The holiday season is arriving soon and if you haven’t started preparing your business for it, then you are already late.
No matter which business you are in, it’s high time that you start arranging for your business’ equivalent of the holiday decorations to be rolled out in a strategic way.
Holiday season is the busiest time of the year for retailers and also the most promising time for making profits.
Similar to how people work on upgrading their homes and wardrobe for the holiday season, your e-commerce business also requires some aesthetic and some functional changes. Brick-and-mortar stores do the same. Shop owners decorate their shops in tune with the festivities and bring management, display and services-related changes to the store.
Your e-commerce website needs to adopt the same.
Holiday season also means strong competition. Staying in the competition means keeping up with the trends. And the trend is to make your e-commerce website look like it is in sync with the festivities around so that you don’t miss seasonal promotional opportunities.
Owing to the traffic this time of the year brings to both the offline and online stores, it is extremely critical to equip your website with the ability to run smoothly under high traffic. Customers don’t like facing technical glitches and frictional shopping experience.
In this blog, we will help you find the best e-commerce web developers for updating your e-commerce strategy for the holiday season to keep your customers on your website.
But first, let’s find out about your requirements from the e-commerce web developers.
Identify your requirements
Before you begin searching for the top developers to make your e-commerce website holiday-season-ready, first let’s make sure what exactly do you require from them. For identifying your requirements, hold internal discussions with the stakeholders and reach a consensus regarding objectives, budget, timeline, etc.
Following are some helpful tips on identifying project requirements:
Decide the goal
What is your expectation from the updated website? Which type of functionalities do you want to be added or updated? To answer these questions, you need to ask yourself what you want your website to do once it is updated.
Visualize the final product and how it is achieving the desired results. Does it fulfill the need of the hour, i.e. serving a seamless shopping experience to the customers?
Identify the must-haves
It is natural to be overwhelmed when looking to add things to your website. There will be a lot of options, but you need to keep in mind that only the must-haves should make it to the final list, otherwise you will end up with a long list of changes, which will lead to a longer and more expensive project.
Go for only those changes that align with and add value to the main function of your website.
This can be achieved through a discussion with representatives from each department who will help you determine the requirements that will prove efficient and effective for the website as a whole.
Fix a budget
If you don’t fix a specific amount of money that you would like to spend on your website, then there are very high chances that it will go north. When you estimate the budget based on the requirements, it makes it easier for you to identify the priorities and look for prospective developers who will give you what you want within the budget.
Fixing a budget will also organize things because everything will be dependent on the budget, otherwise you will end up stuck in total chaos.
Now that you have identified your requirements, it is time to winnow out the developers not fit to work on your e-commerce project. Once the chaff is removed, you will be left with the best. How will you end up with the best?
The right way to hire the best of the lot is by asking the right questions.
Let’s take you through these important questions.
The Right Way to Hire E-Commerce Developers — Ask the Right Questions
Asking the right questions while interviewing an e-commerce developer is a crucial step that will have many long-term consequences for your project. The following list of 10 questions will help you find the right fit.
1. What is your technical expertise?
First and foremost, inquire about their experience in working on e-commerce development projects because e-commerce projects are more complex to develop than a simple website.
It will serve as a way to gauge their developing skills.
Do they possess relevant certifications? You can consider developers with recently-earned certifications because they will have knowledge about the latest trends and technologies.
If you aren’t already using Chatbots, it’s time to get one. Ask the developers about their experience in developing chatbots. Chatbots are one of the hottest trends in e-commerce and you need a developer with enough experience in bot development.
If you wish to add more payment gateways to your website for making it more convenient for your customers, ask the developers if they are familiar with the process of integrating a payment gateway with your system.
Search engine optimization will make your website visible to search engines. The entire point of updating your website will go to waste if the SEO is not done right and your customers are not able to find you. Ensure that their SEO skills are up-to-date and up-to-the-mark.
2. Which type of e-commerce projects have you worked on?
Once you have the knowledge about their technical expertise, you can request them to share their portfolio with you.
The portfolio will inform you about the type of projects they have worked on. Find out if they have more experience in working on B2B or B2C e-commerce projects. Or have they worked on both types of projects equally?
If yours is a B2B e-commerce project then it makes more sense if you go with someone who has previously worked on similar projects. However, knowing that they have worked on a B2B or B2C project is not enough. You also need to know the level of complexity involved in their previous projects.
Try to find as much as you can about the projects. What were the requirements of the projects? Were they basic e-commerce projects requiring fundamental functionalities only or were they complex e-commerce projects requiring, in addition to fundamental functionalities, custom solutions; such as third-party integration, inventory management systems, payment gateways’ integration, CMS support, catalog management, multiple filters, etc.
Since e-commerce projects go hand-in-hand with platforms such as Magento, WooCommerce, Demandware, BigCommerce, etc., it is important to know which platforms have they worked on.
Do they often use custom or open-source platforms?
The best way to get a real idea about their technical prowess will be to watch them work on live projects.
This will give you the assurance about the developer’s skills.
3. Which engagement models do you offer?
The engagement model that they will be offering, based on your budget, timelines, flexibility on collaboration, clarity in scope, the minimum period of engagement for which you need to hire resources, etc., will decide the milestones, deadlines and the billing process. The type of engagement model offered should do justice to your project because every project is unique. Following an engagement model will remove the chances of any ambiguity at the end of the project.
