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How to wow retailers part 3: Minimising maintenance and mitigating downtime

Scarlett Reeves

As an ecommerce agency your business depends on long-lasting relationships with retailers. Ensuring their ecommerce stores deliver without any issues is key to this. 

Just like a physical store, online stores need to be maintained, but ongoing maintenance can cause major disruptions, including downtime. Keeping the disruption to a minimum is in everyone’s best interests.

Below, we explore how you can achieve this, wow your retailers, and build long-standing relationships. 

What is downtime? 

This is where a server or network doesn’t respond to a user’s request, and fits into two categories:

Planned – this is to complete software, hardware, or system updates.

Unplanned – when something such as hardware or software failure crashes a retailer’s systems. 

Whether the downtime is planned or unplanned, you need to minimise the effect it has on the retailer’s business, which can cause a loss of income, reputation, and search rankings. 

There are two elements that have an effect on the likelihood of downtime and your ability to minimise its effects:

  1. The platform
  2. Your agency’s internal expertise 

The Platform 

Success in the land of ecommerce can be hugely affected by what platform retailers choose. This becomes even more important when you think about the negative impact of downtime.

Many legacy platforms suffer from technical debt, as a result of early decisions to create an ‘easy fix’ when coding which have led to the platform becoming unstable over time. The result? A need for regular maintenance and recurring performance issues. 

Take Magento; the platform regularly requires upgrades to stay secure and developers speak of coming across various bugs and technical issues.. This can cause extra work and some embarrassment, particularly if your agency recommended the platform to the retailer.

Newer platforms that have been built with support in mind allow an online store to be improved and updated with minimum disruption. Platforms like Aero have a lean core and modular structure that help to reduce the impact on server infrastructure, and reduce chances of the site going down unexpectedly.

When a platform only contains things critical to the ecommerce process like this, it stops the core of the website becoming bloated, allowing for better split testing and updates —  like updating separate modules in isolation — which won’t impact the whole platform. 

Support 

Your agency can maintain retailers’ ecommerce stores more effectively if you have the technical expertise and capacity to deliver that maintenance on time.  

If the platform your agency works with provides the full source code, training, access to documentation and one to one technical support, it makes this easier and less costly for your agency. 

Newer platforms tend to provide extensive support alongside training, while many legacy platforms offer limited or no help at all. 

Greater access means your agency can resolve issues more quickly, rather than having to wait for a remote support team.

It’s also important that you stay on top of news about software changes to the platform you use. Get caught out without enough time to make the necessary updates and your retailer clients could end up with unplanned downtime, negatively impacting their profits and your relationship.

Apps and integrations

Many agencies find that they undertake work to optimise a site only for a plugin to update, which then crashes the site or kills the site speed. The problem arises because the plugins are, in some cases, of poor quality and have been developed by someone who can't be contacted for help.

Aero, which is built on Laravel, works closely with agencies to create the best integrations so the quality is high, while ensuring the creators provide full support.

Laravel has a big developer following, so there is always a community to work on the platform. This means maintenance is within your control, with developers able to control and change the code where it’s hosted, unlike with hosted solutions such as Shopify.

Working with Aero

If you’re looking to provide your retailers with a website created on a platform design to be extensible and disruption-free, while getting full support for your agency, get in touch with Aero today.

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