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4 Hidden costs of Ecommerce platforms for UK businesses

When it comes to Ecommerce platforms suitable for UK businesses, there are a lot of attractive options within the industry. However, some platforms are only attractive on the surface, until you discover the hidden costs beneath them. Sure, there are a lot of benefits that come with different software on the market, but are they worth the heavy dent in your budget? 

A lot of businesses only realise the hidden costs once they’re in too deep and are forking out for them. So, this post will outline the main hidden costs that some of the most popular platforms pose and what to look out for when making the key decision of which Ecommerce platform to develop your online store on.


We’ll cover: 

Out of the box added feature costs

Businesses are often drawn into Ecommerce platforms with the belief that they’ll be able to use the product straight away when “taken out of the box.” Whilst it may be true that you can use it, how many features do you have access to straight away with the package that you’ve bought? 

When selecting the right option, businesses must consider how they might grow into its platform. For example, when a retailer starts using a particular platform, they may have relatively basic requirements but then as they grow their needs become more complex and their platform can't accommodate.

The first hidden cost is the added features that need to be purchased for your Ecommerce store to perform exactly how you’d like it. Some platforms only offer the basic minimum out of the box and require you to invest further for added features and depth to your store. Smaller companies are less likely to need a comprehensive system that an enterprise global business needs. 

ecommerce platform hidden costs

Added features are often in the form of plug-ins, which, if poorly configured it can slow your site down dramatically if you choose to pack your online store with them. The more layers that you add to your site, the slower it’s going to perform. Retailers can easily get carried away when adding plug-ins, especially without the advice of a specialist Ecommerce agency. This may leave them with a lot of unnecessary functionality that they don’t require that can actually hinder conversion rates.  

If you’ve purchased system extras that are far too in-depth for your online store, you’re likely to be wasting money. You won’t be utilising the platform to it’s maximum, whilst still paying premium prices for functionalities going to waste. 

For example, the popular Ecommerce platform, Shopify, comes with basic features as a standard. However, for advanced functionalities and features, businesses are required to increase their spend and, therefore, their overall costs. A few examples we have dug out; want a premium mega menu app?  That’ll be $5.90 per month. Want to offer your customers buy one get one free? One app offers this functionality but at a cost of anywhere between $19 per month and $99 per month. It’s easy to see how a business can soon find themselves paying more in monthly app costs than the cost of the platform itself from Shopify.


Infrastructure costs

Infrastructure costs relate to the hosting of your Ecommerce website. Choosing the right infrastructure of your site is crucial to your success, so it’s not a decision that you should take lightly.

As your company grows and the Ecommerce store becomes more complex and receives more visitors then infrastructure costs can start to increase significantly. With hosted platforms the cost of infrastructure is generally included in the monthly subscription fee which removes the headache of having to worry about it, however, it means you as the retailer lose control over where and how your platform is hosted. It also means you have little or no control over how the infrastructure is impacting on the performance of your store.  

An open-source platform will generally mean the retailer is responsible for hosting but it also means they can yield control over who they decide to partner with for their infrastructure requirements and can easily move it if they aren’t satisfied. 

When choosing the perfect Ecommerce website, businesses need to carefully consider infrastructure costs in relation to their growth. Startup businesses are unlikely to have the same infrastructure requirements that an enterprise company does. Plus, they won’t have the same spending capital. So, they need to opt for an infrastructure package that suits them financially and can allow them to scale as their needs change.

For example, Magento is a comprehensive solution that is suited to larger stores and comes with notoriously hungry infrastructure requirements. It can, therefore, be an overly expensive solution for smaller stores that don’t require a platform of that type. 


Transaction costs

So, you’re all set up and raring to go with your Ecommerce site. Have you thought about the transaction fee that some platforms take from each sale? Sure you might be making tons of sales but opt for the wrong platform and you may be lining somebody else’s pockets - not yours. 

