I`m new to SUN and have been reading through the forums related to
I thought I`d try and contribute a few tips for those of you thinking about
building an e-commerce site.
Having been through this process with several clients I hope this post
sheds some light on the subject of setting up your site and maximizing
your chances for success.
I apologize if this post is not as thorough as it could be. I`m happy to
answer any particular questions.
Before you even begin looking for a web designer (or building the site
yourself) you should really think through your entire sales cycle. Some
really good things to think about early on are:
- How many products do you plan to sell?
- How many new products will you add each month?
- Do you plan on tracking inventory through your site? If not, how will
you account for inventory changes?
- Will your products have variations such as color or size?
- Do you have product photos that represent your product in a
professional manner and build trust with your customers? If not, can you
- Do you have product descriptions that accurately describe AND sell
your product well?
- Do you have accurate weights for your products?
- What will your order fulfillment process look like? Don`t make the
mistake of trying to deal with this "by the seat of your pants". Make sure
you really think about the process of receiving, packaging and shipping
the order. If your store gets busy it will make a world of difference.
- How will you keep the books for your online transactions? Does your
shopping cart offer QuickBooks (or similar) accounting integration?
- If you have a brick and mortar store do you have a way to identify web
revenue separately from in store revenue?
CHOOSING A SHOPPING CART
There are literally hundreds of shopping carts out there to choose from.
Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when you choose a cart.
Before committing to a solution be sure you evaluate a demo.
- Is the shopping cart a mature, well-supported product?
- Is there plenty of support (both from the developer and the user
- Will the cart grow with your needs? Can you add options? Is the
product catalog limited in anyway?
- Does the cart integrate with a good stats package such as Google
Analytics? As your level of sophistication increases as an e-tailer you`ll
want to be able to zero in on your revenue streams and figure out what`s
working (or not)
- Is the checkout process smooth and hassle-free?
- Is the cart SEO friendly
CHOOSING A WEB DEVELOPER/DESIGNER
Shopping cart technology has greatly reduced the technical challenges of
e-commerce. However, there are plenty of subtleties of e-commerce that
only an experienced, professional web partner can help you through.
- Before hiring a developer or designer make sure that you`ve seen their
work or can speak with references.
- Make sure that you have a good "vibe" with the company or individual
as you`ll be spending lots of time communicating with them through the
- Make sure that both you and the designer know EXACTLY what`s
expected from the cart on launch day and get it in writing.
- Establish a timeline to launch day
- If you`re responsible for product photos and descriptions make sure
that you create a delivery schedule and stick to your end of the bargain.
- If at anytime you are unclear about something make SURE you ask
questions. If you can`t get answers it might be time to look for another
Developing an e-commerce site can be a complex (and highly rewarding)
task. Good planning and asking lots of questions will help get you on the
right track toward success as an e-tailer!