The revenue of the eCommerce sector is expected to exceed $1.3 trillion by 2025 in the U.S. alone, and this may be a great time to get into this business. There are numerous courses as well as free YouTube videos explaining how to build your own eCommerce website. A natural question in the mind of someone considering starting an online business is, can they build their own eCommerce website, or should they rather outsource it to an agency? In this article, I weigh both sides of the argument and try to give you a definitive answer on what’s best for you.
Can I build an eCommerce website on my own? You can build your own eCommerce website if you have the time, willingness, and expertise to do so. If time is a limited resource, it’s rather advisable to hire a professional agency. You need to decide whether you have other more valuable tasks as a business owner, or whether you can afford to spend time learning and building your own website.
There are various factors that you need to consider in detail before deciding whether you should outsource or do it yourself. Many business owners make the wrong decision and either end up spending a lot more on their websites than they can afford or end up with a poor website with limited functionality.
Let me break down this ‘make vs hire decision’ into three parts and explain what’s the best decision in each of those situations. The first situation is, you are just starting out, and your budget is limited. You cannot pay a couple of thousand dollars to a professional agency to build your website. But you do not have the expertise to build a professional eCommerce website either. Neither do you have the time or willingness to spend hours or days learning how to build a professional eCommerce website on WordPress or using custom code.
In such a situation, I recommend you go can build your own eCommerce store on Shopify. Shopify is an easy-to-use platform and you can quickly get your eCommerce store up and running without much effort. It is an all-in-one platform and it’s almost like a done-for-you eCommerce store waiting for you to put your name and customization on it. It has built-in themes, hosting, security features, and abandoned cart functionality. It also has 24/7 customer support.
However, the downside is limited features compared to a professional WordPress website. It also puts limits on the future expansion of your website, in case you want to venture into other types of business a few years down the line. It also limits your options for payment gateways. Shopify is also quite expensive since it offers you an all-in-one, done-for-you platform. It starts at $79 a month.
The second situation is if you have some extra time and are willing to put the effort into learning WordPress and WooCommerce. WordPress is a very powerful CMS platform and offers numerous plugins and features. Thus, your options and future expansion potential are virtually limitless. It also offers better SEO functionality.
On a WordPress website, you can add eCommerce functionality by adding a plugin called WooCommerce. It is an all-around eCommerce store builder and offers the option to add third-party payment gateways like PayPal or Stripe for free. However, WordPress as a platform has more of a learning curve and may take some time and effort to master.
You should go for the third option, which is hiring a professional agency only if you have the budget for it. A professional agency, on average, will charge anywhere from $2500 to $5000 to build your store. An overseas freelancer can give you similar quality for a lower price but is less reliable.
The outsourcing option is also preferable if your time is limited and spending it on other areas brings more value to your business. As a business owner, the most important decision can be where your personal time should be spent. Often your time spent training your team, negotiating with your suppliers, planning growth strategies, and analyzing the market brings more value to your business. In such cases, you may not be willing to go through the hassle and understand the nitty-gritty of your website.
If websites are not your area of expertise, you will take time to go through the learning curve. You might suck it up and go through some online courses and learn the basics of WordPress. You might even be able to put up your first website from your newly learned skill, but it may be lacking in so many ways.
There are just so many things that can slightly go wrong here and there, and you might end up with a website that looks okay to you but might not be enough to run a successful business. Your website may be too slow. or may lack the proper security, or lack some SEO features, or the design may not be optimized for conversion.
It’s obvious that a newly learned skill cannot give you a website anywhere near what a professional web designer can give. Those who have built dozens or hundreds of websites develop some insights into where websites can go wrong, what the common loopholes and what essential settings should be applied.
And for an eCommerce business, the website is the base of everything you do. So, it may be worthwhile to opt for the quality and long-term value derived from hiring a professional agency.
We know that a vast majority of start-up businesses fail. Most people start a business as a side hustle and work on it for a while and see if it works out. If you are building your eCommerce business as a side income and plan on gradually growing it over the years, it’s not a good idea to spend thousands of dollars on it upfront. Also, you may have an established offline business and you are just testing the waters in the online world, it may not make sense to hire a professional agency and go all in.
In such cases, your time is probably not such a big factor, since this is a side project that you can afford to work on for months. Then it is worth it to learn eCommerce website-building skills and get better at it over time. You can improve your website gradually as you go through your learning curve.
It’s totally possible to build an online side business and grow it for some time. And once it starts generating decent revenue, a couple of years down the line, you can reinvest that income and get some professional help if needed.
However, if you are working on your eCommerce business full-time and are willing to go all in with your time and investment, hiring a professional agency maximizes your chances of success.
For expert website design advice or more information on pricing, speak to a web design expert today. Alternatively, to explore the costs of a website further, take a look at our web design agency service page where we are open and transparent about our website service pricing and packages.