2017 has really been a watershed year for the Shopify eCommerce platform – the number of eCommerce sites hosted on Shopify has doubled in just the last ten months. Think about that for a moment. The platform has exploded to reach a full 9% of the entire market among the top 1 million eCommerce websites.
And not only is it the number one eCommerce platform in its home country of Canada with 25% of the market, but it’s also number one in Australia and tied at number one in the largest eCommerce market in the world – the United States. But the real important statistic is that their growth rate of 100% year-over-year (as measured by BuiltWith) far outstrips the growth rate of the internet over all. And that means that Shopify is not just taking a disproportionate share of the new eCommerce sites coming online, but they are taking customers and sites away from other more established players in the game.
It’s simple. Shopify is the hottest eCommerce platform on the internet today. So why am I reminding you of all that?
How Shopify Development Is Like A Midwest Tornado
As I write this article I sit securely in TaskHusky’s Content Creation Command Center located in the heart of America’s Midwest – Omaha, Nebraska. We get our share of wind-storms and hail, and the occasional tornado. Every time a storm blows through town, hundreds of shoddy neighborhood repair trucks with dubious qualifications and expired licenses swam around town. It’s a popular scam … they take work deposits and then skip town. The locals call them “storm-chasers.”
The point is that you have to be careful out there. I remember when WordPress really took off. All of a sudden EVERYONE was a WordPress website expert. People were slapping the WordPress logo on every tech company or design agency online. But I guarantee you that the number or real, true-blue WordPress experts – the really experienced folks who knew their way around the software – did not quadruple overnight. But if you read the About Us pages of their websites, you sure would think so.
Our team has been in the Shopify eCommerce game since way back in 2009. Now that Shopify is the eCommerce Belle-of-the-Ball for online retail, we’ve started to see glimmers of the same thing happening in the Shopify community as well. Here come the storm-chasers!
Well, forewarned is forearmed. But don’t worry … we’ve got your back.
Whether you are talking about a complete Shopify site set-up and configuration or a few small task tweaks to improve performance, there are a handful of questions you should ask your Shopify developer before you let them work on your eCommerce store.
Shopify Developer Question 1 - Are Revisions Included?
This sounds like a simple thing, but most developers don’t consider the revision process when they quote a job. Making sure that revisions are included really helps you out three ways. First, if something is not working the way you thought it should or because there was a miscommunication of some sort, you are going to need it changed without it busting your project budget.
But this also serves another purpose, because if revisions are included it tells you that your developer it pretty confident in their work. They likely know what to expect because they have done the task a hundred times already. And it also ensures that they have the INCENTIVE to do it right the first time. If revisions aren’t included, well … let’s just say that there is a misplaced incentive to not take the time to do it the way you want it, because you’ll be paying for each change order.
Shopify Developer Question 2 - Do You Have a Satisfaction Guarantee?
A Satisfaction Guarantee is not the same thing as Revisions Included. A Satisfaction Guarantee not only says that the job was done as you expected (revisions), but it means that the project is completed and you are happy with the results. If you aren’t happy, then the task is redone until you are happy. It’s that simple.
It takes a special kind of confidence to offer a Satisfaction Guarantee. And yes … it’s completely true that some people will never ever be happy. But in our experience the VAST majority of Shopify store owners are good business people who expect great performance and know it when they see it. So, make sure that your developer guarantees your happiness.
Shopify Developer Question 3 - Are You a Shopify Expert?
Shopify vets their partner and expert programs pretty thoroughly. Not everyone can get in. And just because someone says – in text form – that they are “experts in Shopify” does not mean that they are actual, official, Shopify Experts.
I am not disrespecting any of the really great and smart developers out there who want to do Shopify work. I don’t blame them, Shopify is awesome and the community is great. But being an official Shopify Expert and displaying the official icon means something … and it's a difference that matters.
Shopify Developer Question 4 - How Long Do You Have to Approve the Project or Tasks Once Completed?
Ok, so let’s say that you have a Shopify developer working on a task and then – over the weekend – you are notified via email that the task is completed. You get to the store on Monday and look around, and it looks pretty good. But then you notice that it’s not working right. So, you reply to the email only be informed that you only had 24 or 48 hours to approve the work.
Yes, it happens.
Look … everyone needs to have a window to review and approve things like this. But a day or two are just not enough. Heck, in a small store you might not even have a customer walk through the checkout on a Sunday in August. You simply need more time, right?
I recommend that you make sure that your Shopify developer allows for at least five days to check the work. A full week is better. That way you have the time to look and measure the impact on business before giving your final blessing.
Shopify Developer Question 5 - Do You Have Experience With Mobile?
Mobile is a BIG deal! Una Vaya Cosa! Le Important Sujet! Gosse Sache! Bol’shaya Sdelka!
OK, I speak a little Spanish (very little) and not really a word of French, German, or Russian. But, it’s true in any language. If you are on the internet and NOT worrying about mobile right now you are making a huge mistake.
All the best Shopify Themes are responsive for a reason, right? As of 2016, more internet traffic arrives at mobile devices than not. And this is only going to get bigger. And since you bought a quality theme (and you did buy a quality theme, right?), your Shopify eCommerce website is going to be mobile-responsive and looking gorgeous on every technology or device platform.
When you add apps and code snippets or tweak the appearance of a site, sometimes you have to make special tweaks to ensure that the mobile user experience (UX) keeps looking great. You might be surprised how many times we’ve been called in to fix the mobile side of some work that someone else has done.
An experienced Shopify developer will know what to look for and how to keep mobile UX issues from occurring. And – if something does get out of alignment on mobile – they’ll know how to fix it as a part of the deal.
Shopify Developer Question 6 - What is your eCommerce-specific experience?
This might sound like a bit of an odd question, right? I mean, it’s Shopify … it’s all eCommerce! Well, yes. But eCommerce is different from other kinds of websites and internet assets. If eCommerce is all you do in your agency, you have a different understanding of things like conversions and cart abandonment and specialized marketing. You get a feel for product descriptions and photography. You have fixed hundreds of inventory issues and installed thousands of shipping and logistics apps.
Being an eCommerce specialist is more than just understanding the code, platform, and technology. It’s just different than if you are dividing your time between eCommerce and designing logos or working on regular corporate sites.
This is especially true when your livelihood depends on the results. You are playing at a whole new level. For example … there are a lot of gifted college ball players who lettered in multiple sports. But you will never hear about a professional Major League Baseball player who is also a professional linebacker for the NFL at the same time. Yes, individual agencies can have dedicated eCommerce staff. That’s perfectly fine. Just make sure that whoever is working on your site eats, drinks, and sleeps eCommerce because your business deserves a pro.
The Six Questions to Ask Your Shopify eCommerce Developer
Six seems like a weird number of items in a blog post. But hey, that’s the list. As always, let us know if you have any questions or need help with a problem of task. We are always happy to help.
Thanks for reading!