Newer innovations in the e-commerce segment have just started their journey.
In 2019, if you think you have seen it all, better wait and watch what happens in 2025.
Until a year ago in my city (New Delhi), it was quite troublesome for me to find a Phlebotomist to visit my home for an elderly. Then I became aware of a fast-growing form of e-commerce venture called 1mg.com, an aggregator connecting pathology laboratories to a network of qualified Phlebotomists on the go.
Just like ordering food, now I can thankfully schedule a Phlebotomist to collect a sample and submit it to a diagnostic centre of my choice with surprisingly affordable prices. How convenient is that!
And I thought ‘e-commerce’ meant shopping online on Amazon. With a broader outlook, every utility application on a smartphone or desktop is somehow anchored to an e-commerce platform.
An E-commerce Platform?
Yes. This platform is essentially a set of tools (combination of pre-coded software modules called libraries and plugins etc.) which are utilized to build an online storefront to sell products, services or conduct any type of business.
As you may already know, entirely coding a scalable application right from the scratch has arguably become outdated and very time-consuming. Therefore, large IT organizations like Oracle, IBM, Magento, Spree Commerce and Shopify etc. offer reusable libraries of codes, software, services and easy-to-use tools which can be used to quickly develop (or assemble) an e-commerce web application according to your preferences.
Depending on the programming language used and the service provider, a platform (set of tools) to build and customize an e-commerce website could be available as a fully integrated software platform, or a combination of basic features with external plugins.
Thus, you have the option of hosting your web application yourself or using a cloud service product like Magento Commerce Cloud. A self-hosted application gives you more control and data privacy than the cloud services. However, a cloud-hosted plan has a low cost of setting up with the ease of worldwide scalability.
Now let’s look at the two ways by which you can build a large-size e-commerce storefront:
A. In-house development
Hire a team of expert programmers specializing in the e-commerce domain and rest assured with more flexibility and better control over your business. A major shortcoming could be the quality of the end-product, unless you hire a very skillful team (probably the best guys) which would develop a bug-free application, customized for your business needs. Alternatively;
B. Find a service provider with ample experience
Outsourcing a contract to develop a complex application is more common than you can think of. There are many software development companies in the market who have honed their skills over the years, in order to deliver a perfect online storefront meant for heavy usage. Their pre-built frameworks and extensions are tested and then used again and again by numerous clients, leaving very little to negligible scope for errors. Consequently, you get a commercial grade e-commerce application at affordable prices.
Note: For small to midsize businesses, one can also build an online store without external help. It can be done by implementing ‘quick install’ features offered on a platform like Shopify. But, it has its own limitations like inability to host the application yourself, restrictions to start only the ‘buy-sell products’ type of retail storefronts, and the commission they ask on every transaction done on your storefront.
Hybridization of outsourced components and in-house development can also take place to complete a customized e-commerce application, if deemed imperative.
Along with an e-commerce platform, the following business aspects, often integrated as extensions, fulfill the necessities for a successful run:
- Product Management
Cloud E-commerce and SaaS (Software as a Service) are becoming more popular due to several benefits, such as ease of development and setup, low cost of operations, lesser involvement of external IT resources, better business insights, open-source licensing and customized pricing based on usage.
Eliminating the need of licensing fee by using any open-source platform like Spree Commerce, there are many reliable and full-service solutions available in the market to build large-scale e-commerce application.