E-commerce CMS Solutions vs Custom Development - IntexSoft
November 26, 2020 • by Dora & Andrew

E-commerce CMS Solutions vs Custom Development

E-commerce development

E-commerce is booming now. According to Statista, by 2022, global retail e-commerce sales will reach 6.54 trillion US dollars. And it’s twice more than in 2019.


Many businesses are now moving sales online. So if you decide to “catch the wave” and develop your e-commerce shop, you should know where and how to start and, in particular, how to make it fast and affordable.


How to start an Ecommerce site


The process of developing websites for online shopping is basically similar to the process of creating other websites. However, you can run into common mistakes that could lead to losses and a waste of time.


Here are five factors to consider before developing an e-commerce website:


  • E-commerce platform
    You can either build your own custom CMS solution from scratch or use an out-of-the-box CMS and customize it. Each of these two options has their pros and cons, which we are going to analyze below.


  • Customer base
    Consider the expected traffic and the number of customers. A small online store with basic functionality will cost less than, for example, a marketplace targeted at a huge audience. Moreover, this factor also affects the choice of CMS.


  • Required features
    If you need some specific features to correspond to your particular business, you need to consider them when creating your site.


  • Marketing
    Unfortunately, many companies do not delve into developing a sound marketing strategy before launching a product. Apart from standard online shopping features, consider SEO pecularities, managing the abandoned carts, automated email newsletter, up-sell and cross-sell technologies, chat-bots and other features to drive traffic and convert leads into customers.


  • UX/UI design
    Compelling visualization and usability are the keys to grabbing the attention of users in today’s digital world. A trendy web design that reflects your brand’s unique style multiplied by a meaningful UX is a long-term investment in your online business.


These are the fundamental factors that will affect the success of your online store. But the most important here is deсiding between  website development from the ground up or CMS solution the store will run on. Let’s look into the details.


Ready-made CMS vs custom development


CMS is a content management system, a set of scripts for creating, editing, and managing site content. As already mentioned, you can pick an out-of-the-box CMS and customize it for your needs or develop a 100% custom CMS solution. But what is better? Let’s compare these two options according to the most common aspects important for any business.





The majority of out-of-the-box solutions offer ready-made e-commerce website templates that can be customized to a certain degree. There are also open-source systems that offer unlimited customizations as their code is in open access. It means you can take any open-source e-commerce CMS solutions, rebuild it and customize it to get the desired functionality and design.


Leveraging custom eCommerce development services, you get a solution 100% tailored to your particular needs. When drawing up a future online store specification, you can consider each tiny but essential detail. As a result, you’ll get a platform with only those features your business requires.




Using an already existing CMS is usually cheaper than developing a custom one. Many platforms are open-source and initially free, but you’ll probably have to pay for add-ons, plugins, and premium prebuilt themes. Some platforms could charge a relatively low fee (up to $300). This fee depends on how complex your online store is: for example, an online shop with hundreds of products and tons of sales will pay much more than a relatively small store.


So, when it comes to developing an online store using the existing e-commerce CMS solution, the are several things having a significant impact on your budget:


  • Development of custom logic not standard to chosen CMS
  • Installation, theme adjustment, modification of extensions, customization
  • Third-party integrations, such as inventory system or POS integration
  • QA


The development from scratch usually requires a lot more resources: it applies for time, people, and therefore money. In most cases, you’ll pay a double price in comparison with development on popular e-commerce CMS solution. Consequently, you should conduct a detailed financial and beneficial analysis to see if building the solution from scratch is viable for your business.




On average, professional development using ready-made CMS takes at least three months. Ready e-commerce platforms allow us to use and customize one of the templates that significantly speeds up development and delivery.


Since a custom platform is a more complex project, it will take a significant amount of time. Such a project takes six month minimum. In general, the optimal time for e-commerce websites developed from scratch is 12-18 months.


And the critical notice to both options: the more additional functionality and modules you need, the more time project development requires. Accordingly, the higher will be the final cost, formed to solve your specific tasks.


Maintenance and Tech Support


Just making a website, getting the result, and stopping there is not the case of a successful business development. Considering trends and changes on the market, you will have to improve the existing functionality over time.


As already mentioned, existing e-commerce CMS solutions offer ready templates being faster and easier to update. Moreover, if you pay for the CMS it usually offers a dedicated support team who you can address anytime. Moreover, you do not need to have any on-site technicians to have everything done correctly. Simply put, maintenance & support si included into the paument package.


The maintenance & support of customly developed e-shops requires more resources. Each manipulation, update of a bugfix you dhould address to a vendor who developed the solution. In this case you’d better have a product owner on-site responsible for updates implementation.


Popular e-commerce CMS solutions


There are many platforms for building an online store. We gathered those that are suitable to create online stores of various levels of complexity:






But not all of them can cope with high traffic, some of them have only paid options, and some are not so easy to use for non-technicians.


And in case you’ve decided to develop a website using ready builders, drawing on our e-commerce development experience, we would offer to consider the Magento platform.


Magento is the platform that meets the majority of business needs and perfectly covers such processes as marketing, third-party integration, SEO, scaling. Magento is one of the most scalable website building tools, and it benefits from a large community. However, it also requires a lot of developer skills and significant investment.


