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Maintenance of eCommerce websites is sometimes considered to be less important than the actual build and often eCommerce brands won’t budget as well for the ongoing support of their online shop despite having a long-term digital strategy in place to grow their website traffic and sales.
The most successful online retailers understand the importance of ongoing maintenance plans and will have invested in eCommerce website developers and designers, whether directly employed or contracted, to ensure their eCommerce solutions are kept up to date and secure.
Key benefits of ongoing maintenance
So, what are the key reasons why eCommerce stores need ongoing maintenance?
Increased up time
Increased up time, the time your website is available and working for your clients and staff, means more website reliability, more traffic, more customers, and therefore more sales.
Each eCommerce website, depending on how complex the requirements, consists of an ecosystem of services, and so even third-party services require regular maintenance in terms of versioning. This can cause the system to become unstable and a requirement for small fixes to allow ensure your online shop to operate normally. With stand-alone eCommerce platforms such as Magento compared to SaaS platforms, the issue is even more visible. Maintenance of eCommerce stores is essential. Critical outages, especially during high traffic or sales seasons, can cause much more damage to brand trust and customer loyalty than the maintenance services cost.
Having an eCommerce website developer on hand at short notice to fix problems is a must. Big digital retailers and brands rely on web development agencies as a backup to ensure consistency of service to their customers. Increased up time ultimately translates into increased site authority, increased trust in your online brand, and increased sales.
Any eCommerce website if developed and designed professionally and to industry standards will work efficiently in the beginning but it’s the maintenance of the site that will prolongs its responsiveness and speed. Without ongoing support, there will be hidden bugs and glitches that will cause the website to slow down. Fixing minor issues along the way and introducing new protocols to improve will ensure you stay ahead of the pack in your industry. Customers expect instant gratification when they visit online shops and will easily become frustrated if a site is slow or ‘laggy’. Dissatisfied visitors are likely to drop off and choose a competitor with a faster, more reliable shopping experience.
The world of eCommerce never stands still. New features are developed and released every day whether they be part of your eCommerce platform, native changes requiring extra website development or upgrades of third-party services.
Frequent smaller changes are likely with a reliance on an internal resource to be bundled together to demonstrate a combined value rather than being carried out in good time. With a website development support package with a web development agency, new features can be added to your eCommerce site quickly to ensure your customers remain loyal and continue to enjoy the user experience with you rather than your competitors.
Improved user experience
UX design needs to look good and on brand but ultimately is not successful unless visitors to your website convert into sales. The transactional parts of your site must work very hard to maximize the return on investment of your marketing efforts. Continuous improvements are necessary to ensure you address any sticking points in the online journey. Any interest or warm leads needs to be encouraged to stay in your online shop and buy.
Successful digital brands will control risk by carrying out regular planned A/B tests to understand the best changes to make on their sites. Again, developers on tap can address ongoing improvements and debugging to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.
Maintenance plan considerations
Web development agencies offer a variety of development support packages to suit all budgets and websites. The plan you choose will depend on several considerations:
- The age of your online shop
- The size of your business
- The channels you use
- Whether you have a SaaS or an ‘on-premises’ eCommerce platform
Age of the shop
Established online brands tend to understand the amount of maintenance and support that is required to keep their online shops running well and efficiently. They have certainly learnt from their mistakes and will be able to plan the number of development hours required to support their eCommerce solution.
Online start-ups or brands with new eCommerce solutions won’t have such insight and find it more difficult to determine the maintenance hours needed to keep their website up to date and secure. On the flip side, new online shops are more likely to be built using the latest solutions and features and so will require less support for UX design changes and maintenance of integrations than older platforms.
Size of the business
Naturally, smaller companies will have more modest needs for maintenance of their eCommerce business. They are likely to have a limited range of products and as a result less web pages to support. The ecosystem of services incorporated into smaller eCommerce websites will also be less complex, with less 3rd party services being involved in the process of selling and fulfilment. Smaller online shops also tend to exist in a less aggressive marketplace where a simpler model is sufficient to compete and be successful.
Larger digital businesses require more support and maintenance. The load on their websites is large as their traffic and resulting transactions are high. Due to the competitive nature of their market, their eCommerce websites are complex, and the number of sales channels are usually high. To continuously run smoothly, maintenance is an ongoing requirement to ensure their brand trust is not harmed. Big brands will need to schedule constant improvements to their UX to stay ahead of the competition and, with several external services in their ecosystem, it is essential to stay on top of all parts of the eCommerce solution and fix things quickly.
Whether you use a single channel to sell your products or services or an omnichannel approach will determine the complexity of your eCommerce solution and the ultimate maintenance needs.
Simple online shops with a reliance on connections to a couple of marketplaces will be easy to maintain. Larger operations with e-shops, marketplaces, and even traditional bricks and mortar outlets required constant checks, upgrades, and fixes. In an omnichannel approach, all services need to be running at the same time and be integrated to ensure a single system works cohesively.
SaaS versus ‘on-premises’
Software as a Service platforms require less maintenance than the ‘on-premises’ solutions as they have a centrally managed system that usually means general updates will be applied automatically. However, it is always important to keep an eye on how any automatic updates in the back end will impact the front end of online stores. With SaaS platforms, you can be assured of robust connectivity and software as these are provided by the vendor but the commission you will be expected to pay the SaaS vendor for each sale will go towards the costs of such maintenance.
‘On-premises’ platforms such as Magento require maintenance in terms of software and connectivity (unless provided by the hosting companies), and particular support when it comes to versioning and updates. Any updates are not seamless, and they need to be carried out by dedicated magento developers.
Maintenance plan options
Support packages mean you can keep your website up to date and continually optimized. So rather than worrying about fixing or improving your online shop, you can concentrate on what you do best: growing your business. Website development support packages are designed to cater for all budget and business needs as described above.
Website development agencies will offer a proactive, consultative approach to supporting your website to ensure your support suits your business. Choose your support partner wisely.