Ecommerce Development Solutions That Take Sites from Glitch to Growth

Ecommerce Development Solutions That Take Sites from Glitch to Growth

Image courtesy of Unison

No one today starts an ecommerce business because it’s easy. Thrilling? Yes. Fulfilling? Sure. But easy? Not always. This is particularly true if your ecommerce site is suffering from common early-stage problems, like low conversion rates. Or maybe you’re dealing with consistent site bugs, customer complaints, slow load times or downtime, or high cart abandonment rates. All of these things cause ecommerce businesses to struggle.

At the same time, you could be contending with site backend issues, too. Perhaps your internal operations are inefficient, such as when your team has to do the same administrative tasks over and over again.

If any of this sounds familiar, you may be in a tough spot. The good news is a retainer agreement allows you to partner with a team of professionals to solve these problems.

At Command C, we classify ecommerce sites into three different states: Challenge, Equilibrium, or Growth. To work with sites at all three stages, we have a variety of retainer options. Your site’s specific needs determine the best monthly package for your business. It’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in retainer agreements. With this in mind, here’s how we help retailers develop their unique plan.

Optimizing an Ecommerce Site to Achieve Consistent Uptime

Ecommerce site problems, like those described above, cause sales to go down and operations to bottleneck. In turn, customers may not trust the site and be hesitant to engage. Things are just – to put it simply – not working well. In the Command C model, these retailers are in the Challenge state.

Ecommerce retailers with these issues typically need to frontload development work to help them out of crisis mode and get them moving towards Equilibrium. The goal is to work quickly and solve the retailer’s most glaring issues ASAP. Resolving these big issues typically mean big improvements in conversions.

It takes good old-fashioned elbow grease to move a site out of this stage. In Challenge, it’s often  clear what the pain points are. How quickly things progress (the velocity of the project) is determined by a couple of things: 1) how many hours a month the dev team is allotted and 2) how available the merchant team is for feedback, answering questions, and reviewing work. It’s a good idea to expect frequent and iterative communication at this stage. If we discover a new issue that takes precedence along the way, we may need to regroup, reprioritize, and pivot with the client team.

When a site is in Challenge mode, the merchant and development teams are working in tandem to assess and address issues. Sometimes the best approach is to identify the biggest pain points and go from there. Other times it’s to knock out all the low-hanging fruit before tackling more complex problems. Either way, the teams should communicate consistently to determine the best course of action and move through the work.

Communication is essential to navigating Challenge mode successfully. Further, effective project management and frequent meetings are necessary to ensure mutual team alignment.

Establish Goals and Priorities for Ongoing Ecommerce Support

Image via LEADon University

A site moves into Equilibrium once it has consistent uptime, complaints have been minimized, established development workflows are in place, and mission critical issues have been resolved (plus most minor issues). Once in Equilibrium, the site is stable and identifying issues becomes less obvious. This is a good time to shift the focus to strategizing about site enhancements and ongoing testing. At this point, merchants may decide to engage Command C with a smaller amount of monthly hours, as their site has stabilized.

At this stage, merchant teams may need to connect more internally around priorities. When the site was in danger, it was easy to know what needed to be fixed and to convey those priorities. But when the site has fewer issues, it might not be as clear what to tackle next. With this in mind, merchants need to take special care to articulate their core strategy, priorities, and goals to their dev team.

There’s a certain paradox in achieving Equilibrium: once you do, it can become less clear what site priorities are. The tide has turned for the site, customers are placing orders, and complaints have slowed to a less than a trickle. Great! So now what? Once the fires are out, it can be tough to know which direction to move in. In this stage, the focus tends to shift toward deciding where to go next and streamlining internal communication.

Setting a Course for Ecommerce Conversion Optimization

Image courtesy of Unison

Once a site establishes Equilibrium, retailers are poised to move on to Growth (assuming they want and are positioned to grow.) In the Growth stage, merchants are adding new features, streamlining operations further, optimizing automation, running active advertising campaigns and potentially doing A/B, heatmap and or user testing on their site. When Command C works with clients ready to grow, we help by implementing tools that will increase conversions on the site, increase average order value, and help to retain repeat customers. We work with retailers to determine their company-specific strategy for site growth. Every merchant will take a unique approach depending on their goals and target audience.

The Growth stage centers around implementing strategy. In Equilibrium, time is spent defining strategy, but in Growth, effort is put towards implementing that strategy.

Whether retailers are at the Challenge, Equilibrium, or Growth stage, there are substantial benefits to gain from an ongoing development relationship through a monthly retainer agreement. Retainer agreements represent a consistent engagement level for both the development team as well as the merchant – which ultimately, when done right – leads to efficiency and high velocity.

Working with an outside agency as your development partner is often more cost effective as well. For a fraction of the cost of hiring an equivalent team in house, a merchant gains access to a team of various experts dedicated to their project. Best yet, at any stage, retainer agreements can be tailored to your site’s specific needs.

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