This is a ‘comfy slippers’ subject for me and the field which I love to talk about and work on.
I’m very experienced in ecommerce having run an ecommerce shop with my friend and colleague for 10 years. We had a fun 10 years with it and then realised that the practicalities of the direction of our lives, the demands of ecommerce and the recession was starting to turn it in to something other than our hobby – which was all we’d ever meant it to be – and we finally decided to close down.
That personal experience along with the many ecommerce sites and projects I have built up for and with clients during and since have given me very real knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. I’d happily build an ecommerce business up again but would obviously do it differently from the start next time given the benefit of that experience. The main thing is, I bring all of that knowledge to the table when helping my clients with their ecom web presence.
If you’re familiar with ecommerce website technology then you’ll be wondering what platforms I use. Well, as with every project, it totally depends on the needs and future requirements of the site as to how I would approach it. Some ecommerce shops are a classic shop template with a listing of products, shopping basket and checkout at which point my personal recommendations would be either Magento or OSCommerce. But then there are sites where they need to be very bespoke where ecommerce for them means literally just taking a fixed payment. I would then build a bespoke site, no templates, no plugin shopping carts, just the coding necessary for their application with straightforward checkout coding integrating their site with their chosen payment gateway.
Template systems for ecommerce sites are great and always have their place but it does concern me that ecommerce shops are starting to all look the same – they look great, yes, but all the same. With such massive online competition under every keyword you look, we need to start doing things a bit differently again and making shopping experiences different and more fun otherwise, and for this I need to quote a line from Syndrome in the 2004 film The Incredibles, “when everyone is special then no-one is”. I always think it’s such a shame that the .com era happened when it did. There were designers way ahead of the game, even for now, in their vision and dreams for what to present in an online shop, they just didn’t have the technology to back it up. We could do it now! But it seems no-one wants to invest to that level again just in case. I think and hope it will happen one day very soon though.