E-commerce - DIY or use a 3rd party?

Hi there, I’m learning PHP because I want to add e-commerce to one of my websites (in progress). I can see that e-commerce is a complex area with no space for mistakes. As a PHP novice is it advisable to use a professional 3rd party, or to have a go myself?


I’ve worked as a developer and a support person at 2 different companies shipping e-commerce solutions. A reliable e-commerce solution is mission critical for all online businesses that touch the topic of e-commerce. Although it’s a good, stressful bootcamp for a beginner developer shooting for a pro, I wouldn’t really recommend you to try develop the whole thing yourself for a real business if you are just starting. This will get too complex too soon and you might either mess up your online business or just give up developing it. Go with the tools already available in the market. This will get you there safely.

I’ve been in situations where project managers with a long-going success story in those companies did not get the feature right and screwed up the estimates and specifications for the task that was initially given in less than 10 words. It looked too simple but the actual development of working feature took months, not weeks. I saw the features being developed for more than a year by a team of mature developers (and completed successfully, but screwed up when deploying it upon completion). That is how complex it may get in e-commerce.

For a standalone PHP shop that doesn’t really connect to anything around it there are verified solutions like OSCommerce, Magento, X-Cart and others. For Wordpress sites there are WooCommerce and the likes. Check the plugin directory of the CMS of your choice for the e-commerce plugins, most likely you would find at least a few solutions. Even for the static HTML pages there are solutions like PayPal Buy Now buttons, Gumroad or Ecwid (this one is actually a wide-range tool with many target systems). Most of the time you will still need some development around the chosen system (installation, customization, integrations etc), so you will still have something to apply your skills to. Believe me, this will get your business there faster and safer than your own product.


Hi Rimmer333.

This is very valuable information. I think I will definitely go for one of the verified solutions because I want to avoid any problems, like the ones you mentioned. I’ll check out the solutions available and learn about them.

I’m a front-end developer but I seem to like the PHP language, so I’ll keep practising that on the side as well.

Thanks for your response.

I think it depends a lot on your product; if you have one or two projects an ecommerce package may be over the top. Again if you have a product with prices that depend on kits of parts and there a lot of options it could be very complicated to setup. You may have to use plugins and you never know when the plugin developer may give up with their plugin and how quickly they release a new version to go with any ecommerce upgrades.

Otherwise it is the way to go but as you already know it is still quite complicated to setup initially.

This topic was automatically closed 91 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.