This article was published on August 17, 2017

How entrepreneurs can build a website for the modern economy

How entrepreneurs can build a website for the modern economy
George Beall
Story by

George Beall

The most exciting time in any company’s life cycle is a period of strong, sustained growth. While winning is rewarding, sometimes what got you there is what will keep you from getting to the next level.

When many startup founders are riding the crest of a wave, they’re most susceptible to the temptation that they’ve figured it all out. Although it seems counterintuitive, the risk is real: success today can sow the seeds of future tomorrow.

However, only 10 percent of the Fortune 500 from 50 years ago are on the list today. We know the stories of Circuit City, Blockbuster, and Blackberry, but no entrepreneur thinks it could happen to them. After all, they were the disruptors, the innovators of their time.

The good news is that technology again saves the day. For a young business to thrive, they must leverage technology – sometimes using technology to lessen the need for technology.

Don’t overcomplicate

Website builders go from very complicated, like a WordPress system, to easier and more affordable options like Wix, Squarespace or Zoey. Website builders are  “Nowadays, merchants can easily reduce unnecessary technical complexity around their website,” says Uri Foox President of Zoey, an e-commerce platform that helps digital agencies build their online presence.

“Merchants don’t need to work with developers, understand PHP or learn some proprietary coding language to create a customized site. Today’s tools give merchants more access to things that were previously locked down through easy-to-use tools. Retailers are empowered to manage more site aspects themselves, while handing off other items to agencies they’d prefer to not manage on their own.”

Fail fast

“Don’t get caught in a box. When you fail – and you will fail – make sure you fail fast and fail with a lesson. Failure is a good teacher but a bad habit,” said David Steinberg, CEO of Zeta Interactive. “While it is an investment – of time, effort, and energy – putting the tools in place to scale will be the difference between sustainable success or a flameout.”

Being too rigid can leave businesses unable to adjust quickly to the marketplace. Specific to developing a digital brand, merchants should also leverage tools that empower them to manage their site easily as needed, which they are typically unable to do on an open source platform. Using an approachable website platform allows business owners to focus on what’s important – building their business and growing their customer base.

Second generation merchants

Normally the upgrade path for businesses is to hire an agency to build them a custom site on an open source platform. That process can take months and tens of thousands of dollars. This huge outlay of time and money causes businesses to stay on underpowered platforms for far longer than they should.

“Most merchants have now already established a presence online,” explains Foox. “So today, a big target audience is the second generation merchant, the one who is looking to migrate to a new platform that offers more capabilities or helps them move beyond the limitations of their current platform. eCommerce technology evolves at lightning speed, so merchants are well-advised to research what’s new when it’s time to replatform, so they can take advantage of the latest and greatest.”

By designing solutions that have the merchant’s at the forefront of their design goals, agencies can give retailers the site they need in less time and for less money, ultimately delivering more value to the client. This also frees up the client’s budget so that more money can be invested in high-value areas like marketing and product R&D.

The next steps in ecommerce

Overall, Foox advises, “If you want to stand out and build a brand, sell something unique and target that audience with laser focus. That doesn’t mean that you need to reinvent the things that are outside of your brand. Don’t try to create an experience on your site that is not typical of what customers see elsewhere. Visitors to your page expect to know how to navigate from the product to the checkout in the same way that they do on Amazon and other large sites. Remember the goal of your site is click-to-cash not to introduce some new way of shopping online.”

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