What people want most when building an eCommerce site

I could write you seven thousand words on this topic alone. Why? Because I hear the stories. I answer calls via my Clarity account and I hear customers complain. They're frustrated. They're annoyed.

They don't understand why no one else gets it.

And most of the time the developers they're working with explain all sorts of reasons why they can't have what they want.

“We'll need to re-platform your entire site, because this infrastructure won't work.”

“If we knew this up front, we could have built the site to handle this.”

“What you want now conflicts with what you said before.”

All of these are accurate and true responses from developers. I get it.

But they miss something fundamental.

Clients don't know what they don't know.

Because of that, they don't know what to ask for. They don't know what to share up front, vs what to share later.

They know they want to build an eCommerce site.

That's what they know.

As I told an audience recently, we all have mental models of what's supposed to happen, how things are supposed to work, and what we think is going to happen next.

Then, all of a sudden, in a single question or statement, we realize our mental model is off. Wrong. Completely.

Have you ever been in that situation? I'm not talking about eCommerce, web development, or something like that. I'm talking about being in a situation where your mental model is so completely off that a single question shifts everything.

For me it was getting my eyebrow waxed. Apparently I have only one. It runs across my face.

And my fiancé at the time suggested I might want to do something before our wedding day and photos.

At the time my idea of what happens when you wax an area like that is that they use hot goo (technical term) to burn off the hair (it just dissolves), and then a piece of material to wipe up the remains. No pain. No stress.

So as I lay back on a chair, with my head titled back, they put on the wax. It was warm but didn't hurt. I was thankful because I thought all the hair was going away. Then came the material they were using to clean up the area.

That's when her question changed everything. “Are you ready?”

Who asks that when you're just cleaning up bits of dissolved hair? Right?

And then she proceeded to rip off my face.

And this is what we do, every time we, as software professionals, talk to non-software people in the middle of an eCommerce site project where we ask a question that helps them realize their mental model of how this is supposed to work is all wrong.

Enough of the suspense.

Here's what everyone wants. I'm telling you now so that they don't have to tell you.

If you're a site owner, I'm telling you now so you can tell developers up front.

They want an integrated experience.

They want eCourses (or the potential for them).

They want membership sites (or the potential for them).

They want digital downloads (or the potential for them).

They want a customer account page that shows them everything they bought (or the potential).

They want a single shopping cart that holds everything (or the potential).

They want it all (or the potential for it).

And they don't want their customers to have 3 logins, 4 login pages, 2 different systems, or 5 integrations that make customers jump thru hoops.

They want more than an eCommerce site.

They want an eCommerce platform.

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