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Virtual CTO & Digital Advisory

For Your E-Commerce Business

I’ve seen too many e-commerce companies get caught up in the complexity of their e-commerce system and lose focus on the things that really matter.

Virtual CTO: Personalized Advisory for Your E-Commerce Business

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I want to see you e-commerce platform and all the technology attached to it become as simplified as possible, so you can focus on you core business and your customers.

Where to Start

Most of the agencies and web developers I have worked with start with the e-commerce platform first – the actual software for the shopping cart. I don’t agree with that.

You’ve probably even had people telling you to use Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, or others – either because that’s what they’ve heard of or that’s what they use. But does that mean it’s right for you and your business? Probably not. So where do you start?

Your e-commerce business has two parts. Customers and the business logistics.

I start with the logistics. I won’t say that often, but with e-commerce the best way to serve your customer is by having the best logistics possible. Your shipping, fulfillment, payment forms, order tracking, and management all create the customer experience.

When you don’t start with logistics in mind you end up with a patch-job solution that costs too much and doesn’t do what you need it to do.

I start with:

  • How can we create the best shipping experience for us and our customer?
  • How can we create the best payment experience for us and our customer?
  • How can we create the best customer service experience for us and our customer?
  • How can we best integrate our shop with our marketing?

Shipping & Fulfillment

Are you going to use 3PL (third-party logistics) and have another company fulfill (pack and ship) your orders, or are you doing it in house?

If you’re just starting you’ll probably store, pack, and ship yourself, but you’ll come to a point where you’ll need to make a choice on that. Working with 3PL means you can have your product in multiple warehouses so you can ship quicker and cheaper. At the same time there are many products which need special care, customization, or specific packing that warrant in-house fulfillment.

If it’s 3PL or any form of external fulfillment then start by asking them which e-commerce platforms they have the best integration with. Each integration is built independently and that means that there are integrations that will work better or worse and ones that will have more features.

Tell them you don’t just want to know what they can integrate with, but what they have the best and deepest integrations with. Find out what most of their customers use. You’re not looking for the perfect answer, just an opportunity to narrow down your list of e-commerce platforms.

E-commerce platforms

SaaS based e-commerce platforms include 3dcart, Shopify, Volusion, BigCartel and BigCommerce.

SaaS based means that a company manages all the servers, security, and updates on a large scale. The company is running a huge number of e-commerce websites on their platform, so they have a lot to lose if their platform goes down or gets hacked. They have teams working on infrastructure and security, making sure your site is live and secure. Simply said, if you can go with a Saas solution.

Self-hosted e-commerce platforms include WooCommerce (on WordPress), Magento, Zen Cart, PrestaShop, and OpenCart

Self-hosted means that you own the platform, you own the problems, and you can do whatever you want. Most companies start here because that’s what most web developers offer. A good portion of those will at some point have to deal with extended downtime from a broken server or a hacked website. The cost to your business in time, image, and consultant fees is just not worth it – unless it’s your only option. The positive side of a self-hosted solution is that you can do anything you need to. If you have a custom process or logistics system then you’ll be able to program that into a self-hosted solution. The thing to remember, you own the solution. For the good, you own it, for the bad, you own it.

E-commerce & Relationships

I’ve owned and run multiple e-commerce businesses. I’ve worked with web advisory and digital strategy for many other e-commerce businesses. The constant is relationships. Whether you’re a service business, sell a product, or B2B – it’s always about connecting with people. Your digital strategy helps you do that better; both with new and current customers.

When we start planning your digital strategy we start with specific actions – the actions you want current and potential clients to take. Often it’s easiest to start by thinking about the current sales funnel that clients go through now. Hopefully you’ve taken the opportunity to sell some of your products direct to buyer in the real world, if not try it out, there’s a lot to learn. You run them through a script. They have questions you get to answer. And finally when that client realized your product and you are the right solution for their problem – you make the sale. Each product page can be more than a picture and description. You have the opportunity to give them the story and why and then answer their question. Sales are lost when a potential customer doesn’t have enough information to know you are the right business with the right product.

Your digital strategy, your website, and everything surrounding it is about leading people through those processes. It’s about generating specific sales funnels that in the end build trust, answer questions and generate a sale.

How are you handling customer service now? Are you empowering your customers to have that conversation?

One quick fix is to not rely on email. It’s to easy for emails to end up in spam or just not be delivered. There are so many options for help desks and support ticket systems. Software that allows each conversation to be tracked and notifies you if a customer is waiting too long without getting an answer. There are even basic free versions like FreshDesk.

Your Digital Fan Base

You have people who love you and love your product. We used to talk about serving above and beyond to create raving fans that talk to their friends about your business – word of mouth. It’s still true, but now we need to digitize this. The more you and you’re business are committed to creating raving fans the more important your digital system becomes, that turns fans into reviews, shares, likes, and pins.

Bisvi On-Demand CTO and Web Advisory Services

Bisvi has several services to help you make the right decisions for your business. On the most basic level we have our free resources. We also have an introductory course "What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Web Professional", that gives you the insight, and insider perspective you need before you work with web developers/designers/SEO/etc.

The next level would be our Express Digital & Web Advisory service which is a one-time consulting service that helps you understand how your business is doing in the digital space and set a roadmap for what to focus on and what not to focus on.

Our premium services are our customized On-Demand CTO services. Every business needs digital leadership, not all need a full-time Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Having an On-Demand CTO means you have a partner that understands your business and where you're going. Your On-Demand CTO helps you choose the right strategy, technology, and consultants to make your digital property work for you and your long-term business goals.

More Resources

"This course is for every client that has come to me after investing $1,000's in a website that isn't getting the phone to ring."

If you're not ready for Express Advisory then understand the basics with this $49 online course by Ben Kamp.

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From working directly with small businesses as a web designer and programmer, to advising for multiple web agencies on an untold number of smaller projects. I’ve too often seen small and medium businesses not getting what they really need…