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5 Things to Think About Before Starting Your Ecommerce Website Development Process

September 19, 2019

The ecommerce landscape is a quickly evolving one, and has changed significantly over the last 5 years. Recent figures show that over half of traffic to retail websites is now coming via smartphones and tablets and mobile commerce now accounts for the majority of UK e-retail sales. The potential for your brand to get in on the action and help you get ahead of the competition is huge.

However, creating a new ecommerce website can be a daunting and complex prospect. Whatever stage your business is at, it’s an important and time-consuming investment, and one that you want to get right. 

One of the most important decisions you’ll face is choosing a development agency to see your project through to fruition. In order to achieve this, they will need a full understanding of your business needs and the site requirements. Based on our experience of building both Shopify and Magento ecommerce sites across a range of sectors, we have put together the top five things that you should be thinking about before you engage with an agency and kick off your ecommerce website development process:

1) Design
Design is a key opportunity for your site to stand out from the competition and clarify your niche in the market. For newer businesses, the website is an opportunity to ensure that the customer experience and overall site aesthetic help you make your mark and more importantly, stand out within your sector. For existing businesses who are growing or re-platforming it is all too easy to become preoccupied with improvements in site performance and functionality, but a new site is also an opportunity to evaluate both your brand image, identity and how well it is communicated to your audience. 

Whatever stage you are at on your ecommerce journey, look at your competition – identify what they are doing well / badly and determine where your business sits alongside them. A good development agency will then help you to marry form and function and develop an optimal customer experience that clearly communicates your brand.

2) Content
Before putting pixel to paper, create a structure for the content that will be required for it. It’s all too easy to jump feet first into a new website, but part of the foundation for a successful build is to determine your content requirements and taxonomy. From this, your agency can then work with you to create a full content strategy to include Content analysis, SEO optimization, Information Architecture and Categorisation.

3) Functionality
It’s also important in the early stages to break down your full order, stock management and fulfilment processes to identify where additional integrations may be required. At the outset of any new build, our development team would sit with you and map this out, but it’s a good idea to have this mapped out before you engage with an agency so that nothing is missed at this crucial scoping stage. For instance, this could include customisable or personalised products, third party stock or accountancy integrations, or two-way integrations with third party logistics companies. A successful ecommerce project will be based around your needs and shouldn’t require you or your customers to compromise on functionality. At Venture Stream we have experience across multiple ecommerce platforms and integration providers meaning that we can consult you on your needs to find a solution that best fits your business.

4 ) Marketing channels
Launching a new platform is just the start of the ecommerce journey. Before embarking on the build, you should work with your agency to identify the optimal marketing channels for your business so that you can develop a thorough marketing strategy in tandem with the development of the website. This will help you hit the ground running once the site goes live. Make sure that behind-the-scenes marketing setup is done in tandem with core commerce functionality.

5) Future Growth
Think long term when outlining your requirements for the site. How do you foresee your service offering changing in the next 1-3 years? Whilst we know that this is not always feasible, identifying some potential growth strategies will help you and your agency determine the best long term solution. This can mitigate the need for a premature replatforming and allow your website to grow with your business.

Developing your new ecommerce website is an exciting opportunity to create something that looks great but also fulfils the following requirements:

  • Optimises the customer experience to increase conversion
  • Improves your internal operations management 

The more that your development agency knows about you, the better, and the five points outlined above are just a few areas that you should think about before you engage with an agency. Whilst we wouldn’t expect you to come to us with answers, they should serve as a starting point for conversation and a good basis for a successful ecommerce website build. If you’d like to get in touch with us to discuss your website requirements, drop us an email or complete the form below.

    Written by Andy

    Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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