Setting up a working eCommerce site by an organization is being easy nowadays but the largest obstacle that business owners and new businesses are facing is the process and groundwork they must go through from conceptualization to running state. As development of web development tools as well as web Content Management System (CMS) is increasing rapidly in current e-commerce market, businesses are likely to divide their task into different phases to setup their e-commerce website.
#1: Preparing Business Plan: Business plan is critical in developing the road-map and framework necessary to establish a successful business. A business plan for an online business should include the approach that will be used for financing, marketing, advertising of the business, fund management, success measures, and types of products to sell and so on. It is the must to identify the business model of e-commerce site to be developed as well in this step. You may also depict the working mechanism of your future product by using use case diagrams, flow charts, Data Flow diagrams etc. in this stage.
# 2: Gathering the Products and Building Inventory: Organization should be clear about the types of products or services that they want to sell online. Before beginning to set up eCommerce website, organization must also plan and organize all items, categories, subcategories, groups, and packages clearly. They may create tree view of catalogues or hire catalog management experts to do so. Whether the organization’s ecommerce store is fully virtual or have a physical location as well, they also need to have a decent sized inventory of products.
# 3: Building the Site and Shopping Cart Setup: Website building process starts with the wire-frame design that cover the overall layout of how it will look like and how website components will be displayed to clients as well as administrators. After wire-frame and layout design, organization will have two options; either to hire web developers to start project from scratch or to choose tools/software to do so. There are numerous eCommerce platforms such as BigCommerce, Magento, osCommerce, PrestaShop, and Shopify etc. where one can select the appropriate themes/templates for better design options and modules/addons to help implement their business logic as well.
Many organizations choose to go with an eCommerce platform where setting up the shopping cart will not be so difficult. Recent researches about eCommerce success recommended to use hosted shopping cart software as security of self-hosted shopping cart is less trustworthy to potential customers that may turn away them from website. This is a big factor to consider. Considering all these factors, essential steps to follow are:
Step 1. Create Categories and Subcategories:Categories and subcategories are used to organize the online catalog according to product type, brand, or any other organized system which allows customers to easily find products. Categories are also used as menu in majority of dominant eCommerce sites today.
Step 2. Adding Products to Categories and Subcategories:Add all products to into their respective categories. Manage associations between products and set product features like weight, color etc. Also, set price of product with shipping options, special discount offers if any, and activate inventory control to specify stock of product.
Step 3. Localization: Localization is main factor to grab customers’ attention and keep them engaged. Set up country specific currency, language options so that it will be easy for them compare and take quick decisions.
Step 3. Set up Global Rules
Shipping methods: Add shipping careers so that user may choose appropriate shipping options.
Shipping rules: Set shipping rules so that organization can apply shipping charge to products according time or region, country etc.
Tax rules: Add country specific tax rules. E.g. 13% VAT in context of Nepal.
Discounts: Set region or country or continent specific rules for discounts.
Handling charges: Set rules for additional service charges if any.
Step 4. Set Up Payment Methods and Ecommerce Options
Payment Methods: Organization may use verities of payment methods in their e-commerce site such as Pay by Cheque, Direct Bank Transfer, Cash on Delivery, Paypal, Credit Card payments, Debit Card Payments etc.
Merchant Account Information: Setup Online merchant account details after payment method selection, PayPal, and/or Account info of merchant for bank transfer or cheque payment etc.
Shopping Cart and Check out Options: Shopping cart must be user friendly and interactive. Set up cart in such a way that it will give option for users to either “Continue Shopping” or “Proceed to Checkout”.
#4: Web Publishing, Advertising, and Marketing:After completing the whole eCommerce site setup and site’s bug-fixes, eCommerce site of organization will be ready for official launch. During and after the official launch, marketing and advertising of eCommerce site will play a vital role to increase traffic to site as well as to acquire new customer and get back past customers as well.
#5: Maintaining the Business:Regular content updates, taking care of technical aspects, make decisions about new and discontinued products, and providing customer service that will keep customers coming back for more. To increase customer flow to the site, organization should also market using techniques such as Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, E-mail marketing, sales and promotions etc.
All these above steps are essential and recommended to be follow by a newly established organization to set up their e-commerce website from idea conceptualization to running state.