November 15, 2013

3 Small Business E-Commerce Lessons Learned From The Health Insurance Portal Debacle

online storeNo matter which side of the Affordable Care Act you fall onto, most camps now will say that regardless the intention, the actual implementation and launching of the health insurance website was a complete and utter failure.  With Cyber  Monday nearly upon us, I thought this would be a good time to look at some of those lessons learned to make sure your e-commerce website is running smoothly in advance of all the holiday internet shoppers.

  1. Know when to hand the reigns over to the experts.  No matter how prestigious your background, if you do not have technical expertise then find someone who does to help you through the process.  Politicians don’t make good IT guys and neither do you unless you used for work for Amazon or SAS before moving over to the food world.  An expert will be able to make sure that your site works the way you want it to and make sure that all those little things you haven’t thought of (like security certificates, merchant accounts, etc.) are all in place.
  2. Do some stress testing.  How much traffic can your website bear before it simply buckles under?  In my own past I’ve managed to take down one company’s servers because the management team underestimated how much traffic would be driven to the new e-commerce site.  Granted, you may not be hitting the maximum traffic point just yet, but do you know what it is and do you have warning systems in place to let you know when you’re getting close to that point?
  3. Does your shopping cart make sense?  Once someone commits to buy, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to seamlessly complete their purchase and get on with their day.  Making them jump through hoops like making it mandatory that they sign up for a username and password or making it so that they can only call to redeem promo codes (both of which I’ve seen in the past weeks) will turn a customer off faster than finding a hair in their food.  I hate to say it, but unlike the health insurance portal, in this instance your customers do have other places they can go to get similar products and if you’re website is too frustrating they will seek out alternatives.

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