Are You Really Ready to Build Your Own Web Storefront?
When printers consider offering their customers an online portal for ordering and managing print projects, they can build one of their own from scratch, use website template builders, or purchase a web storefront. At one point in time, a DIY approach was an attractive choice. It gave print companies the most control over the finished product. Today, however, buying a storefront designed specifically for print service companies is the better choice.
Here are some reasons why the build vs. buy decision has swung in favor of buying:
- Time to Market–Building a website, even with the help of a template, can take an enormous amount of time, especially if you have limited web development experience. It can take months to design, create, and launch your online customer portal. While in development, competitors with an established online presence may snap up business from your clients.
- Security–You are probably not an online privacy and security expert. Protecting your customers’ sensitive information and keeping hackers at bay are extremely important aspects of doing business online. A single misstep in this area can erode customer confidence and erase all the benefits you expected from your web storefront initiative. Online security is a fast-moving area of technology. Leave data protection to the experts.
- Design–As a print professional, you may have an eye for layout, color, and style, but web storefronts must be functional as well as visually appealing. Effective user interfaces require a completely different set of design skills. If your storefront is difficult to navigate, people won’t use it. Storefronts you can buy were created by teams of talented people with experience in creating online stores.
- Features and Integration–When you build your own system, you might have to exclude some features because of time, talent, or expense. Some examples might include inventory management, user management, or integration with CRM systems and automated marketing platforms. Purchased web ordering solutions generally include a great deal of functionality and integration. You won’t have to be satisfied with a less-than-complete solution.
- Scalability–What if you signed a new, large customer the day after you launched your web storefront? Would your new system handle the increased activity, or would you need to scramble to raise the capacity of your custom website or add features? Solutions you can buy offer built-in scalability. Adding new functions or capacity should not be a problem.
- Maintenance–You might hire a contractor to build your site, but what happens if your customers experience problems months later? Will that contractor still be available? If not, can you find someone else? How long would it take someone new to get up to speed? Uptime is a huge success factor for online storefronts. Being able to browse and place orders on demand is one of the key features customers want. If your site is down when they visit, customers may not come back. Purchased solutions give you access to a support team that will help with performance problems or adding functionality whenever you need them.
- Cost–The nice thing about purchasing a web storefront is you know the price up front. Printers building homegrown systems pay by the hour; cost overruns can happen. Sellers of template-based solutions sometimes charge extra for advanced features, leading to unbudgeted expenses. It may seem that building your own site is the most cost-effective approach, but that’s not true for everyone.
Tecra created AccuLync to meet the needs of print service providers or in-plant print centers. We’ve included features like postal processing, kitting, and back-end processing. The platform includes built-in integrations with the tools printers use for eCommerce, graphic design, and more. Check out the capabilities of AccuLync and schedule a demonstration at email@example.com to see the platform for yourself.
It’s no longer necessary to be responsible for building your own online storefront, nor is it advisable. The availability of high-quality solutions you can buy and install, along with the support that comes with such a purchase, have made DIY web development an unwise decision for all but a few print service companies. Before you commit to the time and expense of creating your own web portal, check out the alternatives. You may be surprised at the functionality and affordability of pre-built solutions.