How to Reduce Maintenance Costs For Your Ecommerce Site

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New online business owners often underestimate the costs their company will incur once everything is up and running. Initial setup and implementation fees are the obvious part, but once your business starts to grow, new expenses emerge, which can be difficult to predict. Even for more experienced ecommerce leaders, increased profitability often brings increased fees. And maintenance costs are among the most challenging. 

Reducing maintenance costs is a key hurdle toward profitability and efficiency. But going about this the wrong way can be disastrous. Remember, these are the expenses that keep your features and apps up to date, the part of your budget that makes sure your site isn’t crashing during high-volume sales days and driving away customers. 

In this article, we’ll offer our best practices on how to reduce operation and maintenance costs for your ecommerce needs. As you read on, you’ll see just how much of this hinges on choosing the right platform in the first place. 

Table of contents 

The need to reduce maintenance costs

It’s no secret that ecommerce has boomed in recent years. It’s an increasingly important part of running your enterprise, to the point that it’s hard to imagine continued success without an innovative webstore, comprehensive customer outreach, etc. But all this can get perilously expensive. This is where managing your enterprise’s total cost of ownership (TCO) comes in. TCO refers to the total of all your budgeting and ecommerce needs over a certain amount of time. Maintenance costs are a key aspect.

It takes a lot to keep an established online business in top form, so it’s easy to accumulate outdated or unnecessary maintenance costs as months pass: upkeep fees, tech support, and so on. 

On top of that, you could be spending far too much for the services you do rely on. 

Cost reduction can positively impact profitability, operational efficiency, and customer satisfaction. If your time and budgeting is freed up to focus on what you actually need, there’s a good chance your customers will be happy. And so will you when you look at your bottom line. 

Traditional methods to reduce maintenance costs

To fully realize your enterprise’s potential, the ultimate solution may be migrating to a new platform. But before we get there, consider the following checklist of more traditional methods to reduce maintenance costs. You may have some attainable wins sitting in plain sight.  

This includes audits, scheduled maintenance, and supplier contract renegotiation. All this ongoing quality control will help keep costs down and operations running smoothly. While these methods are unlikely to offer the total solution you’re looking for, they can be effective for streamlining your ecommerce business to an extent. 

How to reduce maintenance costs

In this section, we’ve outlined the most effective methods of cutting down these costly fees. You may have already started to implement some of our suggestions. But keep in mind these bullet points are worth keeping a frequent eye on as the ecommerce marketplace evolves.  

  • Operational audits can give you a peek under the hood of your company’s systems and processes. What’s working and what’s redundant? What repetitive tasks can you eliminate from your workflow? How can you optimize work orders? For instance, you might uncover a glitch that’s slowing customer support’s ability to respond to queries. An effective operational audit can streamline costs and improve customer experience.
  • Preventative maintenance will help reduce maintenance costs as your business scales. This involves routine, scheduled updates and optimizations, with the intention of catching problems before they become complex, expensive issues. Reactive maintenance—addressing issues ad hoc, as they arise—may appear cost effective at first but should be avoided in the long run. Problems in your enterprise tech stack can compound quickly. As a company grows, reactive maintenance can escalate to an IT disaster, driving away customers with downtime and malfunctions.
  • Supplier contract renegotiation is another method of reducing maintenance costs. An audit can reveal features in your tech stack that are no longer needed or are set to expire soon. Before contacting your supplier about renegotiation, be sure you fully understand your contract, your needs, and the market at large. Then, contact your vendor about renegotiation, keeping in mind the costs you’re most looking to cut and the compromises you’d be willing to consider. Try to focus on your loyalty as a customer and search for areas of overlap between your supplier’s needs and yours. 
  • Life cycle management can reduce maintenance costs by ensuring your IT assets are carefully chosen, configured, maintained, and eliminated when they’re no longer needed. Knowing the life cycle of your assets can help prevent breakdowns. And when you’re no longer carrying assets you don’t need, you’ll free up budget to stay ahead of the curve. 
  • By closely tracking and managing inventory, you can cut down on day-to-day wastage, and ensure the right items are in stock during high-volume sales periods.
  • Optimizing maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) inventory keeps your company running as smoothly as possible. MRO refers to purchasing, storing, utilizing, and replenishing all products along your workflow (for example, making sure replacement equipment and supplies are available to prevent downtime). However, overcompensating can lead to excess goods that waste money and space or could even become outdated before they’re needed. Time spent training staff in your company’s particular MRO needs can be a strong investment toward optimization.  
  • Extending the warranty or insurance period can prevent downtime or expensive repairs for the most crucial parts of your IT infrastructure. 

