A couple of nights ago I was concepting an ecommerce solution for a friend-of-the-family small jewelry business using the shopify platform. For $24 a month and very little time on my part, I could have a fully functioning ecommerce solution I could confidently hand over to a non tech-savvy small business client with the assurance that they could easily update their catalog, blog, and secondary content pages without much hand holding from me. Plus, the front-end was almost completely customizable, template-driven, and already contained many of the SEO and ecom techniques we covet in the world of corporate ecommerce (SEO, Google Sitemaps, etc., etc.).
I was incredibly excited at the prospect of introduing it to this business. As with most businesses recently, the downturn in the economy has hit him hard. This well-built, cheap, and easy to learn tool could be the key to opening up avenues of business he may have never dreamed of — and an opportunity to level the playing field against the giants of his industry.
It’s just this leveling of the playing field that should be an ever-growing concern of large ecommerce sites across the web. My bread and butter comes from working at a large corporation selling consumer electronics. One thing you should (or maybe do) know about many corporate web shops is they are slow, lumbering giants when it comes to current trends, standards, and change. Often times their web operations are controlled by outside consulting firms, which in my experience are mired in the same red tape that prohibits progress in their clients. Or better yet, the big consulting firms actually inhibit progress with their lack of knowledge (or is it denial?) of the way things work. Regardless of the situation, just keeping up is incredibly expensive, difficult, and time consuming. And once a corporate project is approved, funded, fought over, and finally implemented, the new concept or fix has already fallen woefully behind the technology curve.
Meanwhile, smart new startups continue to emerge to wage a battle against the big guns for marketshare — hence the title of this piece, “Guerrilla Webfare”. These nimble, agile, savvy, forward-thinking groups have the ability to take big chunks of market share away from big corporate sites. Outside of the sheer number of products, what advantages do larger corporate web operations hold over their smaller counterparts?
If the corporate ecom sites of the world truly want to deliver the best to their customers and continue to survive and thrive, a different mentality has to be put into place. Adopting iterative, agile practices on flexible core systems is key. Embracing and implementing standards makes the internet a better place for all. And for God’s sake, stop paying through the nose for overly-expensive consulting that has little ROI and cripples innovation when you could be passing those savings on to a grateful and deserving consumer.