Outsourcing eCommerce development: outline and tips

04 Mar 2020
Kate, copywriter
When you find your perfect outsourcing team, web development becomes easier. 
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Do you have doubts about outsourcing? We know why!

Anytime you outsource the software development of your E-Commerce project, it feels like going through the darkroom. First, you feel uncertain and expect something bad to come out of the Internet-basement. Yes, you know your project inside out. But are you familiar with all the pitfalls of web development? So you are trying to carefully find your way out of this situation. You read every article about eCommerce outsourcing, write questions in forums, and compare teams and companies. Step by step, you wade through to the switch, choose an eCommerce business practice and turn on the light for your eCommerce business to shine! 

If you go for outsourcing, you choose to work with people who may be in another city or even part of the world. Under such circumstances, it is harder to control all the processes. Outsourcing seems to be a leap in the dark. But what if we say that you outsource many tasks daily without realizing it?

To outsource = to delegate. How often do you put a filling in your tooth yourself? Or bake bread for breakfast? Probably, the answer is either never or never-ever. You don’t know how to do such chores, so you go to the dentist and buy freshly baked buns in the bakery. If you learned and did everything yourself, you would be a jack of all trades and a master of none. To be successful in eCommerce, you need to delegate when you cannot do yourself. When you find your perfect outsourcing development team, just like you find your dentist and bakery, the Internet will not resemble the basement, and outsourcing will be far from dark rooms. 

E-Commerce – global trend, and a Pandora’s box with a panacea

Welcome to the age of consumerism! It is neither bad nor good. It just a fact. 

Another fact – eCommerce has a tangible share in the global economy. It provides all types of products – from something as small as spoons and forks to a piece of enormous furniture, from something as usual as books to arthouse clothes for your dog. It allows orders from any part of the world: little town in Norway and New York City. Can’t find something in shops? Order from eBay. Don’t want to tackle the shipping of the couch? Get it delivered right to your apartment. 

How can brick-and-mortar shops compete with it? The only advantage they had was the speed of product delivery (0 seconds because you get it right away) and the ability to check the quality. However, with 2-days-shipping and AR implementation, online shops build trust even more. 

benefits of software development outsourcing

The age of consumerism lays down the laws. E-Commerce held the pressure and successfully blended in the new economy’s unspoken constitution. This constitution has three articles.

Article I. Personalization. The bigger the number of people on Earth, the more they want to be special. Treat them as individuals.
Article II. Do not postpone. As soon as you put aside a new product launch, the competitors get a head start.
Article III. Catch attention fast. Users are always busy. They consume tons of information, and yours need to stand out immediately.

It’s because of the third article that you need to consider outsourcing. Grasp all, lose all. Divide and rule. Still, for you to be aware of all possibilities, let’s compare in-house development vs outsourced development to know what suits you best.

In-House vs. Outsource

The in-house team is the one you build to interact directly and cooperate face-to-face in the office. They perform all tasks within the company and work mostly full-time. It a traditional way of arranging work. You will have to engage all types of professionals (from designer to recruiter) and give them a long-term perspective in your company.

PROS OF AN IN-HOUSE TEAM:

  • No barriers because you can communicate with your staff face-to-face. No waiting for messages and Internet connection issues distorting the conversation.
  • Dedication = good corporate culture that is easier to implement when working in one environment. This way, your devs will truly be a team not just a bunch of people having to spend time together to finish projects.
  • Availability and support. Each member of the team is available. You just need to take off their headphones or enter another room.
  • Control. You can see the backstage of each task and correct it immediately, and not in a few days/hours/weeks.

CONS OF IN-HOUSE TEAM:

  • Expenses. You will spend money not only on projects and salaries but also perks, office maintenance, insurance, and corporate parties.
  • Lack of skills. It is possible to hire only people who will be able to come to the office daily. It means you are restricted by one area. The devs living there may lack skills in the technologies. So you will need to spend time increasing their expertise.
  • Long recruiting process. To find a suitable person, sometimes you need just 1 day. Other times it takes 2 months because in this restricted area there might be no candidate.

Outsourcing means that you delegate some tasks to other people or companies. They can be just in another city or even other part of the world. The only source of connection you’ll have – Internet.

PROS OF OUTSOURCE:

  • Money-saving. You can outsource worldwide. Hire Belgium dev and pay 300$ per hour. Refer to the Indian one and pay 20$. Up to you! The quality of work can be the same.
  • A wider array of choices. It is easier to find someone who fits your specific needs among 7 billion people on the globe than in your city with N residents.
  • Faster project launch. You don’t need to spend time searching for devs within your restricted area and then coaching them. You find people who already have all the necessary skills. The possibility to find 5+ perfectly matching devs for in-housing is lower.

CONS OF OUTSOURCE:

  • Less control. You have to rely on the responsibility of the devs. When they are in Eastern Europe and you are in the USA, there is less control in all the processes.
  • Different time zones. You will have to arrange your call-meetings and messaging sessions to fit you and your outsourcing team (so that you don’t have to wake up at 4 AM just to check the progress).
  • Communication difficulties. They may occur because of cultural differences and language barriers. Also, constantly maintaining constructive conversations is harder when you see a person only 4 times a week through the screen.