The optimal approach is choosing an ecommerce platform that will reduce maintenance costs and lower TCO in the first place. Before you get deep into the details of cutting costs, get ahead of the game by choosing the right platform—one with the flexibility to tailor itself to your unique needs. A recent survey from a leading independent consulting firm shows Shopify outperforms the competition when it comes to total cost of ownership both in terms of lower maintenance and licensing costs, as well as higher conversion rates and average order value (AOV). Shopify’s average conversion rate outperforms the competition by up to 36%, and by 15% on average. Consider what your business could be doing with that extra revenue. For some inspiration, take a look at how these 10 multi-million dollar ecommerce companies replatformed to Shopify, and what they’ve been able to accomplish with their added growth. 

Unlock your goals with Shopify

Over time, your company can significantly cut maintenance costs by taking everything we’ve discussed into account. We understand all this might feel daunting. But rest assured that plenty of larger enterprises struggle with this kind of big-picture optimization, let alone a new one that’s just starting to scale. This is where Shopify can help. Shopify Plus removes entire cost structures from your budget by ensuring most of the critical features you need are built right into the platform.

Choosing the right ecommerce platform—one with the flexibility to scale to your specific needs—is paramount. If it feels like you’re outgrowing your current platform, or you’re spending more money on maintaining your existing website than you can afford, we’re here to help. Shopify is proven to increase conversion rates while streamlining the processes that reduce cost of maintenance. As your business grows, we’re prepared to keep it all running as efficiently as possible. 

For more, consult Shopify’s step-by-step guide to ecommerce replatforming

Reduce maintenance costs FAQ

What is preventive maintenance? 

Preventative maintenance is routine, scheduled maintenance with the intention of catching problems early—before they become complex, expensive issues. Preventative maintenance may include automated updates and optimizations to ensure aspects of your ecommerce business, like sales and security, are running smoothly. 

How can Shopify reduce maintenance costs?

Choosing the right ecommerce platform for your needs is the most effective way to reduce maintenance costs. Shopify routinely outpaces other platforms in offering lower maintenance and licensing costs, thanks to the flexibility it gives merchants in adapting to their unique maintenance needs. 

What is the role of operational audits in reducing maintenance costs?

Operational audits provide an in-depth look into your company’s systems and processes, which may reveal opportunities to reduce maintenance costs. For instance, operational audits may expose outdated security subscriptions that are wasting money and/or slowing down internal processes. 

How can supplier contract renegotiation help in reducing maintenance costs?

If your enterprise has identified subscriptions and features in its tech stack that can be reduced or eliminated, renegotiating your supplier contract can help cut down maintenance costs. It is important to set realistic expectations for the negotiation, reflective of what the vendor can offer, in relation to the market and your specific needs. 

How does training the team help in reducing maintenance costs?

Regular training programs are a wise investment for your team. As your IT needs evolve, keeping your staff up to speed on the enterprise’s maintenance goals can help identify new solutions and keep things cost-effective and running smoothly. Think of it as an extension of your regular audits. 

What is the role of technology in tracking maintenance costs?

Technology can monitor maintenance costs in numerous ways, including the tracking of inventory to eliminate overflow and optimizing maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) to ensure all aspects of your workflow are running smoothly.