Undoubtedly, speed matters, especially in software development projects! But what matters, even more, is how securely and safely you execute a project. There even are cases when organisations find it hard to fight off with security and safety issues when the product is live in a production environment. While the speed is taken care well by open source platforms for software development, the latter is still the point in question. That being said, you can still end up messing everything if security and safety are not borne as the first thing in mind when working on open source projects. The very first thing thus is to ensure is that you have a central organizing force in action if you are choosing to go open source.
Are you looking to take your business to an open source platform? If yes, stop for a moment. Identify your resources. Analyse your requirements before taking the leap. Here’s how!
The expenses associated with open source platforms are usually significantly higher than those associated with alternatives such as template-based platforms.
When working on open source platforms, retailers tend to begin from scratch. As a result, they need to put in more time, resources and money in developing their websites. Also, they need to spend extra amounts for things like developing services, extensions, updates and maintenance. What’s even more alarming is that the cost is often unpredictable; it’s because unexpected expenses for purposes such as redesigns, software updates, security patches keep cropping up now and then.
On an average, expenses associated with an open source platform are four times more compared to those linked to a standard template-based platform. As a retailer, you must be aware of this huge difference before jumping the bandwagon. Considering the factors such as the nature of your company, the primary goal of your website and your company’s potential for expansion and growth is also a must.
Who’s your user?
For a website to be a typical open source user, it must be product heavy and meticulously designed. In addition, it must be supported by a comprehensive business plan and an experienced and skilled development team. E-commerce firms represented by such websites require open source platforms as they often have a definite site vision, which can be attained only through the customization of a certain level. You cannot expect to experience such intense customisation from any other platform besides open source.
Small-scale retailers represented by websites, supported by comparatively inexperienced technical teams and boasting a simple product catalog should, however, decide against going open source. The extreme technicality and commitment required by an open source might leave them overwhelmed.
If you are an e-commerce retailer who wants to develop a comprehensive open source platform-based website and maintain it aptly, you must hire the services of a team of experienced and certified developers.
Going open source means you will have to work with your site’s source code. Retailers will be responsible for cleaning slate to keep their website’s backend organised. To put it more bluntly, when using an open source platform, you cannot expect to have preset parameters or guidelines.
This freedom provides site owners with the opportunity of enjoying as much scalability and customisation as they want. You can utilise this opportunity correctly if you have a development team boasting a clear vision and backed by all the required resources. However, it also leaves retailers at significantly high risk of committing errors. For instance, if the job is handled by multiple developers who are not duly certified, conflicting codes can be formed. That would eventually result in unsupported extensions, incompatible connectors, and the creation of a backend that would never function seamlessly. The final result would be an unresponsive website that you will have to redevelop or redesign. If that happens, you will not only lose your money but will also lose a significant amount of time.
So, it’s crucial for every retailer to assess their team’s technological score before turning to an open source platform. Retailers, who lack the technological ability or resources for creating proper integrations and effective designs, might need the guidance of a template-based platform.
Does your company have a well-defined business strategy? If yes, then it would be wise for you to go open source. It’s because unlike template-based platforms, which might need you to alter your business practices for matching their model, open source will provide you with freedom and flexibility. For instance, if the business model of a company needs air shipping, the template model might need them to restructure this feature of the business. An open source platform will never need them to make any such alterations.
However, one has to know that it’s not always bad to have a limiting business model. Several companies don’t have any defined practice or firm structure. These are the companies that are often hugely benefited from the guidance offered by template-based web platforms.
So, as a retailer, your job would be to consider the requirements of your business and associated restrictions before deciding whether or not you should opt for an open source platform.
About CRM and ERP integrations
E-commerce retailers with any of these two integrations should rely on open source platforms.
Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) software provides you with the opportunity of managing diverse facades of your business including business information, customer data, marketing, and automation, by slotting in all the data in a single portal. By doing so, CRMs assist you in organizing your business and giving all your team members access to necessary facts and figures. If a CRM already supports your company, an open source platform would be the best bet for you. As most template-based web platforms come equipped with CRMs, they don’t integrate properly with any external or existing CRM software.
Enterprise Resource Planning (or ERP) is a program designed for enabling better business process management. E-commerce retailers use this tool for capturing funds and keeping track of crucial business metrics. The most prominent function of the majority of the newly launched ERPs is capturing finances for retailers.
Legally, you cannot charge a customer for an item he/she has ordered online before initiation of the shipping procedure and creation of the tracking label. Newer ERPs create tracking labels and thus enable fund capturing and documentation and accruement of revenue.
Additionally, ERPs are capable of integrating backend accounting functions, which allow retailers seamlessly to monitor things like product costs, sales, and inventory across numerous channels. This feature of the ERPs makes the programs highly beneficial particularly for the brick-and-mortar businesses and e-commerce firms operating online.
Companies that are already equipped with ERP or are looking to have in near future, should go for open source platforms. It’s because ERPs fail to function properly when used on template-based systems and cause appalling site performance.
Type of product and catalogue
Considering the number of products enlisted on the website and the variations each of those products has is a must when determining whether using an open source platform would be beneficial for you. Ideally, websites with complex catalogs consisting of numerous elements should opt for open source platforms.
It has been found that the template-based systems turn out to be most beneficial when coupled with well-defined, simple products that don’t have numerous attributes. The moment things start getting a bit more complex, the performance of product pages on the template-based systems start suffering. This might cause serious troubles for website owners as they might start facing issues such as excessive slow page loading, low-quality images of products, unresponsive page designs and so on. These issues would eventually have a strong negative impact on the site’s traffic and the conversion rates enjoyed by it. Thus, if you have a complex product catalog, you should always opt for an open source platform.
Undoubtedly, open source platforms are making lots of headlines these days. But choosing them just because they are a hit and everyone is talking about them is not a well-informed decision. Instead, you should consider certain factors before deciding whether you should go open source or rely on a template-based system. Thus before you hire web developers, bring into consideration various aspects like your budget, the kind of website you are planning to use the platform for, the level of technological support you have, business strategies you have in place and last but not least how simple or complex your product catalog is.
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