Many businesses today recognize the massive potential of online segment. Creating a shopping portal that engages successfully with the online audience is viewed as one of the most profitable business ventures of recent times. However, is a simple briefing enough for your e-commerce development service provider to get going and develop a truly world-class solution? The clear answer is ‘No’. An adequate level of preparation needs to be done before even the first meeting happens between you and your development partner.
If you don’t know where to start from, below are some helpful questions whose answers will help you get started –
1. Is the new development work aligned to my business goals?
As a potential retailer, you need to consider if at all there is a prevalent segment that can be your strong market. Also, you need to factor in the demographics, the degree of digital penetration, spending power, and incidental charges and taxes applicable within the targeted market.
2. How do others fare?
If you are convinced that there is a market for your shopping portal, then the next step would involve an in-depth analysis of how your competition is doing in similar conditions (i.e. over the online space). This can be accomplished by –
a. Doing a simple Google search on your target keywords, and
b. A thorough comparison of the features and degree of functionality offered by competitor websites.
3. What will be included under the project specs?
Passed the first two stages? Now, get down to designing the project specs.
a. Determine the timelines and project budget.
b. List down all the needed features as envision in the site.
c. Also pay attention to SEO strategies such as –
• Content development
• URL optimization
• Meta tagging
• Keyword analysis
4. What happens to my existing systems?
If you already have an e-commerce portal running then migrating to a different platform needs to account for migration of –
a. Catalog data
b. User login credentials
c. History of past order, payment and shipments
You may also check into the navigation and existing SEO implementation and decide if any sprucing up is required. Also over the time, policies and third party interaction might undergo a change. This will be a good point of time to get the same updated correctly, so that the site remains fresh and relevant
5. Which is the right type of portal?
One can choose from either hosted or custom e-commerce solution. Hosted solutions are off-the-shelf, i.e. these are not owned by you but a space is allocated on external party server to host your own portal. In case of custom solutions such as Magento, there are dedicated developers that create the entire site and hand it over to you to be deployed in a space of your choice and under your control.
6. Is my portal relevant to today’s times?
Mobile and smartphones are the hot technologies that compulsorily need to have a place in your e-commerce development planning and implementation process. Not having a mobile compatible e-commerce portal means losing out on a significant (and rising) chunk of online segment that uses smartphones and tablets to do online shopping.
7. Is my site marketed properly online?
Online segment needs unique and exclusive efforts for marketing a portal. Using Web analytics, SEO, PPC and social media integration, one can easily attract the right traffic to your website, one that has an increased chance of sales closure and hence, better business for your portal.
8. Is my development vendor the right one?
This is a big make-or-break question. You will find choosing the right partner easier when you get answers to some critical queries as below –
a. Range of experience on the chosen development platform
b. Industry segment and category of clients worked for
c. Technical qualifications and experience of development team
d. Certifications, awards and other credentials gathered by the vendor
9. Is my post-deployment plan in place?
You will be bound to have a continuous engagement with customers to ensure that they get the best possible online shopping experience. Keep a strong feedback channel that enables the users to provide feedback on how you can do better to keep the experience interesting. Next, you may have to reach out to your development vendors from time to time regarding these feedbacks, and subsequent tweaks, updates and adding newer content. Ensure that you get enough after-sales support from the vendors to carry these out.
As is evident, a rigorous analysis needs to be done before you outsource the e-commerce portal development work to an expert e-commerce development provider. If done right, the resulting success story is all yours to savor.