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How to build a retail E-commerce platform in 2021

We will look at the state of E-commerce platform software development.
Hopefully, you will be aware of how to build your own retail platform, knowing the possible options, and getting insights.

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E commerce platform

Introduction to retail platform software development

The world of E-commerce never had as much potential and room to grow, as in 2021. According to Oberlo the total number of online shoppers will exceed 2 billion, which is almost 30% of the global population! If Statista is to be believed, in 2020, E-commerce sales amounted to 4.28 trillion US dollars. With such impressive numbers, the reasons to start your own online retail business are obvious. Among the options you have are building an E-commerce website from scratch, open your online store on the existing platform or develop one yourself. In this article, we will focus on the third option and provide you with some insights and information to make it a success. But first, let’s get through the basics:

What is an E-commerce Platform?

This is a software application, that makes it possible for businesses to manage their website, sales, and marketing online. Ultimately, platforms allow companies to centralize their operations and focus on improving business results.

How does a retail platform work?

Usually, a platform offers businesses a set of tools, hosting, website designs, and features for a certain fee.

We, at SPD Group, have the necessary expertise to help you build a retail E-commerce platform that will suit your organization like a glove and elevate it to an entirely new level. Let’s break down the information, you should be aware of to make the right decisions.

“Ecommerce isn’t the cherry on the cake, it’s the new cake” – Jean Paul Ago CEO L’Oreal

What are the most popular eCommerce platforms?

In the quest of developing a project that will change everything and leave a significant mark, it makes sense to acknowledge market leaders for the inspiration:


This is a leading Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) E-commerce platform provider, very popular among starters and small brands. For larger customers, they have a separate solution, titled Shopify Plus. Currently, they have clients from 175 countries.


Representing the other type of solutions, WooCommerce is an open-source platform, which is added as a plugin to the WordPress engine. Once again, covering the market for starters that making their first steps in the internet sales.

Wix eCommerce

A great choice for startups and small businesses, Wix offers simple website adjustment, interface, and attractive pricing options.


This provider combines an Open SaaS platform solution, as well as a headless solution with flexible APIs. There are built features for SEO control, so startups and small businesses can also benefit from it.


Keeping up with the market, they launched a cloud open-source solution but made their name on on-premise and open-source software.


The three main retail platform software development options

So, you had decided to build a retail E-commerce platform? Here is a quick overview of the most popular paths, you can take.

Open-source E-commerce Platforms

While hosted in the cloud or on-premise, be ready, that this type requires manual involvement for updates or feature improvement. On the pros side, you can have as much customization as you want, on the cons side: this requires a proficient IT department for your eventual clients.

 SaaS E-commerce platforms

These are far less simple for the end-users. Your clients, instead of building a platform using a set of tools you offered, will rent it. This option is hosted in the cloud, and ultimately cheaper than an open-source solution.

Headless Commerce platforms

Being a version of CaaS E-commerce, the shopping cart here is decoupled from the CMS. Headless platforms are hosted in the cloud, just like SaaS.

Some aspects of retail platform software development you should consider

Budget restrictions

Paying more doesn’t guarantee you the best results, however, cutting your costs may lead you to a lack of functionality in the final product. Make sure to plan carefully your budget for redesign, features, security, hosting fees, licensing, support, and custom app creation. Keep in mind, that in most cases you will exceed the planned expenses.

Your target audience

Rigorously plan your marketing campaign in advance, targeting your audience through such social media giants as Facebook and Instagram.

Products to sell

Try to predict what types of product your platform will sell, this will influence the set of features you will need to develop.

Possible scalability options

Depending on the traffic your platform will get, the choice of web hosting may be crucial. Try to predict the approximate amount of traffic and learn about possible scaling options of your web hosting.

The type of customer service

Make sure that your future E-commerce platform will offer the best customer support possible for your clients. Discuss this matter with your software development partner to cover it fully.

How to build a retail E-commerce platform: Step-by-step plan


Well, you have an initial idea, but multiple brainstorming sessions and meetings will your team will help you to crystallize your vision and find a unique value that your project might bring.

Market research

Now you have your clear vision, it will be a good idea to conduct market research to find out whether your audience is ready for a brand-new e-commerce platform.

Creating requirements

From a software development side, you need to know precisely whether the project is feasible and prevent any bottlenecks during the development.

Designing your platform

Now you can connect all the dots and move on to the detailed structure, features, and workflow of your project. If you need to add an E-commerce Fraud Detection feature to your platform, for example, at this stage you should be aware of all details on how to make it work.

Launching an MVP

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring MVP in the retail platform software development process. Having an MVP can save you a ton of money and adjust the course of the development process in a proper direction.


This is where the magic happens. With all previous steps covered, you can focus now on the marketing activities, while your development partner will craft your platform!


It is impossible to deliver top-end software without the proper attention to both manual and automated testing, make sure you will have both of them covered.


Finally, the platform is ready for the users! Get your first clients, gather feedback and improve it as much as you can!

How much does it cost to build a retail E-commerce platform?

That’s a good question without a clear answer. It is impossible to provide an exact number because there are too many factors involved in the final price. The factors include design (custom vs existing templates), set of desired features, marketing, and SEO strategy, third-party integrations, your software development vendor, and the engagement model of your choice.

Some of these factors may have a tangible pricing range. Here are the approximate market averages:

Small Business Mid-size Enterprise-level
Custom design $5,000 $15,000 $35,000
Coding $3,000 $30,000 $80,000
Hosting $500 $6,000 $10,000
Marketing $15,000 $40,000 $60,000
Average annual cost $30,000 $100,000 $200,000


What is the best retail E-commerce platform?

It is safe to say, that you can look up the market leaders to find the best example for you to follow: WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, MonsterCommerce, VirtueMart, PrestaShop, Wix Stores, BigCommerce, OpenCart, osCommerce.


How to start an E-commerce platform startup?

You need to find a proficient software development partner that can turn your groundbreaking ideas and innovative vision into a real-world product.

What makes a retail platform successful?

There are numerous factors, but great marketing, flawless design and functionality, and unique features are among the most important.


Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties related to it, retail platform software development is looking to be on the rise. You can find proficient outsourced experts that are capable to not only deliver the code according to specs but help you to shape your business vision and improve your chances of succeeding. The market looks to be full of great platforms such as WooCommerce or Shopify, but there is always a plays for one new product that will change everything and deliver unprecedented value!


Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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