As the years go by, online shopping continues to grow at a staggering rate! People are shopping online from their laptops, computers, mobile phones, tablets … and it’s not showing any signs of slowing down!
With this rate of growth, companies are moving their businesses online and the demand for building eCommerce website just keeps increasing.
Being a part of a project to build an eCommerce website is very exciting to say the least. Whether you are the business owner or on the development side, there is a certain feeling you get when starting work on this kind of project. You push to solve design and functionality problems that will develop the end product in an original work that all parties can be proud of!
Building an eCommerce platform is not a project to be taken lightly though. It needs proper preparations or things can go wrong really fast!
Before you move forward with building your website, there are a few key questions you should ask yourself in order to develop a great foundation for working with the development team.
Question 1: What am I selling?
This is the bread and butter of your business. Whether you are selling a handful or ten thousand … you need to know the products inside and out!
Are you selling shoes? What are the brands, styles, sizes, colours, weight, materials, etc.?
Are you selling digital music albums? What are the genres, file sizes, file formats? Who are the artists? Etc.
This information will be crucial when the time comes to start building your website. It will determine things like how the products can be displayed, what categories to have, the different search functions that are going to be available, and so on.
Using this information, and based on their previous experience, maybe the developer you’ll be working with can come up with a unique feature or way of searching/showing the products on your site that you’ve never even thought of before!
You will need to have the answer for this question on lock-down before beginning any kind of work on developing your eCommerce website!
Question 2: Who will I be selling my products to?
Take the time to understand who your customers are. You will need to ask yourself some questions like:
- What age are my customers? Gender?
- What is the average income level?
- What are their purchasing habits?
- What is their general lifestyle like?
- How do they talk / do they use certain words/slang?
… and so on.
Knowing all these details about your customers/target audience will prove invaluable when deciding on the design and content of the website.
Let’s say that you’re selling products for old people (aged 60+). This piece of information alone will probably let you know that you need to have slightly larger than normal text on your website as a lot of people above that age tend to have poorer eyesight. You know that the copy should not have any slang terms, as older generations might not be in touch with or understand it’s meaning. For steps like registration and checkout you will need to spell everything out and make sure you are extra clear (maybe even with small video examples or pictures showing how) because they’re probably not very tech savvy!
Regardless of how you design your website in the end, there will always be people that love it and those that hate it … because in the end we are all diverse and have different tastes. But by having a strong answer to this question, you will ensure that the website you and the developers design will attract the audience that you are targeting!
Question 3: Who will be responsible for product photos and copy?
An eCommerce website that is well designed is meaningless if the product photos aren’t up to standard.
When you pick up a catalog and start flipping page after page looking at all the beautiful, well presented products … you can’t help but feel an emotional connection to what you’ve seen. In your mind you’ve chosen a couple of favourites and even though you might not be looking to buy, you know which one you would choose if you were!
You want your audience to feel that kind of connection with your products, and poor quality images won’t achieve that.
In order to prepare for your eCommerce website, it would be a good idea to already know who will be taking the product pictures for you or even have them ready! You don’t want to be that website owner that has their website launch on hold while they scramble to find or make good photos of the products! This will add an unnecessary amount of stress both on you and the developers.
Having these photos ready beforehand could even give the designer some creative ideas on how to display them on the website!
Just like the pictures of your products are important, the copy that describes them is also important.
The person responsible for this role should be someone who is well aware of who your audience is (2nd question). You don’t want someone writing copy suitable for someone their young age to an audience of people over 60! They need to understand who they are writing for, understand what they like, how they talk, points of interest for them, etc.
The earlier you know who will be responsible for writing the copy, the better. This way they can coordinate with the developers on the length of copy for each section or product description and how it will be displayed!
Question 4: What is my marketing strategy going to be?
What good is an eCommerce website that is very well designed, has some really high quality pictures of products and good copy all across, if no one is going to visit it?!
This is probably the most important of all the questions to ask yourself! How you set your marketing strategy will determine which potential customers you will attract to your new website.
Marketing your eCommerce website efficiently will do wonders for it on the long run! You will need to focus on things like:
- Good content
- Marketing on social media
- Proper SEO tactics
- Email marketing
- Offline marketing
If you don’t think about these different aspects of marketing before you start developing your website, you might reach a point where it has launched and you’re still struggling to get any return on investment.
Be prepared! Thinking the marketing strategy through a bit in advance will help you have everything in place once the website launches so you can start making returns on your investment asap!
Question 5: How will I secure my website?
As the owner of an eCommerce website you will be responsible for handling a lot of sensitive information for your clients (credit card info, full name and address, etc.). There are rules and regulations for security compliance that you must follow.
If these rules aren’t carefully taken into consideration when building your site it can result in some serious fines and your company’s reputation will suffer a HUGE blow!
In order to be prepared, read up on all the rules and regulations so you have an idea of what needs to be done. This will prove very helpful when starting development on your site, if for any reason the developer oversees or misses one of the security rules, you can save your company’s reputation and money by identifying what needs to be done before launch!
Question 6: How will I ship the products?
Having the answer to this question before development is vital. Depending on how you want to apply it, the process of integrating the shipping section into the eCommerce website will vary in complexity!
Are your products going to be integrated with a shipping vendor? All of a sudden things just got a bit more complicated when developing the site! And not to say that complicated is unachievable or bad, but knowing the answer to these types of questions will help identify what the website needs to be like early on.
Maybe you’d like to have your own set of shipping rules where if a customer orders over X amount of products in one order, they will get a certain discount on shipping or even for free. Implementing that into your eCommerce website will be different than applying a standard shipping method.
Think about this in advance and when the time comes, speak to your developer about it and let them know exactly how you’d like your shipping system to be applied … by doing this you will be on the same page and squeeze out most room for misunderstandings and errors!
Now that we’ve gone through the 6 most vital questions to ask before developing your site, make sure you really take the time to think them through.
A lot of companies underestimate the importance of planning and thinking ahead on these core issues and think that they’ll figure it out as they move along and save some time. But in the end they find themselves splashing out way more money, having delayed launches, or things get really complicated further into the development of the site because there wasn’t proper communication from the start.