According to Statista, in 2021, global retail e-commerce sales amounted to approximately 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars. And what is more, the amount is predicted to grow by 50 percent to about 7.4 trillion dollars by 2025.
With such a pace of growth, retailers are well-aware that to stay competitive they need solutions being both innovative to attract new users and reliable to retain them.
If you are reading the article, you have highly probably already decided for a custom solution over an out-of-the-box option and found a programming language that suits your project needs — Go. As the programming language has already attracted the attention of major business players including Uber, Alibaba, BBC, Intel, Netflix, and Twitter. They leverage Golang opportunities for different use cases in various industries.
Or you still hesitate about what way to choose. Anyway, to be sure that the choice is cost-efficient, it is important to know what the cost of creating an e-commerce website with Go includes.
Since 2011, Surf has been creating custom solutions for mature startups and global enterprises, from online shops to enterprise resource planning systems. And we are glad to share our vision of the cost estimation approach.
Surf built a website and admin dashboard for a custom ERP system to automate and consolidate business processes.
When do you need a custom e-commerce solution?
Pros and cons of a custom solution
Longer to launch but faster to release custom features
Since a custom solution shall be created from scratch and tailored for the needs of a particular company, it requires more time (7 months and more) and implies not only the development itself, but also building a customer journey map, collecting business and technical requirements, UI\UX design, and all required preparation activities.
BUT in the long run you win faster implementation of custom features that is highly probable impossible with out-of-the-box solutions. The average time for development\release of a feature in the custom app is 2-3 weeks, while small urgent changes (for example, introducing seasonal holiday design) can be done in several days.
More time and resources but minimized risks as a result
A custom solution is impossible without the involvement of the client’s team in the process. After all, no one knows the needs and problems of your customers or the features of goods you plan to sell. Based on our experience, the more active the client’s team is engaged, the higher is the chance to meet or even exceed initial expectations. So, in case of custom development you will invest your time and human resources.
BUT you minimize the risks of dependence on third party developers. The custom solution belongs to you completely and is under your management, while the out-of-the-box solution is rented. If you choose to outsource development, make sure to request the transparent transfer of code, documents, and training your in-house staff for further development and maintenance. The complete knowledge base will remain inside of your company.
More expensive but unique
For a custom product you will pay more as compared to an out-of-the-box solution. Therefore, before you invest in development, be sure to analyze whether you really need it and whether such a sales channel will be efficient for your case.
BUT due to a balance between meeting the expectations of your target audience and the wow effect, the custom solution can become the digital face of your brand as compared to typical ready-made solutions. Whereas, the unique features and design mean not only more pages and different colors of buttons and banners, but rather a well-thought-out UX. Nothing distracts the user from the purchase, and the process is easy to understand. As a result, a high conversion rate is a strong point of custom products. Get rid of extra barriers and stop-factors, build the optimal order flow, and go on with increasing loyalty and repeat purchases.
Based on the above pros and cons, here are some points to remind you when it does make sense to start building your own custom website:
- You have a unicorn business that has faced a scaling challenge.
- You’ve already tried an out-of-the box solution, and it does not match your organization structure or requirements of your back-office.
- You need unlimited possibilities for integration with both inhouse and external systems, special marketing solutions, and/or BI systems.
- You want to offer your customers a unique UI/UX, or perhaps
- You want to look more future-proof and innovative when raising funding.
Custom e-commerce website with Go: cost-affecting factors
The decision to build a custom e-commerce website shall be well-weighed and informed. And cost-related information plays a significant role in making it. Following are some details about the cost: what it comprises, and what factors can have an impact upon it. Note, that we are speaking here in terms of design and development, and do not take into account any legal expenses, creating content (photos, descriptions, and more), marketing or promotion, etc.
Without a preliminary study and analysis of your project needs and requirements, hardly anyone will tell you how much it exactly costs to build an e-commerce website. But there are certain factors that will surely influence the cost, and this is what we are going to speak about.
Set of features
Chances for your site to achieve success increase if it offers all the features users need for easy and convenient online shopping. You need to decide what features shall be added in the first version, and where you will save money and do it later. For example, whether you have high priority goods that require specific descriptions or video demonstration, etc. Accordingly, the cost will directly depend on the scope of work to be done within the project.
To avoid unnecessary expenses, we offer our clients a Design Sprint (or Zero Sprint, as we call it) that covers pre-project activities aimed at estimating the scope of work, terms, and budget for a specific project. For 1-3 weeks we prepare, among other things, a well-reasoned feature set, design concept, backlog, and project roadmap. The cost of Design Sprint amounts to about 5% of the overall project cost.
