2020 has taught us that, as businesses, we need to diversify our presence in both physical and virtual worlds. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, it’s prime time to consider how to get your shop online and start to build your presence.
Let’s paint a really quick picture first: You own a brick and mortar store, but have little or no digital presence on the internet. The local government has imposed a lockdown to start immediately. You are not an essentials business so you have to close your doors until the government says it is okay to reopen. You’re now essentially out of business because the lifeblood of your business, your storefront, is closed.
Let’s contrast that with the same situation, except this time, you have a digital presence, a website that allows your business to maintain contact with your client base, and a page to sell your services and products. Now you can still fulfill orders or provide some services as long as they are socially distanced and safe. Sure, you might have to fulfill orders out of your garage or home office, but at least you can still serve your customers and clients.
The difference between the two scenarios above is a website that helps you stake out your digital real-estate, especially during these crazy times.
Read on to find out what 10 questions you should be asking before you start your e-commerce website!
Now that you know you need to build a website or even an e-commerce store, you’ll probably start to have a few questions:
Where to start? How to start? What do you need to consider?
In today’s blog post, 10 Considerations for E-Commerce Sites, we round up a list of questions you definitely need to start thinking about:
 Will you be selling services or products?
This is something that I’m actively working on myself, and that is to figure out what I’m selling: services or products. And, the way your site is set up in terms of integrations and automations can make this process a lot smoother and more optimized. However, today’s post is less about selling “Services” and more about building you a site selling “Products.” So we’ll file this under a post for another day; but before we completely file this question away…. Think about the items in this next bullet:
 What type of products or services are you selling: physical or digital? Courses or coaching sessions?
Different types of products will require different functionalities so you’ll want to map these out as early as possible. For example, if you are selling coaching sessions, you will need to figure out if your clients signing up for these sessions will need to be entered into a CRM, and of they need to pick a time slot for the sessions. If so, then you’ll need to find a WooCommerce add on that allows you to sell these “time slots.”
 How many items are you selling?
This is the first obvious question because the number of items you are carrying in your online store will definitely factor into the time it takes to build your online shop. This will also affect the workflow that you will
 How are you getting your product(s) in to your buyers/clients hands?
This one is incredibly important because you want to make sure you get your clients on-boarded as soon as possible. If this is a digital product, let’s say an ebook, you can set it up so that as soon as the client or customer pays, the download link for the ebook is sent to their email. If they are receiving physic products then you’ll need to look into setting up delivery options and rates. If you are a restaurant doing curbside pick up only services, and you want to build a site to maximize your revenue, you’ll need to account for this pickup timeframe into the site as well.
 What will the checkout process be like?
Is this a cash on Delivery or is this a cashless transaction every time? You’ll want to think through the checkout process for all parties involved. I’ve worked on projects where there were multiple parties involved, so we not only had to think of the checkout process in terms of the customer using the platform, but also the vendors using the platform, plus the project owner running the platform. You’ll want to consider than different layers and checkpoints that need to happen during the checkout process.
 What payment gateway would you like to use?
In other words, how do you want to get paid? Are you using PayPal or stripe or square? You’ll need to find which one makes the most sense for your business. For this particular one, you’ll want to think about the geography of those that you are serving. Then find a service that works within that geolocation. Sometimes you’ll need to look for an app or service that will act like a connector, which hooks up the service to the site. For this reason and for the sake of getting an MVP up and running, if you can just stick with something that is already on the market, by all means, please use that service.
 Is there a brick-and-mortar store you need to connect to?
We mentioned Square above for the payment gateway, but if you have a store that you are running that is a brick and mortar store, you’ll want to think about how you will connect you online store to your brick and mortar POS system.
This is where I failed my last project and it’s not everyday that we look at our failures so closely. But I know now that I need to ask a TON of questions about how to connect services. Just like the Pro-Tip mentioned previously, we need to do extra homework to figure out who and how we will connect services, especially when it comes to connecting multiple systems.
 Is there inventory to be tracked?
This question also goes with the previous question. If you have to track inventory, then you’ll need to consider a POS system that connects to the site. Or does the site act as the POS system for both the site and the store?You’ll want to look at how the flow of data will go.
 Do you need accounts made for the customers?
Creating customer or client accounts are super important for building customer loyalty. If you need a Membership area, what does that look like? What do they need to access in their accounts?
 What other special functions might you need? (For this one: think marketing, business operations, etc…)
Because we love integrating our sites into our marketing platforms…..
Look into achieving these via integration services like Zapier, Automate.io, and Integromat. A note: if this is an app, with more involved shopping experience, you’ll probably end up spending $50K USD for the first version of the site.
A bonus one, consider the features in your online shop, now we’ll need to figure out what features we need to have that are must-haves for the mobile experience, and then what features we need to have that are nice-to-haves. Designing a store for the mobile experience will be vastly different to the Desktop web store experience, so you’ll want to think about this early on as well.
A closing thought:
This is by no means a comprehensive list of questions, but it’s definitely questions to really think about when you are doing your initial research. Of course, your web designer/developer, will help you with this, but it would be beneficial to everyone if you had a chance to think about these questions beforehand.
If you need a website, or have questions, feel free to reach out or book a call at www.tinyoakstudio.com/call
that’s all for now,
thanks for reading!