- 1. Choose the type of store you want to build
- 2. Decide between a platform-based or a fully custom ecommerce solution
- 3. Guide your way to an impeccable customer experience
- 4. Deliberate on custom ecommerce design
- 5. Take care of integrations
- 6. Find the right vendor
- Turn ecommerce into your growth engine
Over the last few years, custom ecommerce solutions have attracted more attention as a crisis response to shrinking customer wallets. Paired with customer-centricity and deep engagement levels, custom digital trade platforms can prevent the headlong tumble into the red, serve high-quality experiences, and deliver a 360-degree vision of the business performance to global merchants.
Today, we’ll crack the code for high-impact custom ecommerce software, get to know its ingredients, and the must-have capabilities you’ll want to add.
1. Choose the type of store you want to build
Custom ecommerce development is a complex landscape with a slew of variables. At the onset of your project, the initial focus should be on the high-level image of your future store and its target audience. Here are the main types of commercial arenas your company can operate on:
Business-to-consumer solutions help users complete a task with minimal effort by revolving around simplicity and straightforward sales cycles. From a technical standpoint, this manifests in intuitive UI/UX, distinctive visuals, and an integrated solution core.
To hit their ROIs, B2C companies focus on repeat purchases at a massive scale. This calls for in-depth data analysis, marketing automation, and 24/7 customer support. At the same time, B2C platforms employ omnichannel capabilities, which also require corresponding multichannel integrations.
Variety — whether it’s payment options, product demos, or self-service — is also at the front of the mind when building a B2C platform.
B2B customers’ purchasing journey is not linear; it’s pretzel-shaped. Along with a complex funnel, a B2B company often caters to vendor partners, resellers, or affiliate companies, selling products or services through manifold channels. As B2B customers need to be able to be assigned to multiple accounts, B2B software is often a multi-model interface.
Also, customer acquisition costs are notably higher compared to B2C, making high levels of the customer’s experience a crucial success factor. Lead and scoring automation, quote management, forecasting, and enhanced analytics are the features that make sure no high-ticket lead slips through the cracks.
Along with rich business-focused functionality, an ecommerce platform should also integrate easily with essential business software such as ERP, PIM, CRM, and OMS to support an integrated business view. Compliance and data security often enter the equation as the core ingredients of a custom ecommerce platform for business-to-business companies.
If you are a company that facilitates the exchange of goods between sellers and buyers, a tailored marketplace would marry well with your business model. Typically, it is a three-sided platform with user-specific features for the admin, seller, and buyer.
The selling side of a marketplace should be supported by a robust order management system, product catalog management software, and easy-to-use dashboards. Tools for messaging and communication bridge the gap between sellers and customers.
The buyer side typically bundles a streamlined cart and checkout flow with multiple payment integrations, order tracking, and powerful product discovery with tailored suggestions. General marketplace management tools, sales and marketing analytics and a tax management module help marketplaces operate effectively across regulations.
2. Decide between a platform-based or a fully custom ecommerce solution
With a solid product vision at the ready, you should then decide on the development approach to kick-start your custom ecommerce software development.
A from-scratch development approach
A fully custom solution is built from the ground up, taking into account even a minute business requirement.
The ecommerce custom development approach allows you to create a unique, fully compliant platform with a custom ecommerce design, aligned with evolving business needs and data standards. The clean and flexible code base of fully custom ecommerce software readily welcomes any extensions or modules you might need down the road. Similarly, it easily merges into your business ecosystem, resulting in data traceability and performance visibility.
On the downside, a from-scratch solution might be more expensive and time-consuming to develop, especially with a lack of qualified experts. To drive down your TCO and increase time-to-market, your development team can tap into an open-source build that can then be customized and upgraded to match your standards.
Here’s when a fully custom ecommerce platform is right up your alley:
- You operate in a highly regulated market
- You have complex back-office requirements
- You employ various selling channels
- You sell to different customer segments
- You need to connect multiple business systems
Vendor-based ecommerce development
A platform-based solution is a viable entryway if you want to reduce your development cost and access out-of-the-box features fast. In this case, your development team builds an ecommerce platform for your business based on the ready-made features from a vendor such as SAP Commerce or Opencart. Although it is not built from the get-go, the platform is still fine-tuned to your needs, albeit with some limitations.
Thus, if your vendor does not offer a particular integration, plugin, or API, you’ll have to settle for what’s available. And although compliance and data security are offered by default, those parameters are not as granular as in fully custom solutions. Also, a vendor-based solution places a layer of control between your customers and your business as well as charges recurring fees that can net a tidy sum in the long run.
A vendor-based ecommerce is a valid choice in the following cases:
- You are a fledgling ecommerce business with a modest customer base
- You need to hit the market fast
- Your compliance and data security requirements are moderate
Below, let’s take a closer look at the core differences between the two options.
|Criteria||Fully custom ecommerce development||Platform-based ecommerce development|
|Cost||Considerable upfront investment, lower long-term TCO||Fewer initial expenses, recurring fees|
|Data security and compliance||Built based on your unique compliance and data security requirements||Generic, caters to a broad audience|
|Customization||Fully customized to your needs||Out-of-the-box features, plugins, extensions, and add-ons|
|Compatibility||Fully compatible with your digital estate||Limited integration|
|Brand image||Helps stand out in the market with distinctive, branded UIs||Ready-made design templates|
Summing up, there’s no universal answer to this dilemma — you should call the shots, minding your business goals and budget expectations.
