When you’re ready to take your rental business online (for both bookings and order management), you have a few options that we will cover below. Each option has pros & cons, and RentMy serves clients who use each option. Let’s dig in to help you find the best option for you.
This option will cost more than the other options, but it does offer the ultimate in design control. Whether you are comfortable building your own website or you hire a developer, you have the liberty to make every single aspect of your new rental website match your vision.
Keep in mind that to offer “true” online rentals (instead of a simple contact form), you will need to account for features like:
Developing these features are doable, but if you go the Custom route, you will have a serve as chief project manager and writer of business requirements documents to provide explicit instructions to your development team.
Despite the cost, this may be the best option for large-scale Enterprise clients who have such unique requirements that there is no other viable option than a “ground up” website build. In our experience, this type of initiative will take about 6 months from project kickoff to completion (allowing time on the front end to document all of your requirements and time on the backend for quality assurance testing). So, conservatively about 9 months from the moment you decide to go this route. Of course, like any long-term project, you will need to keep a close eye on the budget and timeline to ensure you’re not facing cost overruns or delays that would affect the launch of your business.
A rental management platform is generally a “Software As A Service” business in which there is a monthly or annual subscription. These businesses (like RentMy) get paid for maintaining an end-to-end rental order management for Clients. There are degrees to which each Platform defines “end-to-end”, but most will offer an eCommerce website builder, a security certificate (“SSL protection”), and an inventory tracker that helps to maintain product availability and pricing calculation.
There are various pricing models in the Rental Platform industry, from a flat monthly fee to a commission on every order. There are benefits and drawbacks to each model, so you will have to decide which is more important to your business. If you expect only a handful of small orders every month, a commission-only type of system may be your best option. Or, if you’re already a big business (or plan to be), the commissions paid could easily exceed what a subscription-based provider would charge for the same volume of orders.
By definition, “Software As A Service” implies that it provides ongoing services to help you run your business. Services may include:
Prices will vary based on the maturity of the product (how long the Company has been in business), the features available and the level of support offered.
Like “traditional” eCommerce platforms do for typical retail businesses, rental management platforms offer functions that are unique and specific to running a rental business. Examples include:
If you already have a website that you love and you want to add a booking experience to your site, a free or low-cost WordPress (or other) plugin may suit your needs. This is a great option if your rentals are “uncomplicated”. In other words, if you offer just a few products, you don’t necessary care about (or expect) overbooking, and your pricing is pretty standard (price per day times the number of days of the rental), there are several options available.
While plugins are very inexpensive, you may pay in other ways than just the cost to add the plugin to your site.
Plugins are a short piece of code that are (usually) developed by a freelancer who wants to make a few bucks for a project they worked on over the weekend. They can offer some pretty cool features and are relatively easy to install.
Do your homework before selecting a plugin to ensure that it:
Most plugin are a “one trick pony”. In other words, they may handle the aspect of “booking”, but rental business owners know that getting the order is only one small piece of the puzzle. Plugins will not help you:
There’s definitely a market for plugins, and there are some businesses that are perfectly happy with a simple option to simply “get the rental”. If that describes your business, go for it!
The point of this article is to layout the options available to your business as you consider offering online rentals to your Customers. The good news is that there are several ways to get started. Your budget and the experience you want for your Customers and your Staff will help to guide you the option that works best for your business.
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