eCommerce Guide: From Idea to a Working Online Solution

eCommerce newcomers can be existing shop owners who expand online or quality product producers looking for a new and affordable way to get recognized. Whatever the case, getting there is a matter of meticulous planning and diligent execution. With this eCommerce guide, we also like to include sellers with an existing online shop. Some of our key points or best practice examples may present a challenge to some business models, especially the ones that lag on maintenance or undermine the use of newer tech in eCommerce.

eCommerce Goals

Before anything else involved in getting a website up and running, a careful base strategy is necessary. For any eCommerce project, start-up, or current, we have a few solid points that are worth following:

Goal#1: Objectives

This part is not only about business logic and the reasons for the endeavor. eCommerce Project objectives should include anything from logistics, expenses to the prediction of revenue, and overall success rate. There are a few primary objectives that always need extra attention and are central to the core values of successful brands.

  • Cost Reduction
  • Revenue Increase
  • Retention Strategy
  • Process Usability & Efficiency
  • Awareness & Advertising

Goal #2: Business model/logic

Whether an original producer or reseller, a business model should define the sales process and the best way for the customer to meet the products. With online commerce, many producers find an affordable way to sell their items, skip the middle man, and directly reach the end-customer. Wholesales, even suppliers, quickly adopt a D2C (Directly to end-Customer) models. What’s more — eCommerce has made even B2B into an easy to maintain, a simplified process powered by smart automation. One thing becomes evident: eCommerce changes the weight of business advantages, precisely in a competitive market.

Goal #3: Customers & Prospects

Customers always reside at the core of all business strategies, and the main target in applied advertising. Once your goals and objectives are set on paper, you need to start evaluating your buyers. It would help if you always were on the lookout for improved methods of customer retention and sales conversion. Product quality and how it enhances over time is directly related to customer perception and how companies perceive their best clients. To define your potential customer base, its best you cover these initial steps: find the market potential for your product or service and then segment this initial pool to see what matches your ideal customer profile.

Goal #4: Key Selling Points

When M&Ms finally made a chocolate chip that doesn’t melt in your hand when you hold it, they used it as a Key Selling Point. KSPs, better known as USPs (Unique Selling Propositions) is by far the best conversation points when a sales agent makes a product presentation. USPs are what sets you apart from the competition. In a world where the means to achieve success become even more readily available, everyone with a good business idea goes far when showcasing what makes their products different than everyone else’s, in a strictly positive way, of course.

Our eCommerce guide emphasizes the role of business owners when getting the most suitable eCommerce platform for a commerce project. The decisions they have to make are many, and they come as the right answers to specific questions. We decided to lay these questions. Perhaps you will recognize them from your business perspective. The rest will be unanswered questions that seek attention.

eCommerce Planning Guide - the perfect working online solution
eCommerce Planning Guide - the perfect working online solution

How to start an eCommerce: The Questionnaire

It takes a long time to bring a business idea into a finished product — there’s an elaborate process filled with a demand for important decisions. Reaching a decision-making point comes after giving the right answers to a series of relevant questions. We decided to lay out some of these questions to help you discover what your eCommerce project needs specifically, and how to approach these needs.

eCommerce Goals

  • What are the needs of your business? 
  • What are the goals? 
  • What is the strategy to achieve these needs and goals? 
  • Do you have some KPIs to go with the initial design?

Customer Needs

  • Do you recognize your ideal customers looks like when you see them? 
  • Can you supply for their needs? 
  • Are your future customers comfortable with online shopping? 
  • Can you adjust your business plan to ongoing changes in customer expectations?

Ecommerce Team

  • Do you have the people who can build the tool for your online business? 
  • Do you have a project manager, or a site manager, once the project is complete? 
  • Does your team have the cumulative knowledge and expertise for the task ahead? 
  • Do your decision-makers influence the course of product development? 
  • Running an eCommerce team, do you know where the organization starts and how roles and responsibilities are best distributed and managed?

