The further we get into the 21st century, the more contradictory the web will become. We have plenty of no-code tools aimed at making things easier for novices and professionals alike. On the other hand, we see service providers that are becoming increasingly complex to work with.
This tug of war is most evident in e-commerce. Yes, a basic shopping cart can now be set up without too much trouble. For example, adding products to WooCommerce or Shopify is a streamlined process. It is the rest of the experience that gets messy.
While e-commerce has never been simple, it’s arguably not getting any easier – despite technological advances. Progress was held back by many contributing factors. Let’s take a look at some obstacles that are getting in the way of building a modern e-commerce website more efficiently.
So many options – All of them with caveats
Having a choice is usually a good thing. But what to do when there are so many options available?
Between content management systems (CMS), shopping carts, payment gateways, and related plugins – even a turn of the head of an experienced developer is enough. And, in addition to their advantages, each has caveats to consider.
The recommendations we make to clients are critical. Security, stability and scalability are project requirements. If we miss one or more of these elements, it could mean a lot of headaches down the road.
That’s probably why many of us go with the tools we already know. Even if there are downsides, at least we have an idea of what to expect. Still, there is always the possibility that there is a better solution elsewhere.
Closer Privacy and Security Standards
Privacy and security are critical to every website. They become even more important when considering the need to keep customer data and online store transactions safe. A significant breach could be devastating for everyone involved.
Therefore, it seems that service providers are making changes to tighten these areas. It is a positive thing in that we want the best possible security. But it can also make a web designer’s job more difficult.
Take payment gateways for example. During the building process, we are often responsible for integrating them into a website. This usually requires login credentials to adjust settings, access API keys, etc.
But it is not always a simple task. Thanks to the use of two-factor authentication (2FA), logging in means coordinating with clients to obtain security codes. And if your client is not technologically savvy or readily available, it could cause a delay.
Similar situations play out across providers. Therefore setting up analytics, customer relationship managers (CRM) and even the Google Maps API is hard work.
In some cases, clients can delegate access to their existing accounts. Then again, you may have to guide them through setting up the services they don’t already use. It’s a normal part of an e-commerce project, but still frustrating.
Data Stored in Different Places, Different Ways
Data plays a huge role in e-commerce. The right information can help store owners make smart decisions about pricing, inventory, shipping, and more. But all too often, crucial data seems to be scattered.
This is especially true when building with WordPress and WooCommerce. The combo will provide some customer and sales basics. However, the more plugins you add to the mix, the harder it is to find the little details that add extra context.
Even though the data may be stored on your website, that doesn’t mean it’s easily accessible. Because WordPress plugins can write and store data in different ways, it’s not possible to fit everything into one report – at least, not without some serious PHP code to fill these partitions.
And it’s not just a WordPress problem. Service providers such as payment gateways and shipping companies may have valuable order information. The process of using it and integrating it with other site data is not always straightforward.
Because e-commerce relies on third parties, data is scattered all over the place. Web designers have often been tasked with building a patchwork system to bring it together or simply to leave out some items.
E-Commerce is a Different Animal
The reality is that building an e-commerce website is a unique challenge. It is a puzzle with many pieces – each with different levels of complexity.
And while the design and construction tools may have improved over the years, other areas have become more difficult to manage. This is due in part to the need for security and our reliance on third party service providers.
The result is clunky integration processes and disparate data sources. Putting this together takes time, patience and expertise. It’s a good reason why web designers should charge much more for eCommerce projects.
The finished product can still be outstanding. It’s just that there can be pain!