Use DIY online store platform or a customized online shop system?

Published at 2020-02-13 Written by Allen

If you plan to open an online store or set up a website for your brand, you can use an DIY online store platform such as SHOPOLAR or order a customized online shop system from IT companies. What is the difference between a customized online shop system and a DIY online store platform? I will explain the pros and cons of both in the following sections.

Customized online shop system

Nowadays, most of the online store systems offered by software companies in Hong Kong are open source software such as OpencartMagentoPrestashop and WooCommerce.

1. Good scalability but complicated user interface

These open source online store systems have good scalability as they target markets worldwide. Software companies can install plugins based on your business needs. However, these online store systems often have cumbersome UI and unnecessary settings for Hong Kong retailers which is inconvenient for daily operation. If you want to learn more about the features of the above open source online store system, you can check out the demo in their website.

2. High system security and stability

As mentioned above, most of the customized online shop systems offered by software companies in Hong Kong are popular open source software. Since there are a large number of developers involved in the development and debugging of open source software, these online store system have high security and stability.

Prestashop: product management (below image):

Opencart: product management (below image):

3. System update fees that are easily overlooked

Generally speaking, ordering a customized online shop system is not cheap. In addition to the one-time setup fee, you should also be aware of maintenance cost and upgrade cost in the future. Technology is changing everyday, an outdated online store system may encounter many problems such as browser compatibility and system security vulnerabilities. Updating a customized online store system usually requires a considerable amount of money.

4. Other considerations: storage, bandwidth, speed, data backup

Since software companies need to allocate server resources to each online store, most of them setup limitation for storage and network bandwidth. If additional storage and bandwidth are required, more fees will be charged. In addition, software companies need to perform independent data backup for each online store. The frequency varies from company to company and is common once a week.

DIY online store platform

1. Flexible cost: free, pay monthly or annually

There are many DIY online store platforms in the market which offers subscription for free, pay monthly or  annually. Some platforms such as Shopify will add commissions to each transaction, therefore the cost of the online store system will increase along with your business size. SHOPOLAR offers 30 days of free trials which allow users to test shop functions before payment.

Extended reading: Starting your online business using a free DIY online store platform

2. User-friendly UI

Compared to customized online store system, DIY online store platform is usually easier to use. For example, SHOPOLAR provides a drag-and-drop webpage editor which allow users to design web pages without programming. Moreover, since SHOPOLAR's target user base is in Asia, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, it is highly localized and eliminate unnecessary settings in open source online shop systems that target global users.

3. Free continuous system update

The advantage of using a DIY online store platform is that the online store system is updated at no additional cost and the platform will continue to provide new features.

4. High stability

Software companies must ensure that the DIY online store platform is highly stable, otherwise it will affect all shops and their customers. Hence, the infrastructure adopted by these platforms possess highest specification and the data backup frequency is also high.

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