How to Develop Future-Proof Platforms
Surviving in a world dominated by digital monopolists
In the digitally mature world that we live in, several tech companies have captured large market shares in each niche, and don’t look like they’d budge any time soon. When it comes to search, Google has dominated the space for the larger part of the last two decades. Google, along with Facebook, dominate the world of online advertising, while Facebook and Instagram rule social media. The messaging services space is slightly more fragmented and market-specific with apps like Whatsapp, Viber, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WeChat occupying the top spots. When it comes to e-retail and e-wholesale, the e-commerce giants Amazon and Alibaba / AliExpress are most often chosen by users, thanks to their prominence.
Choosing the right platforms for the future
While it is hard to imagine a reality where smaller players can compete for a share of voice, share of search, or share of spending, there are decisions that digitally minded organizations can take in order to stay future-forward and compete on a more equal playing field. Choosing the right platforms and tools to market yourself and your portfolio of products or services (or both,) can be the key to success, going forward. In an over-saturated world, where e-commerce is now commonplace, threatening to destroy traditional retail and wholesale, having a solid digital strategy often includes developing own platforms or participating in third-party marketplaces.
An app, a web portal or a third-party platform?
When deciding whether to offer your customers a proprietary platform (i.e. own e-commerce website or app) or list your products or services on a third-party marketplace (such as Deliveroo, Amazon, or eBay), there are several important factors to consider, which we review below.
Factors to consider when choosing whether to e-sell direct or through a third-party reseller:
- The commission and other fees charged by the third-party marketplace for selling through their platform can be considerable, rendering the venture financially not feasible.
- You would need to decide whether shipping and handling will be executed by the third-party provider or by your company. The former is an option offered by Amazon, called FBI – or Fulfilled by Amazon – which comes at a cost. You’d need to evaluate the financial and logistical feasibility of doing it yourself vs. maintaining an inventory ready to be picked and shipped at a shared fulfillment facility offered by the reseller.
- The ease of adding and updating products or services on the third-party platform should be evaluated. This includes checking whether the platform integrates with your ERP system and if the publishing and syncing processes can be automated.
- The visibility your products or services are likely to receive on your own platform is a factor that’s not to be underestimated. Does your website or own e-commerce portal receive enough traffic regularly? Is your SEO better than that of the third-party platform? Visits lead to sales online; if there aren’t many of those, it’s time to question the prospects of future profitability.
Advantages of using third-party reseller marketplaces
Often, the largest advantage third-party reseller platforms offer manufacturers is their large web traffic, as measured by the number of visitors and the frequency of visits. Consumers prefer shopping on one-stop-shop platforms that they are familiar with and can trust with their financial and personal data. Some plainly refuse to use manufacturers’ own platforms as they are deemed cumbersome or unreliable.
You want to develop your own platform; now what?
If, after, considering all options, you have opted to embark on the development of an own platform, portal, or mobile application, you would be faced with yet another choice: whether to develop in-house or hire a dedicated development firm to do it for you. To help you make the right decision for your organization, you would need to consider several criteria, which we look at below.
Criteria when deciding whether to develop platforms in-house or outsource their development:
- First, do you already have an in-house development team, or would you need to build one from scratch? The latter is certainly associated with high costs in terms of time, human resources, and capital, and isn’t to be taken lightly. Hiring new developers always involves a large amount of overhead and typically results in delays. That’s because new staff needs to be trained and needs time to get up-to-speed on the company culture, policies, and development style before they can start working efficiently and delivering the expected results.
- Does your development team currently have the capacity to handle a new project or are they busy working on a higher-priority one?
- Can your in-house developers work with the code base that you’d like to use for your new platform? It is possible that, for reasons of speed or other performance considerations, you’d like to try a new code base such as ViewJS, while your current staff can only code in AngularJS.
- Finally, can your in-house team efficiently build the platform of your dreams, or will it take them too long to develop it, costing you time and capital? Often, outsourced development teams are faster, more efficient and, thus, less expensive to use than in-house developers.
It’s important to weigh all these factors carefully before making the final decision about whether to develop in-house or outsource your platform, portal, web or mobile application development.
For an obligation-free consultation on your options, don’t hesitate to contact the Verhaert Digital development team.