Let’s evaluate the features of the platform.



Why Magento?


Magento has one of the most extensive functionality you will ever find in terms of E-commerce software. It is the exact reason why the majority of Magento customers are large businesses.




Content management


Magento has a user-friendly and intuitive administration interface. Using the control panel, without any additional tools, you can:


  • Enrich the product catalog;
  • Upload, view, and edit images;
  • View statistics of visits and sales;
  • Edit attributes and their values;
  • Assign related and similar products;
  • Manage pricing rules and many more.


It also offers a powerful tool for filtering the catalog by both product and system attributes and import and export data for processing.




The system allows:


  • Implement cart and catalog pricing rules;
  • Manage discounts and promotions for selected products;
  • Manage banner sites;
  • Automatic email distribution;
  • Manage abandoned carts;
  • Apply up-sell and cross-sell technologies;
  • Maintain sales statistics and analyze business performance.


SEO (Search engine optimization)


Magento has not spared such an important aspect and offers special functionality:


  • Bulk editing of page metadata;
  • Automatic generation of the sitemap;
  • Creation of pages with product collections according to specified filters and the ability to edit them separately from other pages.




An online store on Magento can withstand any load, regardless of its stage of growth. The system remains stable when:


  • There are sharp loads during the high increase of visitors during promotions and sales;
  • A large number of orders;
  • Constant high user activity on the site.


Third-party integration


An online store on Magento can be integrated with:


  • Payment systems;
  • Analytics systems;
  • Courier services;
  • CCRM systems;
  • ERP systems and many others.


Community and Enterprise editions


There are two versions of the platform: Community and Enterprise Edition.


Magento Community is distributed for free. It uses the same core as Magento Enterprise, is stable, and has flexible customization options using modules. Magento Enterprise differs from the free version in advanced functionality: faster page loading, the ability to segment users, more marketing tools, an integrated automatic backup system.


To sum up, Magento is an optimal tool for business of any size, and it has a variety of tools to help your business grow. And along with that, Magento development requires such resources as a dedicated dev team, time, and money.



Our experience with Magento


We’ve got 50+ Magento development projects behind our back: some of them we migrated, and some of them we developed from scratch. The most memorable one was a web application that we developed and than migrated for Koawach online shop – at that time they were a startup selling hot drinks made of cacao and guarana.


Initially, Koawach co-founders hired our team to create a simple custom eCommerce solution on Magento. A month before the release, the clients were invited to the famous German TV show “Die Höhle Der Löwen”. They expected an enormous increase in visitors and orders. So the real challenge was to develop a web application, which could keep up with a sharp traffic boost.


In such circumstances we’ve had to take action very quick. IntexSoft specialists worked on payment systems integration, logistic systems integration, and also created a unique custom backend part for the platform.


The dev team developed the innovative system architecture and integrated it into the project. For proper usability, we also developed the responsive version of the platform. This allows easy access to the website via mobile devices.


Speaking of the ordering process, each buyer gets a confirmation letter after the order is done. Considering an expected great boost in visitors and, in particular, buyers, there was a threat of email spam blocking and the client’s system could get blacklisted. In order to avoid blocking and blacklisting, in the case of mass email distribution, our team tested various public servers and chose Gmail SMTP Server, where it was possible to set daily limits for letters auto sending. Control over the number and frequency of sending was carried out by the order management system.


The project involved third-party payment systems, protected by standard security protocols. Two-level security provided a secure protocol (HTTPS) between the browser and the server, and a secure protocol between the server and payment systems.


At the data center, all servers are closed in the internal network, which is not accessible from the outside through the firewall (DMZ). Only the end user’s requests pass through the first firewall. Access to the database, thanks to the second protection level, can only be done via one particular device by a certain protocol.


So, the final result was a web application with the following features:

  • Ability to handle 1,000,000 visits and 100,000 transactions per second.
  • Support of various payment methods (Vorkasse, Bankverbindung, PayPal, Sofort)
  • Responsive design
  • Ability to make mass email distributions, without the risk of getting blacklisted.
  • Byer’s personal account (after registration).
  • Customer reviews
  • Customer journey through the additional informative content about products and recipes.
  • Search for Koawach offlinel shops.
  • Detailed product catalogues.
  • Add products to cart and pay via 4 types of payment.




Comparisons in the tech world are a popular topic for discussion. When choosing a technology or a platform for your next project, you should pay attention to your initial goals to make the most reasonable decision.


In the case of e-commerce websites, the business should understand what is vital for them: full customization and unique UX/UI/features which are possible with solutions developed from scratch, or time-to-market and cost savings, possible with the e-commerce CMS solutions. But, in high competition, most businesses choose CMS platforms that help them be “faster and stronger.”


If you decided to develop an online store, we highly recommend the Magento solution. We’ve been developing online shops on Magento for 11 years. Having a lot of experience in that area and a bunch of Magento specialists, we guarantee high quality and smooth solution delivery. Contact us for a free consultation.

Written by



Marketing Manager


Head of Dev Department


Don't miss our updates