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eCommerce Website Design Development & Planning

18 Questions To Address For eCommerce Website Success

Introduction

If you’re new to eCommerce or aren’t reaping the rewards of your current eCommerce efforts, this post is for you.

COVID-19 has catapulted eCommerce five years into the future, and it’s doubtful things will revert to the way they were earlier. to exactly the way they were before. Every business selling products, goods, and even services must have a means of offering online purchases or face the threat of extinction.

An eCommerce store in combination with your physical store can help you find new revenue streams and breathe life into your business. Your customers now expect a seamless, user friendly buying experience, and we’re here to help.

Our eCommerce experts have put together an e-book detailing 18 questions to address for eCommerce success. This blog post contains excerpts from the e-book. Incorporate these into your eCommerce website and see the difference.

You can also request for your free copy of the e-book here.

1. Is eCommerce The Only Purpose Of The Website?

This first step is critical. Building the site’s underlying architecture will depend mainly on the answer to this question, especially if the website will serve multiple purposes. Not only will it influence design and content, but it will also inform the development of your ecommerce website, including what platform to use.

2. What type of products or services will the site be selling?

This may seem like an easy question to answer, but many transactions happen online that you may not think are ecommerce related but are. eCommerce comes in many different forms. Downloading a paid software is an ecommerce transaction.

You will need to think of the delivery methods, formats, how many steps in the process, assigning inventory to online vs. in store, shipping costs, taxes, credit card processing procedures, and more.

3. How many different products will you be selling online?

This question answers how large or small your site will be. If you’re using an ecommerce platform, database size requirement matters.  Cloud hosting costs are based on size/ bandwidth needed.

4. Will these products be broken down into different categories?

This step is critical when setting up the structure for your ecommerce website. Creating logical categories and sub categories allows for easy categorization of your products and creates a customer friendly product navigation. It also makes it easier to showcase related products, which could entice shoppers to purchase more items.

5. Will your products have any special attributes?

If your products will have special attributes, such as shirts in different sizes and colors, your ecommerce website will need to track stock variations based on these attributes. In this case, each shirt size and color will be a separate stock keeping unit (SKU), which will help you keep track of product stock by size, color, etc.

6. Do you have existing photography for your products?

Outstanding photography is key to your online success. Great product photos help make the sale. It’s highly recommended to have professional product shots for every item you sell on your site and from multiple angles. However, this does create a large number of files and a massive bandwidth demand, so your web developer must know how to compress your product images and make them responsive, so
they are compatible with all devices.

7. How will you ship to the customer?

You need to ask yourself if you will charge shipping separately and, if so, what shipping methods will work best for your order fulfillment process. There are a many aspects to consider:

  • Will you charge exact shipping costs through a real time direct link with a shipper such as DHL, UPS, FedEx?
  • Will you charge a flat rate shipping depending on geolocation?
  • Will you offer free shipping over a certain value, or as a special offer from time to time?
  • Will you provide a shipping tracking number? Will this be emailed to your customers automatically upon shipping confirmation?
  • Will you be shipping internationally?

The shipping experience directly impacts the user experience. When it comes to online shopping, the customer experience doesn’t end until they have received their merchandise, and ideally, promptly and on time.

You’re going to want everything to be fully automated properly from the beginning to create a great customer experience.

8. Will you need to charge VAT on your orders?

The general rule of thumb is you charge taxes based on where the product is delivered. So, depending on where you sell from and where you ship to, this could be a logistical nightmare if not planned out accordingly. To correctly build an ecommerce site taking sales tax laws into account, your ecommerce website development agency must know where and how you want to charge tax. The agency can then set up the tax tables and reports appropriately.

9. Do you have a merchant account or online payment gateway?

Payment gateways provide an alternative payment option for customers cautious about sharing their credit card info with every site they purchase from. They can store that information securely with a service like PayPal. Letting your web development agency know upfront that you plan to use an online payment gateway ensures this is properly set up from the beginning.

The payment process is part of the overall user experience, and the more integrated it can be with your site, the better.

10. Will you have any recurring billing?

This question mostly pertains to businesses that sell subscriptions, licensed products, or services that can be paid for over a period of time. Recurring billing will require the addition of a subscription module to be added to your ecommerce site. If you need to process regular payments, be sure to bring this up in your initial conversations with your ecommerce developer.

11. Will you need to set up differential pricing?

Many store owners offer discounts to wholesalers. From an ecommerce website development perspective, special pricing based on a
user’s account type is a feature that can be accommodated. Wholesale pricing is often a fixed percentage discount.

Similarly, will you be offering volume-based discounts?

