How to Define the Scope of your eCommerce Website

We get tons of inquires asking “How much is it to create a simple eCommerce website?” Well to that we say, there is no such thing. Before you start calling web design agencies for quotes, you should always have a detailed document with an outline of your website and all the functionalities and features you require. If you don’t know where to start, here are some of the things you consider:

  • Do you already have an identity / logo for your new ecommerce website? Your brand should be incorporated into your website, auto-responder emails, invoices and marketing collateral for consistency.
  • Please describe your business and your website goals.
  • What type of products are you going to sell and are any of them digital? Are you selling wholesale? Do you plan to use promo codes, discount pricing or gift certificates?
  • What pages or sections should your website have? Basic menu items include, home, about us, login, shop, support, blog, news, contact us, returns & ordering policies, terms & conditions and privacy policy. Inside the customer login, you might consider things like customer information, billing information, order history and wishlist just to name a few.
  • What payment gateway are you going to use? i.e., Paypal (Pro or Standard), etc…
  • How does the checkout process work? Where does “return to shopping” go? Do you want to allow custom messages if someone is purchasing a gift?
  • Do you have a list of products you are going to carry? Do you require bulk uploading? Are you going to list different product configurations like colors, sizes, models and options?
  • What other features do you need? You might want to include a newsletter subscription or a rotating call-to-action carousel with links to your best sellers.
  • If you need advanced search or product filters, how will these work?
  • What product information do you want to show? Will you require image galleries, zoom in / out, short/long descriptions, customer reviews, videos, colors, and sizes? Do you want social sharing? Do you want to show recently viewed, related, complementary, best-selling or highly rated products?
  • Do your auto-responders need to be designed? An auto-responder is typically sent out when an order is completed, when it is shipped and some time after delivery, you might want to solicit the customer for a review.
  • Is account registration required or will you allow guest checkout? What information is collected to create an account?
  • Do you need support emails to be tracked with a ticketing system or database? What information is collected in your support form?
  • When a customer logs into his/her account, what functionalities do they have? Some typical features include editing billing and shipping information, viewing his / her wishlist, tracking orders, order history, submitting reviews for previously purchased products and changing his/her password.
  • How is shipping calculated? The cost of shipping may depend on weight, size and handling instructions. Are there only certain countries that you ship to? How will shipping be calculated for multiple shipments?
  • How are taxes calculated? Taxes are usually charged based on the shipping address and vary based on each state. Different tax rates will apply if you are selling internationally.
  • What analytics and reporting, if any, do you need for bookkeeping and inventory management?
  • If you are selling internationally, do you require different languages and prices in different currencies? Automatic translation is highly inaccurate so working with a translator to create a custom translated version is recommended. Some languages like German will consume more space and will impact the how your website looks. Future website updates will impact the translated versions as well.

In addition to the above considerations, another good way to figure out what you want is to go through the checkout process of a few shopping carts that you like and taking notes from there.

Now that mobile users have surpassed traditional laptop and desktop users, your eCommerce website needs to work well on mobile devices if you want your online store to survive the future. A responsive website adds anywhere from 30% – 50% of your budget.

One last big thing to budget for is your marketing budget post-launch. Just because you have built a fabulous website does not mean that the customers will automatically flock to you. You will need some budget for social media marketing, email marketing, SEO and perhaps a modest Adwords campaign. The type of advertising depends on your target market and the cost depends on your industry and keywords.

In Conclusion

Remember that “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and most successful eCommerce websites are launched in phases so budget and plan wisely and be sure to do your due diligence and research.

Ready to discuss your project?