Should your business get a bespoke or template online store?

online store

Developing your online presence? Find out which online store design your business needs for ecommerce success.

The heated debate between bespoke and template online stores has been grinding away at businesses wanting to succeed in ecommerce. With such a boom for online sales this year, developing an online presence is more important than ever.

It presents a way to really reap the benefits of this massive consumer shift now, as the Christmas rush hits, but also ongoing. Ecommerce opportunity looks set to only grow further, as we increasingly turn to easy-use, digital solutions.

Why retail ecommerce needs more than just marketplaces

Many businesses are already leapfrogging off marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay and others to boost their sales online. But, these platforms leave little manoeuvring room to establish brand identity or market your products in one, easily-accessible place. The marketplace route on its own can often limit the reach for more substantial business growth. As a result, more businesses than ever are expanding online with their very own online stores.

For choosing which online store your business needs to stay up to speed, template or bespoke, consider these areas:

What do you want your website to achieve?

The type of online store you require for ecommerce success, bespoke or template, often depends on the layout and features you are hoping the site will include.

Template websites can, more often than not, handle most businesses’ requirements. You can sell products and services, complete orders, build an online presence for your brand, and even communicate with customers to showcase your business’ trustworthiness. Whether you need a B2B trade portal, or a B2C online store to create positive, customer-friendly experiences, both can be made from template websites. Here, most of the tricky design work can be preloaded for your business. They can come with many ways to create a unique feel for your brand. You can change the themes, images, logos, colours, and more.

Bespoke sites can come into play if your business needs a vast amount of interactive, unusual, or unique elements. If you wished to completely switch up how you market products for your industry online or create a brand new ecommerce feature, bespoke is the way forward. Here, the only limits lie with the reaches of what you can think to brief to your developers.

Ticking clocks and development costs

What is your budget and time frame to launch? If you have strict time and purse-string budgets on your step into the ecommerce world, this is one to consider. Here, a template online store is often the way forward for your business.

Template online stores come in various pre-packaged choices, vastly diminishing the time and costs taken to launch your ecommerce site. Simply purchase the template that suits the layout you require and quickly customise for your brand. You can load on your products, logos, images and marketing copy. Easy to use, the back-end of a template website is often simple to navigate and update. When you come to update your site, your team can get quick access to the content you want to change.

In contrast, bespoke online stores are usually more costly and time-consuming to build. You relay your requirements to a team of developers. They then produce the code and feedback, tweaking and building until you are happy with the final site. With so many custom features, it can be complicated to get to grips with the back-end of the site. Your team will need lots of training to get up to speed for ongoing changes and post-launch updates. The whole process can take many months to complete, and the costs are usually many times more than a template option.

The end-user experience

Many businesses will imagine wowing site visitors with unique and endlessly interactive pages. While this is admirable, the usability of your online store is much more important for the end-user experience. The aim should be to create easily-navigated, clutter-free pages, personalised images, and clear brand identity.

Can visitors search and browse your products easily, with up to date items, descriptions, images and stock levels? Is logging into an account, and checking or placing an order smooth and fast enough to keep customer satisfaction high? Do you have a dedicated area to describe your brand and business?

Good quality templates and bespoke online stores alike should have these capabilities.

Research by Google shows the probability of a site visitor bouncing increases 123% as a website’s load time goes up from one second to 10. Ensure your online store isn’t overloaded by checking the load time of your pages and the file size of your images. Site visitors will refuse to spend longer on a buffer page than browsing your products.

Whether bespoke or template, a good online store is also optimised for mobile. With over half of website traffic now generated from mobile devices, internet users need to have smooth experiences when accessing sites from their tablets and phones.

Before deciding on either a bespoke or template site for your step into ecommerce, check the provider can match their specifications to all these areas for your business.

Search engine optimisation

Research for 2019 found that 68% of all trackable website traffic was sourced from search engines, whether organic or paid, which vastly out-performs even social media channels. With such a high percentage of your site visits relying on your search engine ranking, you need to consider your online store’s SEO.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, or SEO performance by a website’s expensive setup. Many sell bespoke websites on their ability to create web-browser-catching designs that will boost your SEO scoring. But, from our experience, it’s more about the content you put in than the fancy cover.

The right quality of bespoke or template design can provide a load speed fast enough for most businesses to please search engines. To really optimise, your online store should be kept up to date with unique titles, snippets, images and descriptions all relevant to your brand and products, and written for real people. It should also link to external sites and your social media platforms to climb the search engine rankings. If your online store is helpful to browsers searching for your business’ expertise, the chances are more traffic will follow.

The goldilocks online store

Either a bespoke or template site could be a perfect fit for your business. What’s most important is whether your store can be easily updated by your team or even automatically.

If you manually rekey products and pricing details, and you can’t display real-time stock availability, your businesses could miss out on vital sales. Even so, as your online presence brings in more interactions and orders, you’ll need the tools to effectively manage any increase. Consequently, ecommerce success can hinge on the integrations your online store can have with your business data and back-end systems.

For a goldilocks solution, software providers like OrderWise offer B2C and B2B online stores and trade portals that completely integrate with your wider business management systems. By design, OrderWise stores have the speed of template stores, but with the added flexibility of a customised site without needing a developer.

Speeding up fulfilment and reducing errors, all incoming orders across your sales channels, are automatically processed from one central system. Meanwhile, for instant and personalised communication with customers, your team has all the data to hand so every interaction is valuable and informed.

It’s all these capabilities together that prove to be the real movers and shakers in the world of ecommerce. As a result, you can make sure you never fall behind in your technology or your processes. For more information about ecommerce solutions, get in touch with our team today or visit our website.

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