E-Commerce Lessons (a rant)

Ian Lurie

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Please don’t take this personally, unless you’re a crappy developer, in which case I don’t care. For less rant and more information, see 17 Features for E-Commerce Success.

I’m angry (angrier). I am sick of the following story:

  1. Client hires developer to build e-commerce site.
  2. Developer nods vigorously when asked if they know how to build a store that actually, you know, sells stuff.
  3. Developer lets no one see the site during construction.
  4. Site launches and is a total disaster.
  5. Developer asks for more money to fix the product of his/her own mental retardation.

12 years ago, I could understand it. No one knew what worked and what didn’t.
10 years ago, it was kind of cute, the same way a skunk is cute: From a distance.
5 years ago, I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old, slept 2 hours a day and frankly didn’t care that much.
As of this morning, I’ve decided there’s no damned excuse for it, as I’ve seen no fewer than half a dozen examples of this kind of stupidity.
Developers, don’t sell yourself as an ‘e-commerce developer’ if all you know how to do is write code to manage products and process orders. That’s not e-commerce. That’s a shopping cart. E-commerce means writing something that will result in commerce, which requires more than beautiful code.
Business owners, think. If you hire a developer and put them In Charge of your entire site launch, you’re guaranteed a disaster. Developers know how to do one thing: Write code. And they do it really well.
Most don’t know how to improve search rankings. They don’t know how to make a site usable. And they sure as hell don’t know how consumers behave. Most of them spend their working and non-working lives basking in the glow of 2 or more LCD monitors, and only emerge, blinking, into the sunlight when starvation requires.
But in the end, it’s the ‘professionals’ that are at fault. If you tell a client you’re capable of building an online store, then you’re promising just that. And that means a store that has a chance to succeed. If you can’t do that, you’re incompetent at best, and a fraud at worst, out to make a buck by ripping off clients who don’t know any better.
If you’re a client, read my next blog entry. It’s a list of e-commerce features your site must have.
If you’re not totally insulted at this point, you might want to sign up for my 10/16 webinar. It’ll be right on point.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/in/ianlurie.

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