Ecommerce Code Audits: Create a Plan to Solve Your Retail Site Pain Points
As the year – and decade – in ecommerce comes to a close, it’s time for some real talk. For all the vast improvements in retail tech, a lot of merchants still struggle with some common issues. We want every retailer to know you are not alone. Ecommerce has changed a lot over the past 10 years, and it won’t slow down anytime soon. Today, not only do your customers interact with your brand through your website, but on the backend, it’s often the operations center for your entire business. With so much riding on the technology behind your company, even small site issues can become big challenges.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- You updated one of your third-party integrations, and now your site conversion rate dropped.
- One of your products mistakenly displays a different price on the product details page versus when it’s added to cart.
- Your promotional pricing, such as “buy one, get one 50% off,” doesn’t carry all the way through final checkout.
- Or perhaps your site is just painfully slow.
The path to solving pain points like these, and many others, often begins with the same first step: an ecommerce code audit. With an audit, your dev team can start to investigate why certain problems are occurring and outline a plan to solve them incrementally. To give a better sense of this, here are some common issues where a code audit can determine the best path forward to resolve them.
Why is my conversion rate so low?
Let’s start with the most painful issue of all: a low conversion rate. You can do everything right – great products, strong presentation, cool marketing – and still deal with conversion issues. To address this, during a code audit, developers first check for obvious causes. If nothing is easily uncovered, then the audit is used to establish a plan for future investigation and data-gathering in order to get to the right diagnosis.
Potential causes could be broken scripts at checkout that make customers abandon their cart. Or it could be that the payment gateway is causing friction with another component at checkout, and people can’t complete their purchases. Perhaps it’s both of these things together – or something completely different. In response, the code audit provides a foundation for understanding. From there, we can develop a plan to clearly identify and solve the problem in a comprehensive way.
Importance of customer trust in ecommerce
By now, most retailers understand that customers want to see security icons and badges throughout their navigation in an ecommerce site. (Think: the locked padlock in the URL bar and security badge at checkout, for example.) But there are other site problems that cause customer trust issues.
For instance, suppose someone finds a product, selects their size and preferred color, and pays for it. It’s a fully-completed sale. Then, after the sale is communicated on the backend, the inventory system sends an alert that the item is out of stock. Now the retailer has to go back to the customer with the bad news that their item is not available. Sure, they’ll get a refund, but the damage is done. It’s unlikely the customer will return. After all, they’ve been told one thing and shown another. The lack of real-time communication between the frontend and backend systems caused this customer trust issue.
Maybe the inventory fulfillment software needs a custom-built API to communicate with the ecommerce platform. Or perhaps cart reservation or inventory management is a shortcoming of the ecommerce platform itself. It’s hard to know for sure without looking at how all the different parts of the business are working (or not working) in tandem.
In this example, the code audit would be the first step in documenting the moving parts, and ultimately, creating a plan of attack to fully assess and resolve the problem. The audit is the opportunity to review the interplay of the systems influencing the problem. Then, if it’s determined that the solutions can be implemented within the code of the ecommerce store, we can establish a plan to fix it.
Low-performing or slow site is turning customers away
As reported by Forbes magazine in August, “nearly 70% of consumers say page speed impacts their willingness to buy. What’s more, a slow loading time also lessens chances they will return in the future.” Note: a site load time of more than 1-2 seconds is too long. Indeed, the faster the better. This is especially true as mobile shopping has become standard.
For far too many great retailers, a slow or low-performing site turns customers away. Like most ecommerce issues, there can be a range of potential reasons. Sometimes it’s because the code is buggy. Or the site images are too large. Or there’s a hosting problem where the current hosting plan can’t support increased site traffic.
These kinds of issues are very harmful to merchants, but through a code audit, your dev team can start to make a plan to correct them. In the case of a slow site, the developers may need to actively test various site features for their overall impact on performance. The code audit is hands-off, so no active testing will be done during this time, but an active testing plan can be laid out. Sometimes it may even include estimates for the level of effort needed to fix the suspected issues.
Administrative frustration on the backend
So far we’ve emphasized customer issues on the frontend of ecommerce. But retailers can also boost their profits by streamlining their internal operations. Oftentimes, as in the example about inventory miscommunication causing a customer trust problem, fixing things on the operational side can improve people’s experience of your site.
But let’s concentrate on the internal experience of your company and the people who work in it every day. How could they do their jobs better? What kind of efficiencies could we build into the backend that would reduce time and expense? Think big: what’s on your wishlist?
For instance, do your employees have to do a lot of manual tasks, like accounting for inventory, that could be automated? Or do they often do the same task multiple times, like posting content to different areas of your site? Or does it take 5 steps to confirm a shipping address when it could only take 1 or 2 steps? Code audits can also help to determine the path forward to solve for these kinds of backend problems. In all of these examples, it starts with understanding the problem in the context of the systems, features, and code that you already have in place.
It’s nearly impossible to imagine a development team building the same exact site twice. While many common themes exist in ecommerce, every merchant is unique. Ecommerce code audits give your team the opportunity to understand your specific site implementation. From there, you can evaluate the issues and begin to develop solutions for the long term.