Building a robust and functional eCommerce site is pivotal for your business’s success. Whether you’re a seasoned retailer or a startup, the online domain has become a playground of potential and growth. However, diving into eCommerce without adequate preparation can lead to disastrous results. Let’s help you build your arsenal with questions and solutions that are fundamental to creating a successful eCommerce site.
1. What do you need to set up and build an eCommerce site?
Solution: At a fundamental level, the essentials include:
- A business plan and strategy.
- Product catalog (with descriptions, images, and prices).
- Domain name.
- Hosting provider.
- eCommerce platform (e.g., Shopify, WooCommerce, Magento).
- Payment gateway.
- SSL certificate for security.
- Design and user interface.
- Mobile responsiveness.
- SEO optimization tools and strategies.
- Marketing and analytics tools.
2. How do we establish critical KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
- Start by understanding your business objectives.
- Define metrics that directly correlate with these objectives, such as sales, conversion rates, average order value, etc.
- Use analytics tools to track and evaluate these KPIs regularly.
3. How do we identify competitors that have effective websites?
- Use competitive analysis tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or SimilarWeb.
- Analyze top-performing sites in your niche.
- Look at customer reviews and feedback to gather insight.
4. Where can we find websites in different industries for inspiration?
- Platforms like Awwwards, Behance, and Dribbble showcase high-quality web designs across industries.
- Research popular sites in unrelated industries to identify unique features or designs that could be incorporated into your site.
5. How should we determine our key deliverables?
- Outline the project scope clearly.
- Break down the project into phases and set milestones.
- Clearly communicate expected outcomes at each phase.
6. How do we identify key stakeholders?
- Look within your organization: include departments like marketing, sales, IT, and customer service.
- Engage with external stakeholders such as suppliers, distributors, or any third-party integrations.
Open-source vs. SaaS eCommerce Platform
7. What is an open-source eCommerce platform?
- It’s a platform where the original source code is freely available and can be redistributed and modified. Examples include Magento, WooCommerce, and PrestaShop.
8. What are the pros of open-source eCommerce software?
- No licensing fees.
- A large community for support.
- Flexibility in hosting options.
9. What are the cons of open-source eCommerce platforms?
- Requires technical expertise.
- Maintenance and security are your responsibility.
- Potential compatibility issues with third-party extensions.
10. What are SaaS eCommerce platforms?
- These are platforms offered as a service, where hosting and maintenance are provided by the company. Examples include Shopify, BigCommerce, and Wix.
11. What are the pros of SaaS eCommerce platforms?
- User-friendly, often designed for non-technical users.
- Regular updates and maintenance are taken care of.
- Built-in security measures.
- Scalable based on business needs.
12. What are the cons of SaaS eCommerce platforms?
- Limited customizability compared to open-source.
- Monthly or yearly subscription fees.
- Limited control over hosting and technical aspects.
13. Verdict: Open-source vs. SaaS eCommerce solutions. Which should I choose?
- For complete control and customizability: Open-source.
- For ease of use and quick setup: SaaS.
Questions to Ask an Agency When Developing an eCommerce Site
14. What experience do you have in my industry?
Solution: Request a portfolio or case studies to see past work and results.
15. Can you provide references from past clients?
Solution: Speak directly to past clients for feedback on their experience and results.
16. What is your approach to user experience and design?
Solution: Ensure the agency values user-centric design and tests designs for usability.
17. How will my site be optimized for mobile?
Solution: The agency should prioritize mobile responsiveness and mobile-first design.
18. How do you handle site security and data protection?
Solution: The agency should have measures in place for regular security updates and compliance with data protection regulations.
19. What SEO strategies will be implemented?
Solution: Expect comprehensive SEO techniques, including on-page optimization, keyword research, and backlink strategies.
20. How will the site’s performance be monitored post-launch?
Solution: The agency should offer analytics and performance monitoring services.
21. Can the site scale as my business grows?
Solution: Ensure the chosen platform and design can accommodate future growth and features.
22. How do you ensure the site is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities?
Solution: The agency should adhere to web accessibility guidelines such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) to ensure the site is usable by everyone, including people with disabilities.
