What to consider before creating an eCommerce Website

So you want to create an eCommerce website, that’s brilliant!  But……have you considered all of the following?

A Detailed written eCommerce Strategy

Having a plan can help save you from making mistakes and getting off-target from your original goals. A plan doesn’t have to be long and complex, but you should take some time to put one together as it will prove to be invaluable.

Here are some planning points to consider:

Make sure you understand your market:

Who do you want to target, who would be your “perfect” customer. Multi-channels to market are proven to improve results up to 400%:

Make sure to incorporate these – will you use Amazon alongside your website for example?

Integrate your customers’ shopping experience:

Research customer touch points to enhance the customer journey.

How you will deal with:

Content, Pricing & inventory, Logistics, Service & support, Payment & refund/returns, Security & PCI Compliance. Who would do these tasks, do you have enough current staff with the right skills to cover the additional work?

Easy-to-use purchase process:

You can use specialist eCommerce platforms like PrestaShop, Thirty Bees and WooCommerce, to name a few of the multitude of available platforms.  These have purchase processes already in place to save the user time.

Or are you wanting a bespoke platform, so a purchase process is required to be created. Here at Studio 116, we use eCommerce platforms which we can customise from the start to suit your business needs, so we and our clients are not beholden to larger platforms that can dictate how your site will look.

See our section below regarding choosing the right eCommerce style to suit your needs.

Consider localisation requirements:

Currencies and languages, as these could make a difference to a customer and whether or not they decide to buy. Do you intend to offer free delivery in a specific radius to your business?

Consider customer relationship management and personalisation:

Do you want each customer to create an account on the website, so that they can save their delivery address, payment card details for future orders.

Also, do you want to have a subscription option?

Make sure you select a scalable platform or solution:

You may only have 10 products to start with, but are you planning more in the future? If so, you will need a platform that will easily allow further product additions to the inventory.

Make sure you have a team in place:

As mentioned earlier, do you have the relevant staff with the correct skills for the management of the eCommerce site and the associated work?

Marketing campaigns and requirements:

Have a plan and budget for this and a detailed plan for how you want to market your site to new customers.

Integrate to external systems, suppliers or 3PL:

Do your delivery courier company allow an integration option to your eCommerce platform to allow for faster processing of delivery of orders?

Prepare a social media plan:

Have you identified which Social Media platforms would best suit your business?  Have you staff who will create and manage the content for these channels? How often do you intend to post on each channel? What are your goals for using social media

Prepare a mobile commerce plan:

Does the eCommerce platform you are considering have a specific mobile reactive feature, which allows the full site to be made useable on a mobile device?

Studio 116 offer responsive web design as standard.

Prepare a content management plan:

How will you manage content on your site? Will you have regular frontpage updates for “spotlighting” specific products.  How often do you intend to update product pages and when are you going to apply discounts to products?

Studio 116 offer our clients who use our SEO service, a complimentary content management solution.

Choose the right platform

Now that you have created your eCommerce strategy, it is time to discuss the eCommerce platform and which one could be right for your business.

This is the trickiest part of your whole strategy.  You want to choose the right platform the first time, as the wrong platform could cost your business tens of thousands of pounds, even before you enact the correct platform.

It is vital therefore to seriously consider what you want your eCommerce platform to be able to do and if there are any specific features you would like to incorporate into it.

To start on making a choice – you must fully understand your business goals before even looking at potential eCommerce platforms.  This will allow you to know what features a platform offers will be of benefit to your business needs and goals.

Never choose an eCommerce platform purely on it’s popularity, marketing or recommendations from friends/family etc.

The platform may be just perfect for their business needs, but that does not mean it is right for your business.

5 common types of eCommerce platform:

Bespoke – completely designed from the ground up by your team of web developers and designers.  Or you can hire a web design company/agency to do this for you.

Traditional – this is the most basic platform and is bought for a flat recurring annual license fee.  With this base your internal or contracted external development team build the functionality up from the basic building blocks.

Open Source – Similar to the traditional platforms where you follow the same development procedure, the main difference is that you don’t have an upfront cost of a license.  You will however have to pay for the initial development, implementation, ongoing development, upgrades and migration to other systems.

Cloud based – Some of the traditional and open source platforms have opted to bolt a cloud plugin onto a hosting system, so that they can call themselves cloud platforms.

SaaS based – eCommerce platforms that are SaaS will have mostly been built using a single base code.  eCommerce SaaS platform users will experience the same technology for a fixed monthly fee that covers server use, maintenance, security and upgrades.

Digital marketing evaluation by West Yorkshire digital marketing agency Studio 116 Design

Budget:

Research and budget for all the associated and hidden costs of an eCommerce platform, as some use third party app modules to achieve different features/tasks and these can come with monthly subscription charges on top of that of the main eCommerce platform.

Also, over estimate the budget you will need, that way you will never get a nasty surprise in your monthly accounts.

Studio 116 is different, we offer an inclusive package to get your website up and running and all costs are known in advance, so no nasty surprises!

Also items to factor to are the following:

Maintenance costs:

If you decide to go for a traditional/open source platform, then it is your responsibility in looking after maintenance so your eCommerce site performs to its requirements.  And depending on the size and complexity of your eCommerce site, these maintenance costs can vary and will require you to hire technical help.

Upgrades:

Open source platforms, in particular, require you to download and install updates whenever they are released.  If you don’t install these updates in time, then your platform is at risk to hackers and cyber attacks. Installing these updates does require some level of technical knowledge, so again, you may need to hire outside developers.

Studio 116 will take care of all of these as and when required as part of our service.

Adding new features/improvement:

Consumer behavior changes over time.  That’s why you need to ensure your eCommerce site maintains its relevancy by implementing improvements and adding features whenever it is required.

As part of one Studio 116 package we offer is the optional inclusion of new features and any improvements you may wish or require for your site.

UX changes:

Besides adding features and improvements, you might have to change the overall user experience of your eCommerce platform.  Again, this comes down to changes in consumer trends and behavior. If your current eCommerce becomes too rigid, then you might have to replatform onto another system that allows you make these UX changes – this can be a costly affair.

We are the digital marketing agency for eCommerce

Our case study of Footstools & More is a great example of how we achieved the client’s vision and surpassed it. We are always wanting to partner with clients to help them realise their dreams and we offer flexible eCommerce solutions. Contact us for a discussion on how we can benefit your business.

01924 450 888 hello@studio116.co.uk