As a company that offers a paid content management solution, a frequent question we hear is ‘why pay for it?’ Good, free alternatives exist, the most common being Drupal, Joomla and WordPress.
A ‘CMS’ is a system for managing the content of your website, without having to edit the HTML source code of your pages. Most work by allowing you to set up HTML templates, and inserting your page content into the template you want to use using a simple WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.
The CMS works by maintaining a database of your content, and inserting the appropriate content into your page template to serve you the page you clicked on.
Content management systems have dramatically lowered the cost of publishing space on the internet. Want another web page? No problem! Just paste in your content and hit publish.
About ten percent of websites on the internet are powered by Drupal, the largest open source CMS. The blog you are reading now is powered by WordPress, and maintained by people here who know little about HTML or CSS.
So again, why would you pay for a CMS?
If you want a website that displays static content (text, images, videos etc), then using an open source CMS is a good option. You will quickly have a smart looking website that is easy to maintain.
The problems start however, when you need to bring in more dynamic content. Content such as:
1. Product and pricing information
If your site is a regular eCommerce store (where customers can place orders through your website), it needs to display the latest products, offers, prices and stock levels. If you have hundreds or thousands of products, the only way to manage this is to bring in this data automatically from your back office.
If your site is not an eCommerce store but still displays product and pricing information, you still want this information to come from your back office (even if your customers have to call you or a distributor to place an order).
2. Wholesale pricing
If you sell partly or entirely wholesale, you may need to display trade and retail pricing, depending on whether the visitor has logged in (and been identified as a trade customer).
3. Problem or delivery tracking
Does your business operate a support desk, or allow customers to log problems or issues?
Allowing customers to log and track support issues through your website eases the pressure on you support team, and means problems can be logged outside regular business hours.
If any of the above scenarios sound similar to the way you work, using a ‘free’ CMS will actually cost you more in the long run, as you will struggle to maintain the site and display correct information to your visitors.
Most importantly, the website won’t support your business. Instead of going online to place an order, your customers will call your sales team. (According to our calculations, a single order taker costs £100 a day, maybe taking 50 orders. An eCommerce site costs as little as £10 a day, and can take over 2000 orders!
Instead of logging problems on your website, customers will call your support desk.
You end up with a ‘free’ website that works alongside your existing business without really supporting it or taking any pressure off your other teams.
The reason ProspectSoft CMS is a paid solution, is that the CMS itself is just the starting point for a website that supports your offline business.
We integrate to your back office so a lot of the ‘heavy lifting’ of maintaining the website happens automatically in the background. If you run a new special offer for March, the correct pricing is automatically displayed on a website (including customer specific special pricing). Customers cannot place orders on products out of stock if you do not want them to.
We also allow you to present content specific to the individual visitor, for example a list of previous orders (and the ability to re-order). A list of their open problems, and problem statuses. If your delivery times are long, maybe their order status.
If this sounds at all like your offline business, you really ought to be talking to us. If ProspectSoft eCommerce is not right for you at the moment, we’ll just say. If it is right for you, you could save a lot of money in the long run.
About the author: Rob Drummond is a marketing communications specialist at ProspectSoft. Read more from this author