Should you use SAAS or open source platforms for the development of an online store? It’s a question that has been discussed for the last six years. These days, business owners have a lot of opportunities to start e-commerce businesses. The right solution depends on the situation, available experience and the entrepreneur’s objectives.
It is clear that SAAS technologies make it easier and quicker to start, but open source platforms can give more advantages in the future. Below we consider important recommendations on how to develop an online store on the open source platform.
The most popular open source e-platform is Magento. At the end of last year it was updated to Magento 2, opening up great prospects for merchants.
How to prepare
If you don’t have special knowledge and skills in development, you need professional development assistance. It can be a company or a freelancer, who is experienced working with Magento or with other open source platform you have chosen. Finding a good development company you can trust is not so easy. And before you do find on, there are some important steps that should be taken to avoid problems in the future.
Describe your customers and specific features in their behaviour. You work with B2B or only with B2C customers, you have a lot of loyal customers, or specific of your product range is that you have only one time clients. Indicate all specific characteristics that can be important.
Describe the online store functionality that is important to your customers. For example, you have a fashion accessories online store. Your customers are women, and it is important for them to search using different colour products. Moreover, they need an extensive palette of colours and red, blue and green are not enough for them. You don’t need to describe standard functionality, just specific features.
Describe the online store functionality. There are a lot of useful features and reports in Magento admin Panel and they must be configured correctly, so that there is an opportunity to use them. Perhaps you need specific reports, which are not present in the standard version by default, and they should be developed. Think about this in advance.
Describe how you are going to sell your products. Will you use only your online store or are you planning to sell using shopping engines such as Amazon, eBay and others? Magento has a very strong community of professional developers and a lot of third party extensions are available for this platform. Your requirements will determine which functionality needs to be added and what third party extensions are required.
Prepare your brand book if you have or design elements of the future online store. Web design development is an important part of the project. Prepare the logo, and other elements of corporate identity. It is very useful to find some real online stores with design you like. For a developer it can be useful information which gives an understanding of what your store should look like.
You don’t need to create long document and describe obvious things. The main purpose of this work is to present the specific features of your business to the Magento developer.
How to choose a professional developer
To choose the right developer is not such an easy task. During the project you and the developer will be as the partners ‘in the same boat’ and your partners will have access to confidential information. What you can do to find a reliable developer:
If you find some candidates on the internet, check out their portfolio.
Find reviews and analyse them, but don’t consider comments and reviews on the developer’s website. Be sure that all negative feedbacks are removed, so take into accounts only reviews from other sources.
- Ask the developer you consider hiring for recommendations from previous clients. Most of the professional developers are ready to give real contacts to communicate and receive real feedback.
- Note how long the company has existed for. A new developer can be also an expert in Magento, but the older the company is the greater experience it has.
- Pay attention to the behaviour of the company employees during the negotiation process. If you don’t get the answers in time or not all the promises are kept, it is very bad. If the company allows such behaviour at the beginning, it will be hard to work with it in the future.
The main document you need to agree is a project specification. All the works that will be done during the project are indicated here and it is really important to read this document carefully. If you don’t have enough technical knowledge to understand all the points, you have to ask for the explanations and document revision. The project specification will protect you from any problems or disagreements. When the project specification is agreed, you can receive the calculation. Only at this stage you get the answer to the question how much the project costs. There are some recommendations you need to take into account:
- The Magento e-platform has 90 per cent of the functionality you need in your e-commerce business.
- If some features you need are not available, there probably is developed third party extension. But this recommendation is related to Magento 1.x version. Magento 2 is new and not so much online stores are developed as well as the Magento 2 extensions are only starting to appear.
- Customisation and development of your own functionality are the most expensive work, so think twice if you are going to do this. Remember that there are a lot of extensions for Magento 1.x. If you deal with Magento 2 maybe it is better to wait. Most requested extensions such as One Step Checkout, Navigation and Feed manager are available.
The process of the project realisation
Different developers can have their own approach and procedures in the project. Generally web design development is in the beginning of the project and this step can be complex because it is creative work. Design evaluation is subjective view based on the likes and dislikes. So if your developer has the examples of the online stores which design you like, this fact can simplify the process.
Website coding is the most important and the most labour-consuming part of the project. Form your side you need to be ready to check and test the new functionality and give feedback in time. All works are accepted according to the specification and step by step all points have to be implemented. The situation in the project can be different, but what is true that both parties are interested in the successful result. The developer prefers to get money and the merchant prefers to have the well-operated online store. So if any problems, the negotiations can help.
Hope these tips were useful for you. Magento is only one of the instruments you can use to start selling online. Nowadays there are a lot of opportunities on the e-commerce market. Search for new ideas and implement them.