Since the lockdown in 2020, we have seen a huge increase in requests for e-commerce websites. It’s no surprise, as the number of online purchases keeps increasing every year. But we have found that people can get overwhelmed when they realise just how many decisions need to be made when it comes to building an online store. So we thought we’d break it down and look at what you need to think about when you are creating an e-commerce website.
1. Choose the Right Platform
E-commerce websites are built on software platforms – yes, you can have a bespoke one coded, and if you have the money to do that, great, skip to part 2! If, on the other hand, you are looking for an economical and future-proof way to build an e-commerce site, you need to pick the right platform for your needs. It could be WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce and many more.
If you are working with a team like Kuka, we’ll take your requirements and match them against the top platforms to help you make the right decision, but if you are trying to DIY your website, you need to consider:
- How user-friendly is the platform for both you and your customers? A user-friendly interface will make it easier to manage your website and provide a seamless shopping experience for your visitors.
- Can the platform scale with you as your e-commerce business grows over time? Scalability ensures that you won’t outgrow your platform too quickly, leading to expensive migrations or additional fees to the platform.
- How customisable is the platform? Can you get a website that looks exactly the way you want it to or are there limitations?
- How secure is the platform? Security is non-negotiable when dealing with customer data and financial transactions. Choose a platform with robust security features and regular updates to protect your business and customer information.
- Are there ongoing costs? Opensource platforms like WooCommerce have no ongoing costs, whereas others like Shopify have constant fees. You need to consider your budget and the total cost of ownership, which includes not only the initial setup but also ongoing maintenance, hosting, and transaction fees.
2. Choose a Payment Gateway
Payment gateways are the bridges between your e-commerce website and your customers’ wallets. Picking the right payment gateway can significantly impact your conversion rates and customer trust. Key considerations for choosing a payment gateway include:
- What payment options do they support? Make sure your chosen payment gateway supports a wide range of payment options, including credit and debit cards, digital wallets, and even alternative payment methods like PayPal and Apple Pay.
- How secure is it? As previously mentioned, security is paramount. Ensure that your payment gateway is PCI DSS compliant and employs the latest encryption and security measures to protect customer data.
- What are the fees? Payment gateways often charge fees per transaction. Compare the fees across different gateways and consider how they align with your pricing strategy.
- Can it accept International Transactions? If you plan to sell internationally, check if the payment gateway supports transactions in various currencies and can handle international sales efficiently.
- Does the gateway integrate with your chosen platform seamlessly? Integration issues can lead to a poor customer experience and lost sales.
3. Adding Your Products
Getting your products onto a website is a big job, with lots of considerations that need to be made such as:
- How will you add your products? One-by-one, a CSV upload, a list from suppliers?
- How will you manage stock? Can people back order products? How will you manage stock if you sell in multiple places? Do you need to synchronise with a supplier’s stock management?
- Do you have photos? How many for each product? How are the photos named? If your developer is adding products for you, can they easily identify them with the right product title?
- Do you have product descriptions, dimensions, SKU codes in a way that is easy for you to access?
- Are products going to be simple, variable (e.g. available in different colours or sizes), virtual (e.g. a PDF download), or subscription based?
4. E-Commerce Shipping
Shipping decisions don’t end when you choose a courier there are lots of other decisions that need to be made:
- How is shipping calculated? If it’s by weight, do you have weights for all of your products? If it’s by dimensions, do you have that information?
- What options are available? Is there a flat rate, or will you offer next day or premium options?
- Where do you ship? Are all postcodes treated equally? Do you offer International delivery? How will that be calculated?
- Will you offer free shipping? Is there a code, or how will this be triggered?
OK, I’m going to stop there, as I realise I could go on forever! But hopefully you can see how each of these elements plays a crucial role in shaping the user experience on your website as well as the speed at which developers can set it up for you. If you need help creating a great e-commerce experience for your customers, get in touch.