A guest post written by Chris Caley, Co-Founder, No Pong – a Saucal customer
The success of an eCommerce-driven business really comes down to how effective your store is. So when something isn’t working, you have to fix it. Fast.
No Pong’s store was a mess – despite our efforts to put things right.
We manufacture and sell an extremely effective, all-natural, all-day deodorant that is 100 percent paraben, aluminum, cruelty, and plastic-free.
Having grown quickly in our first few years with high daily order volumes, this meant – unknown to us at the time – that our physical database was also growing in the background to huge proportions as well.
When a database gets to the point that your hosting can no longer handle the queries being made of it, strange and scary things start happening. Unpredictable server timeouts caused a cascading series of errors that cost us in downtime and lost opportunity costs, and also resulted in gray hair!
We spent 18 months and more than $100,000 trying to fix things. We finally asked WooCommerce for a recommendation on someone who could help us immediately.
They didn’t skip a beat. “Saucal,” they replied.
I won’t get into the details in this article, but you can read about how Saucal rocked our business overnight on their case studies page.
However, I will share with you three critical insights and what we wish we’d known before we spent more than $100,000 and hired Saucal.
Don’t abandon WooCommerce and if you’re on another platform, switch
You will be tempted to blame WooCommerce for everything that is going wrong with your store. We get it. We’d just been through 18 months of technical hell. We were at our wit’s end and really wanted to find another platform. It seemed like WooCommerce wasn’t scalable at all.
We spent close to $100,000 evaluating Shopify and BigCommerce, and really wanted one of them to work. But it was clear they couldn’t do anywhere near what WooCommerce does out of the box.
Things like shipping tables, subscriptions, sales taxes, a great checkout flow, and myriad other functionality that is really easy to implement on WooCommerce, we just couldn’t get working quite right on those platforms. Even then we’d still have needed to spend a small fortune on third party apps to get basic functionality working; each of which in turn come with their own set of external costs, limitations and closed-system risks. So just why is WooCommerce superior to every other platform? Because it’s the gold standard in open source.
Open source is important for two reasons
- Open source means the source code is available to anyone to work on, so the best minds and practitioners are constantly making it better. No closed platform or software as a service (SaaS) could possibly afford to assemble the talent that regularly comes together to improve WooCommerce.
- Open source means no one owns it. So no one can arbitrarily close your eCommerce business. A proprietary eCommerce solution like Shopify or BigCommerce actually owns your content, so they can – for any reason – shut down your online business or tell you how to run your business. At No Pong, we don’t think that’s right.
Make sure the web dev you work with is committed to working in WooCommerce. It’s too risky to go with any other eCommerce platform.
Find a company that knows WooCommerce like the back of their hand
You don’t want to pay someone to learn on the job. We know; we tried that and had only sleepless nights, stress and heartache to show for it.
You wouldn’t hire a divorce lawyer to handle your corporate legal work. Why would you trust anyone who doesn’t specialize in the best eCommerce platform – WooCommerce – with the success or failure of your business?
Also, feel free to ask Automattic – the company behind WooCommerce – for their honest recommendation on who can best handle your problems. They have every interest in seeing you succeed. They’ll look at what your challenges are and make a recommendation based on those.
Ask the web dev company trying to win your business to prove what they can do
Most companies will tell you what they think you want to hear. But what sold us on Saucal was their willingness to put their money where their mouth is and actually prove what they could do for us.
They looked at our site and identified one of the biggest problems we were facing and said: “We’re going to show you how much easier your lives are going to get by working with us.”
Saucal then fixed a whole set of problems by migrating our servers from a platform that wasn’t working for us to one that did work.
Immediately, our lives got better! And that was without Saucal even being on the payroll. They did it on their own nickel to show us how effectively and immediately they could fix our problems.
The web dev you work with needs to prove their worth
Ask the people you’re considering working with to do a test. It’s to their benefit, too. Both teams get a chance to get a feel for each other. Once they’ve proven their worth, you can’t wait to start paying them so they can get going on all of your other issues, and they’ll know they have your trust.
It’s tough enough running your own business without having to fight your own website. If your store isn’t working for you, it’s working against you – and it won’t get better by itself.
But there is hope, and if you find the right web dev company, your lives will improve right away. Just don’t leave it as long as we did.