When a shift on the market or a global pandemic ruins your business strategy or presents an unforeseen opportunity, being able to respond quickly with a ready digital solution can be crucial. Find out what rapid e-commerce development can do for your retail company - in only a week.
To start developing your online shop right away, you’ll need to make several important decisions. Let’s take a close look at each of them and help you get ready for kicking off your e-commerce project.
E-commerce management system
The e-commerce management system is the software behind your online shop. Popular choices include Shopify and Spree. You could also use a custom solution, but if your major concern is development time, it’s better to start with ready-made building blocks. You will still need deep technical expertise - a team that will set the shop up for you, help you make it look good and work smoothly despite the challenging deadline.
Shopify offers a toolset for creating ecommerce websites. Besides allowing you to set up a fully-featured shop, it also offers solutions for marketing and analytics, payments, shipping management, and a vast library of Shopify apps that can help you build an easy to use marketplace for your customers. With the help of software developers you can improve it and create a fully unique experience by creating customized front-end for your shop and extend it with additional content. The downside is that the end result won’t be as flexible as something built from scratch by development experts and can be really expensive in the long run.
Spree Commerce is an open source e-commerce engine with a full suite of features. It focuses on delivering a mobile-first experience through a customizable UX, is very SEO-friendly, and good for starting small, then scaling up as you go. With experienced developers you can set up your own online store and customize it as you wish.
Other website and ecommerce builders
While not aimed specifically at the e-commerce sector, some of the existing website builders offers a broad range of tools that can help you set up your online shop in no time. Website builders are made for the rapid creation of simple online platforms and they can be a good choice if you aren’t looking for in-depth customization, unique features, or high level of mobile-friendliness. Moreover, any bigger change made on the website might be a nightmare as such solutions usually have a lot of limitations. If you want your business to stand out from competitors, you should take a look at other available to you options.
Custom software solutions
Your final option is to find a team of experienced software developers and have your online shop build from scratch. This allows for deeper customization and can let you deliver a truly unique brand experience. It might also mean a longer development process - but this downside is mitigated by some technologies, such as the Ruby on Rails framework, which is perfect for rapid development.
To choose the right option for your business, you need to analyze the features offered by each solution and your specific needs. If you want to build a small shop without any custom functionality, Shopify will be perfect. If you’re working with a tight budget but want to scale up in the future, an open-source solution like Spree might be the better choice. If you aren’t sure what tools to use, let us know - we’ll be happy to help you decide.
Infrastructure and hosting
Every online platform needs to be hosted on a secure, stable server. There are many companies that provide hosting solutions and choosing the right one can be daunting. Here are the main options you should consider:
Cloud hosting options: AWS & Heroku
If you’re looking for a good hosting provider that will let you start small then scale up, AWS and Heroku are both good options. AWS stands for Amazon Web Services and offers on-demand computing resources with a flexible payment model. It’s a stable choice that can help you get started quickly, though it may require specialized knowledge from your team. Heroku’s offer is similar, including automation of tasks such as installing updates and maintaining your infrastructure’s security. It might be the better choice for smaller apps, though to pick the right hosting provider for you it’s best to consult a team of experts about your situation.
A virtual private server is not a physical machine, but a virtual equivalent of one. This makes a VPS easier to set up, copy or migrate, and it’s a more cost-effective option than hosting your shop on a dedicated physical server. However, a VPS shares physical resources (e.g. memory) with other virtual machines installed on the same physical server, which can mean lower performance or issues with a shared IP address. Nevertheless, this is a very popular option used to great effect by many companies around the world.
A content delivery network is a complex setup of servers distributed across various geographical locations. This approach allows for delivering a better experience to users regardless of where they are in the world, while maintaining high availability and performance. It’s a secure, modern solution that’s a popular choice for e-commerce sites as well as streaming and social media platforms.
The website and online shop creators we’ve mentioned offer a set of tools and templates that can help you quickly set up a nice looking shop. Shopify in particular offers many beautiful templates. If you want to start small and scale as you go, that’s perfect. Another option is to use Bootstrap Templates - they can be very effective for commercial projects.
However, if you’re aiming for making your brand unique from the start, you should consider working with a professional designer. An expert will learn about your business and use that knowledge to create the best possible experience for your users, including custom illustrations and UI. In this scenario, it’s best to start out with designs created specifically for you, rather than waste time and resources on implementing an existing template, then changing everything when that turns out to be insufficient.
If you want your shop to have a high ranking among search engines, you need to optimize it for this purpose. This can include researching and using keywords, boosting your site’s performance, reducing loading times, using titles and headings correctly, working on link equity, building a solid social media network, and much more. Consider what your major sources of traffic will be - your Instagram profile or Google? A good development team will be able to help you optimize your shop’s code to make sure that you’ll get the most out of your SEO efforts.
Choose the right team
Finding the right team of experts to support you throughout the development process can be crucial to your business’ success. To do so, look closely at each team’s portfolio. Have they delivered e-commerce platforms before? Also, make sure that your chosen team works with the technologies you want to use.
Depending on the scope of your e-commerce project, you might need one developer, or a full team with a designer and a QA expert. The best way to determine what will work best for you is to schedule a consultation and allow your future team to advise you. Take advantage of their know-how and experience.
What is possible to achieve in a week?
This might be surprising, but it’s entirely possible to finish a working online store in a week. If you are willing to start small, iRonin.IT’s experts can build your e-commerce platform, complete with all necessary features, in that amount of time. To get a project estimate, contact us with the project details - we’ll get back to you right away.
You just finished the first version of your online shop. What now?
Once your store is up and running, you can consider scaling it up with new features that will make your life easier and delight your customers. For example, you could use integrated shipping solutions - which is something we’ve built for one of our clients. You can also focus on refining your shop’s design and UX, improving SEO and performance, or increasing your platform’s security. If you already have a working e-commerce platform and you want to scale it up, we can help you plan out your next steps.
iRonin.IT’s experts have a decade of experience in delivering successful online platforms and in ecommerce development. Drop us a line and find out what we can do for you.
Software products expert focused on maximizing business value of products and offering great UX. Crafting meaningful solutions with strategic and analytical approach. In love with design systems, inclusive design and user security.