As developers, we often tend to build things because we can. Who wouldn’t want to make something exactly the way they want it, especially if they could. While that’s often fine, because as developers we can then heavily customize and tailor the website or web application to the project, needs of the business, or even to our liking. One area where this can be prohibitive is with ecommerce software. Due to the various security and compliance requirements the work involved with building or even building on top of existing ecommerce frameworks can make these types of projects very expensive or require a significant investment of time and effort. Depending on your project, budget requirements and overall needs a SaaS product might be a better fit for your ecommerce needs. SaaS is a type of software managed by a central entity and delivered to users once they subscribe via the web. One example I’ll cover in a bit more detail is Shopify.
Recently, I’ve been able to launch 2 shopify sites in few days with minimal effort. Some advantages of using Shopify are
- Turnkey ecommerce solution (products, collections, blogging, analytics, user management, order management, shipping, etc)
- Developer eco-system for custom functionality
- Compliance, security and hosting built in to the product along with an attractive price point
- Decent image editing tools
- Pre-built templates which can easily be customized by someone with any technical kills
On top of these benefits there are many others which I’ve passed over. However, no solution is perfect and like most things in life, will require a tradeoff. Some downsides to using Shopify are
- Fees, subscriptions and then % of transactions, can get expensive and eat into revenue
- Only basic functionality, anything custom will either require purchasing a subscription (which cuts into profits) or again requires a developer to build the functionality
- Liquid templating language, while it’s not difficult it’s not HTML/CSS/JS or as simple as using Jekyll.
So factor this into your next ecommerce decision and see if you can get started and prove your concept with Shopify then scale into something more complicated if necessary.