform. 

However, businesses that build their own platform can easily integrate their key business software and extensions in order to be able operate in the way they choose. You are no longer at the mercy of your platform’s specifications if you choose to build your own.

You Have Complex Business Needs and Want to Simplify Them

It is not just external users who will be using your platform. On the back-end, you will have people from virtually all departments using the back-end site features. To be able to create a cohesive platform that is able to implement anything from inventory management, to marketing or accounting is a key way you can optimize your platform to reflect the goals you have for your overall business efficiency.
With the right platform, it is possible to make your site even more useful and give back-end users the information they need to make well-informed business decisions. 

If you think that the idea of creating a site that can do these things is important, you’ll need to customize and give inputs as to what kind of information you want your platform to give you. 

There is no option to simply buy a platform that will provide this to you since the information relevant to an online publisher selling subscriptions may be totally irrelevant to a retailer selling training combat equipment

You Want a Development Team to Perform the Complicated Tasks for You

Because of the complex nature of building a platform, you likely will want to outsource this task to a team of developers who specialize in it.

In doing so, you completely free yourself of having to do any of the hard work. You can simply state your requirements and expectations as the platform is being built, and allow the developers to make it happen. 

To be free from such an involved task allows you to be able to focus on other aspects of your business. 

Additionally, a development team will be accessible to you not only throughout the design process, but also after it is done. If any problems arise, or if you decide to implement more features, you can count on the people who have been involved with the site from the start to continually deliver for you. 

These people have learned your business, and they can help you continually make your eCommerce site function in the best way possible. 

Reasons to Buy

You are a small business, selling simple products

If your business is small and exists to sell simple products, then it makes sense to keep your platform simple too. There may very well be an existing platform that suits your needs, so purchasing a platform can be an easy, cost-effective option.

Additionally, if you have a business without complicated transactions or a large volume of customers, you likely will not require customized back-end features. In this case, purchasing a platform will be the quickest option for your business to immediately jump into eCommerce. 

You cannot afford the investment

If your business has a restricted development budget, then it is probably best to forgo building your own platform. Your platform is your means to communicate with your customers, as well as the way you will build your online reputation. It is also the heart of the eCommerce operations on the back end.

To skimp on this aspect of your business can be damaging to your bottom line, if not outright embarrassing for your business. Your platform is the backbone of your site, so make the investment in making the best platform possible, or don’t risk it at all.

You wish to avoid a long-term development project

If you build your own platform, you are responsible for not only building, but maintaining the platform for its entire existence. If your business does not have an adequate development team, or the expertise necessary to do this kind of thing long-term, then they should purchase a platform where the work is already done. 

As previously mentioned, it is risky to build your own platform if you do not have the knowledge or means to do it well.

You don’t have any time to spare in developing a platform

If your business is eager to get into eCommerce and you do not want to wait, then you should definitely purchase a platform. 

Purchasing a platform means you can almost immediately start your venture into eCommerce, whereas building your own platform will require a serious time commitment. Therefore, if you urgently need to have an eCommerce presence, you should not hesitate to buy a ready-to-use platform.

Why not both?

With Slatwall, you have the option to combine the conveniences that come with both buying and building. The platform itself is ready to be purchased, and comes with all of the most essential eCommerce features that can simply be toggled on and off to fit your unique needs. 

You can essentially build your own platform through doing this, and should you require more technical development, you can utilize Slatwall’s experienced development team to build customized features to be included in your platform-both today and at any point in the future. Slatwall allows you to have the best of both worlds, so you do not need to compromise. 

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