With a booming global e-commerce industry worth trillions of dollars and rising — it is no wonder more businesses in Singapore are turning to e-commerce websites to boost local revenue or even expand their reach out to regional markets.

If you’re ready to make the switch from 3rd-party marketplace platforms like Lazada, Shopee, Qoo10 and run your own e-commerce store — which gives you greater control over profits and functionality, we’re here to help you explore which e-commerce web development solution will be the best match for your business.

Standalone Ecommerce Platform Builders

The platforms featured here make it easy for anyone to set up an online store and start selling. They typically come equipped with a general set of features a business owner would want such as marketing tools, order tracking, reports, automated transactions and so forth. The caveat is that each of these platforms have fixed functions and do not offer customization if the functions do not meet your business needs.

If you choose to go with a builder, here are the three most popular ones on the market.

Shopify

Shopify is an all-in-one e-commerce platform that allows you to create your store, design your webpage, manage products and handle incoming orders using a single backend. It is marketed as an e-commerce platform for everyone from small businesses to solopreneur. The platform has mobile as well as desktop tools available to manage your business, with 24/7 support all available for a monthly subscription fee.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is a free and open-source e-commerce solution built on WordPress. Unlike Shopify, WooCommerce is a plugin that turns your WordPress website into a professional e-commerce shopfront, so you’ll need to be familiar with WordPress when it comes to building your website.

The appeal of WooCommerce is its customisation when it comes to choosing which functions suit you best and how much you’re willing to pay. From hosting to shipping integration, payment gateways, security, communications, SEO and more — these functions range from free plugins/extensions to paid plans.

Magento

Magento is arguably the best e-commerce platform builder if your business has complex operations that need to be reflected on your storefront. It is the most feature-rich of the three with a robust backend full of customisable plug-ins that makes it the most scalable for bigger businesses. However, depending on the complexity of your business, users might find themselves hitting a wall when trying to integrate its layers of systems and applications. That is when you might need a developer.

 

Web Development Agencies

If you don’t want to fiddle with builders and would rather hire a professional agency to build your website for you (just how you want it), there are two main routes available to you.

Web Design Agency

An e-commerce website design agency specializes in creating aesthetically pleasing websites that pay great attention to the interface for optimal user experience. Typically, clients will sit down with the design agency for a brief to go over what they want the website to look like and its basic functions.

A web design agency’s focus is on designing, developing and launching the website to be handed over to clients once complete. They are more concerned with backend features, rather than optimising the website for digital traffic or for marketing strategy, or for CRM implementation and more. In this case, the website is the product to be delivered, and beyond simple maintenance or changes requested by the client, the operation of the website is in the client’s hands once it is handed over.

Pros of engaging a web design agency:

  • Cost-effective
  • Designs specified to your preference
  • Easier to execute and get your website up and running

Cons of engaging a web design agency:

  • Design and front-end focused, may not be able to provide you with development solutions
  • Must supply them with pages, written content, images and other media
  • Prioritises delivering the website and are not as invested in optimising your website as part of your digital strategy
  • Responsibility for website management and success comes down to you

Digital Agency

In contrast to web design agencies, what can a digital agency do for you? Like web design agencies, digital agencies also build websites based on a brief — but they go beyond design and development to make sure your website is set up to convert digital marketing traffic and visitors into paying customers.

This means they take the time to understand your brand, business needs, current or desired digital strategy and use all that information to craft a website that is built with a plan to grow your business. Digital agencies typically consist of several departments working together, from Project Managers to Digital Marketing Strategists to Designers and Front/Back-end Developers.

 

Pros of engaging a web design agency:

  • Tailored digital solutions for your business
  • Potential long-term partner to grow your business
  • They are in a better position to advise you on what works or what doesn’t
  • Able to set you up for digital success and take out the guesswork

Cons of engaging a web design agency:

  • Projects might take longer to complete based on complexity
  • Are generally pricier than just a website builder

How Do You Choose the Right Agency?

Now, unlike platform builders that have all their features laid out before you, choosing the right agency is a more complex decision with many factors to consider.

Pricing

The price of your e-commerce solution can vary depending on the complexity of the project and your business needs. While there are a wide range of packages and price options out there, you can expect to pay around SGD$10,000 for a good e-commerce website, with more complex ones potentially costing even double or triple the amount.

Review the Agency’s Portfolio

Many agencies will have their best work or even case studies on their website for prospective clients to browse at their own leisure. These are a great way to take a look at the agency’s work and gauge if you’ll be a good fit. You’ll want to take a look at:

  • The number of projects completed
  • The type of clients they service (MNCs, SMEs)
  • The type of industries they service (F&B, Retail etc.)

One highly rated agency is FirstCom Solutions. As one of the top e-commerce web agencies in Singapore, FirstCom Solutions has completed projects for over 4,500 SMEs across every imaginable industry under Enterprise Singapore’s Productivity Solutions Grant programme. On their website, you can check out some of their many completed works, case studies, testimonials, notable clients and more.

 

Conclusion

E-commerce solutions are aplenty these days, and as a business owner you have between platforms, features, and business needs to choose from. As Covid looks to stay in the short run, you also need to decide quickly what platform to join and to start your business there as soon as possible.