Are you looking for the best eCommerce website development? If so, then you need to learn that such doesn’t really begin with actually… developing a website. Read this post to know more.
We participate in different professional groups, all talking about the technical aspects around eshops, esales and ecommerce website development.
As we -recently- completed another complex ecommerce project (both the website development and the digital strategy parts), we would love to share a few crucial tips with you.
All below occur from our collective experience.
Do Companies Understand eCommerce Website Development?
We admit that there is slight progress on how companies perceive what an e-shop is and what it entails to sell both nationally and internationally. This progress (or baby steps) seems to occur from plenty of mistakes companies did in the past. Yes, that is one way to learn.
In parallel, this progress is enhanced as fresh -better trained- executives are hired from such companies. They are more aware of tools, metrics, strategies, and the possibilities of eCommerce.
All that points to the realistic possibilities of e-stores and online trading, far beyond just “developing a website”.
Our experience with building e-shops with Woocommerce, Prestashop, Magento, Shopify, and CS-Cart is rather useful.
We find how different companies strive to adapt to different methodologies and different types of internal structures, for the brick-and-mortar to online concepts.
They understand that choosing the right platform is crucial, but knowing how to run an eBusiness is far more demanding and goes before any “website”.
More and more companies move away from technological solutions like the Joomla+cart module, or the Drupal+eCommerce module. Such tools/platforms are not eCommerce platforms.
Some may wish they were, but they are not. Even WP+Woocommerce (this may get some people angry) is not a “proper” eCommerce platform, but it is far better than Joomla/Drupal.
So, a deeper and better understanding is on the air. That is good. That is progress.
The Structure of an eCommerce Website Project
To be able to develop a correct eCommerce website, you need to research and find:
- How the company sells now?
- How they can/want to work in the future and their goals?
- How the technical solutions adapt to 1 and 2, and
- Knowledge of how different departments cooperate with a product and an order
Knowing the whole circle of how a business works (production, marketing, sales, delivery, accounting, logistics) is very important.
Every single time, this is the difference between “website development” and actual eCommerce consulting and eCommerce development.
The Product Path in Business
Hidden in this path, is the essence of how the eCommerce website development must be done correctly. In 85% of the cases we monitor in this market, this exact concept is left aside.
In that way, most companies end up with an “eCommerce site”, which doesn’t support or cooperate with the processes of Logistics, Marketing, Ordering, Distribution, and Accounting.
The majority of businesses discover the correct solution after lots and lots of problems, and at some point, they realize that they built their website in a completely wrong way.
Is such knowledge, the privilege of a developer? Do designers know? Is it the knowledge of accounting or of marketing? No. It is the combined knowledge, accumulated through experience and expertise through the eCommerce practices.
That is the knowledge of someone who really knows and understands:
- The Product Path
- The Available Technology
- The Business Processes
So, first, you need an advisor who understands all that, while he/she is also the eCommerce development agency for your project. That person and his/her team will make the correct plan, before even designing anything for your eCommerce website.
You may surprised on how much planning is involved.
So you don’t just need “web development”. You need someone who understands how eCommerce works.
Why? Read on. See how many different concepts are involved in eCommerce website development.
The Strategic Designer
That is the person who is the key to your success. That person will take all data, from all the different departments of your company and will design the complete solution and all the processes.
We see that time and again for the last 17 years, and we never claimed a flag that we possess “this” or “that” technology, but instead tried to understand the essence of how a business must work in the digital environment.
When the solution is designed, then the appropriate technology will naturally emerge and -yes- we will know what to suggest.
So you need a strategist who has the overview and control on the whole project. That person is actually the final Auditor, and no, he is not the project manager or the designer or the developer.
This role is usually covered by the business awarded with the project. That person gathers all data regarding the structure of your project, before any eCommerce website development.
Their research goes deep from how your navigation menu must be, how to write the texts and what keyphrases to use, who are your online competitors, how difficult is to rank high in search engines for XYZ queries.
The outcome of his/her work will affect the design, the development and the marketing (for search engines and social media).
The One-Man-Show Business Owner
We are extremely happy when our clients say that their eshop converts so well that they need to hire more people. Yet, what happens when the business owner is a one-man-show case?
In such cases a scalable and more automated solution must be found.
That is needed as one person must be able to handle many more tasks without doubling the time to do so.
That person must have all the tools and processes in place, so to use them fast and remotely.
The solution to that is called as: Maximum Safe Automation (MSA).
A project must be automated in such a way that largely reduces errors in orders and decisions, while it saves lots of administration time.
There are tools for such that are used in eCommerce websites. For example, The Automated Abandoned Carts, that set auto-reminders to clients who placed items in their carts but abandoned the purchase.
Such premium tools maybe not free, but the time they save and the conversions they produce is unparalleled.
Stock Management and Ecommerce Websites
For any tangible products, there is usually a storage location and someone who manages the stock and all the related processes.
Automation is also applicable in this case and less resources are needed.
Proper eCommerce website development takes that into consideration. The stock management software needs to communicate with your eCommerce website. In that way, stock management is updated with far fewer troubles.
Why you need your stock updated? Imagine the following.
A product with different product codes in your e-store and another one in your storage is ordered. An order goes automatically to your Courier, so they can come and get the product for delivery. Your Storage administration has no idea which product to eventually prepare for delivery, the accounting tried to match the different product codes so as to issue the proper invoice.