Will it be fixed price, dedicated hiring, or hourly price model?
What is their take on addressing any unexpected issues? Do they handle and accommodate unexpected things in the decided timeline? Do they keep a buffer for dealing with such difficulties?
4. What all processes do you follow?
Inquire them about their approach towards e-commerce website development because this will give you the real insight into their work strategy. Being aware of their work strategy will allow you to set realistic expectations from them and you will be able to set milestones and timelines accordingly.
Which type of process do they follow: is it Agile, CI/CD, DevOps or a combination of these? Which process or combination of processes will be the most suitable for your project? Inquire about their overall approach, how their process plays out, what takes place at each stage and what your involvement will be at each step.
5. What kind of communication should be expected?
Effective and flexible communication is essential for any type of project to run smoothly. Thus, make sure to discuss how they prefer to communicate. Clear communication is required right from the first project meeting to post-development support. Ask your developers whether they will be regularly updating you about the progress of your project.
Prefer to have frequent face-to-face meetings for better and open communication. If it’s not possible because of geographical reasons, make sure to visit them at least once before beginning with the project. You will be able to gather more information by visiting their workplace and observing their work.
You will also have a better picture on the who’s who of your project.
6. Will you be working on my project in-house or will you outsource it?
There are some companies that take up a project and outsource the entire or a part of the project to another company.
It is beneficial to discuss this with them because it will give you a clearer picture of who will be working on the project. Will they be working on it in-house or outsourcing to other companies, or a combination of both?
An in-house team working on a project is an advantage because e-commerce websites are complex and require a process that is collaborative and more agile in nature. This will also allow them to take up design and development parallely, enabling the involvement and input of both teams during the entire process.
Following questions can be asked for more clarity:
- How well-versed is their team of developers?
- Are they capable of handling all the tasks in-house?
- If they say that some tasks will be outsourced, then can you expect the same level of synergy between the in-house and outsource teams as is expected between only the in-house teams?
- How much more will it cost you if they outsource?
- Will it take longer to complete the project if they outsource?
7. Who will own the original source and design files?
Ensure that you have complete ownership of the graphics, content and code, and will be provided with the original design and source files at the end of the project, otherwise you will be unable to implement even simple changes to your website.
Ask them if you will be provided with up-to-date descriptions of your database structures, Photoshop and Illustrator files, login credentials for site hosting, access to code repositories, etc.
Add this to the non-disclosure agreement, or a written contract for copyright assignment, which you will be signing with the prospective developers and make sure that they are absolutely transparent in this regard.
The agreement or contract should state clearly who owns the website, source code, and its contents. Never skip this step, especially if your website holds business IP or customized features.
Signing an agreement will not only ensure the safety of your website’s idea but will also enable you to take legal action against them if they disclose your website’s idea in the market.
8. Will you provide any warranty on your work?
Some developers provide a warranty on their work and some don’t. As soon as the project ends and the bill is settled, they will start charging you for any issue occurring after that.
But what if you are delivered a website that doesn’t function the way it was intended to?
This is why it is very crucial to ensure whether or not they will be providing a guarantee on their work.
Also, ask them if you will be charged for any code issues faced once the website is delivered and launched. Some developers provide a warranty period of 30 days. If your prospective developers agree to not charge for any technical issues for a specified period of time post-launch, it shows that they possess a great deal of integrity.
If they do not agree to provide any warranty then you can consider negotiating with them, otherwise go with someone who does provide warranty.
9. Do you provide post-development support and maintenance?
Even if your e-commerce website is updated and ready to use, problems might occur afterwards. Therefore, it’s important to ask the developers about their post-development maintenance policies.
Do they provide post-development support for dealing with bugs and other technical issues? You wouldn’t want your customers to notice bugs and experience technical glitches, so ensure that you are provided with the support to resolve these issues in the shortest time possible.
How accessible are they? How can you submit your issues/complaints? Will it be through email or online HelpDesk or phone? Prefer to report issues through phone because it is the most convenient way, especially in time of crisis such as website breach, crash, or downtime.
Many developers are coming up with DIY management sites, which makes it essential for you to have an understanding of how your e-commerce website and content management system will work.
Inquire from them about training. Will they be offering training or providing video tutorials?
Ensure that their after-sales communication is given as much importance as the initial communication during development.
10. Are there any client references?
Contacting people who have previously worked with your potential developer will help you set real expectations from the project. There are many things that are involved in a project other than delivering the desired product. Talking to references will give you an idea about whether or not they are professionals and adhere to work ethics.
Other than the references provided by them, you can do your own research on websites such as Clutch, Glassdoor, and Agency Spotter. You will get a fair idea about their online reputation through these sites. Having no online reputation is as bad as having a negative one.
If you wish to reap the benefits of the holiday season, you will first have to sow some efforts into bringing on your best game. Your profits will be as good as your vision only if you choose top e-commerce web developers who have the skills that align with your vision. Choosing the best or top e-commerce developers is as difficult as finding a needle in the haystack but not impossible, if you know where to look for. This blog will serve as a magnifying glass for you to find the best fit out of the overwhelming options available out there.