An ecommerce blueprint is your agency’s lifeline. As a vital foundational document, it helps you create a clear strategy for delivering results to a client; results that go beyond just KPIs and metrics.
A well-executed blueprint should not just be a list of requirements and solutions. Instead, it should be seen as an evolving guide that ensures a client’s store will continue to be performant, secure, and scalable.
Your agency is undoubtedly paying attention to every facet of a client’s business – from goals to structure, to deployment and beyond. No area should be left untouched if it will affect the technology and solution choices your client makes. Making individual recommendations for every client can be challenging, but it’s also vital.
Our managed ecommerce solutions offer merchants and agencies a solid foundation to begin working from. Key infrastructure optimizations, security safeguards, and expandable features are inherent, enabling your agency to actively drive growth for each client. However, taking a single approach to multiple projects can only help so much. For a project to truly thrive, it’s important to nuance solutions.
Let’s take a look at seven considerations you may be rushing through when putting together the technology aspect of your ecommerce blueprint. We’ll explore some key options available to you and provide actionable advice on how to get started.
1. Hosting Size Matters (But That’s Not the Whole Story)
The first area to address is plan size.
We know, smaller plan sizes can be appealing. Not only do they provide impressive traffic resources and a lot of the same great integrations we pack into our larger plans, but they are also available at competitive price points.
However, the more popular a store, the more traffic it’s going to get. By choosing a plan that doesn’t meet a store’s requirements, you’re – at best – bottlenecking the checkout, and – at worst – causing site slowdowns and crashes.
Stores cannot afford this. A 1-second delay in load time means a 7% decrease in conversions. To truly drive growth, stores must build in enough capacity to allow for additional resources when needed.
Choosing the right plan size allows you to create the best foundation for building on client expectations.
But selecting the right hosting plan isn’t as simple as just understanding traffic and resource requirements. With our managed ecommerce plans, you’re able to take advantage of additional resources to help improve ecommerce website performance and scalability.
The first of these is auto scaling. This feature allows for a site to increase capacity as and when it needs to. This means more concurrent users (up to the next plan size) and more customers being able to proceed through checkout at the same time.
Another option is the Cloud Accelerator. Available with all cloud plans, this allows ecommerce websites to manage more concurrent users with a single click in your client portal.
We also offer several container-based services that are run outside of a store’s core account. If you’re looking to improve product search and are interested in using Elasticsearch to do so, you can without having to worry about how that will affect your store’s performance.
2. Platform Choice Is More Complex Than You Think
The right ecommerce platform for each client isn’t always the most obvious. What appears to be a performant and scalable choice on day one, can become a nightmare as a client’s store grows and requires more flexibility.
Despite this, serious platform considerations often find themselves forgotten about in favor of standard workflow templates; ease of use often surpassing functionality and performance requirements.
As you begin to build out an ecommerce blueprint, consider more than just the here and now. Great ecommerce website design includes a consideration of a client’s growth goals.
This couldn’t be more important than it is right now. According to research by the Content Marketing Institute, 93% of the most successful organizations in 2019 were extremely committed to content marketing.
What that means is that successful ecommerce businesses need to start integrating content into their ecommerce blueprint. Beyond just delivering product descriptions, consumers are now looking for research sources where they can explore gift guides, read background information, and delve through reviews.
In 2019, 93% of the most successful organizations were extremely committed to content marketing. (Content Marketing Institute)
Applications like WooCommerce, a plugin for WordPress, are perfect here as they provide excellent content management features. The platform has also become a leading standard for SEO, with over 3 million sites currently running on it along with 22% of the top 1 million sites worldwide. That means more traffic to the content you’re clients are looking to create and more conversions.
3. Ecommerce Security Shouldn’t Be Overlooked
Security never seems like it’s going to be a problem… until it is.
Attacks can range from taking a store offline and preventing visitors from accessing it, to finding and stealing customer PII (personally identifiable information). In both cases, one security breach can have a serious and long-term impact on an ecommerce business.
According to Gartner, by 2020 100% of large enterprises will have to report on cybersecurity and technology risk to their board of directors. This isn’t because security is a template statistic, but because security breaches have increased by 67% since 2014, with damages estimated to total $6 trillion by 2021.
As we move into 2020, it’s vital – now more than ever – that merchants have a plan for handling vulnerabilities and protecting against attacks.
