We want to set up an online store and sell our products on the internet’. This sentence is often written in the demands of client requests from the start of a project. Putting a sales tool on the internet seems a good idea. But like most good ideas, it can turn into a nightmare if things are not reflected from the start by the project team, but especially by the client himself. Indeed, setting up an online store (see the modernization or give it more importance) will have a significant impact on the operation of the company and requires the customer to define his needs and ask the right questions before starting. I would like in this post, define the questions to be asked before starting the project of setting up an online store.
I classify the questions into four main categories of questions which are the main areas on which to focus on:
1. The basic questions to ask
2. Product management
3. Customer management
4. The objectives and maintenance of the shop
Each of these areas raises many questions that will allow you, by responding, to set a roadmap for your project and give specific guidance to development teams. Here are the questions to ask yourself:
THE BASIC QUESTIONS TO ASK
- How to integrate the online store to the website? Is this a section of the main menu? A dedicated website? A subdomain?
- How many languages are available in the online store and for which countries? Do I set a geographical limit in the delivery?
- What are the currencies that can be used on the website?
- Do I apply price differences depending on the selected country?
- Do I sell physical products, digital products or both? How many products will I propose?
- Which delivery systems do I want to use? Do I have agreements with delivery companies? How will I submit my delivery policy? My purchasing policy? and Can we have a free delivery?
- Do I already have a stock management and accounting system? How will the products available on the website be managed on my system?
- Do I want to have exclusive products for sale online? Are products available only in store? What are the rules to apply?
- What online payment systems do I want to use? Can the customer pay by check? Can the customer pay on delivery? Do I want to offer multiple payment systems?
- On which account do I wish to deposit the money received? How do I make sure payments are received?
- How to present my physical stores (if I have), what is the complementarity with the online store? Can I pick up products purchased online in my stores?
- Do I want to have featured products on my homepage? On subpages? Do I want to set up ads on my main site to bring back to the online store?
- What is the desired navigation on tablet and phone?
- Do I want one page per product or product list without displaying details?
- What information do I want to present for each of my products? Documents to download, videos about my product?
- Do I have enough relevant content for a page? Do I have to write a text for each product?
- What is the technical information to communicate about my product? Do we need tables of characteristics?
- Do I have a beautiful image for each product? Are they all on the same graphic signature? Do I need to redo pictures?
- How are my products organized? Are they organized by sector, brand, use?
- Do I want to suggest other products on a product page? How? What criteria?
- Do my product categories need a presentation? Can information be presented only at the category level of the product?
- What will be the navigation in my shop? How to search for my products? What criteria?
- Do I want to be able to compare products with each other?
- Do I need a balances system? How does the balance apply? A fixed sum? A percentage?
- Do I want to introduce brands or suppliers of my products?
- Do I want to give the opportunity to rate products and have a customer feedback on my products? If I want customer comments, what place do you give them?
- Can we remove the possibility of buying a product, but continue to publish it on the website?
- When to withdraw a product online? When it has more stocks? From a certain date? When does my accounting system tell me to unpublish a product?
- Do I need a coupon management system to set up marketing campaigns?
- On which social networks do I choose to share my products? How to advertise my product?
- What information do I need from my clients?
- Do I have different types of customers, are there rules that apply to a specific customer?
- How do I want to communicate with my client? Email? Contact form? Phone? Newsletter campaign?
- Can I order online without registering as a customer in the online store?
- What information is presented by the customer’s shopping cart? Is it present at all times on my site? Is it on a specific page? Can we buy a product directly without going through the basket?
- Do I want to give a private space to my clients? What tools do I want to provide in the customer area: order tracking? Saving the list of wishes? Update its information? Opportunities to recommend an order already placed? Purchase history? A more complete profile to complete?
- Can this ‘client’ connection give access to hidden pages? Some products exclusive? Some news?
- Do we want a support area with documentation or a discussion system with online technicians?
- Once a customer has registered and ordered, how do I renew contact? What are the next steps / offers that will push him to return to the website?
- Is a customer entitled to loyalty points? What will these points give him as a bonus: a discount? Free delivery?
- How can I manage my customer information? Do I need to export them, save them in another system?
- What are the steps of the processing of an order: registered, validated, processed, sent?
- How to process a rejected order? Am I allowed to refund?
- How to save and export my orders to my accounting system? What are the specific rules to respect?
OBJECTIVES AND MAINTENANCE OF THE ONLINE STORE
- What are the criteria for success of my shop? The visibility? A goal of turnover over one year? Over 5 years?
- How many visits a day I wish for my shop? Do I want one sale per hour? Per day? Per week?
- What actions do I want to put in place for better SEO? Do I want to invest in an SEO campaign for better descriptions and be more visible on Google searches?
- Who will be responsible for maintaining the online store? Do I want to set up a team to answer questions, manage orders, update product information?
- What is the implication of the other services of my company?
- Do I want to invest for this to be a daily job? Weekly?
- What is my strategy to ensure visibility of my shop via my news and my social networks?
Answering these 50 questions seems like an insurmountable task at first, but asking them seriously allows you to establish a complete roadmap that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. There are questions that often have not been considered by the customer and that allow to open his thinking and to imagine new uses of his shop. Even the answers to these questions may change over time because new needs or uses will arise depending on the integration of the online store in your company or investments made to make it a success factor in your overall strategy. In addition, having the answers to these questions will make it easier for you to set up a budget for your online store with your suppliers and also to define more precisely the technologies that will best meet your needs. These are questions and answers that are needed from the start of an online shop project and that I have learned to ask in my digital marketing agency and SEO consulting business experience.