13 July 2023 14min.
8 typical problems during e-Commerce development
The development of an online store rarely goes as smoothly as butter. Of course, it will be easier for small e-commerce businesses. A small system means faster implementation and fewer chances for something to go wrong. However, even with simple stores based on SaaS platforms, problems arise. Some of them lie on the side of the store owner, while others are the fault of the implementation agency. It varies.
- Budget doesn’t align with project requirements
- The MVP version is too elaborate
- Product Owner lacks decision-making power
- High turnover in the project team
- Low competence of the implementation team
- Lack of system testing
- Poor project architecture
- Lack of communication and transparency
- How to overcome these issues?
Unfortunately, problems during e-commerce implementation come at a cost. How much? Well, it depends. Some of them may “only” consume your time, while others can cost your business millions. It is worth anticipating what could go wrong and preparing for the future. Let’s explore the typical problems during e-commerce implementation.
Budget doesn’t align with project requirements
This is probably one of the most common issues that arise during the implementation of online stores. As an owner or e-commerce manager, you want your sales platform to be the best, have all the fancy features, and outshine the competition. However, it’s not always that easy.
Firstly, not all flashy functionalities are necessary for you. Secondly, they come with a cost. A significant cost, in fact. The main goal of an online store is sales. Sure, additional features like AI assistants or advanced product configurators can help your customers, increase their satisfaction, and bring them closer to making a purchase. However, you must consider that every single functionality of your store needs to be implemented, and that takes your time and the programmers’ time. And as you probably already know, the cost of e-commerce implementation is the product of the implementation team’s working hours and the negotiated rate.
Even if the e-commerce platform on which your store is built offers ready-made plugins, chances are you will have to pay for them. Moreover, someone has to implement them into your system, which incurs an additional cost.
If you consider all of this while planning the implementation budget, you probably won’t have a problem. However, if you created your budget blindly, without a specific list of requirements and thorough research, it may turn out that you simply can’t afford the magnificent store you envisioned.
If you find out about this during discussions with implementation agencies, it’s not the end of the world. You will have time to verify your plans and modify them accordingly. However, you may encounter implementation companies that won’t tell you that your requirements are insufficiently specified or completely unrealistic within your budget. In such a case, the money you reserved for this purpose may quickly run out, and your dream store may never see the light of day or cost significantly more. Unfortunately, underestimating cost estimates by implementation agencies is still a fairly common practice that serves solely to acquire clients. So, be cautious when choosing a company to build your online store.
Solution: Firstly, prepare yourself well for the implementation of your e-commerce. Write down your requirements, prepare a detailed brief, and most importantly, talk to the agency. The company implementing your online store should not mindlessly do whatever you tell them to do. A good Magento agency will ask you detailed questions about your business and advise optimal solutions. When choosing an implementation company, you are deciding on a partner for the next few years. After all, building a store is not everything; you still have to maintain and develop it according to market changes and your organization’s plans.
The MVP version is too elaborate
As the person responsible for implementing e-commerce in your company, you probably feel the pressure of time. You want to create the best store in the shortest possible time. Unfortunately, it’s often not that simple. If you have chosen a SaaS solution, you have a chance to implement the store relatively quickly. However, if you have more extensive requirements and have opted for an open-source engine, setting up your store may take a bit longer.
However, it’s not the case that implementing Magento or any other e-commerce platform from scratch has to take many months or years. The time required to set up a store mainly depends on your requirements and the functionalities that need to be implemented. The more there are, the longer the implementation will take.
To expedite this process to some extent and start selling as soon as possible, e-commerce implementations often begin with an MVP version (Minimum Viable Product).
Unfortunately, business owners often forget that the Minimum Viable Product is simply a store that should sell when planning the requirements for their store’s MVP version. At this stage, it doesn’t need to include all chatbots, configurators, or AR fitting rooms. It just needs to look appealing and enable purchases. All additional functionalities can be added later. However, if the MVP requirements list barely fits on several pages, quick implementation is unlikely.
This is quite a significant problem that not only increases the pressure on the implementation team but also leads to conflicts between e-commerce and the agency.
