How to start an eCommerce business - part 8
Some advice I always give to clients who are working towards the launch of a new store is, don't seek perfection right away. If you seek to make your store 'perfect' before launch, there's a real danger that at best development time and costs will become overly inflated, and at worst you never actually launch. Perfection is actually unattainable in software as it requires a perfectly working product that fulfils all requirements of every customer, and that just isn't possible. A much better approach is to aim for MVP, or minimal viable product for launch, and then continue to improve the store according to both what you want to achieve, and customer feedback. Development and therefore improvement of your store should be an ongoing process, giving your customers a continually evolving and improving product they'll want to revisit.
This is the final of our in-depth 8 part series on starting your own eCommerce business. So far you've invested hugely in your new store, both in terms of time and money, but your store is now live, customers are starting to buy, and you're marketing efforts are getting what you offer seen by new potential buyers. Today's final series post is a short, but important one, looking at the need for ongoing development of your store after launch.
Why should my stores development be ongoing?
When you launch and start operating your store, you're likely to encounter all kinds of functionality and usage improvements you hadn't thought of, that need to be put in place. You'll also start understanding your customer and their needs in a lot more detail, which will in turn give you a great many ideas about ways in which to improve your store so that you better meet those needs.
Ongoing development and improving your offering is in no small part about making sure you keep up with the demands and needs of your customer base, and wherever possible exceed them. A store that rarely changes will quickly feel stale, outdated, and unattractive to customers, and you'll see sales start to tail off as people begin to prefer the competition.
Also, an eCommerce store is a complex system that requires regular upkeep, often in the form of version upgrades or security fixes. It also benefits hugely from consistent development efforts to improve functionality or iron out bugs. It's certainly not a system that can just be left to run endlessly without at the very least, work to ensure it's kept up to date. If you do decide not to have any work done on your store, given enough time it will become hugely outdated, insecure, and extremely difficult to bring back in line with the latest system requirements.
So you should always have easy access to a reliable, high-quality developer you can call on to work on your store. While at first, you might not need someone full-time, as your store grows with increased orders, and higher customer expectations, you'll find the number of hours you need your developer's services for will increase.
What do I gain from ongoing store development?
Like most businesses, eCommerce and the constant evolution of the field is entirely customer driven. Store owners should always strive to meet the ever-changing needs of their customer base in order to stay relevant, and keep customers coming back. I'm sure you can quickly think of a number of major retailers that used to be household names, but now don't even exist. If you looked into the detail of how these retailers actually failed, you could be sure of seeing one common trait between them all - complacency. Retail, and within that eCommerce is an ever-changing industry which constantly evolves to meet new customer needs and expectations. So if you understand the ever-changing nature of what customers want, you can easily see that if you aren't changing to meet those needs, over time you'll get left behind by customers and become largely irrelevant in your field.
In addition to this, from a technical perspective, things also move very quickly and you'll regularly find that just a few short years after release, software gets completely retired in favour of new versions and advancements. So both from a customer, and technical perspective, ongoing development and improvement of your store is a hugely important component to your overall eCommerce strategy.
So on top of the store getting ever closer to what you feel may be 'perfect', the actually greater benefit is that your store stays continually relevant to the customer, and meets their expectations. This in turn means you'll see continued success, with satisfied and returning customers over the long term.
Thanks so much for checking out my series on how to start your own eCommerce business. Whether you're coming at this as a new store owner, or have a proven track record in eCommerce, I hope it's given you some food for thought.
My name's Jon Hussey, and I've been an eCommerce developer, and heavily involved with eCommerce businesses for over a decade. The main goal of my blogs is to provide both new and established eCommerce store owners and operators invaluable information about the industry, and most importantly insider tips and tricks on how to find success.
A few years ago, I founded Developer Connection based on a common need I saw with both store owners and developers in forming quality working relationships. So what we offer here is a highly cost, and time-effective method for store owners to find and work with developers, with no strings attached.
So if you're an eCommerce client on the lookout for a developer, taking a few minutes to tell us about your project will give you instant connections with a range of high-quality, available developers from across the UK, who are ready to work on your project. If you're a developer, it's quick and easy to create a profile with us and make your development services immediately available.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week.