Optimize your website for future ecommerce
Written by Lauren Hill
Sales companies based online have had an interesting and tumultuous history. Most of the largest online companies have only existed a little over a decade. The majority of people who are interested in finance have heard of the dot-com boom, or dot-com bubble. When the internet was first becoming a viable means of communication, connection speeds were switching from dial-up to cable or DSL, and a huge number of online retailers opened up for business on the stock market.
The dot-coms, as these businesses were known, ranged widely in product and one thing they all shared in common was that their customers could order goods through the internet. The speculation boom that investors facilitated with these companies was enormous, but the problem was these online companies were not backed by solid business plans. Investors bought up their shares thinking it was the dawning of a new age. Those investors were right after a fashion. Around the year 2000, the bubble burst and nearly every single one of the dot-coms’ share values collapsed on the market.
One of the reasons so many of these companies failed is that they tried to do too much too quickly. The public had not embraced online shopping yet, and trying to turn what is in effect a small business into a publicly traded company overnight did not make the business strategy of those companies any better.
Lessons learned from successful ecommerce
After reading that, you may wonder how any online retailer was successful let alone become a household name. The jumping off point for success is making sure your business can handle the addition of online ordering. The dot-coms sought to expand their consumer base more quickly than they could actually handle it. The result was large expenses and no foreseeable profit. Some of the most successful small online retailers have chosen to focus on providing good service for their current customers before they think about expanding excessively.
It is also important to make sure your website can handle the demands of online shopping. This means you need to have a system in place that people can navigate easily. One of the most successful features of ecommerce is the invention of the online “shopping cart.” As most internet shoppers are aware, the shopping cart allows first time visitors to a website to start compiling a shopping list right away. Whether or not you choose to have some sort of registration before the actual purchase, the shopping cart makes browsers into buyers.
If your business is looking to expand its online services, ecommerce is a logical next step if you sell some sort of good or service. Since the fall of the dot-coms at the turn of the millennium, customers are very familiar with online shopping, and many embrace all of the new shopping opportunities.
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How to design your website for ecommerce
Programming an easy-to-use and reliable online store takes knowhow of coding processes. You can attempt to learn as you go, but it is often much easier to hire an outside website developer to install a program onto your website, with very little inconvenience to you. For people who have gone through the process of learning how to create the kind of website consumers expect, they will have undoubtedly run into coding errors, site crashes, and unhappy customers. To avoid the majority of those issues, hiring an expert in web development is a good option.
One of the benefits of hiring a professional ecommerce developer is you can tap into their experience in customizing countless other successful buying interfaces. Online marketing and development is not a one size fits all industry and the professionals know this. Using creativity and in-depth knowledge of coding, they can design a user interface that is perfect for your needs. You can have as much or as little ecommerce on your website as you desire.
If you want a quick and easy click-and-buy option, they can make a system that is hassle free for your users. If you would like a subscription based system, with paid membership opening up other areas of your website, the developers can make it happen. Some of the most popular requests are the ability to save certain items in a wish list, so that they can be purchased at a later date. That makes it much easier for your customers to remember what items that they wanted, especially if your website has a large selection of goods.
Since so many people are familiar with the ease and convenience of ordering online, it is expected that businesses that sell goods should have a well developed online store that is as well appointed as their physical locations. It is endlessly frustrating to have to deal with an online checkout that is confusing, too long, and in the end does not work anyway. When you are asking people to put their major credit card information on the web you need to be able to assure your customers that the buying process will work, and that their information is secure.
The odds are in your favor that if you have a good clientele, the transition to online marketing and ecommerce will be a smooth one—as long as you take the appropriate steps to make sure the online ordering system works. Going with the pros is a way that your business can make sure your new online store has the best chance of success.
Other benefits of hiring a developer
Depending on how much traffic your website sees, you may want to hire a developer to maintain your website in addition to creating your online retail section. Making sure each aspect of a website functions correctly is a full time job for business with large and complex websites. The job is no less important for small businesses, but can be done in less time. If you think that you may not have the expertise and technical knowledge to keep your website working in tip-top shape, you can try hiring the same developer who built your ecommerce section to maintain your site. Some web developers also offer safeguarding services, database management, and graphic design. You can have your website retooled, or just have your current website maintained.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.