Starting an E-Commerce Website
So you’re ready to develop an e-commerce site for your business. How do you start? What questions do you ask developers and firms? We’ll cover some of the most important questions you’ll need to ask in order to get a fair, accurate and most importantly, affordable solution.
E-commerce websites, put simply, allow you to sell your products online. There are a number of things to consider before developing an e-commerce website though:
- How many categories is the website going to start with?
- How many products?
- Do you have all the information ready for the listings?
- Do you have all the images for the products?
- How will inventory be controlled?
- How will you accept payments?
These are some preliminary questions I always ask my clients. An effective way to save money on the development of your e-commerce website is to be prepared with the content and know what you want. Of course, it is the responsibility of the developer to guide you through the process, but by knowing what exactly you want and having your content ready, you will save valuable time in programming and designing, which will in turn save you money.
One way I work with clients is to concentrate on the design work first- this builds the frame work for the website and helps you visualize the needed functions like “tell a friend” or “newsletter signup”. This way, if my client thinks of a new function they want to add, it is not costly to implement as the detailed programming has not started. This also gives the client time to prepare their information and inventory, so when the programming is complete, the developer has the content to begin beta testing.
Payment gateway refers to how you will accept payments online. Some options like PayPal are excellent to begin with, as it is free to sign up, and they charge a small commission on transactions. Most importantly, any proper developer knows how to implement the PayPal system as a payment gateway. For a more corporate feel, speak to your bank about their “Merchant Account” options. Some clients I have worked with have found it tedious to work with a bank to accept payments online, some said it was a simple process. Speak to your personal banker for details.
Remember to take your time in beta testing as this is the final stage in development. By the time you are in beta testing, the e-commerce website should be 100% functional, should have all the real content, products and information, and you should have been able to successfully order products online. Make sure to go through every function properly, as once you have signed off on it many developers will wash their hands of the project…! I suggest taking 2-3 days to properly test your system.