It shouldn't come as a surprise that it's a good idea to help small businesses become more independent. Small businesses often don't have the resources to build proper e-commerce solutions, thus forcing them to join bigger platforms like Amazon, which in turn take a big cut out of their revenue, resulting in bigger companies getting bigger.

How can we help these small businesses?

Why is it relatively expensive for small businesses to set up shop? The costs of selling online come mostly from development, maintenance and operation. How can we reduce these costs?

  1. Creating reusable components: Less code, less development costs, less maintenance cost
  2. A single, SaaS-like backend for multiple shops: Greatly reduces cost of operation and cost of maintenance.

You don't need everything custom

There has been plenty of research on best practices in the e-commerce space, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel for your webshop.

These best practices work for 90% of small businesses. The difficulty is that most small business owners feel like they belong to the other 10%. Even though it feels like you do, you don't need to customize everything, just stick to the conventions and proven best practices! These practices have been tested over and over again, and diverging from them will just confuse your customers.

Despite not needing everything custom, you do want styling that matches your brand identity! The webshop should have your companies fonts, colors and shapes. At Pinelab we develop our components with Buefy, which allows us to write reusable components, while still keeping the ability to use a custom design. The components can now be used for multiple shops and styled independently.

A single backend platform for all shops

Most webshops need a similar backend: taxes, confirmation emails, shipping method calculations, all things that can be reused across webshops, so why do we need multiple backends? You don't! At Pinelab we created one single backend for all shops. The features that differ from the standard can be implemented with one of our plugins.

With this platform, we can:

  • Keep maintenance and operation costs lower than with traditional multiple backends
  • Still have our own design and layout in storefronts

We created this platform using and are also an official partner.

Why aren't all companies doing this?

So, if this is such a genius approach, Martijn, why aren't all companies doing this?

We believe it's our job to convince business owners to stick with the best practices, because it will simply work better

As noted before, a lot of business owners feel like they need something different, because their business is slightly different from other shops. Using best practices, means saying "no" to some client specific features. This can be hard, because, after all, if they want to pay for it, why not build it?  

We believe it's our job to convince business owners to stick with the best practices, because it will simply work better. No one wants to pay for things that make their website worse, right?

So, spend your commission money on your own webshop, stick with the best practices, implement your own design, and you shouldn't have to join another commission-based platform.

Most of the Pinelab mindset was inspired by the book "Getting Real". Read the chapter "Less Mass" if this article intrigues you.

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