Many agencies and development shops shy away from ecommerce sites because the behind-the-scenes work can be ugly. However, ecommerce can add significant revenue to your bottom line. The key is in partnering with the right team and utilizing the right tools. With these two things in place, ecommerce becomes an additional offering for your agency or development shop.
How to Build Your Ecommerce Practice
- Pick two strong ecommerce software partners. One partner should offer a non-integrated entry-level ecommerce solution and the other should focus on a fully-integrated enterprise-level platform. Your entry-level ecommerce solution should be a lower cost option where clients can prove the viability of their ecommerce business before committing to the higher price tag of an enterprise platform. Your enterprise ecommerce platform should offer complete and seamless integration with back-end systems as well as provide for complex business rules and workflows.
- Choose a seasoned ecommerce consultant. This individual can be an outside consultant or a member of your staff; however, it is essential that your “solution architect” have considerable experience in ecommerce to ensure he or she can oversee the success of your projects. This person will provide guidance on which of your ecommerce tools to utilize on each project and how to best implement specific functionality.
- Start with a framework or template. Why reinvent the wheel? Start each ecommerce project with a framework or template built using industry best practices. Use this template to identify any necessary customizations and determine integration paths.
- Get to the business of development. For each project, make sure the development team working to build the site is certified on the ecommerce software tools they are using on the build. Certification will help you eliminate a number of headaches from the outset. Once your team is certified, you can develop a site, integrate it as required, and provide support for your client.
- Run each site through rigorous Quality Assurance. “Torture test” each of your ecommerce sites prior to going live. Hammer navigation, proofread and test content, and measure the site’s performance against industry-benchmarks. Continue to fix and refine the site until it exceeds yours—and the clients—expectations.
- Continuous improvement. Clients are notorious for thinking that when a site goes live, the site is “done.” Remember that launch is just the beginning of the life cycle of a site and encourage your clients to put plans in place for continuous site improvements to keep the site fresh, relevant, and competitive.
While ecommerce projects can be challenging, they can also provide you with a new revenue stream for your business. By partnering with the right ecommerce platform providers and following the plan outlined above, ecommerce can quickly become a viable way to expand your business and improve your bottom line.
Brian Strojny is CEO at Insite Software. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: USACE – Europe District