We’re observing a growing number of companies selling online, regardless of their products on offer. Adding to this the latest restrictions on offline trading, eCommerce is needed like never before. According to Salesforce, in the first quarter of 2020, global eCommerce revenue increased by 20% and by as much as 41% in the last 15 days of March, compared to the previous year. However, creating an online store quickly and without sacrificing quality is a challenge. If you want to achieve that, our article will be a good guide. Below, we describe the information to collect and the choices that await to make the whole process go smoothly.
In this article we will share with you:
- What information should be prepared for web development companies creating an online store?
- What is the difference between a store from a ready-made template and a dedicated eCommerce solution?
- What is an online store engine and what additional functionalities for the store should you think about at the start?
Realizing what you have. Information about the business
Before you start collecting pricing from companies that create websites, it’s a good idea to prepare a set of information about the business and answer a few questions. Another step is to collect the data in one document for easy sharing. Thanks to this, you will save time in contact with a web development agency and better understand what you need.
Collect fundamental data about the company
What is the type of business and what exactly does it sell? This basic information allows to determine how the store should look, operate and through what platforms should be supported to best suit your needs. The company name accompanied with a logo is a must. If the business already has a business website, that’s even better.
At this point, be aware of the target group and its expectations. This will facilitate decisions on promotion channels, communication, store design, and even payment methods.
Prepare a brief for web development company
Before you start collecting quotes, prepare your own brief and send it to the web development company. This will speed up the entire valuation stage – you will be prepared for most of the fundamental questions.
A well prepared brief is a significant communication facilitation that minimizes the risk of understatement. In addition, it will be a helpful “compendium” in project control. You can create such a basic “brief” yourself by answering the following issues.
- STORE SPECIALIZATION
Describe what the store should specialize in.
- PRODUCT TYPE
- NUMBER OF PRODUCTS IN THE STORE
- NUMBER OF CATEGORIES
- PHOTOS OF PRODUCTS
Quality images of the products are an important part of ecommerce stores. You will need this element only at the stage of implementing the store, but keep it in mind when planning the store.
It will be best to create an Excel file with the name, SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), price and category. Such a catalog can be imported later into the store, thus saving a lot of time.
Mark here if the company doesn’t have a website and would like to have it.
- GRAPHIC DESIGN
If you already have a graphic design for the store, attach it to the brief document and describe the functional requirements.
If not, you will have to decide whether you want a store prepared on a template or a design prepared for you. Let’s say that you decide to choose a personalized store design but you don’t have a ready graphic project. Here you can describe requirements. It is also worth sending links to stores that you like and to those that you find unaspiring.
- DOMAIN AND SERVER
Enter information whether you have purchased a domain and whether you have a server for the website.
- DISTRIBUTION COUNTRY
In what country should the store operate? Maybe products will be distributed worldwide? This element is also important at the valuation stage.
- PAYMENT METHODS
Describe here what payment methods the store customers will be able to use.
Delivery options, as well as the type of payment given above, depend on your target group and the contracts you plan to sign or have already signed.
Decide what platforms e-store should integrate with (e.g. eBay, social media platforms). The choice is closely related to the target group and communication channels.
Specify your price range. Remember that the more customized the store, the higher the price.
- COMPLETION DATE
It depends largely on the choices you make. For example: building a store from scratch and integrating it with many platforms will take web developers much more time than putting it on a ready-made template. Therefore, if you care about time, it is important to inform specialists who will help you to choose the best solution.
Choosing the right engine for eCommerce
The most popular platforms on the eCommerce market are WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, PrestaShop and Shoplo. The basic difference between the first two is that WooCommerce is free, while Shopify offers different paid plans, depending on orders and implemented functionalities. In return, Shopify offers secure and efficient hosting with an SSL certificate and unlimited bandwidth. In the case of WooCommerce, you have to look after these options yourself. On the other hand, it has many options for modification.
In terms of product, order and customer management, the platforms offer a similar range of basic functionalities needed to run a store. However, each treats templates, module edition, extensions, and admin panel architecture in a different manner.
The good news is that web development company specialists can do the job of choosing the right eCommerce platform – you don’t need to have this knowledge. They will use information from the brief to help you decide which solution is right for you.
Decision regarding the graphic design
As we mentioned in the brief section, when choosing a graphic design, you can pick a ready-made template or design from scratch.
Pre-made graphic templates are available in the stores of various eCommerce engines. They are almost ready for implementation. The advantage of this type of solution is that it can be implemented immediately, and thanks to visualizations, you can see how the store will look. In addition, it is a relatively cheap solution. It is worth remembering that with this type of solution, editing options largely depend on the template. And its significant changes and customization can take more time than creating one from scratch. However, if your budget is limited, and you probably care about time and a ready, working solution, this is a good choice.
The second option is to create a design from scratch. The advantage of this is more room for maneuver – you can choose what each tab and every effect in your store should look like.
Choice of additional functionalities
You can be sure that if the platform does not provide the functionality to the store, the necessary extension is available in the special markets. Thanks to this, it is possible to add non-standard functionalities to the store, such as various delivery options (e.g. Personal pickup), newsletter subscription or customer feedback.
Plugins will not only help meet the specific needs of business and customers, but also make that even the template store will become more personalized.
What do we recommend – a template shop or tailor-made one?
Finally, depending on your decisions, you’ll have two paths to choose from.
- Creating a store from a commercial template – this is a much cheaper and faster option to start. However, it limits the options for the store’s appearance.
- Store design from scratch – the store is ideally suited to you, your requirements and recipients, but it involves higher costs, which include graphic design, coding, service, and longer waiting times.
There is no one answer for everyone. After all, small or medium business from the retail industry has other needs than a restaurant that sells takeaway food or an online pharmacy.
Therefore, after completing the brief, talk with specialists who will help you choose the option better suited to the specifics of the business, offered products and the needs of customers.