eCommerce Sites

Avatar of Dave Harrison by Dave Harrison

Posted in , ,

May 27 2009

If you’re thinking about starting an eCommerce site, one of the first questions you’ll probably want to ask me is “how much will it cost?”. Any honest web designer/developer will find it difficult to answer that question until they know your objectives and how much functionality your eCommerce site needs to have.

So, with that in mind in are a few questions that will help you establish your requirements in a way that may allow me to estimate a price for you. Products

  • Approximately how many products do you think you’ll want to list on the site?
  • Will there be variations of each product (for example by size or colour)?
  • Do you have product images in a digital format? Are there multiple images per product?
  • Do you already have a product database? If so, what format is it in?
  • Are any of your products likely to fall under more than one category? (for example “for him” & “special offers” & “gift ideas”


  • Do you envisage a global or international market requiring multiple languages or currencies?
  • Will you be delivering to the UK only, or further afield? Are there any special considerations when calculating delivery? (weight, size, islands and highlands)
  • Will you want to offer a tracking service?


  • Will you want the website to link to your stock control system so that the two talk to each other ( i.e. when something is bought online it automatically reduces the stock levels on the stock control system)? What format is your stock control system in?
  • Would the back-end system running the website have to integrate with any other internal systems, such as Sage or EPoS?
  • Do you have other systems that your ecommerce solution must integrate with or do you need it to handle everything, orders, despatch, returns, promotions, marketing, stock control?


You may not have considered some of these things, but don’t worry I can advise on all of this and detail what is possible for your budget. We can take it from there, maybe chop and change a little making sure you have what will work best for you, before deciding on the final list of functionality.

  • What criteria will you want your users to be able to filter your products by? (For example, do you want them to be able to narrow their search by brand, product type, size, price?)
  • Do you want the website to make suggestions to your customers about alternative products they might be interested in, or other relevant products based on their browsing or purchases?
  • Will you need the website to store user profiles, and attach details of their purchases?
  • Will you want the website to allow registered users to save wish lists?
  • Will you want the website to allow registered users to give feedback on products or write product reviews?
  • Will you want the website to allow users to compare products side by side?
  • Are there any specific features other than users viewing/purchasing products that you would like on the site? (i.e do you need a blog, customer services section, contact us page, advice section etc)


  • Do you already know how you want to process payments? For example, you have the choice of using an external service, such as WorldPay or PayPal, to process payments (this requires your customers to leave your site and go to the payment site in order to process their payment – they may also have to set up an account with the payment provider).
  • Alternatively you can set yourself up with an online Merchant ID and a secure payment provider so that users do not leave your site to process a payment.