E-commerce which Solution and how ?

Building an e-commerce website involves several best practices to ensure its success. Here are some key considerations for choosing a solution and building an effective e-commerce platform. By considering these best practices, you can build a robust and successful e-commerce platform that meets the needs of your business and provides an excellent experience for your customers.

The big deal:

  • Use and pay for a known, proprietary intermediary E-commerce platform.
  • Create your independent platform without any intermediary, using your own Open-Source platform.

If you go through an proprietary intermediary platform:

  • Your E-commerce will belong to an external company (and not always in EU).
    For example Shopify or Squarespace (not under Swiss legislation)
  • Your E-commerce will propose their options and functionalities.
  • Your are trapped by their template and, especially, their payement methods.
  • On each sale, many companies take a commission of up to 2%.
  • Every E-commerce will have the same “clothing“.
  • Not scalable, depending on the company evolution.
  • Not be able to choose or change your provider so easily (rebuild everything).
  • You will be locked into their hosting service provider. Migration will be difficult.

Notice: For local merchants, Shopify payments can’t do the payment processing for stores based in Switzerland since they haven’t expanded it in yet.

Bear in mind that these big companies supplying centralised E-commerce services may get bought out, change their policy, etc.

At first glance, e-commerce centralised platforms seem to be cheap (free domain name, etc.), allow you to quickly design “attractive” websites without any technical knowledge, but they will not allow you to control your data.

If your E-commerce will have a growing success, your Hosting provider need to be scalable in ressources.

If you choose a centralised external platform you emphasize the visibility of the company that offers you the service, not your own company. For Swiss-based companies (SMEs), we strongly recommend too choose external service providers registered under Swiss legislation and that meet Swiss standards.


If you develop a custom solution for your online shop:

  • Open source E-commerce frameworks are “free” (with some premium features).
  • You often have more creative control over the design and functionalities of the store.
  • Open source solutions often contain more unique features because they are constantly being developed.
  • You can choose your hosting provider, plugins and themes that would fit in your store.
  • Open-Source systems are built by a community. They are incredibly user-friendly for developers and the support is excellent.
  • Source code ownership and customisable open-source libraries.

Open-Source solutions have other complexities:

  • Open source E-commerce platforms generally require more development or coding and design knowledge.
  • Your developer must be experienced and able to advise you on the best hosting solutions.
  • Any interactive (dynamic) website requires maintenance, security and speed optimisation that should not be neglected.
  • A preliminary study of your business processes is necessary;
  • Create user-friendly website integrating a sober graphic design which corresponds to your visual identity.

DIGITALABS helps you to design your custom platform by staying close to the customer, as a partner, providing assistance, advice for the success of his online web project.


Conclusion

The strength of E-commerce centralised solutions in SaaS is that you can get started quickly and “cheaply”. Indeed, you do not have to go through a web agency, the platform is already ready to use. You just have to create an account, choose the formula that suits you best, choose a template and you can start creating your products. All the complicated steps involved in creating an online store site that you own are thus avoided (hosting, server configuration, technical settings of the site, integration of payment solutions, updates etc…).

The hitch of these solutions are the payments and the multi-language options. Most SaaS solutions are abroad (France or United States) and few are adapted to the specificities of our country.


In Open Source solutions, the possibilities are much wider. There are no dependencies and you are completely free to modify and adapt your site to suit you. The addition of modules, plugins and extensions is unlimited, which allows you to find (paying) solutions to your needs. However, this independence has a cost, that of technical knowledge and expertise. Having access to the source code, it is essential to be at ease in the field of web development, to have a developer in your team or to use a web agency.

Proprietary SaaS vs Open-Source

SaaS proprietary platforms:

Software As A Service is a software licensing and delivery model in which third-party providers host key functionalities website ready to use with many attractives templates for an ongoing fee. Customers pay a fee for as long as they use the platform.