Solution: Divide the implementation of your online store into stages. Don’t try to include all functionalities in the MVP requirements. There will be time for add-ons and innovative solutions later on. Start by making your store generate revenue. Later, with the earned money, you can implement your dream AI chatbot.
Product Owner lacks decision-making power
Very often, the role of a Product Owner responsible for e-commerce implementation in a company is taken on by someone from marketing or sales. In smaller businesses that have never conducted online sales, the position is given to someone with the latest iPhone or someone who is somewhat interested in new technologies. The lack of appropriate competencies hampers the store implementation process, but that’s not the worst part.
The biggest problem in such a situation is the lack of authority of such a Product Owner within the company structure. Often, this person is unable to make decisions independently and has to consult with superiors regarding any changes or priorities. Unfortunately, this prolongs the implementation timeline and leads to communication problems between e-commerce and the implementation agency, with the specter of failure looming over the entire project.
Solution: When planning the implementation of your online store, consider the people you will need for the smooth execution of this project. If possible, hire an experienced e-commerce manager who will oversee the entire implementation. Just engaging a competent person is not enough. The Product Owner must have “executive power.” Since you have already hired a competent individual, give them the authority to make all decisions related to the implementation of your online store. This way, the entire process will proceed quickly and efficiently.
However, if you currently don’t have the opportunity to hire an experienced e-commerce manager, carefully consider which person in your company would be best suited for the role of Product Owner and grant them as much decision-making power as possible. You don’t need a messenger who only relays information between you and the implementation agency. The Product Owner should lead the entire process and relieve you of the day-to-day work of building the store.
High turnover in the project team
No project can progress smoothly if different people are constantly working on it. The same applies to the implementation of online stores. If the developers in your team change from month to month, you can be sure that your project won’t progress. Continuous turnover means that every time a new developer joins, they need to familiarize themselves with the project, understand what has been done so far, and grasp your requirements. All of this takes time, and time for which you will have to pay.
Solution: If you are implementing your e-commerce with an internal team of developers, you have a lot of work ahead. Some level of employee turnover is completely natural. However, when it starts to increase significantly, problems arise. To minimize changes in your implementation team, you need to provide your employees with the best possible experiences. Competitive compensation, valuable benefits, interesting projects, and a good working atmosphere are just a few things that can help you retain your programmers for longer. One thing is certain, it won’t be easy. Therefore, during the recruitment process, look for people who fit into your team not only in terms of qualifications and experience but also in terms of their approach to work.
If you are getting assistance from a Magento agency for your e-commerce implementation, the situation will be different. You won’t have control over the recruitment of the project team or their employment status. Unfortunately, your hands will be tied in these matters. However, there are a few options that can help minimize the risk of turnover in your external implementation team. Firstly, before choosing an agency, check not only their references but also the opinions of their employees. If you come across many negative reviews, there is a high likelihood that employees don’t stay there for long. You can also inquire among industry professionals about their experience working with a particular agency, whether they have a stable and strong development team, and so on.
Secondly, during the collaboration, communicate with the implementation company, inquire about changes in the team, and establish a joint action plan. Honest communication can greatly facilitate the implementation process of your e-commerce.
Low competence of the implementation team
This problem falls into the category of “silent killers.” Initially, the low qualifications of your programmers may not cause many issues. The work progresses, albeit slower than planned, but at least it’s cost-effective. The problem arises over time when it turns out that the technical debt burdening your e-commerce is insurmountable, and you’re forced to rebuild your store from scratch.
The low competence of programmers also results in numerous errors that occur during implementation. These errors need to be fixed, which unfortunately consumes a significant amount of time and money.
However, the project team is not just composed of programmers. The Project Manager is the person who should coordinate the implementation work. Therefore, they should possess not only technological knowledge but also business acumen. If your PM has no knowledge of e-commerce and operates solely on a “pass it on” basis, it is highly likely that your implementation will be delayed, and communication problems will arise within the project team.
Solution: Ensure a high level of competence among the individuals working on your e-commerce. If you are implementing your store independently, you may not have the budget to hire only the best experts. Juniors can also handle the task quite well. However, it is important that your implementation team does not consist solely of interns. When planning your hires, consider the competencies you will need and balance the number of juniors and seniors in your development team. Don’t forget about a qualified Project Manager as well.