If the client returns your merchandise, then this gets even more complex.
That example is merely a small example on how different departments should work when an eCommerce website is involved.
If you want to extend the example, imagine doing marketing for that same product with the 2 different codes. Your marketing efforts get mixed up. You have no idea on the conversions and performance of your marketing actions since you get data for the wrong product code.
When you have 10 orders per month, it is easy to work in a non-automatic way, but if you aim for lots of orders, all systems must be in place and correctly implemented.
It is obvious so far that processes and departments interconnect even in an eCommerce website.
Imagine not connecting the accounting department, or not automatically updating the accounting software with new orders, returns, cancellations, shipping, production, raw materials costs, etc, etc.
Not doing so, ends up to all kinds of wrong conclusions on orders, costs and profit; even tax and VAT related issues.
There are still companies that work with Excel exports from their eshops. That may work for a few orders. It won’t work with numerous orders.
Imagine any kind of reporting (marketing efficiency/costs, or loss/profit) with data that are not correct or updated. Pure terror, if pure is the right word.
All these are already solved with modern technology. You just need to be informed about it and implement it.
Do you want more logistics and more wasted time or less of both?
Shipping and Couriers
After an order is placed, you have to ship the product, right? When accounting and storage disagree on their data, then what can you send away?
Many companies still handle their couriers, manually.
They don’t implement the functionality where a courier is automatically called, only when the product is packaged and ready to go. They do it “manually”. Imagine the time wasted to do all calls or/and emails manually.
The time of the person who must prepare the order is skyrocketed.
If that sounds a bit of trouble, imagine what happens when real trouble knocks on the door.
There could be changes in the order, cancellations, a change in the way the client will pay. That piles up a whole set of different -actual- processes when dealing either with Commerce or eCommerce.
eCommerce Website Development and Marketing
Some times people think that the role of Marketing starts when your eCommerce website launches. That is not true at all.
Marketing and Sales play a crucial role in the whole process of designing the eCommerce logic, along with the eshop itself. They don’t create the code of course, but the way they want to work influences the whole project.
The reason behind that is simple.
All the necessary Marketing Tools and Metrics Tools must be correctly implemented, following the way a business works. If one person handles the marketing part, then that must be taken into consideration.
If more than one is involved, then such needs a different approach. If there is a marketing team with a Marketing Manager, that too is a different case.
Allow us explain it a bit more.
Some of the Marketing Tools are:
- Α Newsletter subscription tool with discount incentives
- A Loyalty Points mechanism/strategy
- Advanced Discount Scenarios (far more discount coupons), like “buy X and Z and get free shipping”, and such
- Social Media Campaigns
- Social Media Catalogues
- Offline Marketing mediums (magazines, radio, etc)
All these involve the technology that permits them to execute different concepts, along with the proper Metrics and Conversions tools, so to see the results of different actions.
To do all that, you need to additionally implement things in your eCommerce website design (yes, you read it right). The overall visual strategy of your eCommerce website and the tech behind it will either let you “measure everything” or it will lead you to huge wrong conclusions.
Add all the time wasted to that, too.
All these relate to the Researcher and to the Web Developer and Designer, plus -of course- to the Strategist.
The Web Developer and The Web Designer
These persons or teams must get all the data from the Research and the Strategist with instructions on what is needed to be measured and promoted and how all subsystems must “talk” to each other.
These persons/teams need to execute technical and visualize lots of data. It is not just “buying and installing a theme”. Even if buying/installing a theme is the case, they must know all the information so as to choose the correct one.
Spoiler: No “ready” theme is ever ready to be implemented without extensive changes, even if you don’t seem them as they are “under the hood”.
When the website is developed and even with “demo data”, you can double-check how all the implemented processes work.
An eCommerce website is not a simple corporate/content site. You must think of it as a complex software.
Doing all the steps correctly and with good analysis and preparation, you will have way less time from design to launch. You will have far fewer issues with running the e-business.
Do never just “order” an eCommerce website. You will find out that when it comes to any kind of website (eshop or not), it is way more costly to correct things, than doing them right from the beginning.
All that knowledge is not taught somewhere. It is about thinking as a business and knowing the tech part.
eCommerce Website Development for International Sales
With such cases, we refer to businesses that aim to sell internationally (of course). Besides developing your eCommerce website for extra languages, there is a number of more complex variables that exist in many cases.
An eCommerce website, that resides in one country but sells to many, has lots of things to think regarding Stock Management and Accounting. On top of these, the Marketing tools you need are different, with a different setup.
When a business also physical stores, then that is a completely different case of its own.
Having different ways for clients to pay, in different cases, through different banks/cards and currencies makes things more complicated.
If a business aims for international sales, they need to plan ahead and with caution in order to avoid large scale errors and corrections.
We have seen examples where businesses built different websites per country of activity, while they could save tons of money and time, if they implemented multistore solutions and good hosting servers, along with SaaS implementations.
As we say to many, the technology to build things correctly, exists.
It is present to cover all these too, as long as they are correctly implemented for scalability.
Conclusion on eCommerce Website Development
Are all these important for you, but still a bit vague? Well, they can’t be otherwise as every business is unique on how they work and how they want to work.
There is a no “packaged” solution that can be accurately described here.
We provide ideas and solutions!