In the series on Technology Insights from Business Leaders, we asked them about whether to have an outsourced or in-house technology team for the online store, and the answer was mixed. Reality is that while it is best to have in-house team, starting off this way will incur huge investment, and something that a fledgling start-up, especially self-funded, cannot afford all the time. Hence a prudent approach in some cases is to start with an outsourced model and later move to in-house. In this article, we will explore various ways to achieve this outsourcing.
Before we get into details, we would like to state the per-requisite for an outsourced model: You need to have someone in your founding team with following characteristics:
- Well-versed with technology. Web technology experience is a bonus, but other technology will do too.
- Ability to come up with basic outline of what you need in your online store (requirements, design, architecture inputs)
- Ability to evaluate the quality of deliverable from the vendors you work with
If needed, can spend time fixing things, hence should be hands-on and with time on his hands.
If you don’t have such a person in your founding team, your effort is better spent finding such a person to at least act as an advisor who has enough time to spend on your start-up.
Let’s see various ways to get access to technical talent without creating in-house team.
Outsourced online store
If you don’t want to have anything to do with technology, solutions like Martjack, BuildABazaar, and MagentoGo offer you complete solution in this regard. Someone like Martjack will rid you of even basic configuration work (theme design, banners, initial catalog data upload, etc.) which is a big boon because you can just focus on marketing strategies and making your store popular. For Magento Go, you will have to do some of these configurations yourself, but no code. This is a great starting point for many.
Development shops specializing in e-commerce
There are many such companies in India who specialize in e-commerce development. They will typically work on resource usage model (pay for each developer hour spent), though some will agree to a fixed cost model given enough detailed requirements. They will do end to end work, including identifying the technologies to use. There are 2 ways of find such companies:
- Reference – This is the most reliable way, ask someone who has worked with such a company and evaluate them for your needs and your budget.
- Work Marketplace – Guru, elance and numerous other such talent marketplaces exist where you post a project and companies and individuals bid for your work. However, it is very hard to ascertain the quality of these small companies (ratings and reviews aren’t that reliable), so best is to identify a few in your locality and pay them a visit to discuss further.
Technology experts in specialized e-commerce products
If you can identify the technology to use within your founding team, this option opens for you. You can reach out to experts (companies or individuals) in the identified area and work with them. The advantage is that you get most specific talent to work on your project and hence you get better quality work done. You can find these experts through above mechanisms (references and work marketplace), or you can also use dedicated community forums some of these solutions have, for example: Magento, WordPress, aspdotnetstorefront, osCommerce, etc.
Putting it together yourself
If you can spend more time and actually figure out the components that you need and are willing to configure things, you can get pieces built (or off-the-shelf) and assemble them yourself. For example, a typical e-commerce solution would require these pieces:
- A good front-end design
- A robust e-commerce platform (with content management system to ensure good content marketing later on)
- A payment gateway integration
#1 can be done through design experts (find them using work marketplace – good thing about design is you get what you see, which is unlike software).
#2 you can pick Magento or one of the CMS – commerce integration, or standalone commerce packages like osCommerce and zenCart. You also need to get your design converted into design template for your commerce package so that you can plug it in.
#3 you can get a ready-made plugin for your commerce package connecting it to your payment gateway, check the forums.
You need someone for testing and maintaining it going forward, you can find someone on the Work Marketplace.
As you can see, there are many options to get off the ground with an outsourced model for technology, and as you grow, you can change your model. We would be very interested in hearing from you what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Please leave your comments or write to us.