If you are using an agency’s services, you have limited influence over their hiring decisions. Therefore, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the team structures in the chosen agency before entering into a partnership. You can also check reviews about the agency on platforms like Clutch or ask their clients about their practical experience working with the agency’s project teams.
Lack of system testing
If you launched your store into production without any testing, especially on a Friday at 4:00 PM, we congratulate you on your courage and sympathize with the consequences. Such an approach cannot succeed. Something will definitely break, errors will appear, or the entire platform will simply crash. System testing is one of the most crucial elements of implementation. Unfortunately, we often turn a blind eye to it. And then we wonder why things don’t work.
This happens especially when the budget for the implementation of an online store is running low. In such cases, we start looking for cost-saving measures. Unfortunately, testing is often the first to be sacrificed. That is a significant mistake. The lack of regular system testing leads to the accumulation of errors that emerge later in the implementation process. Eventually, those bugs will need to be fixed, and fixing them can come at a high cost.
Solution: Test from day one. Identifying errors early allows for faster and more cost-effective fixes. So, it’s not worth cutting corners on testing. After all, you want to provide the best possible user experience and persuade users to make purchases.
Poor project architecture
You probably want to implement your e-commerce as quickly as possible. Perhaps you didn’t prepare comprehensive guidelines, and later you realized that you wanted to have an AR fitting room in your store. Or maybe you just want to change a small thing in the already implemented configurator. Such situations often lead to so-called “rush tasks.” Unfortunately, when pressure arises, problems also arise.
Adding things quickly or stitching together unplanned elements leads to a deterioration of code architecture. The previously designed structure gets lost, and a big chaos emerges that is difficult to tame later on. If the code of your store becomes too convoluted, neither the current agency nor any future agency may know what to do with it. It’s highly possible that you’ll have to rebuild your store completely.
Poor project architecture is not only a mess that is hard to navigate but also opens the door to various errors and even hacking attacks. It’s not worth risking by mindlessly adding more features and creating convoluted code.
Solution: Plan your implementation well. Consider how you want your store to look, what features it should have now, and what you plan to implement in 2-3 years. Think it through thoroughly. If you don’t do this during the project planning stage, your store will not only be delayed but will also cost much more.
Also, remember that quality matters more than quantity. So don’t keep piling new “rush tasks” onto your developers. It will only worsen the quality of your code, for which you may pay a hefty price later on.
Lack of communication and transparency
Implementing an online store is a large project that requires smooth communication between e-commerce and the implementation agency. Any misunderstandings or conflicts can cause delays in work, a decline in code quality, and even termination of cooperation.
Let’s consider an example. You want to implement a calculator in your store that allows users to calculate how many packages of floor tiles they will need. Your programmers take on the task, and after a few hours of work, you probably have the functionality in your store. However, you didn’t inform them that these tiles come in several sizes. As a result, your new calculator incorrectly calculates the required packages. It may have been obvious to you, but it wasn’t necessarily clear to the programmers working on your store.
Solution: Be an active participant in the implementation process, communicate with your agency, and be honest. Mistakes happen to everyone. Perhaps you forgot about an important function for your business while filling out the brief, or you changed your mind about payment methods. Have an honest conversation with your implementation agency. You’ll surely find an optimal solution to the problem together.
On the other hand, demand the same from the agency that is building your store. Pay attention to the communication style of the considered implementation company, preferably during the negotiation stage. Are they open in their conversations? Are they interested in your business? Do they genuinely propose suitable solutions? Notice whether the agency openly discusses its cooperation process. This is crucial because, without efficient and honest communication, it can be challenging to successfully complete the implementation project.
How to overcome these issues?
During the implementation of e-commerce, many difficulties can arise. Above, you have read about eight of the most common ones. However, this is not an exhaustive list. We could continue listing more for some time.
Most of these problems can be prevented by having open conversations with the implementation agency. Free and honest communication is the key to successful e-commerce implementation. Without it, the process is likely to be a struggle.