By 2020, 100% of large enterprises will have to report on cybersecurity and technology risk to their board of directors. (Gartner)
But security is a fickle thing. Like many of the items on this list, template solutions can do more harm than good. The right security measures should consider both a client’s consumers and their organization’s structure.
The first line of defense is a well-maintained Web Application Firewall (WAF). This software-based firewall protects stores from known threats by blocking suspicious connection requests and preventing attackers from even getting a foot in the door.
We block over 3.5 million attacks daily. However, To block attacks effectively with a WAF, we need to know where they are coming from.
Understanding a client’s target geographies and known dangerous sources, and sharing these with our support team, can help us to build stronger rulesets that keep your client’s store protected.
Beyond this, managed ecommerce helps to tighten security with automated processes that make your agency’s job easier. We provide automatic daily backups, nightly malware scans, PCI compliance assistance, and the popular iThemes security plugin on all WooCommerce and WordPress solutions.
4. Containers Are Powerful Integrations That Don’t Draw From Core Resources
Robust functionality drives ecommerce growth and moves the needle. Consumers now expect certain functionality as standard and merchants expect your agency to be able to deliver on those by default.
Yet as we mentioned above, feature integrations can take a sizable share of a server’s resources. Instead of providing an incredible user experience, they cause slowdowns and crashes.
Containers are a pivotal solution, allowing you to avoid infrastructure and performance pitfalls without needing to increase your client’s plan size prematurely.
This is because they run outside of your primary hosting account and so have their own set of dedicated resources. Currently, the container integrations available for all Nexcess solutions include:
Nexcess container solutions offer innovative capabilities to the key ecommerce business problems of product search and performance, and help take the guesswork out of the technology recommendations your agency needs to provide.
5. Ecommerce Integrations Can Help in Areas You Don’t Expect
We offer over $2,000 in integrations for smaller WooCommerce stores and over $6,000 in integrations for larger ones. These integrations add vital functionality to stores of any size and take the complexity out of optimization.
Simply put, as stores get larger, so too do their requirements. The integrations we provide help stores to meet those requirements by offering a turnkey solution nuanced to client requirements.
Take, for example, data analysis. Modern technology has seen data become a central part of the ecommerce industry. Now, product and content decisions are informed not by whim but by data. By 2020, Forrester predicts that businesses will double their data strategy budget.
Businesses will double their data strategy budget in 2020. (Forrester)
To make the work of agencies and merchants easier, we’ve partnered with Glew.io. Glew.io helps merchants to better understand both their business and their consumers by providing ecommerce analytics and business intelligence insights quickly and easily.
We’ve also included other integrations, such as abandoned cart emails from Jilt, the Beaver Builder page builder, and more. Each of these integrations has been provided with your agency’s role in mind.
Before reverting to the standard integrations you’ve always used, explore the options we’ve bundled with our solutions first. You may find something that allows you to deliver in areas you never thought you could.
6. Development Is More Than Staging Sites
Development processes vary by agency. Being locked into one particular process can be both frustrating and time-consuming.
At Nexcess, we believe in supporting agency and merchant development practices, whatever they may be. Our managed ecommerce solutions have been engineered to provide development teams with maximum flexibility, while also incorporating optimized solutions to foundational development problems. They bring together a set of unified tools capable of bringing cohesion to an otherwise uneven development process.
Our development sites are a clear example of this. With Nexcess, you can easily spin up a development site with optional 1:1 data duplication and PII (Personally Identifiable Information) scrubbing to ensure the security of customer data – all with only one click in your client portal.
But development processes are more than just environments to work in. A good development process considers how teams are managed, who approves changes and alterations, and how issues are reported on. As you work through the ecommerce blueprint with your client, assigning roles for different players can make development a lot easier and smoother down the road.
7. Managed Hosting Makes Ecommerce Blueprint Decisions Easier
Managed ecommerce makes all the decisions above, and more, easier.
Our solutions have been designed to provide agencies with a comprehensive toolset that lets you realize your client’s vision and actively accelerate growth. Beyond just hosting infrastructure, we consider platform requirements, integration opportunities, and potential.
By hosting your clients’ stores with Nexcess, you’ll have access to an experienced technology partner that knows how to manage the most critical of infrastructure and platform choices. We can help you translate your client’s requirements into the right technology.
Just remember, the right option isn’t always the default. Sometimes it’s worth exploring alternatives and the benefits they can provide both short and long term.
To see how managed ecommerce solutions can help your agency to create better ecommerce websites, talk to a Nexcess team member and explore your options.