When launching an online business, the allure of creating a do-it-yourself (DIY) ecommerce website can be captivating. The promise of cost savings, complete control, and the satisfaction of creating something from scratch is hard to resist. But, as with many things, the reality is not always as rosy as the initial prospects. This article explores the significant stumbling blocks that can occur when embarking on a journey of DIY ecommerce for your business.
Understanding DIY Ecommerce Websites
Before delving into the potential problems, it’s essential to understand what DIY ecommerce entails. DIY ecommerce refers to the process of creating an online store without the direct assistance of a professional website developer or designer, typically using a website builder or a content management system such as WordPress. Although these platforms often provide templates and user-friendly interfaces, they also require the user to manage and maintain the website independently, which can lead to several challenges.
The Hidden Cost of Time
Free or low-cost ecommerce platforms are alluring, especially for small businesses with tight budgets. However, the hidden cost of time is often overlooked. Building your online store, although made easier with templates, still requires a significant investment of time. From choosing the right design, uploading products, and setting up payment systems, to learning how to optimise your website for search engines, the hours can quickly add up.
Unanticipated Additional Expenses
The initial cost of a DIY ecommerce website might seem low, but it can quickly escalate with the addition of necessary features and functionalities. Many website builders offer basic packages for free or at a low cost, but these often lack critical functions. These features usually come with additional fees, turning your cost-effective solution into a significant investment.
Limited Support and Troubleshooting
As the owner of a DIY ecommerce website, you become the webmaster. While this may sound exciting, it also means that you are entirely responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting your website. Most DIY platforms offer support via email or chat, but this may not be sufficient when facing complex technical issues. Dealing with problems like site crashes, software updates, or plugin conflicts can be overwhelming without the right technical knowledge and support, costing you time, money and business reputation.
Amateurish Design and User Experience
First impressions matter, and a poorly designed website can deter customers before they even explore your products. DIY ecommerce platforms often offer a limited range of templates, which can result in a generic and unimpressive site. Additionally, creating a user-friendly and intuitive navigation system can be tricky without professional help.
Neglected Mobile Optimisation
With over half of all internet traffic now coming from mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is crucial. However, optimising a website for mobile viewing can be a complicated process, especially for beginners. A poorly optimised site can lead to frustrated visitors and potential loss of sales.
Weak Security Measures
DIY ecommerce sites can be vulnerable to security threats. Keeping your website secure requires regular software updates and active monitoring for potential threats. As a novice, you may not be aware of or equipped to handle these security requirements, leaving your website and customer data at risk.
Lack of SEO Optimisation
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving a website to increase its visibility on search engines like Google. Many DIY ecommerce sites lack built-in SEO tools or restrict access to important SEO features. Without proper SEO, it’s challenging for potential customers to discover your website, impacting your traffic and sales.
Dependence on the Platform
One often overlooked aspect of DIY ecommerce is the reliance on the platform used to build the website. If you decide to move your website to a different platform or hire a professional to redesign it, you may discover that your website is tied to the original service. Transferring your website design and content could be a complex, time-consuming process.
The time and effort invested in creating and maintaining a DIY ecommerce website can significantly reduce your productivity. Instead of focusing on your core business activities, like sourcing products, marketing, and customer service, you may find yourself spending valuable time troubleshooting website issues or updating content.
As your business grows, so do your website’s needs. DIY ecommerce platforms may not offer the flexibility and scalability required for a growing business. As your product range expands, you may need more sophisticated inventory management, advanced payment options, or improved site performance. Accommodating these changes on a DIY platform can be challenging and may eventually require moving to a more robust platform or hiring a professional web developer.
The Bottom Line
While a DIY approach may seem cost-effective and straightforward, it’s essential to consider the potential challenges and hidden costs. If you do opt for a DIY ecommerce site, equip yourself with the necessary knowledge and resources to overcome these obstacles. Alternatively, consider investing in a professional web developer who can create a secure, functional, and user-friendly ecommerce site tailored to your business needs.
Your website could be seen as your most valuable asset, and if not done properly, it could harm your presence in Google. Therefore, it is important to treat it as an investment in your future instead of handing it over to inexperienced people or “free” platforms.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to deter anyone from building their own ecommerce site. Instead, it aims to highlight potential challenges and encourage informed decisions. Building a DIY ecommerce website can be a rewarding experience, provided you’re prepared for the journey and its possible hurdles.