Every ecommerce store has room for improvement, and it’s all because perfection is an impossibility. Standards are always changing, dragging shopper expectations with them, and every seller needs to keep up or be left behind. This is particularly true when it comes to technical elements. It’s harder than ever before to get away with a technically-inadequate store.
At one point it may have been enough to create a solid foundation with the basic boxes checked and a reliable CMS holding everything together, but not now. You need to build on that foundation to make the best use of its features and advantages.
In this post, we’re going to look at four simple ways in which you can give your ecommerce store a technical boost. What do we mean by technical here? Well, we’re not talking about content, we’re talking about the features and design of your site: its construction, in essence. Let’s begin.
Use penetration testingA key part of technical stability is security, and it’s only getting more important now that online operation has become a staple of the business world because there are more people looking to commit acts of cyber-fraud. A well-designed CMS can still be rendered insecure if it’s configured incorrectly.
Penetration testing is a service through which cybersecurity experts probe your store for exploitable vulnerabilities. They could find, for instance, that you’ve left a weak password in place for an admin login, or failed to install a vital security update. And while the goal of this testing isn’t to fix the issues, you’ll be given a set of suggestions to follow.
Given everything that people have learned about the abuse of customer data since GDPR was implemented in 2018, this isn’t something you can overlook. Creating a stronger store will safeguard you against attacks and give you something to highlight to your customers.
Draw upon automationWhen you think of automation, what do you envision? At this point it’s a staple of the online world, achieved through the use of complex systems that implement predefined workflows and tweak them based on the results. It has two major advantages: it reduces your workload so you can put more time towards key tasks, and it increases general convenience.
Take something like customer service, for instance. Modern chatbot software is capable of providing real-time advice in accordance with predefined scripts. If you have a budget to work with, you can choose a high-level paid service and benefit from everything from tuition to technical support, but if you don’t then it’s still worth trialing a free alternative. And then there’s a core concern like email marketing. Why create and distribute all your emails manually when you can lean on templates and rich automation through customer acquisition software?
Thirdly, you’ll want to ensure order and inventory management is automated so your order-to-ship operation can run smoothly. Since manual intervention in these processes almost always leads to headaches, a tool like Ecomdash which enables real-time inventory updates can prove an indispensable addition.
Eliminate the wasteThe more compact the website, the better — particularly after you’ve put various extensions into effect, as they can take up space and performance. There’s a good chance that you also have myriad other extensions in effect without using them (or with only using them rarely). If so, remove them. There’s no sense in having them hanging around.
And then there’s something like code minification. The fundamental composition of your site might be somewhat redundant, leading to the site loading slower than it should (and loading speed is very important in ecommerce). Minification removes unnecessary characters without impacting functionality, and there are numerous free tools available specifically for this purpose.
Throw in the removal of unneeded text passages and images and you should be able to speed up your website quite significantly, though it may not be enough to get it running as smoothly as those of your competitors. If so, the next suggestion is what you’ll need.
Upgrade the hostingThe hosting of your online store will massively influence its overall speed and reliability, though that’s not all. It’ll also affect its security behind the scenes — and having a host you can trust (and lean on for support when needed) will make life much easier for you and your customers.
For instance, if you currently use a shared hosting solution (a limited but cost-effective option for smaller businesses) you’ll likely find aspects like site speed and performance are out of your control, while the scope for scalability is virtually non-existent. Upgrading to a cloud hosting service (where data is stored between multiple, interconnected servers) will not only optimize speed and security but also provide near-unlimited capacity when it comes to scaling.
Once you’ve been through the preceding steps and upgraded your hosting as needed, your site should be in much-improved technical condition — but don’t get complacent. Aim to carry out a full technical review on a yearly basis to prevent it from falling behind the curve.
In conclusion, it’s important not to overlook technical factors when you’re looking to give your ecommerce store a boost: these elements are just as significant a part of your sales strategy as your content. Keep these four fundamental components in mind and your store will be better equipped to thrive in the face of ever-evolving consumer expectations and demand.