For example, on the surface, Shopify may seem like a good avenue to lead down. Of course, all the big boys in the industry use it, so that must mean that it’s the best product out there, right? Although Shopify allows you to choose any merchant provider to process your transactions, they will levy a  transaction fee in addition to any fee from the third-party merchant provider. 

ecommerce platform transaction costs

The alternative is to use their own merchant services solution but the credit card rates are pricey compared to what the wider market can offer. Other platforms will allow you to use any merchant provider you wish and without any additional transaction fee being incurred and allowing for the retailer to seek better credit card rates, however, there is again more onus and responsibility on you as the retailer unlike the out of the box solution that someone like Shopify offers.

Busy periods should be lucrative ones for your business. After all, you’ve worked hard to get people to the point of sale. When revenue is lower, market transactions fees won’t be as impactful. However, the bigger your business grows and more popular your store becomes, these fees may start to dent your bottom line significantly.

It’s all about finding the right solution for your business, remember, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to Ecommerce platforms. 


Agency costs

Platforms such as Magento have a long development cycle and require skilled professionals to help with the setup and management of your site. Unless you’re a development boffin yourself, a lot of businesses tend to seek the help of an agency when setting up their Ecommerce platform. 

Professional agency help doesn’t come cheap. Plus, not all agencies have the right team to perfectly deliver sites on certain Ecommerce platforms. For example, to get the most from Magento requires the use of skilled developers with extensive experience in working with the platform.

Therefore, the smaller talent pool means that you’ll be paying a further premium to find the right agency partner that works for your site. Choosing the right digital partner can be quite a time-consuming task, which is time that you could be focusing elsewhere within your business.

ecommerce agency

You need to find an agency that provides extensive support, is experienced with Ecommerce site builds and is reasonably priced. Also, you need to find the right partner that will recommend a product guaranteed to be best suited - not just what they’re used to using. With a lot of agencies in the industry, sifting through each one to find the perfect match can be quite a long, drawn-out process. Choose the wrong one though and you’ll be paying out for an ineffective site. 

That’ll only hike up the costs even further. If you’ve been paying an agency to build your site and it turns out to be poor, you’ll only then have to look elsewhere and pay another one to rectify their mistakes and launch it properly. So, you need to put the time and effort in to ensure you’re making the right choice and aren’t left paying double what’s required. 


Red-Fern and Aero Commerce can help with your Ecommerce replatforming

Ecommerce platforms are often a thorn in UK businesses’ side. A lot of companies race into the decision that they think is best for them, only to be left with sky-high bills and a poor performing site. That’s why we advise all businesses to extensively research before signing up to any Ecommerce platform.

They’re a crucial investment for your business, so they’re not a throwaway decision. If you make the wrong decision, it can come back to bite you at a later date. Not just financially either. You’ll likely see site speed and performance dip too if the platform isn’t capable of scaling with the rest of your Ecommerce business. If you stay at a poor standard for any lengthy period, you run the risk of hampering your hard-earned reputation as a company.

Aero Commerce, a high-performance professional Ecommerce platform, is lightning fast, feature-rich, fully extendable and scalable whilst offering infrastructure costs that are typically a tenth of those incurred on some of the other, popular professional platforms and allows retailers the freedom to use whichever merchant solution they want meaning no prohibitive transaction fees.

These advantages - in particular, speed can enable stronger website rankings and conversion rates. Plus, the leaner structure that your site will adopt means for lower infrastructure costs. Decreasing costs whilst maintaining optimum performance is surely a positive for any business model. The extensibility of Aero also means the platform can evolve with your business needs meaning that anything is possible.

To find out more about how we’ve helped previous customers make the switch from larger, unsuitable Ecommerce platforms that were a drain on their bank accounts, please don't hesitate to get in touch. Our expert team are on hand to inform you of everything you need to know on making the switch and how it can be influential in the success of your business. So, waste no time and see how we can help your business today.

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