Communication

  • Did you clearly explain your plans and ideas to your team members? 
  • Is your entire organization on board with this project? 
  • Do all the stakeholders know the possible risks and benefits?

Web Shop Requirements

  • What is the minimum set of functions and internal components needed to satisfy customer needs and business initiatives? 
  • Did you consider all possibly beneficial options that can fit within the budget? 
  • Can you map and analyze customers’ journeys? 

Data Management

  • Are all the types of products for sale defined? 
  • Can you distribute products into meaningful categories, or do each product need a standalone page?
  • What is the presentational value of product photos/images, and do you have high-quality product images ready? 
  • Is there a need to produce an additional asset, like product manuals, greeting cards, etc.? 
  • Does your eCommerce solution support data integrations? 

Project Timeline

  • Does your strategy include a step-by-step plan, and how everything will take place in time? 
  • Did you factor in every detail that requires human, machine, or time resources? 
  • Has your team embraced the idea of how progress should happen over time and their contribution to it?
  • Do you have a project’ roadmap’ with milestones to define critical points in progress?

Finance and Planning

  • Are you familiar with the total cost of the eCommerce platform implementation? 
  • What about some of the long-term expenses like maintenance and support? 
  • Are all assets considered in the budget, including unexpected outlays?

Choosing an eCommerce Provider

Some of the best-case scenarios when choosing an online platform is to choose one that solved most of the present business challenges and needs. Finding the ideal provider is not always easy, considering all the aspects involved and all the different types of expertise involved in explaining them in due detail. For wide-range projects like big retail stores, a proper preliminary consultation can not only give the right choices on a plate but save a ton of time and money by eliminating the wrong or less effective decisions.

So, what else is there you must expect from your eCommerce platform host, apart from the near-ideal match of what they offer and what you want to achieve? Some store owners adventure into the online market just as a way of testing how their products will influence a broader audience. Others already have an online shop, but they need a better one – whether because they chose an obsolete platform before, or their business is growing and can’t fit their existing model. Moving existing online shops into a different platform is always tricky. You need to check if your new eComm tool can integrate all the processes you know work well, and you’d prefer to keep them. eCommerce integration is one of the hot topics nowadays, with all the potential digital stores that like to migrate or expand.

The total cost of the eCommerce platform may seem too expensive compared to what you know best or what you know worked before. However, as market and clients’ needs change, online vendors must adapt to that, and such adaptations sometimes require changes in how the platform operates.

Is your newly chosen platform flexible enough to sustain your present and future demands?

One right way to sort how efficient a platform is is to check what successful companies in your niche are doing. See what tools they use and how this translates to your plan about the future. Many companies invest more initially, and, in time, this high price they paid turns out saved them money in the long run. In eCommerce, cheaper platforms are less reliable alternatives. When it comes to successful eCommerce, it’s best to bet on the better but more costly platform — choices like these prove to be very beneficial.

When eCommerce goes live

Our eCommerce guide is concluding. Your web store is finally complete, and people are checking your products online. Even if you chose the best possible eCommerce platform, the most challenging part of online commerce has only hardly begun. It would help if you tuned in to examine how your store operates as a machine running many processes and runs them smoothly.

Once the wheels start turning, it’s time for observation and analysis. Check what your clients are doing by shaping up persona profiles or seeking a reliable feedback channel. What are your average order values? Do you need to focus on your most popular product or nudge some of your items that get less attention? Answering such question on time help you keep your eCommerce machine well ground, and your customers – happy.

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Author

David Dorr, Head of eCommerce

David is the Head of e-Commerce at CodeCoda where he is responsible to lead several teams of eCommerce specialists. In his previous role as a data scientist for London Metropolitan Police, he was developing deep learning NLP algorithms as part of the Crime Prediction initiative. He then switched over to combine AI with e-Commerce.
He received a B.Sc in Physics from the University of Surrey, Guildford in 1996. With this scientific background, he switched relatively early in his life towards Neural Networks and e-Commerce and has ever since been fascinated with what AI and Machine Learning can do for Online Commerce.