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Building your own Ecommerce CMS – Pros and Cons

Written on 17th January 2016

Choosing a content management system (CMS) is one of the first and most vital steps an Ecommerce start-up will make. In an age where entrepreneurs are increasingly building their own systems from the ground up, you are likely already wondering how advantageous it would be to build a custom CMS for your new business.

It is common for your CMS developers to listen to your proposal and suggest that they could build it themselves, and they would be right. Many large organisations are now sourcing talent from within their own internal teams to build bespoke content management systems, and with some impressive results, it’s not hard to see why.

Build around your business

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As a start-up, we’d expect you by now to have refined your business needs into a perfectly compiled list. But it’s simple, no off the shelf content management system will tick all of your boxes. There will be crucial features that you just cannot do without. Building your own CMS allows you to have full control over your product, the functionality of your website and ultimately, your start-up’s success.

Competitive advantage

Knowing your business better than any CMS vendor can give you a significant advantage over your competition. Working with your developer to write your own CMS coding allows you to put all of your creativity and expertise into your website, whilst developing a more personal experience for your customer.

It’s in your control

When building your own CMS, you are the author of your own timeline. With the ability to manage your own pace, deadlines, what features are added and when, you can be sure to have your website off the ground in plenty of time before your launch.

As you enter new markets throughout your business journey, your developers will be able to extend and customise your CMS to cater specifically to your needs. A basic Ecommerce website might be suitable for your start-up business, however six months later, you’ll likely want to make alterations and additions. You can schedule CMS developments months prior to entering a new market. This enables you to attack business opportunities with the greatest impact.

You know what you’re getting

If you’re building your content management system yourself, you can decide exactly where you want your investment to go. Often, CMS vendors pack so much into their product in order to cater for a larger group’s needs and to stay on top of their competition. Because of this, you will likely not require half of what you are receiving. This will leave you overpaying for features that you just don’t want.

Taking out the middle man

Choosing a content management system for your Ecommerce start-up can be a long process. You’ll not only need to define your brand and its requirements, but you’ll have to schedule and attend meetings with a variety of vendors, gather feedback from your team and, of course, negotiate with your vendor.

Creatives and consultants alike have many a time been told that their off the shelf CMS won’t allow certain functions or basic tasks. It is true that sometimes even the most common content management systems won’t allow even the simplest of customisations, which can be frustrating. It is these limitations that have inspired many start-ups to believe that their business demands a bespoke CMS. However, before making the decision, it is important to consider the challenges of working with a home-made system.

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Custom CMS training

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When staffing an Ecommerce business, your developers have probably previously used one of many of the common content management systems on the market. If they haven’t, training resources are easily accessible on pages and forums across the web. If you are running a home-made CMS, however, only you possess the handbook for training your staff on your system, and as a start-up, you could undoubtedly do without the expenses involved in training your employees on a bespoke system which offers them no transferable skills for future employment.

Invest to grow

The first version of your Ecommerce website is unlikely to be the final version, and therefore, you must continue to invest money into your content management system in order to grow your business. The launch of your custom CMS is merely the beginning and you should soon expect to be receiving requests and requirements from your team and more importantly, your customers. You’ll need to ensure that you stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies so that you maintain both your users and your revenue.

How flexible is your CMS?

We are forever seeing new third-party services being released onto the market and instantly becoming the next big thing on the web. These are must-haves for your Ecommerce start-up. So what happens when you want to implement these services into your home-made system? Unfortunately, with limited flexibility, one-click installation is not going to be an option for you. You’d be lucky to have your service up and running before the next big thing appears on the market. A custom CMS does not come with instructions or plugins that make set-up for things like this easy.

You’re still learning

You are not expected to know all of the best CMS practices immediately, but if you’re not bursting with knowledge, how do you know what you’re missing? Once your bespoke content management system is built and off the ground, it will not be easy to move over to a new system. It may, after all, be best to leave the build of your CMS to the experts.

Weighing up the pros and cons of a custom content management system is a vital process prior to launching your business. If you’re not yet completely sold on either building your own system or purchasing an off the shelf CMS, take a breath and have another read. Purchasing a CMS is a significant outlay and one which you cannot afford to get wrong.