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3 Important Questions to Answer Before You Start eCommerce Website Development

By Danny Starr on Aug 22, 2018 11:06:38 AM

Last year, over 2 trillion dollars of goods were sold across the world online, and that number is projected to more than double to over 4.8 trillion by 2021.  This growth in online retail is the main reason there is so much interest in ecommerce website development. 

The process of building an ecommerce website is almost the same as building a regular website except there are a few major differences that require some thought before you start development.  Here are the three biggest questions you have to answer before you start. 

What Are You Selling?

It's important that you have a good understanding of what you're going to be selling online because this will determine how you structure your site and what ecommerce platform you'll use.  Are you selling products or services?  It's also important to know if you will be selling one-time purchase products or subscription products.  If you are selling both, then you'll need to be very careful about how you proceed because not every ecommerce platform can handle both. 

When talking about products, we talk in terms of Stock Keeping Units or SKUs, so it's important to know how many SKUs you're selling because that will drive the complexity of the solution you need.  You also need to know if they will be changing frequently or remaining the same.  A few years ago, I worked with a consignment clothing brand that had over 20,000 unique SKUs and over 1,000 of them would change every single day.  Considering that some ecommerce websites will add SKUs a few times a month at best, that's a lot of change that needs to be accounted for.  Most of the simple ecommerce platforms can't handle that so you'll need to prepare a much more robust solution. 

What eCommerce Platform?

As you can see, there are lots of factors that are going to impact which ecommerce platform you're going to choose.  But you also need to consider whether you're going to host your whole site on the ecommerce platform or integrate it with your website.  From experience, it can get expensive really quickly if you need to have a custom module built for an ecommerce platform.  So you should figure out if  your business has complex ecommerce requirements and if it does, consider using a website content management system (CMS) like Drupal or WordPress and then use an ecommerce platform to handle only the transactional end of the purchase process. 

There are a number of great ecommerce platforms out there.  Shopify is great for people looking so quickly set up an online store .  It has loads of plugins and add-ons but they can get expensive if you need lots of these bells and whistles.  Magento is a robust open-source platform that's great for complex stores with many SKUs, but it's expensive, so make sure you have the online revenues to justify the expense.  Lastly, WooCommerce is another simple platform that integrates well with WordPress websites.  So if you have a WordPress website already and want to start selling online, it would be a good choice for you. 

What's Your Plan To Generate Traffic?

You wouldn't believe how many ecommerce websites never generate a single transaction.  This happens because people don't often think about how they are going to generate traffic to their ecommerce store until after they've launched it. 

You should be thinking about ecommerce marketing first.  You should have your plan in place before you even build your online store so that you can be sure to have search engine optimization and content marketing in place when you go live.  Blogging, for example, is a great way to generate awareness and drive traffic so you'll need to make sure you have this integrated with your online store.  Email marketing is also super effective for online retailers so you'll want to think about how you collect email addresses and nurture them into customers


Building websites that can convert visitors into customers isn't easy, but I hope this blog post helped point you in the right direction when it comes to ecommerce website development.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of our marketing consultants to get in touch for a free consultation.  

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Topics: Website Development, eCommerce Strategy, eCommerce Marketing

Danny Starr

Danny Starr

Danny Starr the Director of Marketing Strategy at Cyan. He has been working in marketing since 2001. He spends his free time with his wife Kirsten, their two sons, and their dog Murray.