A random Google search for the number of ecommerce websites across the world throws up the count as between 12 to 24 million. Of these, only about 110,000 are making a sizeable revenue worth mentioning. While this indicates a phenomenal potential for the growth of ecommerce, it also subtly highlights the fact that the ecommerce websites not extending to their full potential are the ones that have not focused on maintaining their site.
A random Google search for the number of ecommerce websites across the world throws up the count as between 12 to 24 million. Of these, only about 110,000 are making a sizeable revenue worth mentioning. While this indicates a phenomenal potential for the growth of ecommerce, it also subtly highlights the fact that the ecommerce websites not extending to their full potential are the ones that have not focused on maintaining their site regularly.
A random Google search for the number of ecommerce websites across the world throws up the count as between 12 to 24 million.
Of these, only about 110,000 are making a sizeable revenue worth mentioning. While this indicates a phenomenal potential for the growth of ecommerce, it also subtly highlights the fact that the ecommerce websites not extending to their full potential are the ones that have not focused on maintaining their site regularly.
So, what’s there to maintain in an ecommerce site, you may wonder. Surely there may have been times when you tried to shop online and were not able to create a login, add items to cart or checkout easily or worse still reach the payment stage and be told the item is not available anymore. As a frustrated shopper, you may have either left nasty reviews or jumped onto a competitor website to get your much-needed stock.
If you think of this situation from a business perspective, several such instances can cause revenue loss for your venture. Hence, as an entrepreneur, you cannot take ecommerce site maintenance lightly. Once you start listing all the actions required to ensure integrated ecommerce web solutions, you will be surprised that a significant chunk of your effort will go towards regularly maintaining your ecommerce website once you have built it out.
Need for Regular Ecommerce Website Maintenance
Just like any other aspect of business, ecommerce websites too, always need attention. There’s never a done-and-dusted aspect for an ecommerce website. Considering new search algorithms, new marketing innovations, and most importantly, the changes in customer behavior and choices, it’s a good practice to chalk out weekly, monthly and annual maintenance tasks for your ecommerce website.
Jeff McRitchie, VP of Ecommerce at MyBinding.com, shares his thoughts:
“Risk Aversion / Security: One of the most important reasons for e-commerce entrepreneurs to ensure regular maintenance of their websites is security. Hackers are constantly targeting major ecommerce platforms and actively scanning for vulnerabilities in both core platforms and in third-party extensions. Failure to maintain can result in either a security breach that could result in major downtime or in customer information being stolen. Hosted platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce will take care of some of these security updates. However, it is possible that some of the security updates they push could break features inside the platform resulting in the need for a different type of maintenance. Open source platforms such as Magento require the regular application of patches and updates to extensions. If this type of maintenance is not done, the risk is substantial.
Usability / Customer Experience: Updates in browsers and devices also require regular maintenance to sites. Multi-browser testing can find many of these issues, however, many merchants don’t find them until a customer reports them or an employee finds it by accident. Additionally, changes over time in an ecommerce catalog can result in broken links, broken images, merchandising mistakes and orphaned content that can result in loss of sales and poor customer experience. It is important that merchants actively audit for these types of errors and issues on the site and fix them proactively before they lose sales. Most customers will not ever report these types of problems.”
Elaborating on Jeff’s thoughts, the critical need for ecommerce website maintenance arises on two counts. Firstly, for smooth operations on the business end, so that all functions like Admin, Finance, Marketing & Sales can carry out the activities in an efficient manner. Secondly, to ensure customer experience and trust is not disrupted in any manner. All maintenance activities are bound to fall into either of these buckets and will overlap from time to time.
To begin with, ecommerce website elements that need regular attention are:
• Site pages, especially to check for any SEO parameters that are being affected like broken links,
• Site load times (keep a watch on your product videos),
• Website hygiene checks for contact us forms or details that may have changed but not reflecting on the site.
A very critical aspect of ecommerce website maintenance that every entrepreneur needs to be careful about is domain name renewal. A classic example of a miss in this is the 2017 instance when leading marketing automation brand Marketo skipped renewing their domain name and the DNS server was down for a considerable amount of time before the issue was rectified. There may be other reasons for downtime as well, and regular website maintenance can ensure these don’t crop up without warning. A good ecommerce web solutions provider will set up AI-powered automated alerts to detect server issues before your ecommerce web traffic is impacted. In addition to this, taking website back-ups from time to time is also included in regular maintenance activities, as it helps put your ecommerce site back on track at times when you need to change your servers, or when there are security breaches due to hacker activity.
