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Ecommerce Developers Must Be Troubleshooting Oriented: Ongoing Problems and Solutions of Online Stores

Ecommerce Developers Must Be Troubleshooting Oriented: Ongoing Problems and Solutions of Online Stores

Nowadays, when in-house marketers cannot find a suitable solution to an existing problem, businesses turn to troubleshooters. These are professionals with innovative means of thinking, who are able to look at the problem from a completely different angle and find a new approach. In retail and ecommerce, there are puzzles, which can be impossible to solve by standard methods.

It’s not unlikely, readers have happened upon a story from the Internet about the competition between two publishers of phone books. After troubleshooting the work, one company created a phone book thicker and smaller then the competitor’s, and, as a result, the thicker and smaller phone book was put on top of the second one and used more often.

Ecommerce faces its own issues. Now, the entire retail sector is gradually going from offline to online. According to, in 2016 the number of digital penchants all over the world counts at 58.3 percent. In 2019, 63 percent is expected. In 2021 — 65 percent. The competition between etailers is enormous. Everyone strives to stand out among the rest. As a result, ecommerce development evolves: online stores made by template becomes indistinguishable among a grey bunch, and there is a need to attract a customer by something new. According to, 74 percent of customers prefer thoroughly personalized online shopping, and 59% of consumers insist that personalization significantly influenced what they purchased. Art Malkovich, the chairman of Onilab that names itself an ecommerce troubleshooter, shares his opinion and experience in this approach.

Why should programming companies hone in on troubleshooting?

The main issue for many developers starting out is that they do their work according to the client’s task and don’t suggest any ideas on how to improve the issue in a better way. As a result, the client directly creates the tasks. However, does the client always understand clearly what to do? When ecommerce business has a marketing department with their own research team, then it is. However, 7 years ago, an owner of a British store turned to us and complained
that all the developers he worked with waited for his assignments. When he would tell them what to do with his store but received zero suggestions from their end. The client wanted to hear ready-to-do ideas from the executor. This case completely rebuilt our strategy. So, we gradually turned from just programmers into troubleshooters.

What are some of the reasons why developers don’t investigate client’s issues comprehensively?

At first, it seems pretty logical that the business should meet the needs of the client on the market. However, how do developers themselves usually enter the market? As a rule, they provide typical, basic services. Some kind of research environment or a well-elaborated business model is barely and rarely present at this stage. At the start, it is a trial to find the target audience. That is why starting developers jump for any projects. This is a standard way for many entrepreneurs. And, all of sudden, the client comes who does not know exactly what he wants. Supposedly, he wants an online store website but has no idea about UI\UX, visual merchandising, how ecommerce works or what tricks it has to turn a visitor into a buyer. He tells a common issue. The IT company without a marketing research department will make the template: fixing bugs, solving the consequences of the original problem, but not the root cause. Unfortunately, sometimes even IT companies that have been on the market for a long time, work this way. They have collected a certain customer base, and this is enough for them, so they do not see the point in revising the business model and reorganizing their processes. However, practice shows that if the developer’s business is built without its own research laboratory to tell the client what is needed to achieve results, then the client’s appeal to the company can turn into a senseless leak of money.

How can the store owner understand that the chosen ecommerce developer is the right one?

Such developers follow a clear plan of action. They have their own research department composed of marketers, SEO-specialists, webmasters and analysts. As a rule, they first will suggest making an audit to elicit preferences of the business and compare the results with existing ones. The audit will be conducted by brainstorming of specialists who will study the project in terms of their experience. So, marketers check how the visitor’s ways to purchases are implemented, designers conduct a UI/UX audit, SEO specialists find the issue of poor promotion, programmers check the site on performance and code relevance. All these stages are imperative, as far as when creating a site, sometimes, a developer doesn’t focus on UI/UX design and don’t think through user ways to the shopping cart. Otherwise, the client will get a minimum viable product (MVP) with profit but, from another side, it can be with inconvenient usability and a whole bunch of drawbacks. In this case the site will earn far more if it has been developed via application of a troubleshooting approach.

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Why is the client’s Terms of Reference document is not an idealistic panacea?

Indeed, there is an opinion going around among programmers that a detailed client’s Terms of Reference document (TOR) is a guarantee of compliance of the result with expectations. However, this scheme works only in outsourcing, where tech-savvy specialists of intermediary companies form the TOR. When a client directly turns to a development company, to demand a detailed technical specification list is not quite professional. Even if it is, it usually requires improvements. In this case, it would be correct to connect your research team, carefully study ecommerce issues of the client, and, in accordance with the gathered information, to write the TOR and begin to develop the project.

What ecommerce issues does a troubleshooter solve?

Ecommerce problems and solution are usually related to marketing and technical directions. For example, an online store sells products in several geographic regions. The client addresses the problem of low performance of the site. There is a necessity to optimize it. There are many ways to optimize the site, but the important task is to find the most suitable way directly for this client, considering its type of business activity and needs. Since this is a store visited by users from different regions, it is critical to make the site quickly loaded in these regions. Therefore, in addition to other methods, a great solution is CDN integration that will allow the website to connect to local servers, storing the site content in a cache and thereby providing its loading much faster than with a distant primary site server. As a result, the online store is loaded instantly from any geographical point.

Marketing tasks of Troubleshooting are related to what solution is better for improving behavioral indicators on the site (clicks on the right buttons, add-to-cart metrics, and, as a result, purchases). It’s the brainstorming process involving all specialists having a profoundly good effect on results: marketers, designers, technicians. The chosen options are implemented and then A/B testing is performed. The best working option remains.

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