Pros and cons of “off-the-shelf” eCommerce platforms

When getting a new eCommerce website or revamping your current eCommerce site, you will need to consider the type of eCommerce platform you will use. You can get an “off-the-shelf” one or you can opt to have one developed for you. Both options have their pros and cons and which you choose to implement will depend on your needs and budget. See our pros and cons of “off-the-shelf” eCommerce platforms below.

eCommerce platform pros and cons

“Off the shelf” pro: cheaper

“Off-the-shelf” eCommerce solutions are normally cheaper, as there will be lower development costs. It would still need to be implemented by a developer but it is likely to cost far less than a bespoke solution, as you are paying for the technology upfront.

“Off the shelf” con: slightly less flexible

If you are getting a solution from a developer, then you can make requests and where they are possible (and your developers are skilled enough) these can be added to the platform. That said, most eCommerce platforms – like Magento, for example – can be adapted by a developer so that most functionality can be added to the platform. There will be some costs involved, based on the level of customisation required but most things are possible so always chat to your developer or contact to see what is possible in an “off-the-shelf” eCommerce platform.

“Off the shelf” pro: compatibility with marketing products

One of the advantages of using an off the shelf eCommerce platform, it is usually much simpler to connect with marketing platforms, either directly or through plugins. Products like Google Analytics eCommerce tracking, setting up product feeds for Google Shopping Ads and Microsoft Advertising Product Ads. With a custom-coded website, you will need your web developer to set this up for you at additional time and cost. Any PPC Agency, worth its salt, will want these set up for your paid search campaigns.

“Off the shelf” pro: supported

The “off the shelf” platforms will usually come with support for its users (either as part of the package you buy or as a separate payment) so if there are issues, you will have someone to turn to in order to get them fixed. These people will know their product well but will not know your business and website so there may be some issues there but they should be able to sort most issues to your satisfaction. Some issues can be sorted if you have a developer on retainer or a website support contract, as long as they are not with the platform itself, such as the servers going down.

“Off the shelf” con: support wait times

Despite saying that an “off-the-shelf” version will have a good support system, you may find that there are long queues so unless the issue is a worldwide one that they can fix all at once, you may be waiting a little while to get your turn. If you have a developer on retainer, their queue may be shorter and they will know your system very well, which should mean that they can help you solve the issue quicker.

“Off the shelf” pro: proven

“Off-the-shelf” eCommerce platforms have been used for years and are able to service most websites. Their suitability has been proven over the years and their many happy customers are evidence that they can be trusted to perform for many clients and businesses. Bulk Powders, Celtic Football Club, British Heart Foundation, Rubik’s and HP Inc, for example, have all benefited from using Magento’s eCommerce platform. These platforms can be used with various plugins to make using your website and selling products easier.

“Off the shelf” pro: PCI compliant

One major advantage of “off-the-shelf” eCommerce platforms – and probably the most important point –  is that they will be PCI compliant (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) which is the security standard designed to ensure that companies who accept, process, store or transmit have a secure environment to reduce the risk of details being stolen and credit card fraud. As long as they are updated properly, the sites will continue to be safe and secure for your users. In a bespoke eCommerce platform, customers would be on the website still during transactions and so there would need to be precautions taken to ensure compliance (unless the solution uses an iframe).

So which eCommerce platform is right for you?

What your requirements are will determine which eCommerce platform or bespoke eCommerce solution is right for you. Your website developer should be able to help you through this decision so that you can find a solution that will help your website to be successful.


Shopify can handle low numbers of products, as well as large numbers so it is fairly versatile. There is a monthly fee for using this service so you will need to consider this when you are making a decision about what platform to use.


WooCommerce works well for sites with small to medium stores and is useful for websites that are more content focussed, for example, a blog that also has merchandise. This platform works well with WordPress, making it perfect for influencers and bloggers.


If you have more than 500 products, your best solution is normally Magento, as it is used to handling large numbers of configurable products. Magento is also capable of doing quotes and works best on websites where the main focus of the site is to sell products, rather than a blog or a news site. You will need to factor in costs for a specialised server but on the whole, Magento is a reliable platform.

If you don’t like those options

It is possible to get a bespoke solution from talented developers like ours that will allow for a greater level of flexibility (though there is still some in the options above) but for most companies, the eCommerce platforms above should be able to handle all of your requirements and after all, when they work so well why re-invent the wheel? We can tailor these platforms to your requirements and produce a fantastic eCommerce website that you and your customers will love.

If you’d like advice about an “off-the-shelf” eCommerce platform or you need a bespoke eCommerce website, get in touch with our team today on 02392 822377 or fill out our contact form.

Back to blog list