SaaS platform providers are securing, maintaining, and hosting the platform on their own service and responsibility. This means that users are limited in their ability to edit or change the software’s code.

Is the easiest choice because the user can do everything online (no coding required). On the other hand, the company that provides this solution sponsors its own brand and offers its own payment methods which are not always suitable for Swiss or EU SMEs.

If you start an e-commerce business this choice of “simplicity” makes SaaS solutions very interesting to many: it’s simple, visual and quick done, No coding, no web designers, no security to take into account.

Before choosing a turnkey solution, DIGITALABS suggests that you carefully read the conditions and the contracts (disclaimers). Be aware that if you are under US or non-EU legislation, your rights will not apply to the Swiss GDPR regulation.

Open-Source platforms:

The main advantage of an open-source e-Commerce platforms is that online retailers have full access to the software’s source code. If there’s functionality that you’re missing, your agency can build it specifically for your needs. There are also large development communities built around the platform that you can leverage. Open-source software is known for its customisabilityflexibility and be scalable.

Open-source platforms are powerful and customizable but also very complex, and certified developers best handle changes. Open-source software is often developed collaboratively through worldwide communities (like WordPress for example).

You can certainly accomplish much more with an open source platform; however, it is more important to choose a competent and experienced partner to work with.

Before starting an e-commerce business

Popular E-Commerce "Open-Source" CMS

DIGITALABS - ICT & Web Technologies: E-Commerce Solutions and Online Payement and Online Payment Solutions

PrestaShop is a popular open-source e-commerce content management system (CMS) known for its flexibility and user-friendly interface.

Before choosing PrestaShop, businesses should evaluate their specific needs, technical capabilities, and preferences. It is essential to consider factors such as customization requirements, scalability, and ongoing support.

Pros of PrestaShop

  1. User-Friendly Interface:
    • PrestaShop offers an intuitive and user-friendly admin interface, making it accessible for both beginners and experienced users.
  2. Extensive Feature Set:
    • It comes with a comprehensive set of features out of the box, including inventory management, customizable templates, and marketing tools.
  3. Scalability:
    • PrestaShop is scalable, suitable for small businesses starting with a few products and capable of growing with larger inventories and more complex needs.
  4. Large Community and Support:
    • With a sizable community, there are ample resources, forums, and modules available for support and guidance.
  5. Multilingual and Multi-Currency Support:
    • PrestaShop supports multiple languages and currencies, making it suitable for businesses with an international customer base.
  6. Responsive Design:
    • PrestaShop templates are designed to be responsive, ensuring a seamless shopping experience across various devices.
  7. Marketing and SEO Features:
    • It comes with built-in SEO tools and marketing features, helping online stores optimize their visibility and reach their target audience.
  8. Integration with Payment Gateways:
    • PrestaShop integrates seamlessly with various payment gateways, providing flexibility for customers to pay through their preferred methods.

Cons of PrestaShop

  1. Customization Complexity:
    • Advanced customization may require technical expertise, and users might find it challenging to modify certain aspects without coding knowledge.
  2. Resource Intensive:
    • Larger stores or those with extensive product catalogs may experience performance issues without proper hosting resources.
  3. Module Quality Varies:
    • While there are many modules available, the quality may vary, and not all are well-maintained or regularly updated.
  4. Learning Curve for Beginners:
    • While the interface is user-friendly, beginners may still face a learning curve, especially when dealing with advanced settings and configurations.
  5. Limited Default Themes:
    • The default themes provided may be limited compared to other platforms. Users may need to invest in premium themes for a more unique look.
  6. Security Concerns:
    • Like any e-commerce platform, security is crucial. Users need to stay vigilant, apply regular updates, and follow security best practices.
  7. Upgrades Can Be Complex:
    • Upgrading PrestaShop to the latest version can be complex, especially for highly customized installations.
  8. Customer Support Costs:
    • While there is community support, accessing official customer support from PrestaShop requires a subscription plan, which can be a consideration for some businesses.
DIGITALABS - ICT & Web Technologies: E-Commerce Solutions and Online Payement and Online Payment Solutions

OpenCart is an open-source e-commerce content management system (CMS) that is known for its simplicity and user-friendly interface.