Enter the ecommerce market on your own terms
3. Guide your way to an impeccable customer experience
Today, over 73% of customers point to experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions. A successful transition to the next horizon of customer experience is inseparably linked with the latest technologies. The latter allows you to match the evolving dynamics of shopper preferences and compare favorably with other contestants.
The purchase journey is never a straight line. Today, B2B customers are using up to 10 channels to complete their buying journeys. Therefore, the holy trinity of face-to-face, remote, and self-service commerce is not an option, it’s a prompt response to channel plurality.
The omnichannel model rests on seven pillars — strategy, information flow, the physical flow of products, process automation, and last-mile delivery. From a technical standpoint, this can be supported through integrated marketing, merchandising, accounting, and supply chain management for all channels.
The ability to easily switch between channels and an integrated customer view are also among the core prerequisites for value-added commerce.
At-scale personalization is a harbinger of high consumer satisfaction anticipated by over 70% of customers. Conversely, the lack of personalization results in a bad customer experience and leads to 67% of shoppers getting frustrated with the brand.
To deliver on the promise of personalization, retailers need to orchestrate the four Ds — data, decision, design, and distribution. By using data and analytics to create highly personalized experiences, companies can maximize the value at every stage of the customer life cycle, driving more sales and revenue.
This paradigm is also supported by dynamically served content that adjusts to users’ behavior, preferences, and interests in real time. The final stretch in serving personalization is connecting data, a decisioning engine, and design elements to the marketing technology systems that deliver experiences to consumers.
Inflation sucks the fun out of shopping, but brands can still add a coat of extra engagement to purchasing with cutting-edge technologies. In particular, augmented and virtual realities offer an untapped opportunity for companies in the fast lane. The global immersive tech in the ecommerce market will witness over 25% CAGR from 2021 to 2026.
From product design to virtual showrooms and try-on, the immersive reality in ecommerce is secured well into the future, driven by the increased use of smartphones and connected devices and the rising adoption of 5G networks. BMW, Ikea, and other well-established brands lean into immersive tech to diversify shopping experiences.
Retailers such as Bloomingdale, Dior, and Lacoste create entire VR stores that integrate with existing ecommerce and stock management software, tracking demographics, store activity, and purchases.
Global sellers also capitalize on the growing opportunities of IoT in ecommerce that stretch from inventory visibility to omnichannel fulfillment. Paired with computer vision, these two can automate stock management and deliver a better in-store experience.
According to Accenture, the global social commerce industry is estimated at an accelerating value of $492 billion and is slated to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2025. The notion refers to the unique shopping experience that takes place on a social media platform, spanning all stages — from product discovery to the check-out process.
On social media, retailers can engage potential customers via content, experience, or networks. Each of these vectors requires specific levers, be it AR shopping or influencer marketing. For companies, social commerce provides a way to connect with consumers in new ways and unlock untapped revenue streams.
Take your ecommerce business to new heights
4. Deliberate on custom ecommerce design
Your custom ecommerce website design is what can lure in or push away your customers. To get it right, you need to focus on several hallmarks.
Optimization for mobile
In the fourth quarter of 2022, mobile devices accounted for 59.16% of global website traffic. Therefore, making your online store fit for mobile use automatically helps improve your conversion rates. When building for mobile, your UX/UI design team can take a responsive, mobile-friendly, or mobile-optimized approach.
While the mobile-friendly approach does the bare minimum of mobile design, responsive websites automatically reformat themselves to match all the specs of different mobile devices. Mobile-optimized platforms are designed for mobile-first searching from the get-go.
Visitors to your website ground their interactions on what they find to be well-known. By reinforcing this intuitive approach in your website design, you can rake in more revenue and give a boost to the customer experience.
Simple, straightforward navigation seamlessly guides the user during their entire purchasing journey — through recognized symbols, uniform design elements, cues, simple search, and website taxonomy.
Ecommerce platforms usually carry a lot of content, so a cluttered web page with visually complex designs can make the search even more complicated. Minimalistic designs shed light on key selling points, without disrupting the user experience.
Moreover, no-frills websites load a lot faster and more consistently across devices, contributing to better site discoverability on search engines. The key to minimalistic design lies in a thorough understanding of your user goals so no unnecessary elements stay in the way of customer journeys.
SEO-optimized online store
Ecommerce site development should also be done with SEO in mind. In simple words, it means optimizing the content and structure of your website so that search engines can locate and surface your site high in search.
Examples of ranking signals that your design team can take care of include page load speed, indexable content, user experience metrics such as bounce rate, and website structure. With all those elements mastered, your custom ecommerce site gets the attention and trust of search engines and steers more organic traffic to your store.
