You’re Already Behind on Your Holiday eCommerce Development Needs
Have you already started preparing for the holiday season? If not, you’re already behind.
You read that right – Christmas starts in July. I’m not talking about parties or festivities though, I am referring to your eCommerce, web, and mobile presence for holiday shopping.
The Case for eCommerce
Retail has experienced a massive digital transformation over the last several years, with eCommerce accounting for 19% of holiday retail sales in 2021 (Statista). In 2020, consumers spent approximately $186 billion online during the holiday season (Statista). Cyber Monday alone accounts for $10.8 billion in sales, becoming the biggest online shopping day in the US (Statista). This should come as no surprise to anyone in the retail space. The rise of Amazon, faster shipping, and social media marketing directly contribute to the growing popularity of online shopping.
There is no doubt that having an online presence is critical for any retail business in this day and age. But it’s still only July- don’t you have months to roll out a new site or update an existing one?
Average Development Timelines
Black Friday typically marks the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, but shopping often starts even earlier. A study by Statista found that 43% of shoppers begin their search before October ends.
“But wait,” you may say, “October is still several months away! I have time.”
To that, I say – do you?
Contrary to popular belief, a new eCommerce store takes more than a few weeks to get up and running. While some freelancers or DIY platforms have shorter turnaround times, the typical eCommerce site or app takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months to develop. If we take the more optimistic side of that estimate, you can squeeze right into that October shopping window. But again, that’s if all goes well. There’s always the chance that design may take longer than predicted or for bugs to extend testing.
That’s not even accounting for the time it takes to find a developer. Before you can even begin development, you need to research development firms, scope the project, and select a proposal. Sound daunting? Check out our tips for finding the right software development partner for you. Only once you select a development firm does the project actually begin.
If you’re hoping to launch a new eCommerce website or app for the holidays, you should have started yesterday.
It’s Not Too Late – Tips to Get Started
As time travel is not possible (yet), you’ll need to move quickly to get ready for the holiday shopping season. Getting started now is still better than getting started months from now. And significantly better than getting started in October or November. To help, we’ve compiled our top tips to help speed along the development process.
Choose a Product Owner
Before even starting your search for a development firm, decide who from your organization will be the product owner. Having a single point of contact to route all communication. They should have the final say on all decisions. Select this person before kicking off the project as it makes the entire process run smoothly. If every decision needs to run through an entire team of people, the process will be much less efficient.
Understand Your Design Preferences
The design phase is often one of the biggest unknowns when it comes to impacting the overall development timeline. Having an idea of what kind of elements or themes you like before going into design helps speed the entire process along. Try looking at popular competitor’s sites. Find a couple of examples of designs you like as well as ones you don’t. It can help save time by preventing unnecessary back and forth on revisions.
Practice Timely Communication
As simple as it sounds, you’d be surprised how many projects get delayed simply because of a lack of communication. Something as simple as putting off replying to that email from your developer can have a massive impact on your project timelines, especially if it becomes a habit. Ensure that all communication between you and your chosen firm has a response time of 24 hours.
Prepare Your Content
Your chosen developer can build the framework for your website, but they will probably need some help adding content. New products will require a product description, photographs, and product options. Prepare this content ahead of time. For example, you’ll need to know the available sizes and colors of a product. Store that information in a format that will enable it to be easily added to your new website. It’s usually best to have your product catalog organized in a spreadsheet. You don’t want to wait until the website is almost complete to determine how to add product information. Additionally, product photography can take some time. If you don’t have photos of your products, find a photographer and get started ASAP.
Still not sure where to start? Check out our article on the differences between custom and customized websites to see what suits your needs best.
Take this as a sign to start on your new eCommerce site/app (or upgrades) now. If you wait, you’ll end up stressed and struggling to meet your deadlines.
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