The UI/UX design does not only make your product attractive. Unique design implies adding value and solving problems. The professionally done design of a website will help you stand out among competitors, and offer the best possible user experience. Accordingly, the cost of this stage of building an ecommerce website will depend on the level of complexity.
We at Surf always strive to understand and meet users’ needs. To create the design that impacts business results, we offer to start with building a customer journey map. This helps identify the specific needs of different audiences and detect what to pay attention to while creating a user-friendly and engaging product.
Working on a Customer Journey Map for a fashion brand, we found an unobvious segment of the target audience: women buying men’s clothes for their husbands or sons. As a result, we implemented an option that allows not only to save size for different people but also to filter the catalog, accordingly.
Development with Go
Development activities account for a larger proportion of project hours, so they are also a significant cost-affecting factor. From this point of view, you shall take into account whether you are going to build an in-house team, hire freelancers, or outsource the development to a team with relevant experience and expertise. Other important points are developers’ location, qualification, and technology stack. Speaking about Golang, we should say that it belongs to the 10 top paying technologies according to Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2021.
Still, Golang offers some benefits that make it a good match to build an e-commerce website
- Go is often chosen for being simple and capable of saving development resources, making maintainability of code less expensive and the development process faster.
- When compared to Java, Python, Rust, and Node.js, Go surpasses them in case you need to develop high load or distributed systems.
- Easy code writing, high level of security, high execution speed, and law entry threshold make Golang unrivaled for microservice architecture that is the best foundation for fast response to customers’ needs and market trends.
- Golang provides for high page load speed reducing customer feedback complaints regarding slow page load time and customer churn.
- Golang assures concurrency as well as scalability, where scaling is a vital factor for further development of the e-commerce site.
Therefore, be careful in evaluating the right tech stack for your future product taking into account all benefits Go offers for web development, API, charts, real time communications, server apps, cloud-based services, cloud computing etc., and checking other alternatives for mobile apps, graphics, and frontend-development.
E-commerce services form a domain, where security and performance are the highest priority as the users today expect high availability of the services and entrust their sensitive information to their favorite platforms and apps. QA processes are an integral part of development both in terms of product quality and security, and may result in significant savings. But be sure to check what you are paying for.
For example, we at Surf practice early review of requirements and design that allows us to detect eventual bugs at the early stage, and as a result, it costs less to fix them. Another example is test automation: as the project grows in functionality, manual tests require more effort, and with time the performance of the QA team will become insufficient. We save our clients up to 80% of the time on testing by using automated tests. We make new releases happen twice as often as they did before.
An e-commerce business is hinged not on a basic online store only but it needs integrations with different software and solutions like CRM, payment systems, business intelligence tools, accounting software, reporting suites, and many more. Such integrations allow minimizing human involvement and saving businesses time and resources.
Coming back to the case study of the fashion brand above, we provided the fashion shop customers with the possibility to save their clothes size in the app so that their search results are filtered according to the specific parameters. Simultaneously, thanks to a CRM system integrated with the app, the data is automatically uploaded to a shop assistant’s phone whenever users visit an offline shop. Such multichannel customer-centered service is a good booster for customer loyalty.
The number of integrations, their complexity, specific features of the service to be integrated with: these are the factors that have an impact upon the cost of creating an e-commerce website.
Surf pricing approach: time & material
When setting up a cooperation with an IT company to build an e-commerce website, you should pay attention to what price and payment terms opportunities this or that type of agreement offers.
Based on our experience, we know that it is difficult to adequately estimate at the start how long a new unique project with complex system changes and a long development process will take and how much it will cost. So in our workflow we apply a flexible product-based approach to pricing.
1. Surf provides preliminary estimation of working hours by stages or features, and the client confirms the work they need.
2. Surf performs the work agreed upon, and once a week demonstrates the results and progress (more often at the design stage).
3. If required, we make adjustments, clarify, and agree upon the scope of work untill the product is ready.
4. Meanwhile, once a month we report on the progress and real costs, the client checks and pays.
As a result, the client does not have to overpay for the activities/works that have been done faster or turned out to be unnecessary. We do not have to worry about the extra activities/works that have not been included into the initial estimated costs.
Summing things up
Starting your new project, make sure to check all cost-affecting points to avoid extra and unnecessary expenses.
Thus, you should not spend money for custom solution if you
- only want to try up you model,
- need a fast-built POC or MVP to show the investors and/or stakeholders to get funding,
- need to solve standard business tasks,
- do not need custom design.
The above cost elements shall be taken into account if you are aimed at long-term growth, fast scaling, unique UI\UX, numerous integrations — thinking of making your solution stand out. In such a case you should consider Go and look for a team with relevant experience.