5. Take care of integrations
End-to-end integration between your ecommerce platform and business systems is an important tenet of ultimate data visibility and operational efficiency. By baking your digital systems into an interoperable organism, you also enhance customer experience, minimize administrative burden, and improve data accuracy.
Getting an ecommerce platform to accept payments online implies integrating it with one or multiple payment gateways. The latter facilitates transaction flows between customers and merchants via secure and encrypted pathways. The choice of a payment gateway is based on the currencies you accept, transaction fees, payment methods, and your compliance needs.
The benefits of this integration include flexibility of payment methods, increased security of financial data, faster transactions, and the ability to operate in a global arena.
A CRM ecommerce integration releases all customer data captured on your website, including purchasing history, browsing data, and others. By getting this data analyzed, you can achieve a holistic view of your customer and feed it into marketing and sales systems for informed activities.
This integration also provides you with a compass to optimize your inventory levels. Your customers’ buying patterns, spending habits, and others help you decide on the top-selling and high-margin products as well as predict inventory needs.
ERP ecommerce syncing leaves you with more time on your hands and links crucial data points together. From customer data to orders to shipping, all information is shared automatically between systems, which minimizes your product management effort, facilitates pricing control, and streamlines order processing.
A centralized hub collates orders across locations (online, showroom, email orders, etc), indicates inventory availability, and updates product information across channels. Your teams can also generate reports on demand, including Balance Sheets, P/L Statements, Trial Balance, Cash Flow, and more to ensure transparency of web transactions and easy access to financial information.
Logistics software is in charge of ensuring the efficient flow of goods, starting from inventory to last-mile delivery. Integration of ecommerce and logistics operations allows businesses to manage shipping and fulfillment from one location. Once an order is placed, it gets automatically processed and sent to the nearest warehouse or fulfillment center.
Uninterrupted data exchange between the two also helps companies keep track of inventory and ensure that products are always in stock. Additionally, integrating ecommerce with logistics delivers a more seamless experience for customers by allowing them to track their orders from start to finish.
Product information management (PIM) is a circulatory system for businesses with a high volume of SKUs, so integrating it with customized ecommerce solutions is crucial. Along with accurate product information across all channels, PIM software helps streamline supplier data, consolidate supply chains, and improves internal collaboration.
With more eyes on social media than ever, not tapping into the market means losing potential customers and sales. This integration bridges data between social media engagement, website visitor behavior, and sales to analyze purchase patterns, campaign performance, and marketing initiatives. Also by connecting with social media platforms, you can dabble in live and shoppable commerce, doubling your revenues and distribution channels.
Accelerate radical growth through end-to-end integration
6. Find the right vendor
Delivering high-impact ecommerce software requires cross-functional expertise and hands-on experience in the target domain. To bring a dedicated team of experts on board, you need to make sure your vendor has at least 10 years of experience, a lengthy portfolio of successful implementations, and a rich technology stack to implement your ambitious ideas.
Another important consideration is the readiness of your software vendor in providing training, maintenance, and update services to match your evolving needs in custom ecommerce website development. Ideally, this readiness should be supported by on-demand team augmentation services to scale your capacities in a specific development field.
An accomplished custom software development partner also possesses profound advisory expertise and can provide the full picture of your TCO, perform a comprehensive audit of existing business systems, and suggest optimal solutions to your requirements. If you’re a compliance-heavy business, pay attention to the data security standards the vendor works with.
Turn ecommerce into your growth engine
Today, operating a successful ecommerce company requires investing in the right digital capabilities and placing digitally driven commerce at the center of business. Data-first architectures, integrated sales management, and a flexible solution core will guide you to a new performance frontier and create a personalized experience across all channels.
However, a complex consumer and technology landscape makes it hard for companies to place their bets carefully. To size up the impact on their balance sheets, ecommerce business owners need careful guidance from technology partners, paired with a wide selection of tech solutions and ongoing support.
Sell at the speed of life through our custom ecommerce platforms
Custom software development for retail refers to the process of planning, designing, and implementing a web solution that is specifically tailored to solve the challenges of a particular company. This can include a custom look and feel, features, and integrations that are not available in an off-the-shelf solution.
These are platforms that enable businesses to sell their products and services online. These solutions span a variety of tools, including a full-on storefront, payment processing software, product information management systems, and more.
There is no universal pricing that can apply to all business needs. Cost hinges on the development approach (platform-based, custom, open-source), the core features, the design, and the hosting and security needs.
You can either choose a ready-made platform or turn to a custom ecommerce web development company. In the second case, a dedicated team of experts takes over the entire development process of your solution, which helps set your initiatives for success and tap into long-term value.
Any bespoke software solution goes through the stages of planning, design, development, testing, implementation, and maintenance. Following an Agile-driven approach, our team delivers your software iteratively to increase the quality of your solution.
Some of the most popular ecommerce development platforms include SAP Commerce, Opencart, and Zoho. Reach out to our consultants to choose the right one for your needs.
The timing varies based on the complexity of your solution. On average, it may take up to 16 weeks to build a complex custom ecommerce platform from scratch.