Selling Online: Ecommerce Platform or Your Own Site?

The rise of ecommerce has opened the door to a lot of people who always wanted to own a business. Ecommerce offers the opportunity to get into retail without all the hassles of opening and maintaining a brick-and-mortar store. Still, there are choices to be made. For example, do you go with an established ecommerce platform or build your own website?

For the purposes of this post, an ecommerce platform is an online retail management system designed exclusively for ecommerce. It includes a built-in shopping cart, the ability to process credit card payments, built-in shipping preferences, and more.

At first glance, it would seem that signing on with an ecommerce platform is a no-brainer. But that’s not necessary the case for every ecommerce retailer. There are definite advantages to building your own site. Likewise, there are advantages to the ecommerce platform option as well.

  • Drag-and-Drop Design

Actually designing an ecommerce site can be challenging to entrepreneurs with no formal training. Unless you know the code that makes websites work, where are you going in the design department? This is why so many retailers choose ecommerce platforms. The best platforms offer drag-and-drop design. You start with a template, then drag and drop elements as you see fit.

Most of the major content management systems (CMS) offer the same functionality. So if you wanted to build your own site, you could do so with a CMS. On the other hand, if you wanted to build a site completely from scratch, you would definitely need coding knowledge.

  • The Shopping Cart Question

An ecommerce site’s shopping cart is obviously important. Once again, a major benefit of the ecommerce platform is its native shopping cart. Consider Shopify. Their platform is a household name in the ecommerce community. Shopify powers a ton of ecommerce sites.

NY-based Plurawl is an example of a company that runs on Shopify. If you scroll down to the bottom of any page on their site, you will see a link to Shopify. The platform’s native shopping cart makes it easy for Plurawl to sell LatinX t-shirts, hoodies, and more to a loyal fan base.

If you were to build your own site using a CMS, you would need to add shopping cart functionality using a plug-in. That is not necessarily a bad thing. At least you are not locked in to a single, native shopping cart over which you have no control. Building your own site lets you choose the best shopping cart for your needs.

  • Payment Processing

Some ecommerce platforms give you multiple choices for payment processing. Most do not. Retailers are typically locked into a single processor with which the ecommerce platform already has a working relationship. You might not have an option to go elsewhere if processing charges are too high for your liking.

Building your own site offers the opportunity to shop around for the best payment processing solution. You might not do any better on your own, but at least you have the opportunity to try. The one thing you would need to do is find a payment processor whose technology can easily integrate with your site.

There are other things to consider when choosing between an ecommerce platform and building your own website. Limited space does not allow this post to go any further. Nonetheless, you get the point. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. As with anything else, the new ecommerce retailer needs to evaluate all the options and choose the one that best fits their plans. Thank goodness that we all have choices.