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The 6 top questions to ask before you dive into a new eCommerce site

We talk to a lot of really smart entrepreneurs and most of them have really great ideas. After they have conceived, developed, dreamed of and committed to a business idea they are ready to dive into a eCommerce website so they can get to the profit! They are convinced that an eCommerce website is all that’s standing between them and success. They are ready to get going and within a few minutes of describing their dream, we get to the big question….how much?!?

We always give the same response. “Are you sure you need an eCommerce site?” You can imagine the sound of the crickets that follow.

This may not be the best sales approach on my part, but it’s our philosophy to make sure they understand the complexity of everything that goes into an eCommerce site before investing even a penny.

Let’s start with 3 key questions:

What do you really need?
You would never go to a real estate agent and just buy the first house they offer, you want to find the right foundation for you to build a life! Unfortunately, we see many entrepreneurs follow this scenario when they decide to invest in an eCommerce website. They find a web development partner that’s eager to do whatever they want without first truly understanding what they really need.

What platform is right for you?
Many vendors only know one system. Their approach is to fit clients into a one-size-fits-all solution, then slap on plug-ins over time to get close to the needed functionality. It’s like moving into a house then figuring out it doesn’t have a kitchen and the only door to the outside is on the second floor.

What questions should you ask?
Through lots of experience, we understand the big picture of building, operating, marketing and maintaining an eCommerce site. That’s why we recommend taking a step back to consider these tough questions every entrepreneur needs to answer before diving in the world of eCommerce.

  1. Do you actually need an eCommerce site?
    Does an eCommerce site support your sales model? Do your customers want to place orders online? Do you understand the total cost commitment to ensure all aspects of your business is successful?
  2. What sales models do you want to support?
    Think about a simple product like razors. You can purchase them online directly, through membership program and via subscriptions with varying levels of pricing. It’s important to make these decisions upfront so the eCommerce solution you launch is built to meet your needs.
  3. What is your fulfillment model?
    After orders are placed, how is the product shipped? Where is inventory stored? What back-end systems need to be integrated to the eCommerce solution?
  4. How will you market your products?
    You can build the greatest eCommerce site known to man, but if no man (or woman) can find it, you’ve just created Internet wallpaper.
  5. How will you secure customers’ data?
    The headlines tell the story. Data breaches are an everyday occurrence. How will you protect your customers’ critical data?
  6. Are your accounting systems in place?
    Payment processing. Taxes. Returns. Promotional pricing. Service level agreements. Are you prepared?

Only after answering these tough questions do we have what we need to make informed business decisions about what platform/solution to use, what resources are needed, what development process is required and other technical considerations.

It’s not the glitzy part of starting a new business, but this foundation will save you money, get you where you want to go faster and make sure that your business has the best shot at success!

So, do you really need an eCommerce site? Let’s have an honest conversation!