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Which software development model is best for eCommerce website?

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For eCommerce businesses looking to grow, tapping into well-established and clearly defined methodologies has made this journey much simpler. Numerous software development frameworks aim to organise teams and make the software development process as smooth as possible. 

Of course, it is inevitable to select the appropriate framework for developing eCommerce software.  But first of all, the business should weigh numerous factors such as developer experience, user needs, timelines, and the project’s complexity when choosing a software development model. It must be detailed and mesh well with your team’s dynamics to ensure the planning is on point and the outcomes are directly relevant.  

At the same time, around 25% of eCommerce software projects fail due to a variety of reasons, including lack of experienced developers, pressing deadlines, low quality, poor user engagement, and unclear requirements.   

With each software development model sporting its own distinct style, strategies, and techniques, the big question becomes: how do you zero in on the perfect methodology for a given project? Furthermore, should companies consider using different methodologies for different project types?  

To shed light on these aspects, we invited Tomas Masek, CEO of Altamira. Our conversation explored various aspects of eCommerce software development models, providing valuable insights for businesses aiming to grow and prosper online. 

The importance of effective project management

When the conversation turns to eCommerce development, our minds often jump straight to the debate between adopting an agile or a waterfall methodology to enable quick decision-making and faster rollouts. 

This debate generates quite a bit of discussion within companies, primarily because the choice that fundamentally shapes the initial stages of eCommerce development projects. 

  • The waterfall model, a leader in traditional web development, has reliably served various industries for decades. It’s basically the trailblazer in web development methodologies.
  • On the other hand, the agile web development model is a relatively recent option, having emerged in the early 2000s. It offers a more dynamic approach to web development, focusing on speed and flexibility. 
Waterfall Model Agile Model
Choose the waterfall methodology when all project requirements and scope are defined upfront, and you anticipate no changes along the way. Confirm with your clients beforehand if their needs are set in stone.
Lean towards an agile model if the project is expected to undergo frequent changes. Clearly explain the distinctions between these methodologies to your clients and solicit their preferences on which approach they’d favour.
Waterfall is particularly effective for small projects, making it an excellent first choice due to its cost-effectiveness.
For projects with numerous modules, Agile is a solid choice, adapting well to their scope and complexity.
The waterfall method is quite manageable and can work well if you're operating with a large team.
Agile web development is well-suited for small to mid-sized teams, offering flexibility and adaptability.
If you're not a fan of frequent meetings, constant team coordination, silo mentality, or strict time management, then the waterfall methodology could be your preferred approach for managing projects.
The agile process focuses on tight communication within the team, nudging you towards fostering robust team relationships.
Waterfall management can be particularly efficient if your client prefers minimal involvement in the project development process.
Agile management is perfectly suited for scenarios where your clients wish to contribute their input at every sprint.

Q: Let's jump right in. With several software development models available, which one do you believe is best suited for an eCommerce website?

Tomas Masek: For eCommerce projects, I lean towards Agile. The eCommerce sector is fast-paced and highly competitive. Agile, with its iterative approach and flexibility, allows for rapid adaptation to market changes and customer feedback. 

Q: Agile is a broad term. Can you specify which Agile framework you find most effective for eCommerce projects?

Tomas Masek: Scrum is particularly effective. It structures development in short sprints, making it easier to adjust features and priorities quickly. This responsiveness is invaluable for eCommerce platforms that need to adapt to trends and user feedback swiftly. 

Q: How does Scrum cater to the unique needs of an eCommerce platform?

Tomas Masek: Scrum facilitates a collaborative environment where the development team, along with stakeholders, can frequently reassess priorities. For eCommerce, this means new features or adjustments that respond to user behaviour can be rolled out rapidly, improving the customer experience. 

Q: Some argue that the Waterfall model is better for projects with clear requirements. What's your take on using Waterfall for eCommerce websites?

Tomas Masek: While Waterfall might seem suitable for projects with well-defined stages, eCommerce is too dynamic. The risk with Waterfall is its inflexibility; once you’re down a path, pivoting becomes costly and time-consuming. Agile frameworks like Scrum offer the adaptability eCommerce needs. 

Q: What role does customer feedback play in the development model choice for eCommerce websites?

Tomas Masek: It’s central. Models that accommodate ongoing customer feedback, like Agile and Lean, ensure that the developed features resonate with users. In the eCommerce domain, understanding and quickly acting on customer feedback can differentiate between thriving and surviving. 

Q: Can you elaborate on the importance of risk management in these models?

Tomas Masek: Certainly. In eCommerce, risks range from technical issues to market shifts. Agile’s iterative nature allows for frequent risk assessment and mitigation strategies at every sprint. This proactive approach prevents potential issues from derailing the project or causing significant setbacks. 

Q: For startups entering the eCommerce space, what development model would you recommend?

Tomas Masek: In my opinion, startups should embrace Agile practices, particularly Scrum or Kanban. These frameworks allow startups to be flexible, adjusting their offerings based on real-world feedback and market demands.  

We’ve been involved in the development stages of many startup projects within or outside the eCommerce domain, and we found project managing their development according to Agile methodologies principles to be quicker on the market. 

Q: With the increasing importance of mobile commerce, how should businesses factor this into their software model decision?

Tomas Masek: Mobile commerce is not just a trend, it’s rather a shift in consumer behaviour. Any eCommerce software model a business considers must be inherently mobile-friendly. This means ensuring the platform offers responsive design, fast loading times on mobile devices, and features optimised for mobile shopping. Cloud-based platforms often excel in this area, as many are designed with a mobile-first approach. 

Q: Lastly, any advice for eCommerce businesses on choosing a development model?