Key Reasons to outsource the development of the eCommerce project

1) Lower costs. Hiring an outsourcing team from Eastern Europe of Asia is a lot cheaper, while the quality remains the same. The money you spare can be spent on the development of other aspects of your online shop.

2) Competence backup. If you plan to bring your retail business into the online world, chances are you have competence in retail, selling, business maintaining but not software development. This way, you delegate services that you cannot do on your own to the third parties.

3) Time-saving. No need to build a corporate culture and look for perfect candidates in your area.

4) Free up your team. Even if you already have a team of devs, outsourcing some tasks would be a great idea. This way your in-housing team will be able to focus on the tasks requiring presence and control. Your outsourcing team will focus on those that do not require it.

5) Improve your understanding. Outsourcing team can not only create a shopping online platform for your products but also explain the processes they have expertise in.

How to overcome the challenges of outsourcing?

Challenge 1. Lack of corporate culture and dedication. To enhance the working process and make it close to the in-office conditions, you can implement bonuses and perks, visit the city/country of your outsourcing team once in a while.
Challenge 2. Loss of control. Choose the methodology for productivity tracking (Kanban, Waterfall, Agile). You’ll prevent yourself from not knowing what your team does and the team from not knowing what you want.
Challenge 3. Geolocation. First of all, choose devs from the time zones that you can adapt to. The closer, the better. If your time zones differ a lot, arrange specific timing for your online meetings.
Challenge 4. Communication. If you hire residents from other countries, you must understand that they are not native speakers. When they don’t understand you or confuse words, have the patience to explain. It’s for your own good.

Things to consider when outsourcing an eCommerce project. FAQ

What exactly should I outsource?

There are three types of tasks you can delegate: things you are not competent in (e.g. social media marketing, content creation, software development), one-time chores (logo creation, video footing), work that can be automatized (customer support).

How do I know whom to outsource?

First, you need to perform cost and task calculations. Decide precisely what you are willing to delegate and how much money you are ready to give away. Then decide what professionals you need and their areas of expertise. Then check: does the salary meet the needs of the type of professional you’ve chosen? If not, either alter the expenditure or your requirements.

What services do eCommerce outsourcing providers give?

  • Website creation (from A to Z);
  • Website navigation – to make easy to use for your customers;
  • Website design – to entice and attract;
  • Front-end maintenance;
  • Back-end maintenance;
  • Data security – for your users to be sure no personal info will be leaked;
  • Server backing – for your customers to wait less when registering and adding items to the basket;
  • Market surveys;
  • Digital marketing;
  • Website management.

From what country should I choose the e-commerce outsourcing company?

Western Europe is the most convenient when it comes to the timezone and language acquisition. However, prices for software developing services vary from 110 up to 300$ per hour. Eastern Europe is slightly further, and there might be issues with scheduling because of the time difference. People here mostly speak English if they work in IT. The prices vary from 20 to 30$ per hour. In Central Asia, the rates are lower than 25$.

Okay, I’ve found the outsourcing team. How do I manage it?

  • Set conditions that will satisfy all parties. Outline the salary, working hours, requirements and plans specifically. Include the information about your product backlog (what you want to achieve in the long run).
  • Schedule calls. Choose the specific timing for your conversation and stick to it.
  • Choose messenger/group chat software. Go for the one with the most convenient and with an optimal security system.
  • Always give feedback. Both good and bad one – they show the team the right direction and motivation.
  • Visit them sometimes (if possible). It is a pleasure when your client comes to check how the team is doing even if it happens once a year.
  • Talk about the future, like financing prospects, and development plans after a project are complete
  • Use Project Management Tools (Trello, Asana, Wrike)

Outsourcing development: examples.

1) Slack outsourced its design creation to the agency based in Canada. It’s a widespread practice – to assign design management to third parties. Mostly, you need a design once in a while. This way Slack got a unique design. The company raised 25 Billion Dollars in 2015 over a short period after the launch of the project.

2) Skype worked closely with the Estonian development company to enlarge the effectiveness of their business. It occurred during the first stages of its development.

3) Alibaba – one of the biggest marketplaces on the Internet. They say its Chinese eBay. It’s a great example of eCommerce development outsourcing. This is a Chinese company, and during their start-up stage, there weren’t many talents who would specialize in web development. This way Alibaba outsourced this mission to American companies.

4) Google first outsourced customer support and arranged call centers all over the world. Then they assigned some minor IT tasks to other companies. In 2014 Google stated that there is a cooperation with Globant – Latin American service-provider. It influenced the success of Project Ara’s development.

5) Whatsapp – this messenger app is constantly developing to keep pace with his competitors: Signal and Telegram. Before Facebook attained it, the development largely depended on the outsourced teams. For example, they outsourced iOS app development to Igor Solomennikov – their first software engineer.

Why should you delegate your eCommerce set-up to SapientPro

  • Successfully overcome outsourcing challenges;
  • Best quality/price ratio;
  • Convenient time-zone (7 hours difference with the USA, 1-5 hours with European countries);
  • Cultural compatibility;
  • Educated devs (first colleges, courses and then company’s contribution);
  • Language Acquisition. We do speak English!;
  • Skills diversity – different coding languages, versatile technologies, and frameworks.
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