Australian Newsagency Blog

A blog on issues affecting Australia's newsagents, media and small business generally.

Advice for newsagents considering having a website made for their business

Mark Fletcher
April 24th, 2021 · 3 Comments

I urge small business retailers to take care when selecting an individual or business to undertake Shopify web development. Inside the Shopify web developer ecosystem there are people who take the money, do the bare minimum and run – failing the retail businesses that paid them.

How do you spot a Shopify web developer who is not likely to serve the needs of your retail business? Here is my advice …

Look at their quote. Is it professionally laid out? Is it well written? Is it understandable? Is it complete? If it is none or only some of these things they may not be the developer for you for if they take this approach representing themselves what approach will they take representing you?! we say … be particularly concerned about text based quotes.

Look for understanding. In their words there should be indicators that they understand your needs and that they want to understand your needs. The website is all about you and your business after all.

Speak to them. We have seen shonky web developers void this at all costs. Speak to them. Talk with them. Engage in conversation. You are looking for someone you can trust your business with. Speak to them.

Look at them. Ask for a Zoom meeting, so you can meet face to face. Ask them to show you sample Shopify sites in this meeting and to explain why each is a good sample site for you to consider./ Sometimes we see web developers avoid Zoom meetings so they can hide behind typed words. face to face c an be revealing.

Say you don’t understand. Tell them you don’t understand some or all of their pitch. Test their patience. See if they meet you at a tech jargon level that you are comfortable with. Challenge them. test them. It is vital they use words and terms you understand. They haver to meet you, not you them.

Be in control. You are the customer. You choose the web developer you go with. decide whether you accept their quote and their terms. You do these things when it suits you. Do not succumb to pressure as anyone pressuring you on timing may be serving their needs and not yours.

Website development right now is like the 1800s gold rush – fast, unregulated with a lot of people being negatively impacted along the way and only a few finding gold.

Take your time. Be sure of what matters to you. Choose the business you want to work with, they business you think can hell you achieve what you want.

Know that you get what you pay for. by that we mean … some web developers under quote as a business model either because they will cut corners or because they know they can charge extra for what they did not know at the start. Again, take your time, be sure of your needs, and remember the carpenter adage: measure twice, cut once. Time spent before you make a decision on your Shopify web developer could ensure that the outcome is better for you and your business.

My newsagency software company has been developing websites for retailers for years. here are some of the more recently completed sites:


Category: newsagency of the future

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve // Apr 24, 2021 at 12:10 PM

    Further to this Mark I think it imperative that the web developer have a strong understanding of your point of sale software. I have noticed that many web developers whilst suited to service business website development struggle with retail integration. This can be a very costly mistake for the retailer.


  • 2 PJ // Apr 24, 2021 at 1:12 PM

    Get a free trail account with Shopify, Bigcommerce, Square etc and try building a website yourself. It’s not hard to have a fully functioning, although generic looking, webstore set up on Shopify in a few hours. The hard part is getting it customised to your business needs. Stock control and data , including images, on the webstore is a higher priority than overall looks. Don’t get hung up on the look of the website, it may look nice on a desktop and cost a lot to get right but means little because it nearly all disappears on a phone or small tablet.

    If your happy to keep stock separated from store floorstock or carry enough of a product to ensure you don’t oversell online then you could get away with no POS inventory integration. The average newsagent probably can’t stock or store enough product to do this and so needs to risk overselling (a main cause of no repeat business and cancelled sales) or integrating their POS inventory with the webstore. I’d say the majority of so called webstore developers would have no idea how to do this and for POS systems not built with webstores in mind it isn’t easy to do and depending on apps or even custòm programming needed it can cost a lot.

    The other big Con are so called Search Engine Optimization experts. Just read the help articles done by Google about simple but effective ways to get good search rankings. A good webstore developer should already know them and be a default part of the quote.


  • 3 Mark Fletcher // Apr 24, 2021 at 4:44 PM

    1. Don’t keep stock separated.
    2. Only use Shopify as it has the best suite of tools.
    3. Retailers doing their own website themselves successfully are very rare.
    4. The look of the website is key to success.
    5. SEO is also key to success.


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