Keen to start an eCommerce business, but you’re not sure you’ll cope with the tech challenges to make it a success? Then this article is for you. We will look at what it means to have an eCommerce business and the top tech challenges for newcomers in a post COVID19 environment.
So what technology challenges do eCommerce operators face, and how can they overcome them, so their customers trust their brand and site?
Let’s first take a look at eCommerce globally. Statista says in 2020 global online sales reached $4 trillion and that was from 2 billion shoppers. That’s a lot of online transactions and many competing stores. All these businesses need systems and staff, and if you’re starting out as a non-techie, you’re going to need technical expertise.
When you’re a non-tech starting an online business, you’ll need the initial investment to hire technical expertise.
If you really know very little about the technology required to run a successful eCommerce site, then before hiring staff, you need a consultant who can steer you in the right direction, so you get the resources you need to get set up.
The same consultant or consultancy may also be required to assist you with the next phase of growth, i.e. scaling the site to cope with more traffic.
Your business will also need freelancers and eventually employees who can manage the day to day technical requirements from website admin, performance to development, SEO and security.
Staffing in some tech areas may be problematic due to high demand and skills shortages. Consider offshore remote workers and outsourcing to get the services you need, including website hosting, admin and development.
The challenge to deliver website performance, ideal UX (user experience) and site security is enough to make an eCommerce store newcomer run for the hills before they’ve even opened for business.
PCMag puts website performance as their number 2 tech challenge and that’s due to customers demanding fast loading pages. If an eCommerce page loads slower than 1-second, the techies should be working on a solution to speed it up.
A news or blog site like BusinessBlogs doesn’t need to load quite as fast, but ideally, it should be online in under 3 seconds.
eCommerce site security is probably going to be your biggest headache until you hire an IT security professional. With cybercrime like identity fraud and cyberattacks, including ransomware, site security can keep you awake at night as it’s multifaceted and includes:
Transport Socket Layer (TSL)
TSL can be achieved with HTTPS and it needs to support TSL 1.2 (minimum), TSL 1.3 (ideally)
Payment Gateway Security
You’ll know you’ve got secure payment gateways when your business passes PCI-DSS compliance, which goes deep with 12 requirements covering everything from firewalls to network access to protect cardholder data.
Hacking, Phishing, DDos Attacks etc
Every business needs to protect its online assets from cybercriminals.
Newcomers to eCommerce businesses will find the security requirements to protect their site and customers overwhelming.
Hire IT security experts to get the right systems, security plugins, processes and monitoring tools in place. Make sure they are configured correctly, and your admin applies the security updates. Needless to say site security is a big topic and we have a category dedicated to it here.
4. UX (User Experience)
Your customers won’t always land on product pages so this is where UX plays an important role. Your site will need continuous improvement to improve visitor engagement and conversion. UX is also a big topic and this article is a great read providing the basics of what a site needs for UX including:
- site performance
5. Chatbots, AR, AI
Shoppers not going into a physical store to try items for size and look still want the ‘dressing’ experience.
Augmented Reality (AR) fills the gap
For example, you can load up a photo taken from your mobile, and it will be used to show you how your picks of sunglasses will look on you. Or another example is uploading a photo of your living room and viewing the store’s furniture in your living room!
AR offers the ultimate online try-before-you-buy experience.
Chatbots are now a prerequisite for eCommerce stores. Online buyers are used to using chatbots so they can have their questions answered and complete the purchase.
Retail chatbots use AI so they are smarter and can solve more customer queries before the need to escalate to a human. You can imagine how the smarts of machine learning have lowered shopping cart abandonment.
Artificial Intelligence is used in apps and automation for customer data capture to post-purchase follow-up emails and txts. AI is a big topic and a major part of marketing, customer discovery and insights.
6. Mobile, eCommerce Platform
Finally, you’ll need an eCommerce platform and there is plenty on offer including:
Do thorough research when choosing your eCommerce platform, and remember to consider what you need now as a fledging online shop and what you’ll need as the business takes off.
While you’re sitting at your desktop, and let’s be honest, we all love the large screen. However, it is mobile-first, and your site has to perform in every sense of the word for customers using their mobiles.
Google is mobile-first, and we have not mentioned SEO yet, but it too is very much a challenge for all eCommerce stores. Online shopping is growing, and to be found in search, your site will need to be SEO optimized – mobile-first.
SEO is serious business for eCommerce sites so engage an SEO expert to work on your site so it ranks for keywords associated with your products and market fit i.e. your customers.
There are many challenges to starting an eCommerce business. This post has covered the most common tech challenges with site security, performance, UX, technologies and expertise.