At times, membership sites only allow certain customers to view specific products. Or they offer portals to wholesalers or distributors that cannot be accessed by retail clients.

It’s best to discuss all these scenarios upfront with your ecommerce website development agency and have precise requirements for everything you want to do.

12. Do you need to track product inventory?

Retailers must think about their inventory levels. It needs to be decided upfront what a customer sees when an item is out of stock on your site and how you will notify them when stock is replenished or will no longer be available. Will you be offering backorders so customers can still purchase an out of stock item? Will you offer a waitlist? And if so, will the item be shipped once received, or will the client have to complete a new order?

13. Do you need your ecommerce website to integrate with other systems?

Are you looking at integrating your ecommerce website with other platforms? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of potential integrations, including:

  • Accounting system
  • Inventory system
  • Client management system
  • Marketing communications system
  • ERP system

Plan your technology stack carefully and deliberately. An intelligent marketing agency can walk you through your options before your website goes into development and help you select the best solutions for your particular business.

14. What reporting and email workflows do you require?

Do you need:

  • An email per order
  • Manual review of orders in backend
  • Daily picklist summary with printable shipping labels

This question will help you outline:

  • What emails your customers receive when they place an order
  • What emails they get when you fulfill that order
  • What emails get sent to your website visitors that abandon the shopping cart
  • And more workflows

These types of emails can be built into the website’s functionality, and you can customize the copy and the design to your specific needs. Emails to your customers can be an excellent opportunity to upsell or tell them about other items they may be interested in as well.

The same is true for internal notifications to your team:

  • How are you and your team notified of a purchase? How do you review orders?
  • Do you receive an email, or is it a manual pull on the backend?
  • Do you receive a summary with printable labels?
15. Do you require a multilingual website?

You want your customers to have a unique and regional experience and not feel left out. You should investigate whether you need to serve your site in different languages.

16. Do you need your site to accept multiple currencies?
  • Will currency be based on IP address? Or the final shipping address?
  • Do you require a dropdown to change the currency?
  • Will currency be based on one price, or will you fix the price in each currency (using no exchange rates).

Just like supporting different languages, supporting various currencies is becoming more critical in the ecommerce space. Furthermore, it would be best if you determined which factors will influence which currency a customer sees. Will it be based on an IP address? Shipping address? Or some other aspect entirely? Will this be automatic, or will visitors select their currency preference manually? And if so, can they change their currency at their end?

17. Do you need to import or migrate data to the new site?

Data is business gold. A data import/migration has the potential to be a significant and exacting job depending on the size of your site. It involves migrating all your data, including customer information, order data, product data, images, and any number of other data points you need to have access to within your ecommerce site.

We highly recommend you complete a data back up before you migrate anything to your new website platform. Enlist your web development agency’s help to complete your data migration to ensure a smooth  transition for your business and your customers.

18. How to choose an ecommerce hosting provider?

Choosing the wrong ecommerce hosting service can cost you money, time, and headaches. What works for you now may not be ideal in the future. It’s important to find a host that strikes a balance between your budget, website development needs, support requirements, and growth potential.

There are several ecommerce hosting providers, from enterprise grade services like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, mid range solutions from Woo Commerce and Shopify, to small business solutions like Wix and Weebly.

The bottom line is to find the one suitable for your business today and into the future as you scale. Helping you decide which hosting company to use is a choice your marketing agency can help you with.

Summary

As we prepare for what the future of commerce holds, there’s only one thing that’s certain: the in store shopping experience has changed irrevocably. Businesses must be mindful of how consumer behavior has shifted and what services and experiences are now expected of all brick and mortar shops.

To give you just one example, Shopify merchants had recovered 94% of lost in store revenue by moving online and using features like curbside pickup as of early May 2020 – i.e. on average, within less than 3 months of the onset of COVID-19.

And there’s more change coming with augmented reality taking hold. Customers can view your products in their own space online. Messaging apps have started to outpace social networks when it comes to where we spend our time, and conversational commerce is beginning to take
hold.

And, of course, if you need any help doing that, you know how to seek us out!

Have a look at some of our website design and development credentials – both ecommerce and other.

Read our website design and development success stories.

We, Gr8 Services are a leading digital marketing agency, based in JLT, Dubai; and part of WSI – the world’s oldest and largest digital marketing agency headquartered in Toronto, Canada. WSI has won the WMA (Web Marketing Association) Top Agency Award  for 2 years in a row – for 2020 and 2019. Know more about WSI

This blog post is extracted from a WSI E-Book authored by WSI Consultant Heidi Schwende. 

Would you like a free copy of the e-book? Please share your details below and we’ll email it to you right away!


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