Tomas Masek: My advice is to choose a model that aligns with your business goals, team dynamics, and market demands. Remember, the chosen model should facilitate growth, adaptability, and continuous improvement.  It is also important to think long-term. While certain software development models might seem cost-effective or easier to implement in the short term, consider how they will serve your business as it grows. Also, don’t hesitate to consult with software development experts to find a solution that not only meets your current needs but can also scale with your business. Ultimately, the right software development model is one that aligns with your business strategy and improves your ability to serve your customers effectively.

Choosing the right eCommerce development platform

When launching an online store, there’s a myriad of eCommerce platforms available, each with its unique strengths, limitations, and pricing models. Among the frontrunners are VTEX, Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce, catering to different business needs and sizes. 

VTEX is a cloud-based eCommerce platform that provides businesses with a complex solution for building online stores and managing sales operations. It supports a wide range of eCommerce functionalities, including multi-channel retailing, order management, and customer experience optimisation. VTEX is designed for enterprise-level businesses and offers a fully integrated commerce, marketplace, and order management system that emphasises scalability, customisation, and international expansion. 

Now known as Adobe Commerce, Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that offers powerful and flexible features for creating online stores. It is highly customizable and scalable, making it suitable for businesses of all sizes, from small startups to large enterprises. Magento supports a vast ecosystem of extensions and themes, allowing for extensive customization and functionality enhancements. It is well-suited for businesses that require complex eCommerce solutions and have the technical resources to manage and customize their platform. 

Read more about our successful partnership with RedCloud, the top open commerce Magento-based platform.

Shopify is a popular cloud-based eCommerce platform. It offers an easy-to-use interface, with templates and drag-and-drop features that allow merchants to set up and customize their online stores without extensive technical skills. Shopify provides a wide range of features, including payment processing, inventory management, and marketing tools. It’s known for its simplicity, reliability, and extensive app marketplace, which enables additional functionalities through third-party applications. 

WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin for WordPress. It transforms a WordPress website into a fully functional eCommerce store, allowing users to sell both digital and physical products. WooCommerce is highly customisable and scalable, supported by a large community of developers and designers. It’s a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses that already use WordPress for their websites and want to add e-commerce functionalities. WooCommerce offers various extensions and themes to enhance store capabilities and appearance.

Q: With so many eCommerce platforms available, what key factors should businesses consider when choosing a platform?

Tomas Masek: When choosing an eCommerce platform, businesses should focus on scalability, customization, ease of use, and integration capabilities. Scalability is a key as you want a platform that grows with your business. Customization allows you to tailor the platform to your specific needs, while ease of use ensures that your team can manage the platform effectively. Integration capabilities are essential for connecting with other systems like ERP, CRM, and payment gateways. 

Q: Interesting points. Could you share your thoughts on some of the top platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce?

Tomas Masek: Certainly. Shopify is a great choice for small to medium-sized businesses looking for ease of use and quick setup. It’s less customisable than some other platforms, but it offers a wide range of apps to extend its functionality.

Magento, or Adobe Commerce, is more suited for larger businesses that require extensive customization and have the resources for development. 

WooCommerce is perfect for businesses already familiar with WordPress. It’s highly customisable and scalable, making it a good choice for businesses of all sizes that want to leverage the WordPress ecosystem. 

Your choice shall also take into account the availability of resources – engineers able to maintain the solution long-term – as well as the Total Cost of Ownership over a longer time period. Solutions cheaper at the beginning might become more costly at the end of the day.

Certain platforms are also more scalable than others, so it’s easier to sustain the growth of the business with them without disrupting the operations. 

Q: How does VTEX stand out in the eCommerce platform market?

Tomas Masek: VTEX offers numerous features for handling complex operations, including multi-tenant architecture and comprehensive omnichannel solutions. VTEX is designed to support international growth and complex business models. 

Q: With technology advancing rapidly, how should companies approach choosing a platform that will stay relevant in the future?

Tomas Masek: Companies should look for platforms that invest in continuous development and embrace emerging technologies like AI, AR, and IoT. A platform’s community and ecosystem are also good indicators of its future relevance.

A vibrant, active community and a wide range of third-party apps and integrations suggest a platform is well-positioned for future growth. 

Q: Lastly, any advice for businesses embarking on their eCommerce journey?

Tomas Masek: Start with a clear understanding of your business needs and customer expectations. Don’t just think about where your business is now, but where you want it to be in 5 or 10 years. Remember, the right tech partner can make all the difference in implementing and optimizing your eCommerce solution. 

It is also important to understand that eCommerce platform development is an endless circle of trying, testing, adjusting in order to achieve the best possible user experience and optimize the sales funnel.

Crucial is understanding your customer’s interactions with your solution and rapidly adjusting it to improve the conversion rates. 

If your goal is to develop software solutions more efficiently, reduce bugs, and stay within budget, it’s wise to adhere to established methodologies or software development models.

However, it’s important to thoroughly understand the advantages and disadvantages of each model before making a choice, ensuring you select the methodology that best aligns with your project’s needs. 

Keep in mind, eCommerce website development is not a one-time task but a continuous journey. As technology advances and consumer habits change, your online store must evolve accordingly.

Commit to lifelong learning, keep abreast of the latest industry trends, and continuously seek ways to improve the shopping experience for your customers. 

At Altamira, we deliver advanced eCommerce solutions tailored to our clients’ needs. Our eCommerce development experts employ established development techniques, highlighting Agile methodologies.

We always take the time to understand our clients’ requirements and tailor the software development process to suit their specific situations perfectly.

To learn more about Altamira web development, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today! 

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