Before choosing OpenCart, businesses should consider their specific needs, technical capabilities, and long-term scalability requirements. It is essential to weigh the advantages and disadvantages based on the nature and scale of the online store.

Pros of OpenCart

  1. User-Friendly Interface:
    • OpenCart provides an intuitive and user-friendly admin interface, making it accessible for both beginners and users with less technical expertise.
  2. Scalability:
    • It is scalable, allowing businesses to start small and grow their online store as needed, making it suitable for both small and medium-sized enterprises.
  3. Wide Range of Extensions:
    • OpenCart has a rich library of extensions and modules that can be easily integrated to enhance the functionality of the online store.
  4. Multi-Store Functionality:
    • OpenCart supports the creation of multiple stores from a single admin interface, making it convenient for businesses managing various product lines or brands.
  5. SEO-Friendly:
    • The platform is designed with SEO best practices in mind, helping online stores to rank well in search engine results.
  6. Cost-Effective:
    • Being open-source, the base platform is free, making it cost-effective for businesses with budget constraints.
  7. Regular Updates:
    • OpenCart receives regular updates, ensuring that the platform stays current with the latest security measures and feature enhancements.
  8. Support Community:
    • There is an active community of users and developers who provide support, resources, and advice, which can be beneficial for troubleshooting and learning.

Cons of OpenCart

  1. Limited Default Features:
    • The default installation may lack some advanced features found in other e-commerce platforms, requiring the installation of additional modules.
  2. Customization Complexity:
    • While OpenCart is relatively easy to use, advanced customization may require some technical expertise, and users might find certain modifications challenging without coding knowledge.
  3. Design Limitations:
    • The default themes provided may be less sophisticated compared to other platforms, and users might need to invest in premium themes for a more polished appearance.
  4. Performance for Large Stores:
    • Larger stores with extensive product catalogs may experience performance issues, and optimization efforts may be necessary.
  5. Extension Quality Varies:
    • The quality of third-party extensions can vary, and not all are well-maintained or regularly updated.
  6. Less Comprehensive Reporting:
    • The reporting features in OpenCart may be less comprehensive compared to some other e-commerce platforms, which might be a limitation for businesses requiring detailed analytics.
  7. Upgrading Challenges:
    • Upgrading OpenCart to the latest version can sometimes be challenging, especially if the store has many customizations.

Here you are some other of the best and most widely used Open-Source CMS. Before choosing a CMS, it’s essential to consider your specific requirements, such as scalability, ease of use, extensibility, and the nature of your website or application. Additionally, it’s advisable to check for the latest information and updates on each CMS’s official website.

  1. Drupal:
    • Description: Drupal is a robust CMS that is highly customizable and suitable for building complex and feature-rich websites.
    • Website: Drupal
  2. TYPO3:
    • Description: TYPO3 is an enterprise-level CMS known for its scalability and flexibility, making it suitable for large and complex websites.
    • Website: TYPO3
  3. Ghost:
    • Description: Ghost is a lightweight CMS designed for creating blogs and publications, with a focus on simplicity and speed.
    • Website: Ghost
  4. Umbraco:
    • Description: Umbraco is a .NET-based CMS that offers flexibility and extensibility, particularly for developers using the Microsoft technology stack.
    • Website: Umbraco
  5. Grav:
    • Description: Grav is a modern flat-file CMS that requires no database. It is known for its speed and simplicity.
    • Website: Grav
  6. ProcessWire:
    • Description: ProcessWire is a flexible and user-friendly CMS known for its simplicity and ability to adapt to different project requirements.
    • Website: ProcessWire

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Necessity for any Dynamic Web Application

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