There’s an awful lot to think about when making the decision to launch an online shop, and it’s worth being very clear on the requirements before any design or development begins. This will ensure we select the right tools for the job and engage the right people to create the look of the site.
Shop Front (Appearance)
- What other sites do you like the look of?
- Do you have an existing logo, branding or colour scheme?
- Do you need logo and branding to be created for you?
- Should the front page have a welcome message, a carousel of images, static images, latest offers or a combination of features?
Products – what you are selling
- What type of products do you sell?
- How many products will you sell online (approx.)?
- What specific product information do you wish to display online to aid your customers in the buying process?
- Do your products have options? For example, do products have choices of size, colour, material, etc
- Approximately how many images will each product have (max)?
- Would you like to show related products when customers view a product?
- Are your products non-physical such as downloads, membership, etc?
Categorisation – how your products are organised
- Should products be grouped together into categories? This can help users find what they need more efficiently, particularly if you have many products
- If so, how many categories are required (approx.)?
- Do you need multiple levels of categorisation? e.g. Boys Clothes -> Shirts Trousers Jackets
- Would you like users to be able to search for products on your website?
Discounts & promotions
- Will you need to offer your customers discounts on your products such as vouchers or coupons?
- Will you need to offer discounted or promotional prices? Such as Christmas or Valentines promotions?
Delivery / shipping
- Are your products shippable and do you charge for delivering your products to your customers?
- What structure do you use for this?
- Flat rate
- Weight based
- Cost based
- Size based
- Other (please detail)
- Do you intend to ship orders abroad? If so, how does this affect your delivery charges?
- Are you VAT registered?
- Are all your products VAT applicable?
- Do you have a preferred payment gateway you wish to use ie sagepay, paypal etc? A payment gateway is used to process credit card payments
- Do you want to offer fully integrated payment processing on your website? Most gateways can process the payments away from your site (e.g. PayPal, SagePay Form) which is a simpler option
- If you want to process payment within your site, are you aware of the PCI compliance issues related to this?
PCI is a set of industry data standards and regulations to decrease the amount of online fraud – read more about PCI DSS
- Do you have a merchant account with your bank? Does your current bank offer merchant accounts?
- Do you have the following to show on your online shop?
- Terms and conditions
- Returns policy
- Privacy & security policies
- Company registration details
- VAT registration if applicable
- Contact details – email, telephone, address
- Relevant disclaimers
The majority of these are required by many payment gateway providers before they will authorise your account.
- Do you require customers to sign up for an account before they can order or do you want to permit “anonymous” checkout?
- Do you intend to trade internationally?
- If so, do you require multilingual and/or multicurrency?
Back office – managing your online store
- Do you want your customers to be kept up to date with latest offers and products?
They could do so by signing up to a mailing list either during checkout or using a standalone signup form
- Do you require reporting for your online store?
For example, sales reports, customer reports, stock reports, product reports
- Do you need to be able to manually create orders such as taking telephone orders or orders in person?
- Would you like customers to be able to view current/past orders and manage their account details online?
- Do you have staff that process orders?
- If so, will they need special permissions to do so without editing the rest of the website?
- Do you require your online store to communicate with any external systems such as:
- CRM (customer relationship managers – Sales Force, Netsuite, etc)
- Accounts packages (Sage, QuickBooks, other)
- Other (please detail)
- Do you require bulk product data uploading or will you enter the products into the website manually?
Generally, it is quite straight forward to upload product data and images from an excel spreadsheet or CSV formatted document (comma separated values)
- Do you require web hosting or will you organise hosting yourself?
- Do you require any of the following related features for your store:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) management – meta tags, titles, keywords, HTML & XML sitemaps, search engine submission
- Blog/news section
- Information pages – about us, contact, find us, others
- Mobile commerce – selling over mobile devices (iphone, blackberry, ipad, etc)
- Contact forms and/or newsletter signup forms
- Social media integration and social bookmarking – feeds for Facebook, Twitter and/or You Tube
- Advertising – ability for companies to pay for banner ads on your site
(Thanks to Dev Done Right for the basis of this document!)