Often automated tasks can also cause minor code changes that need to be scanned from time to time and corrected. For instance, software updates on CMS, updates on APIs integrated into the ecommerce website for capturing email addresses into the CRM or updates of plugins used for various social media activations are all tasks on the backend that can cause errors on the front-end.
On the customer-end, constant need to check disruptions in UI/UX from any new additions of payment gateways, product promotion banners during the holiday season and such activities need monitoring to ensure Net Promoter Scores are not impacted in any way. Addition of new product pages or updating your inventory or catalog pages are everyday activities for an ecommerce website, but there could be instances when these cause existing pages to be affected and will need urgent fixing.
Revamping your ecommerce website design based on customer feedback is another frequent activity that will require businesses to give attention to maintenance aspects, as sprucing up your site will needs that the existing codes and programming inputs are incorporated into the redesign carefully without any parts of code being left out.
Checklist of Website Maintenance Activities to be Included in your Integrated Ecommerce Solutions
Considering the host of website maintenance activities involved, it’s always a good idea to maintain a checklist that can be shared with multiple stakeholders. Jeff shares his checklist of top 3 to-dos for website maintenance stating, “As for the top three to-dos in a checklist for e-commerce website maintenance:
1. Scan for security vulnerabilities and actively patch systems and third-party applications.
2. Set up transactional and page monitoring for key pages on site to find problems proactively on key revenue drivers and on workflows.
3. Actively scan for and fix broken links, images, orphaned pages and audit for merchandising mistakes.”
To add to the above list, here are a few of our pointers that can be added to your checklist:
• Track the website for key parameters like load times, payment gateways, landing pages, etc. after upgrades are deployed by platforms like WordPress, Magento, and others. There may be occurrences when developers need to intervene and find workarounds if the patches hamper your ecommerce website’s UX. This activity must be taken up every time quick fixes are released.
• Monitoring website performance metrics is also an ongoing maintenance activity and should be taken up every month. This regular understanding of data will help to track and improve any gaps in search optimization codes, UX, mobile responsiveness, and other aspects.
• Server back-ups for your ecommerce website falls under a daily maintenance schedule and is an automated activity. Human intervention may be needed during downtime or server outages or to move website data for security reasons at a short notice. While your web servers do provide regular back-ups for coding and other components, it’s only prudent to keep checks on this activity as failures are more damaging to your business than for the web hosting service providers. Keeping cost implications in mind, your ecommerce business can also ensure alternate cloud hosting providers to ensure business continuity at every point.
• Everyday activities like adding product inventories or adding updates to existing products, changing the pricing for holiday discounts or announcing sale periods need to be monitored for errors that the content team may inadvertently cause.
• Social media share button upgrades served by API plugins on various platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce should be monitored on a weekly basis
Who Drives Website Maintenance as Part of your Integrated Ecommerce Solutions
Small and medium ecommerce businesses usually outsource maintenance activities to their integrated ecommerce web solutions provider as this lets them devote their time to other critical aspects of business operations. Also, onboarding an inhouse website maintenance team can prove to be costly as it needs resources with experience in SEO, working the backend to add and delete catalog items, website security management, UI/UX, website data analytics and digital / social marketing integrations.
From all the above factors, it’s clear that businesses can’t hang their future by a thin thread. Instead need to hedge all their uncertainties related to for example, a search landing a prospect on the rival portal or website inaccuracies causing sales to dip or a slow-loading site which has usability issues. Hunting out an integrated ecommerce web solutions partner at the nth hour just for a quick fix or for patching updates can only be a short-term approach and will not help when a major hurdle arises.
You need technical support and consultants always on standby for your ecommerce site maintenance, as otherwise your reputation as a serious business may be at risk. With the experience economy now staring us in the face and the internet being the make-or-break reality for businesses, connect with Katalyst Technologies digital and ecommerce support for a complete tech partner. Get in touch NOW!
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