Supersonic Playground Ltd

Custom vs Package eCommerce Websites

Here at Supersonic Playground, we offer a range of different website options to suit the needs of small businesses right through to large corporations and eCommerce brands.

8 minute read

In this blog, we’ll be comparing a fully Custom WordPress and WooCommerce project to our eCommerce Package Website so that you make a more informed choice about which is better suited to your business.

You might also be interested in the following comparisons: 

eCommerce Package Website

Our eCommerce Package Website, also known as a ‘template website’, is the perfect cost-effective solution for ambitious businesses looking to launch a new online shop, or those looking to bring their existing one up to the latest standards.

First off, while we may use the term ‘template’, we’re by no means suggesting our package websites use off-the-shelf themes or templates. They’re still websites that we’ve designed and developed in-house using all of our knowledge and expertise.

So while our eCommerce Package Website uses a general template, it’s still been created using the latest and best design and functionality we know works to create a successful online shop, taking findings from the many high performing custom eCommerce experiences we’ve created for our clients, as well as using references from established retailers such as Sports Direct.

The eCommerce Package Website is an affordable alternative for those looking to kick-start their online store but who aren’t ready to commit to a big-budget custom website. It’s also the perfect solution for those who don’t want to run the risk of building it themselves, only for it to fail shortly after launch.

Examples of websites we’ve created using this package include Lecenté, Grass Next Day, Kent Hire, Slide Dynamics and Ultimate Ear.

In our experience, we’ve found that there are certain key features required to create a high performing online shop. The eCommerce Package Website has been designed for the ‘generic shopper’, with clear navigation, prominent calls-to-action, a streamlined and established purchase process, and a mixture of imagery and content.

The eCommerce Package Website has been created using WooCommerce with WordPress – the most popular platform in the world for eCommerce businesses. We offer this in two tiers, Lite and Pro, and below we’ve listed the features included, with those highlighted in bold limited to the Pro version. 

  • Tailored design to your branding
  • Fully responsive and optimised for mobiles, tablets and desktop computers
  • Han-crafted by our team, no off-the-shelf themes
  • Built with WooCommerce and WordPress
  • Homepage including a promotional carousel featured products and product categories
  • Unlimited products
  • Unlimited product categories
  • Guest checkout functionality
  • Dedicated account area to manage payment preferences, delivery and billing address and previous orders for customers/ logged in users
  • Product category pages with filtering options
  • Toggle product filter bar on or off on the product category landing pages
  • Variable options for each product (i.e., also available in colour X)
  • Social sharing for individual products
  • Related products on individual product pages (manual selection)
  • Manage stock and inventory
  • Discount code management/ creation
  • Basic shipping options
  • Contact page including email, telephone, address, location map and enquiry form
  • Automated SEO guidance so you can optimise content for search engines
  • Integration with a payment merchant of your choice (depending on which you choose this can come with an additional third-party fee)
  • One year of free hosting with WP Engine (usually charged at £300 +VAT)
  • Includes an SSL certificate
  • Daily backups
  • On-site admin training
  • ‘Customers also viewed’ automatic related products on product pages
  • Ability to set multiple dynamic shipping zones and prices 
  • Added blog section for contextual marketing
  • Integration of live chat (may require an additional third-party fee)
  • Integration with ‘newsletter sign up’ to the system of your choice (subject to integration availability, may incur additional third-party fees)

Fully Custom eCommerce Website

Our fully custom website offering takes a more tailored approach to your business. They’re the next step up from the eCommerce Package Website, and they involve a more extensive discovery phase. We also start with a ‘blank canvas’, meaning that all of the key page layouts and templates are designed specifically for your business needs taking into account your specific target audience and how you need to sell to them. We also fully tailor the WordPress and WooCommerce admin area to suit your specific content management needs. Our custom websites are for brands looking to take the next step in investing in their customer experience and brand image.

Examples of custom eCommerce sites we’ve built include Catchpole and Rye, Hopes Grove Nurseries, Walter Geering and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. These sites went through our extensive six-stage process (unlike our packages which are pre-built and have only undergone four out of the six stages).

Step one: discovery and planning

Discovery is the opportunity for our team to get to know your business, its needs, challenges, unique selling points, as well as who your competitors are and what they’re getting up to online.

Step two: user experience

This step allows us to leverage our expertise and our wide range of user experience research tools to find out what your customers are really looking for, their needs, pain points, and how the website can serve them. Often when building websites, decisions can be based on assumptions, so with our user research tasks, we aim to remove the risk associated with these assumptions, and instead we gather real-world insights from your target audience so that you can implement user journeys that are properly tested and proven to convert. The tools we use can include:

  • Content audits
  • Card sorting workshops
  • Telephone interviews
  • Design audits
  • Competitor analysis
  • Navigation testing
  • A/B and multivariate testing
  • Wireframes
  • On-site or virtual user testing

We explore these activities in more detail and the importance of user experience via our blog.

Step three: visual design

Using the information we’ve collated during discovery and user testing, in this stage, we sprinkle the design magic to add colour, typography, photography and visual flair to bring your brand to life. To give you an idea, here are some of the tasks we carry out during this stage:

  • Responsive web design
  • Visual design
  • Branding design
  • Interactive prototypes
  • Photography
  • Illustration

Step four: WordPress and WooCommerce development

During this phase, our development team created a completely new WordPress admin area with WooCommerce used to create an online shop. We strip out all of the standard themes and plugins to ensure maximum optimisation and customisation. We also completely customise the WordPress admin area to be just the way you want it – making it easy to use and tailored to your needs. This step can include:

  • Building your site to the latest standards
  • Speed as a priority
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) development
  • Tailored WordPress admin
  • Free hosting (for one year)
  • Free training for your team

Step five: front-end development

Once the visual design phase is complete, and the WordPress and WooCommerce admin has been built, it’s time for our talented in-house developers to start using HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript to bring your designs to life. During this step, the team can cover the following:

  • Responsiveness testing
  • Site speed and optimisation
  • Cross-browser testing
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) development
  • Schema markup
  • Accessibility testing

Step six: launch

The launch of your website is the last but most exciting stage of all. Once we’re 100% happy that the site is built to spec, ticks all of our boxes and performs to our high standards, we hand over to you for final sign off. Once we’ve had your seal of approval, the launch is imminent, and then the site is yours.

Which one should you go for? 

While our six-stage process is how we build all of our websites, our package websites take out several elements such as discovery, user experience and the tailoring of the WordPress admin. Both are sustainable options that will deliver results and boost conversions. Your decision of which is best for your business should consider your values, long-term growth plans and your current industry standing.

If you’ve got the budget and you want a site that you know is going to specifically target your core audience while also giving your team access to an admin area that is tailored to their needs, then our fully custom option is for you. While they might take longer, they are tailored from start to finish giving you a best-in-class representation of your brand. Brands with high-value items, such as Catchpole and Rye, also favour our custom sites because they need their website to speak to the customer on a more personal level that will convince them to part with a more substantial sum of money.

If you’re starting up or you’re on a limited budget, and you want a site that will kick-start your eCommerce offering and get your brand out there as soon as possible, then our eCommerce Package Website would be better suited to you. Our experts have hand-crafted our template site to speak to a general audience, designed with speed and performance in mind to optimise the user experience as best as possible.

We hope you found this blog useful. If you’d like to discuss your project with a member of our team, please get in touch. 

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