If you are building a store for a client, they have already decided that they want an online presence. But your approach should be very similar to helping someone open a physical store.
Plan Your Clients Online Store as if You Were Planning a Brick-and- Mortar Shop
I’m going to keep this down to the basics here.
Building Your Store
If your client is a large retailer, it’s likely they are looking to lease an existing spot. But if you are building a store from scratch for them, you have to work with them on serious decisions to make. Even though their neighbor Joe is pretty good at building dog houses, they wouldn’t ask him to help build their new store. And they wouldn’t just open the yellow pages and blindly select an architect and contractor. They want someone that understands every nuance from electricity and plumbing to final construction.
When choosing you as developer for their online store site, they may be coming with that perspective. They want you to know how to deal with all the unique parts of an eCommerce site.
Design the Site with Care
Let’s take a look at a couple of simple examples. First, they want their site to look professional. If someone was walking down the street looking for a bookstore and they ran across a shop that was rundown, had cracks in the window, mismatched colors and a front door that was slightly warped, they might have second thoughts entering it. Even if the inside was incredible, as a first-time visitor, they might be reluctant.
And what about moving around in the store? Can customers find things quickly? Your clients online store’s site navigation needs to be just as easy. You wouldn’t stock the products haphazardly or place confusing signs in your physical store. Don’t do in in the digital space.
The Needed Tools and Supplies
Some store owners get frustrated when they have to buy another plugin. Let’s say they have a physical store and with it their inventory, shelving, cash registers, signage, and assorted other stuff. They find that there are other smaller things here and there that are essential to running their store. Because their customers are right there, they can’t say, Oh, let’s wait to get shelves. We’ll just pile stuff on the floor for now.
This is how some online store owners think. That plugin that is going to make their life easier, and their customers buying experience better? We’ll put it on the “to be purchased” list and slide by until then. Don’t let them talk you out of it.
We probably know how critical this piece this is. But when it’s online, sometimes clients are tempted to cut back. With a physical shop, security is huge. That front door should be locked tightly, with something other than a flimsy twist-turn knob, right? And security cameras to keep extra eyes on your store. Because the last thing you client wants is intruders creating havoc.
Aside from having good security through their hosting, it can start as simple as making sure they keep stuff updated and passwords strong. They can also add reCaptcha to their product checkout or monitor changes, updates and system admins with logs in their store.
So they need to take the security of their online store just as as seriously. Help them with the research and find your client the most reliable hosting solution you can.
If your client has a brick-and-mortar shop and it needs repairs, they don’t think twice. That cracked window is fixed. The unreliable janitorial service is replaced. If the security alarm quits, they don’t say, oh, I’ll get to that next week. And the list goes on and on.
So it goes with their online store. Help them or understand about themes, plugins, and WordPress installs and how they need to be updated. Stress the importance of keeping their store clean. But unfortunately, much of it is still ignored. Whether you are maintaining their site, or leaving it in their hands, stress that importance.
Keeping On Top of Things
Whether you are build the shop, or maintaining it, keeping on top of your clients store is one of your biggest priorities for a WooCommerce-powered shop. And knowing what admins, shop managers and logged-in users are doing and what has been changed, can give you peace of mind and help you to be better prepared.
Physical stores in the U.S. must abide by accessibility laws. I’m no expert, but I’m sure the U.S. isn’t the only one. Can you imagine if you were wheelchair-bound and the escalator was the only way to get to the children’s clothing department on the second floor?
Even if are no laws in the online space, your clients are losing a chunk of customers by not making their store accessible to people with disabilities. Address this with your clients and don’t ignore the needs of this population.
Think Physical, Act Digital
I’m hoping I’ve offered a few thought-provoking insights as you work with your new clients and their online stores All the pieces of hosting, development, design, maintenance, etc. are as critical to any WooCommerce online store as they are to the brick-and-mortar shop. Don’t cut your client short and regret it later.