I was recently asked to assist with the creation of an online shop. I have written here before about building a website, but an online shop raises further interesting questions. The website will not just be a source of information, but will be a place of commerce and legally binding transactions (above and beyond the simple data collection of your name and email address on a form).
In addition to the checklist for creating a website, understanding your SEO, and how you will build your brand and your market through Social Media, your Online Shop requires special considerations all its own. However, like any project, if you mock it all up in a flow chart you will save yourself many headaches later on. Aside from SEO, Social Media, and Marketing, probably the three most important questions you should ask are:
What will you sell (and why)?
How will that process happen on your website?
What are the best tools for creating and managing your shop?
Step One: What Are You Selling and To Whom?
Creating the Main Catalogue (Articles and # of products and services)
- Variations of Articles and # of products and services (1)
Products and/or Services …
- Variations of Articles and # of products and services (2)
Sizes, duration, multiples, types …
- Variations of Articles and # of products and services (3)
Recurring payments …
- Variations of Articles and # of products and services (4)
Bulk orders, bundles …
Step Two: Map Out Your Processes
Like everything, an Online Shop will have a workflow. “If this happens then that happens … ” So, it is very important to have answers to the questions before you begin setting up your system. This will save you headaches, and you will be able to set up your system easier if you know the answer to “what if?”
- Who is the legal (responsible for everything that goes wrong and for paying taxes) store owner?
- What if someone wants more than we have (backorders)?
- Discounts? sales? pre-orders? cancellations?
- Which payment options? cards, bank transfer, paypal?
- Which language do we sell in?
- Will items be sold within your own country or to other countries?
- Which currencies? multiple? exchange rates?
- What about taxes and delivery fees?
- Who will handle complaints?
- Who will handle return of items?
- How will monies be repaid to customers in case of returns?
- How are orders processed? with which carrier? will there be a choice?
- Creation of user accounts? what about anonymous buyers?
- What about data collection (and with GDPR storage of data) – payment information, address, name, birthdate, address?
- What about marketing via recommendations, newsletters, emails, etc?
- Who will manage the site content, CMS etc?
- What about mobile? is it like our desktop store?
- Is our Online Shop part of a current site or something stand alone?
Step Three: What Shop System Will You Use – Can You Afford it / Do it Alone?
There are three options for creating an Online Shop (each with pros and cons, fees, development costs, etc).
- Use a Shop Provider (Shopify or Lightspeed for example)
- Use a shop system offered by a Hosting Provider (Strato, JIMDO, 1und1 etc)
- Use a CMS with a Shop plugin (woo commerce with WordPress for example)
- Create the entire thing from scratch, possibly by programming an App (okay, there are four options)
And of course you need to consider the following …
- Do you have a budget for planning, development, design and maintenance?
- Server installation? Software licenses, updates etc?
- What about images of your products? Who will create these? Manage content, descriptions, prices etc?
- Hosting costs, email, SSL and other site security, domain names.
- SEO plan?
- Online ad plan and budget?
- Social Media plan and management budget?
If this post was helpful to you, you might also like to see some of my other posts on related subjects:
Questions to ask before you build your website.
Do you need a CMS for your website?
Planning a successful relaunch of your website.