In the article you will learn how to choose the right platform for your online store. Whether you choose customized custom development from scratch or step into a familiar Open Source solution .
At what stage is your online business located?
When starting or developing your online store, you will sooner or later encounter the choice of eCommerce platform and developer .
You have probably already researched and realized that the choice of platform depends on the stage of development of your business! Determine if you are:
- Starting small merchant but with big dreams for online business.
- A retailer with one or a chain of physical stores looking to get online.
- Successful online merchant looking for development.
If you find it difficult to self-identify, we recommend reading the blog article on Stenik “The Life of a Successful Online Store. How to grow smart technically? ". The article will help you understand exactly what kind of online merchant you want to be and how to get started.
Our experience with larger offline and online retailers shows that ready-made SAAS solutions for a small monthly online store do not work for them. Software as a service solutions are suitable for small start-ups. Major offline and online marketers have their specific needs and requirements.
You probably are too!
So in this article:
- we will touch on the eternal question: open source or custom solution for my online store to choose ?
- let's break down some of the myths and explain why a hybrid solution is the most appropriate solution for a Bulgarian merchant - a customized open source platform !
- Finally, we will give you the criteria on which to choose a platform for your online store.
Myth 1: Open source is an out-of-the-box solution. You install and sell.
This is not true! Whatever open source online commerce platform you take, you can't just install it, put a theme, and grow an online business. Especially on the specific local Bulgarian market.
The practice in the last 15 years shows that even localization for a particular market requires a lot of customization - and Bulgarian traders have a lot of individual requirements.
And when individual functionalities are developed by a non-certified or inexperienced developer accustomed to working only with predefined themes and templates, then the merchant does not expect anything good. Problems will begin to emerge as the online store develops. And of course, it will be time to migrate to another platform .
Myth 2: The custom online store solution was specifically designed for me!
Quite naive! Over the years we have met many customers who think they have ordered a custom online store solution from a developer. And the truth is that they received a redesigned version of an already finished online store that was designed for the needs of another customer before them. We do not completely deny the decisions, but they are by the power of few eCommerce giants with their own programmers, which in our widths are few, and among other things - most often they are not Bulgarian companies.
Our advice to Bulgarian major merchants is that the most appropriate solution for an online store is to choose an open source platform with a solid amount of upgraded individual functionality. Their business is big enough to not fit into the limited, monthly subscription solutions, but small enough to not require an expensive Enterprise solution with an expensive annual license. Open source platforms with a solid amount of one-to-one upgrades have completed and continue to do a wonderful job of growing businesses in Bulgaria.
Platform Selection Criteria
But how do I choose the right platform for my online store?
Let me introduce you to the criteria.
When consulting on choosing a platform for your future online store, be sure to understand:
- Are there experienced, correct and reliable companies in Bulgaria to work with the chosen platform . Or used mainly by freelancers and small agencies.
- Is there a community around this platform , as well as other marketers who have based their online stores on it.
- To what extent the platform would limit the development of your online store. How easy you can grow with it. What scalability does it offer?
- Are there any free or paid platform upgrade modules - they can streamline the budget and speed up development in the initial phase, as well as maintenance and upgrade afterwards.
- The extent to which the platform has built-in localization for Bulgaria . As well as its possibilities for individual locations with custom development or additional modules.
- Are you able to manage multiple countries, language versions and websites through a centralized system - important for your development in the international market.
- What are the capabilities of the platform in integrating with ERP systems . Are there any other online stores that have successfully integrated with your ERP.
- How secure is the platform? Do security patches and platform updates regularly come out and how the system will protect valuable information about your online business.
- The level of online sales in Bulgaria is increasing, but it is still at such a level that it is certain that the platform you will choose will be open source, ie. with a free license. But there are financial costs of consulting, designing, developing, maintaining, hosting that you need to take into account and calculate in advance.
Our eCommerce experience shows that in most cases it is more appropriate to choose an open source platform that is customized to your individual needs. Choose a platform that is scalable, familiar to developers, with an option to purchase modules, localized to the BG market and with the ability to quickly expand to other countries.
Choosing a platform for your online store is important because if you hit the ceiling of your tech development or have other disruptions, you may need to migrate to the platform sooner or later. Check out our video on reasons for migrating to an online store and how to prepare for it.
But in addition to the right platform, you also need to select the right technology partner with extensive eCommerce experience in your industry and with support capacity. See how to choose a developer in our next video.