Exploring Methods for Developing E-commerce Websites

Reminder: E-commerce situations are complex. Here, I only list the situations I often encounter, and this article is biased towards sellers with technical skills but limited funds, as I belong to this category. The following does not cover all situations and is for reference only. I just hope it will be helpful to everyone.

Step 1: Confirm Requirements

Step 1: Confirm Requirements

The common requirements for websites in the market include (but are not limited to):

  1. SEO traffic, official image website traffic (publishing announcement articles, price pages, etc.).
  2. Online transactions (+ offline logistics).
  3. Online and offline OMO integration (membership or other customized systems).

Many business owners will consider what they may need in the future. My personal suggestion is to focus on current requirements. Assuming what might be needed in the future without certainty will most likely result in adding unnecessary features and increasing costs.

Without certainty, leave future matters for the future to solve.

Step 2: Assess Resources

Step 2: Assess Resources

Assess your current manpower and financial resources, including the roles involved and the monthly budget.

The common solutions in the market are as follows (including but not limited to):

  1. Self-built website with outsourced professional engineering team for system development

    1. Manpower: A role to interface with the outsourced team.

    2. System cost: Requires a lot of money (conservatively estimated at monthly turnover of NTD.100 million or above).

  2. Online store platform (91, QDM, etc.)

    1. Manpower: Requires a website administrator to handle the website. Technical skills don’t need to be very proficient, but it may require more time.

    2. System cost: Store setup prices vary. Conservatively estimate an annual system fee of NTD.120,000 (excluding fees for payment and logistics, etc.).

  3. Self-built website using the “poor man’s method”

    1. Manpower: Your company already has engineers or someone dedicated to handling system-related matters (may not be an expert but willing to research in-depth).

    2. System: Wordpress, Joomla, Wix, etc.

  4. E-commerce platform (Shopee, MOMO, etc.)

    1. Manpower: Still requires someone to handle product listings, images, videos, in-site advertising, etc. 2.System cost: Commission is charged only when there are transactions.

Step 3: Analyze Business Stage

This sequence is based on financial capability:

Wealthy Level 1: I have a Big Sugar Daddy

Wealthy Level 1: I have a Big Sugar Daddy

If you have money and a big sugar daddy, you can directly outsource to a team or have an in-house team. As discussed in Xiaohei’s Facebook article, if your business scale is large enough, outsourcing is not a problem. (This article focuses on low-cost methods. I’ll share details on high-cost methods if I have the opportunity to become wealthy in the future. QQ)

Wealthy Level 2: Some budget, but no sugar daddy

Wealthy Level 2: Some budget, but no sugar daddy

Requirements belong to Step 1’s A or B: The business scale is not that large, but if you can afford an annual system fee of about 150,000 (only system fee, excluding payment, logistics, manpower, etc.), it is recommended to directly use a store platform. The difference lies in the level of support for payment and logistics by each platform. You may need to do some research or usually store platforms offer trial periods for you to try out.

The only thing to note is the search engine optimization of each platform. You can refer to Xiaohei’s post. He has created a comparison table for the search engine optimization evaluation of various store platforms.

If the requirement is Step 1’s C: It is recommended to use a store platform with other services (inline for restaurant queuing, Ocard for Line membership cards, Ominichat for CRM conversational commerce).

his is also a budget, but it will still be cheaper than outsourcing to an engineering team.

No Money Level 1: No people, no money

No Money Level 1: No people, no money

For this type, I recommend first evaluating your own monthly revenue. If the requirement is Step 1’s A, I think using social media platforms with portaly or linktr is sufficient.

For B, if your budget is not enough for a store platform, I recommend starting on an e-commerce platform until your business scale expands. In terms of cost, although Shopee has been adjusting its fees year by year, compared to self-built websites, it is much lower in terms of both money and manpower. The downside is being tied to Shopee, but there’s no other choice, as this is already the lowest-cost e-commerce entrepreneurship.

No Money Level 2: Hardworking technical sellers

No Money Level 2: Hardworking technical sellers

This is the area I can discuss more. As a hardworking technical seller, most of the technical small-budget sellers I know use Wordpress to solve requirement A because Wordpress has the largest ecosystem and it’s easier to find solutions when encountering problems.

What to watch out for is to be careful not to over-inflate the requirements, because Wordpress plugins, such as basic themes, page editors, and backups, may require a subscription fee of over 10,000 per year, and it increases based on your requirements.

This is not absolute and still depends on your technical skills. For example, if your site is deployed on GCP or AWS and you use the Snapshot feature, you may be able to save money on backup plugins.

For requirement B, it usually extends the usage method of A and installs Woocommerce. One thing to note is that the marketing flexibility of Woocommerce is not very high. Customization may be difficult for features like point collection and “spend a thousand, get a hundred” if your technical skills are not deep enough. Among e-commerce websites using Wordpress, you can refer to Wangmiao, which I think is already quite excellent.

If you belong to A and want to expand to B, you can initially use Woocommerce, which has a lower cost. When you have stable traffic later, you’ll have the budget to:

  1. Use an AB site model, Wordpress + store platform
  2. Explore the technology yourself or find an engineer to handle the e-commerce part

For the no-money part, C is not discussed for now. Mostly refer to Wealthy Level 2 and use other services. After all, if you can do C, you either have money or technical skills. I hope my sharing can help everyone. If there are areas that need improvement, please feel free to point them out.