Building an e-commerce solution — storefront, integration, omni-channel system — is perhaps the riskiest, most costly investment you’ll make when launching a new online sales initiative. It’s not uncommon for companies to misstep on their first (or second) attempt to empower their online efforts.
Let’s explore some of the most common reasons:
- Lack of detailed operational plans.
- Focus on platform rather than specific needs.
- Developer inexperience in real-world e-commerce.
- Lack of transparency during development process.
- Failure to follow development best practices.
- Focus on cost over results.
novusweb® is unique among SMB-focused e-commerce agencies: we’re able to successfully meet all these challenges — and have for many clients.
It begins with a solid plan
As experienced e-commerce planners, we know how to build plans that create profitable, results-oriented e-commerce solutions. Whether you’re shooting for a B2B solution, a direct-to-consumer storefront, or a multi-faceted, omni-channel approach, novusweb begins any development process by creating a precise plan of attack for your project. This plan becomes part of your project and is the litmus test against which all work is measured.
We focus on needs over technology
As an e-commerce agency, we bring the ideal technical solution to your project. In other words, we’re not limited to only one e-commerce platform, integration or backend solution. We have deep experience with the most popular SMB systems on the market today. Each has their own strengths and limitations. Our experience will help you choose the right one for your needs today — and your growth in the foreseeable future.
In selecting technology solutions, we take several factors into account:
- Product types, quantities and complexities.
- Client staff capabilities.
- Integrations with other systems.
- Time to market.
- Expandability and customization.
And while budget may be the most important factor, careful clients know that investing in the right technology now can save a lot of money in the future. If you go with the least expensive today, you may find you have to re-platform your entire operation in short order when it doesn’t provide the functionality and growth potential you anticipated.
While there are many SMB e-commerce platforms on the market today, we have found that in 99% of our client cases, we are able to create a cost-effective and productive solution using one of these leading systems:
- Magento Commerce/Enterprise
- Shopify/Shopify Plus
- BigCommerce/BigCommerce Enterprise
We’ve been where you are now
When you work with novusweb, you’re getting a team of professionals who have real-world experience. Common developers — while they may be technically proficient — most often don’t know how e-commerce businesses operate. E-commerce today is perhaps the most complex form of retailing there is. You cannot afford to risk your future to someone that truly doesn’t understand how successful e-commerce works.
We work with you
For many who hire developers to build an online solution, the exercise begins with a client-produced requirements document and ends with the delivery of a less-than-satisfactory result. In the middle is what we call a “black hole” — a period of little feedback, almost no input, and a great abyss of time. Many development firms — particularly low-cost, outsourced firms — use a “waterfall” method of project management that leaves the client with little interaction during the development process.
If your business or market needs change during the development process, there’s little you can do to quickly and cost-effectively modify your project to meet your evolving objectives.
We don’t believe that’s a good approach. For that reason, we employ agile methodologies for managing development projects. With agile, we have bi-monthly review sessions with clients to go over all completed work, to make sure we’re on the right track and to address any sudden changes in business rules and objectives. We give all our clients full visibility into our development process and encourage our team members to communicate with clients as questions arise.
Instead of a black hole, we think of it more as a cooperative effort between you and us to create the ideal solution. Ultimately, you’ll find this approach is less expensive and produces better results.
We follow best practices
No matter the size of your project or budget, there are certain “must-haves” when creating e-commerce solutions:
- Creation of a development “environment” (never allow work directly on a live server!).
- Use of versioning to protect code changes.
- Team code reviews and systematic quality control.
- Single-source server administration with back-up.
- Systems and security monitoring.
- Limited code and server access.
- Platform coding protocols.
Failure to adhere to these standards puts your project in jeopardy right from the beginning.
Our certified developers have met requirements to work on many technologies and platforms. But, more importantly, we enforce a program of best practices to make sure that every project not only looks good and functions well, but that the systems deployed will be solid, secure and updateable in the future.
Let’s review a typical development protocol:
- Each developer works on a version branch on their local machine.
- These branches, upon validation, are merged and promoted to a development server for client review and further testing.
- Once the development deployment is certified, it is merged into a master release branch.
- When all the various branches of a release are merged and tested, the release is then promoted to a production server and re-tested.
If, in the course of the release, a problem is discovered in testing, the offending code can be quickly “reversed,” leaving the production server as before.
These practices require extra time, to be sure, but without them, your risks — and subsequent costs — go up considerably.
Focus on results over cost
We’re not suggesting that you shouldn’t budget for development — or adhere to your budget. We are saying that whatever your budget, you should specify and demand specific results from your development project. If we feel we can achieve the results you want — while employing best practices, certified developers and responsible project management — within your budget requirements, then we’ll do just that.
And, if we feel we cannot meet your expectations within your projected budget constraints, we’ll let you know that, as well. No one — including you — wants to set up for failure. Together, we can deliver a successful outcome.