Off the peg platforms such as WordPress are perfect for simple, brochureware sites or blogging sites; they are easy to install and are generally well supported. It is when we start to look at ecommerce sites that it becomes much easier to see why bespoke will always win over ready made platforms like Magento, Squarespace or Wix.
A major consideration is cost. Platforms such as Magento have code that is free to use or has a low fee (monthly or annual) – they will have a limited selection of essential functionality as standard including product management, whole site admin area, cart functionality and payment gateway integration. Other functionalities are available via add-ons that are chargeable through a per module fee or a subscription. Some off the peg platforms charge a small fee for every transaction/order. So, although initially the outlay may well be less than for a bespoke site, long term consideration is needed – the more your business grows, the more you will be charged in terms of per transaction fees and also add-ons, additional hosting space, increased bandwidth and additional support. In the medium to longer term, off the peg platforms like Magento are expensive because of extra charges as the site grows and the business becomes more successful, against a bespoke site which will be built to your requirements from the outset. Some platforms will even take a commission for each sale you make.
When we start looking at ecommerce sites, ready made platforms are fine up to the point that you require them to do something they do not do by default. These platforms, by design, are intended to cater to the needs of the many rather than the needs of the individual – once you reach the limits of the platform you are stuck. A bespoke site will adapt and expand to your specific requirements. Often, a developer will be asked to work with a client whose business has outgrown its software. This could be to capitalize on an existing skill set, in order to maintain the software which already exists within the workforce; this would then avoid the need for retraining. More often than not, particularly if the business is likely to continue to expand, it is easier, more cost effective and makes better business sense to build bespoke. A fully customizable site built to the exact requirements of the client, will grow with the business. Good developers will have tried and tested code and frameworks that they have written themselves and which they know work that can be used, leaving the development team free to create bespoke parts of the system for individual clients.
A bespoke site will also have a bespoke admin area. Off the peg platforms provide hundreds of thousands of businesses with a standard set of tools to manage their online presence. This works well when it fits. Small ecommerce businesses need to be able to add, change or delete products and access the most popular transaction and shipping platforms. BUT if you want your site to do more, it may create challenges that the ready made platform cannot deal with e.g. deposit payments. An admin area for a bespoke site will be customizable giving the client control of the features needed in their specific shop.
The one size fits all nature of platforms like Magento means that its vast database and numerous lines of code impact on its website response time. The majority of clients who move away from ready made platforms complain about speed and slow loading. In an ecommerce setting, slow speeds = lost sales and loss of customer confidence. The bespoke site which contains only relevant code and data tables, will have much faster load times regardless of database size.
Ready made platforms are effective at fundamental functions but as your ecommerce business grows, your site may require different functionality. When it comes to more complex online business needs such as stock control, logistics processing or EPOS, things can become challenging and expensive. Yes, a platform like Magento can have functionality and code written, but they aren’t guaranteed to run smoothly alongside existing site code. When new code or the plugins and extensions do not marry well with the existing platform architecture, you will be left with glitches and support issues. A bespoke site can have new features and functionality custom built, that can adapt and grow as your business does.
At TJS, every bespoke platform is developed from the ground up and our developers have written tens of thousands of lines of code for advanced tasks and functionality that it would be impossible to adapt to an off the peg platform. All of our bespoke sites are created with exact specifications arrived at collaboratively with our clients, with every unique feature being fully custom built for their needs. From full integration with multiple couriers, with sophisticated rules for choosing which courier to use for individual orders, through to customised navigation.
A bespoke ecommerce site, commissioned from a reputable web design company like TJS Web Design, with a 20 year proven track record, will be customized to your exact needs and requirements – anything else will lead to loss of flexibility and restricted growth. The quality of your bespoke site will be superior and will deliver better sales effectiveness.
To quote our own senior developer, ‘If you wanted a boat, you wouldn’t start from a car (unless you’re Top Gear!)’