Should I Outsource My E-Commerce Platform Development?

Epicenter Consulting Blog

E-commerce has become an indispensable element of modern business strategy, playing a crucial role in the long-term viability and sustainability of brands. With no hyperbole, the ability to engage in e-commerce is not just a convenience but a necessity for businesses looking to thrive and enhance relevance in a rapidly evolving market.

Just as vital as maintaining an online payment gateway is the process of building and growing it. Whether developed in-house or maintained by an outside team, the costs and security risks can dramatically alter a business’s long-term success and ability to maintain operations at a high standard. 

Efficiency and cost-effective development strategies, such as outsourcing, can help businesses manage these costs while reaping the benefits of a robust online presence. By optimizing development costs, businesses can ensure their e-commerce operations contribute positively to their long-term sustainability and overall brand viability. 

In this blog, we’ll break down some of the most significant factors to consider when deciding: should I outsource my e-commerce platform development?

I) The Rise of E-Commerce

E-commerce has become a cornerstone of modern retail, transforming how businesses interact with customers. This digital revolution began in the mid-1990s and has since seen remarkable growth and innovation. Understanding its evolution helps in appreciating the complexities involved in e-commerce platform development.

Detailed Timeline of Notable Events

  • Launch of Amazon (1994): Amazon started as an online bookstore and quickly expanded to become one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world. Its growth has been a significant driver in the popularity and acceptance of online shopping [5].
  • eBay’s Foundation (1995): eBay began as a platform for auctioning collectibles and used goods. It introduced a new model of e-commerce based on consumer-to-consumer transactions, significantly diversifying the e-commerce market [5].
  • Alibaba’s Inception (1999): Alibaba, a Chinese company, entered the e-commerce space, focusing on connecting Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. This marked the beginning of global e-commerce, making cross-border transactions more accessible [5].
  • Introduction of Shopify (2006): Shopify provided a platform for businesses of all sizes to set up their online stores. This democratized e-commerce, allowing small and medium-sized enterprises to compete in the online marketplace [5].
  • Rise of Mobile Commerce (2010s): The proliferation of smartphones led to the rise of mobile commerce, making e-commerce more accessible and convenient for consumers worldwide.
  • Advent of Social Commerce (Mid-2010s): Platforms like Instagram and Facebook integrated shopping features, blending social media with e-commerce and opening new avenues for businesses to reach customers.

Each of these events has played a pivotal role in shaping the e-commerce landscape. From the launch of major platforms like Amazon and eBay to the rise of mobile and social commerce, these milestones highlight the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of e-commerce.

II) Costs and Risks Associated with In-House Development

Developing an e-commerce platform in-house involves direct control over the process but comes with significant costs and risks. Understanding these factors is crucial for businesses considering this approach.

Costs and Risks

  • Higher Development Costs: In-house website development often leads to higher costs due to the need for dedicated resources, including hiring and training specialized staff. This can significantly increase the overall budget for development projects [4].
  • Time-Intensive Process: Developing e-commerce solutions in-house can be time-consuming, especially in terms of recruiting the right talent, training them, and then maintaining and updating the platform. This extended timeline can delay market entry or response to market changes [1].
  • Resource Management Risks: In-house production involves risks related to human resource management. Managing a team, especially for specialized tasks, requires significant effort and can lead to inefficiencies if not handled properly [5].
  • Skillset Limitations: While an in-house team may be aligned with the company’s goals and values, there may be limitations in terms of the diversity of skillsets available. This can impact the quality and innovation in development [2].
  • Scalability Challenges: Scaling an in-house team to meet fluctuating demands can be challenging. It requires additional recruitment and training, which can be both time-consuming and costly [6].
  • Security Risks: Handling sensitive business data in-house can pose security risks, especially if the team lacks specialized cybersecurity expertise. This can lead to vulnerabilities in the system [3].


In-house development offers control but at a high cost and with several risks. As per a report by Flat Rock Technology, “40% of in-house projects go over budget” [1], highlighting the financial risk involved. This approach requires careful consideration of the company’s resources, expertise, and long-term objectives.

III) Understanding Outsourcing Platform Development

Outsourcing e-commerce development is a strategic decision that can bring numerous advantages to a business, especially when in-house capabilities are limited or when a company wants to focus on its core competencies. This section explores the detailed benefits of outsourcing e-commerce platform development.

Detailed Advantages of Outsourcing

  • Access to Skilled Developers: Outsourcing provides access to a global talent pool, ensuring that skilled and experienced developers are working on your project. This expertise is crucial for creating a robust and efficient e-commerce platform [1].
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Outsourcing can be more budget-friendly compared to the high costs associated with hiring, training, and maintaining an in-house team. It allows for better control over project costs and can lead to significant savings [6].
  • Focus on Core Business Activities: By outsourcing e-commerce development, businesses can concentrate on their core activities, such as product development, marketing, and customer service. This focus can lead to improved business performance and growth [4].
  • Scalability and Flexibility: Outsourcing offers the flexibility to scale the development team up or down based on project requirements. This adaptability is essential in the dynamic e-commerce landscape [5].
  • Improved Efficiency: With outsourcing, businesses can leverage the expertise and efficiencies of specialized agencies, leading to faster project completion and market readiness [2].
  • Quality Assurance and Continuity: Outsourced teams often have established processes for quality assurance and project continuity, ensuring that the e-commerce platform is reliable and consistently updated [1].
  • Competitive Advantage: By outsourcing, companies can stay ahead of the competition by rapidly deploying advanced e-commerce solutions and innovations, which might be challenging with an in-house team [6].

Outsourcing e-commerce platform development offers a range of benefits, from cost savings and access to skilled developers to improved business focus and competitive advantage. These advantages make outsourcing a viable and strategic choice for many businesses looking to excel in the digital marketplace.

IV) Summary

Deciding whether to outsource or develop an e-commerce platform in-house is a strategic decision that impacts a business’s ability to serve its customers effectively. While in-house development offers greater control, outsourcing provides cost efficiency and specialized expertise. Ultimately, the choice should align with your business goals, resources, and the evolving demands of the e-commerce landscape.


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