23. What training or post-launch support do you provide?
Solution: Look for agencies that offer training sessions on managing your site and post-launch support for any technical difficulties.
24. How often do you communicate progress during development?
Solution: Regular updates, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly, are essential to stay aligned on goals and expectations.
25. What content management system (CMS) do you recommend and why?
Solution: The chosen CMS should be user-friendly, scalable, and compatible with your needs, whether that’s WordPress, Magento, or another platform.
26. Will I have full ownership of my site and all its content post-launch?
Solution: Ensure you retain full rights to your site and content. The agency should merely be the developer, not the owner.
27. How do you handle third-party integrations like payment gateways, ERP, or CRM?
Solution: The agency should be familiar with integrating and troubleshooting the third-party solutions that are critical for your business operations.
28. What is the estimated time for project completion?
Solution: Establish a realistic timeline, with milestones, to ensure your project stays on track.
29. How do you handle website backups and potential data loss?
Solution: Regular, automated backups should be a standard offering, with clear protocols for data recovery.
30. Can you assist with setting up an email marketing solution?
Solution: The agency should either provide email marketing setup or guide you in integrating with popular platforms like Mailchimp or Klaviyo.
31. How is website speed optimization handled?
Solution: Speed optimization techniques, such as CDN use, image optimization, and efficient code, should be implemented.
32. Do you offer ongoing website maintenance?
Solution: Regular updates, security checks, and performance monitoring should be part of the maintenance package.
33. Can the website support multi-language and multi-currency features?
Solution: If you’re targeting a global audience, these features are essential. The agency should have experience implementing them.
34. What is your policy on revisions and changes during development?
Solution: Understand how many revisions are included and any associated costs with changes outside the project scope.
35. How do you test the website before launch?
Solution: Comprehensive testing, including functionality, usability, and compatibility testing, should be conducted.
36. What strategies do you suggest for driving traffic to a new eCommerce site?
Solution: Recommendations might include PPC advertising, SEO optimization, influencer partnerships, or social media campaigns.
37. How do you handle potential website downtimes?
Solution: A protocol for quick issue resolution and minimizing downtime should be in place.
38. Can the site accommodate affiliate or reward programs?
Solution: If these programs align with your business model, the agency should facilitate their integration.
39. How do you ensure a smooth checkout process for users?
Solution: User experience testing specifically focused on the checkout funnel will ensure conversions aren’t lost at the last step.
40. Will the site be optimized for voice search?
Solution: As voice search becomes more popular, having a voice search optimization strategy can set you apart.
41. What strategies do you implement to reduce cart abandonment?
Solution: Techniques could include cart recovery emails, exit-intent popups, or streamlined checkout processes.
42. How will customer reviews and testimonials be integrated?
Solution: A system for collecting and displaying reviews, such as Trustpilot or an integrated solution, should be provided.
43. How will the website handle returns and refunds?
Solution: A clear and automated process for handling returns, processing refunds, and communicating with customers should be set up.
44. How will the site be kept up-to-date with changing eCommerce trends and technologies?
Solution: The agency should offer updates and recommendations as the eCommerce landscape evolves.
45. Do you have experience with setting up subscription models or recurring billing?
Solution: If this aligns with your business model, ensure the agency can implement a seamless subscription system.
46. How will customer data be protected?
Solution: Implement robust security measures and ensure compliance with data protection regulations, like GDPR or CCPA.
47. How is the website’s search functionality optimized?
Solution: Advanced search features, filters, and predictive search can enhance user experience.
48. Can the site handle high traffic volumes during sales or promotions?
Solution: Scalable hosting solutions and load testing will ensure your site stays up during peak times.
49. How will the site integrate with social media platforms?
Solution: Features might include social share buttons, social login options, or even shoppable Instagram feeds.
50. How do you plan to measure the success of the website?
Solution: Beyond KPIs, regular audits, and performance reviews will gauge the site’s success and areas for improvement.
This comprehensive checklist should arm you with the necessary questions to ensure your eCommerce site is built on a solid foundation. By proactively addressing these concerns, you’ll be better positioned for online success.