At one point in time, the sale of software and API fleets was a highly involved affair – the concept of software as a service (SaaS) didn’t exist, so companies seeking enterprise software performed a lengthy buying process, attaining boxed software that required heavy integration assistance. Developers weren’t often included in these sales conversations, nor were they a key part of the discovery or decision-making process.
Fast forward to the current year and the concept of a self-service when creating ecommerce experiences seems like a no-brainer. Self-service technology allows companies to create beautifully branded shopping experiences all on their own empowering developers to implement ecommerce solutions in less time and with little dependence on IT. A developer can hop on a documentation site, read through a getting started section, download a Postman collection or SDK, and they’re on their way to a functional ecommerce integration without even speaking to a sales rep.
Understanding the Importance of Self-Service in Ecommerce
From a brand’s perspective, one of the most important reasons to choose a self-service developer experience is time to market. An implementation that has a store up and running in three weeks as opposed to three months means additional revenue gain instead of waiting for developers to manually string together technologies. Self-service developer resources help brands do this by providing frameworks and extensive documentation, meaning developers can get started right away (and without purchasing anything at all).
With developers becoming a larger part of the buying process, ease of use and accessibility is also an important and sometimes deciding factor in a company’s ecommerce strategy. For instance, if a company requires that all changes to an ecommerce site go through their design department, the developer performing the integration may grow weary of the constant need to ask for approval on small, routine changes. Self-service gives companies flexibility and ease of use to make their own decisions on the fly.
With these factors in mind, it’s more important than ever to evaluate and choose partners with self-service options. Here are the three important things to look for when choosing a self-service ecommerce integration.
1. Thorough, in-depth self-service documentation
Well-written documentation is at the heart of creating usable self-service experiences.
Without a documentation platform that explains in depth how to integrate and configure the solution, the developer experiences significant frustration in creating a shopper experience – if they can’t easily figure out how to implement payment methods, for example, they’ll be missing a pretty serious chunk of their ecommerce site’s functionality.
At its core, documentation should provide:
- A Getting Started or Quick Start section for onboarding developers
- Common-sense descriptions of what their APIs and solutions can do
- An explanation of integration requirements
- Fleshed out tutorials on integration and configuration
These elements are key to get developers up and running. After all, documentation is their setup manual. Self-service ecommerce platforms understand this and provide the most detailed documentation possible.
2. Accessible and useful developer resources
Another crucial element of a self-service ecommerce technology is providing a wide array of tools to test solutions prior to purchasing them. This allows developers to get hands on during the decision-making process.
These resources can even allow developers to start writing code and creating a beautiful ecommerce experience without needing to initiate a sales conversation at all.
Some of these resources include things like:
- API references
- Postman collections with test keys
- SDKs in multiple languages
- Payment mockers
- Test implementation site
Better yet, if a brand decides to move forward with the solution, all of that work does not go to waste – it can be immediately transitioned into a functional, working product with a proper API key.
3. Live, self-reliant support features
It’s a major benefit if an ecommerce solution provides self-reliant customer support options for developers like a detailed FAQ or knowledge base with common questions, well-built support forums, and live chat windows for quick answers to questions. Traditional support channels can be a thorn in the developer’s side. In fact, depending on the kind of support team a developer reaches, conversations can veer into “completely useless” territory.
Investing in a self-service solution becomes a way of lessening the need for developers to leave the documentation and ask for help. Good support should provide not only all of the information a developer needs but also the means to discover answers that they might not already have. Self-reliant customer service features allow developers to search for knowledge and solve problems on their own.
All of these self-service features add up, for both your company and for the developers who are working with your solution. On the developer’s end, they’re saving time in their implementation, quickly testing code, searching for answers to their problems using your extensive documentation, and creating an unforgettable ecommerce experience. For the brand, this means faster time to market, more flexibility from their partners, and a satisfied developer team.