If you build many e-commerce websites, you will eventually discover that none of them are simple. Each comes with unique challenges. And it takes a lot of work and effort to get things right.
Among the biggest challenges is finding out exactly what clients want and need. Small businesses, especially ones that haven’t sold online before, are extremely tough. Often, they come into the planning stages of a website without a full understanding of how things work.
This leads to a lot of uncertainty about how to handle shipping, payment gateways and other important functionality. This makes it difficult to provide an accurate price estimate. And it also means that you may not have the resources to complete the project if it is already underway.
So how can web designers help? First, it’s about showing clients the lay of the land. From there, it’s time to encourage them to do a little research on their own.
Let’s look at some ways to help clients make sense of e-commerce.
Start Small with Tough Topics
E-commerce is a huge topic. And depending on the platform you work with, the number of options can be overwhelming.
So, it’s best to keep things basic at first. Give clients the bare minimum they need to spark a deeper conversation.
Take shipping methods for example. It’s one of the hardest things for small businesses to understand. There are several potential carriers, methods and pricing scales depending on geography. Not to mention the logistics of making it work without losing money.
To say the least, this is a topic that can quickly become confusing. However, some of that stress can be alleviated by asking the right questions and offering the simplest solution.
In this case, you might ask what the client’s expectations are regarding shipping. Do they have a particular carrier in mind? Do they have different sized products? Although this is only part of what you need to know, it can help break the ice.
Based on the answers, you can share specific solutions that work with the chosen e-commerce platform. If they are unsure, point them towards something basic, such as a table or flat rate shipping.
This is not necessarily the final solution. But it’s a foundation you can build on.
Take a Holistic Approach to Client Training
Selling online involves a variety of tasks and responsibilities. To keep things running smoothly, clients will need to process orders, manage inventory, and provide support to their customers.
This is where client training plays a big role. By showing them the ropes of running an online store, you can help them develop an efficient workflow. In addition, it will (hopefully) limit their dependence on you for common issues that pop up.
Start with the basic tasks that happen when they receive an order. Walk them through the process of verifying payments, changing order status, and providing tracking information to the customer. They will gain an understanding of how things work and then be able to determine ways to maximize efficiency.
It is also important to understand how the customer experience works. Too often, we focus on teaching administrative tasks, while forgetting the front end. Clients need to know the finer points of that to support their customers.
Encourage Independent Research
Our clients depend on us for guidance. However, they must be the ones making the business decisions. All we have to do is help point them in the right direction.
That means introducing them to helpful resources. But they also ask that they do some of the legwork. For example, you might mention a few different payment processors that might be suitable. From there, you could encourage your client to look at the rates and policies of each option.
This helps ensure there are no surprises. Telling a client to use a particular service without their review can lead to problems. They need to understand what they are doing. And they (or an associate) should be responsible for making the best choice.
You can still answer any questions they may have. But it is necessary to ensure that they have the information they need to make the right decision.
Talk About The Future
Successful shops are constantly changing. And there are always opportunities for retailers to increase their offerings and revenue. These are things that clients should be aware of and consider. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss what the future holds.
Even when a website starts small, it doesn’t have to stay that way long-term. Data can be used to determine where to build things next. It could be a new feature that makes searching for products easier or maybe an affiliate program. The answer will vary by client, but there are likely options for every need.
This is important for web designers as well. Not only do we help our clients grow, but we also stay in the loop for new phases of the project. That’s money in our pockets too.
Keeping E-Commerce Within Reach of All Your Clients
When you think about it, e-commerce is still a relatively new way to sell products and services. Decades is a tiny sample compared to traditional methods.
Therefore, it is understandable if small business owners are not familiar with the details of selling online. And most don’t have the resources to bring in high-priced consultants. Therefore, a large part of the educational duties fall on web designers.
Helping clients find things can be a challenge – but it’s very possible. Patience, explaining the concepts of e-commerce, and training all play a role. You can guide clients to success. From there, you will have the opportunity to grow together.