September 2011 - Lightcommerce

Why Work with an Ecommerce Platform Developer?

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Think you can handle setting up your online store by yourself, or that working with an ecommerce platform developer is too expensive?  Consider this cautionary tale of Bobby and Sue…

Bobby and Sue are brother and sister, and both of them have decided to start their own online stores with the dream of quitting their day jobs within a few months.

Bobby does a few quick internet searches for ecommerce website templates and, to his excitement, finds a free HTML template to use for his store.  It isn’t quite what he had in mind (and he doesn’t really know how to program HTML), but he presses forward anyways.  “Hey Sue,” Bobby says.  “I’m already more profitable than you are – I got my website template for free!”

Sue takes a look at Bobby’s template and laughs to herself.  It doesn’t look professional and she knows that neither she nor Bobby know a thing about how to code websites.  Instead, she decides to enlist the help of a professional bespoke ecommerce platform developer who is able to start work on her site after a few phone consultations to determine exactly what she’s looking for and what type of features she’ll need now and in the future.

With her site development out of the way, Sue gets back to what she’s good at – finding and negotiating with the suppliers who will stock her inventory at the best possible prices.  For good measure, she spends a little time brushing up on website promotion strategies so that she’ll be ready to go as soon as her site is finished.

Bobby, on the other hand, has been spending 16 hour days staring at his computer, trying to understand the foreign language on his screen.  He’s starting to get the hang of it, but a few mistakes at the beginning caused him to have to go back and start from scratch several times.

After a few weeks, Sue’s site has launched, and she’s already making sales.  She’s pleased that the developer she worked with (LightCommerce, of course!) put in the extra effort to create a good experience for her visitors, and she’s already begun to recoup the investment she made in having a strong site built.  Bobby has his site up as well, but instead of making sales, he’s fielding angry emails from visitors who weren’t able to complete the checkout process due to technical glitches.

As he heads to bed after yet another late night of trying to get his site working correctly, he sighs to himself, “If only I had enlisted the help of qualified professionals like lightCommerce from the very start…”

What Should You Look for in an Ecommerce Platform?

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Making the decision to start selling products online is huge!  Whether you plan to sell a few of your own handmade creations or want to grow a mega-market to rival Amazon, it’s important to get started out on the right foot by choosing the best ecommerce platform for your needs.

By building your web store on a bespoke ecommerce platform, you’ll avoid the costly “per transaction” fees levied by sites like eBay, Etsy or Amazon, while also retaining complete control over the way your site is run.  And since each bespoke platform installation is tailored to your specific needs, you can rest assured that your site is providing the best possible buying environment for your visitors.

But with so many different ecommerce platforms available today, how do you determine which one is right for you?  Consider the following questions:

  • What kind of support will I receive?  As a beginning ecommerce seller, support is crucial – just ask the thousands of business owners who have had to scramble to learn code when an unexpected bug caused their self-hosted websites to crash, resulting in lost time and lost money!
  • What is the technical background of the platform developers?  Don’t put the success of your web store in the hands of some fresh-out-of-college coder who doesn’t have the real world experience necessary to support you and your growing business!  Instead, look for developers with extensive real-world experience handling ecommerce websites and transactions.
  • What features will the platform provide me?  Every ecommerce seller’s needs are different, which is why looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform with the specific features you’ll need now and in the future to support your business’s growth is critical.

Obviously, we’re pretty confident that the LightCommerce platform will meet these needs and more.  But whether you’re looking for a bespoke ecommerce platform or not, it’s still a good idea to think through these questions in order to give your online store the best possible odds of succeeding.

How a Bespoke Ecommerce Platform Saves You Money

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There’s no arguing with the fact that a bespoke ecommerce platform (aka – one that’s built exclusively for your unique needs) is more expensive than an out-of-the-box web store template.   While you can pick up a generic ecommerce store template for under £100, your initial investment in a custom ecommerce site will likely be much more than that.

However, when you consider the other factors that make a bespoke ecommerce platform so powerful, you’ll find that this price comparison simply isn’t relevant.  For example, will your one-off template purchase update itself?  Will it provide you with the kind of powerful CMS you need to respond to the ever-changing needs of your market?

If you’re planning ahead for your ecommerce website (or if you aren’t satisfied with your current set-up), consider the following lightcommerce features that make this bespoke platform a much better investment – dollar-for-dollar – for your business:

  • Ongoing security management.  As a website owner, reliability is key.  If your site is hacked, you stand to lose thousands of dollars (or more) and damage your reputation.  At lightcommerce, we’re constantly updating our platform to guard against new security threats, meaning that your site and your data will always be safe and secure. Savings to you: £1,000+ if your site is ever hacked.
  • Frequent new features upgrades.  Unless you’re a skilled web developer in addition to an ecommerce merchant, you’ll likely find that making necessary updates to your store-bought website template is time-consuming and cost-prohibitive.  But as a lightcommerce customer, free updates are part of your initial purchase price, so you’ll never have to worry about the added cost of ongoing site upkeep.Savings to you: £100+/hour to hire a qualified web developer.
  • Flexible content management system.  The ability to update your web store is critical, as product lines and inventory change from day-to-day.  Unfortunately, you’ll find that updating an HTML web store template can be difficult, making the powerful lightcommerce CMS (which allows you to add and update pages on your own) a welcome relief from needing to hire a web designer for every little tweak.Savings to you: £70+/hour to hire a talented web designer.

So before you write off bespoke ecommerce platforms as being too expensive for your business, be sure to look at the bigger picture.  A larger investment up front in the lightcommerce platform could make the difference between an easy launch and hassle-free site operation, and a series of frustrating and costly changes.