Building an e-commerce platform from scratch

By Ievgen Kustorovskyi, Head of Magento and specialist in eCommerce development, Ciklum. 

Building a custom e-commerce platform may seem like a daunting task and building one from scratch is not an easy task.  These days, it’s increasingly becoming the preferred choice of online retailers who wish to take total control of their customer experience. 

If you choose the right tools and the right team, a custom e-commerce platform can also be just as cost-effective as using an off-the-shelf solution.

Having built many custom solutions for our clients, our developers have likely asked themselves the same questions you have while trying to determine the best way to create an e-commerce platform that’s functional, user-friendly and cost-efficient. 

Here are five pieces of advice from XXX  for building an e-commerce platform from scratch:

Be prepared to handle heavy traffic

Consumers know when to hit the web for some of the best shopping days of the year: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and also Bank Holidays are becoming busy online shopping days.  These events (and the days leading up to them) are some of the web’s most anticipated and highly trafficked times, as users bust out their credit cards and prepare to shop. But failing to prepare for the heavy load of traffic can be devastating. This year, Black Friday (November 29, 2019) will kick off a shopping season that comprises 30% of all sales for the year. Since Black Friday is such a high-spend shopping day, you need to be competitive to stand out by offer a legitimately unmissable deal at a price point that you don’t offer during any other holiday or sales event of the year.

Show, don’t tell

When making a purchase, how much of your e-commerce infrastructure do your users need to see? For FlixBus, one of Europe’s largest intercity bus networks, that’s one of the questions Ciklum helped solve. While its e-commerce system is a highly complicated system that connects travelers to the back, customers only experience a small portion of the infrastructure. FlixBus’s interface shows users exactly when they need to book their travels — and nothing more.

Connect e-commerce to operations

With FlixBus, the company isn’t just selling bus tickets to passengers — it’s coordinating an entire network of buses. Through its custom e-commerce platform, FlixBus also streamlines its operations by linking together the systems. It’s a custom solution that’s built to fit the company’s specific needs, as opposed to an off-the-shelf solution that wasn’t made for travel operations. 

The software is built to help manage everything that happens while a bus is on the road, including case management and traffic operations, reducing the load on personnel during peak hours. The custom e-commerce solution doesn’t just help customers get a great experience — it helps FlixBus save time and money.

Work everywhere

Desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone — four different screen sizes with four vastly different user experiences. Users will experience your storefront from each of these different touchpoints. It’s not hard to imagine someone browsing for a product on their smartphone, getting a closer look on their tablet and ultimately making the purchase from their laptop or desktop in the office. No matter the case, your e-commerce experience needs to be optimised for the ways users are shopping today. 

Be fast

For shoppers, every second counts. Whether a customer wants an impulse buy or an item with special promotion, your e-commerce platform must be able to let them check out as quickly as possible. Bottlenecks that can slow down this process, like an unintuitive user interface or slow site speeds, can cause lost sales and create unhappy customers. 

When building custom e-commerce platforms, it’s important to take specific steps to optimize page load times. By ensuring the shopping experience itself wasn’t the bottleneck, companies must make sure that customers can get what they want and when they want. Compare that with an off-the-shelf solution, which often uses standard solutions and components that aren’t built with a specific use case in mind.

Creating a custom e-commerce platform places the customer in the centre. When you ensure digital storefronts load quickly, work across all devices, don’t buckle under heavy traffic, have a streamlined checkout process and coordinate with operations, your customers will enjoy a seamless shopping experience. By building your own e-commerce platform, you won’t just be doing your customers a favour — you’ll be doing yourself a favour.

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