How to Get Prepared for Creating Your eCommerce Platform?
POSTED ON 07-09-2020

Digital is the next big thing. Companies have been trying to prepare their business models for this digital revolution for a very long time now. Digital business research conducted in collaboration with MIT had manifested that approximately 70% of CEOs found that their essential business model was under attack and that they did not have the necessary teams or technical infrastructures to adapt to a more digital world. What’s more, the current global pandemic is forcing companies to make the transition even more quickly and, perhaps, more permanently. What does this mean for commerce? Well, it is a concrete signal that we will be able to observe eCommerce booming even more than usual. Businesses will turn to online rather than physical sales platforms. Online shopping is no longer a luxury; it is a new reality. Many companies have already found that building a strong eCommerce platform strengthens their reputation and helps them grow their business on a global scale.

Let’s say you have decided to take the next step for your business’ digital revolution and are going to build an eCommerce platform. No doubt the right call! But, you should know that eCommerce platforms are usually not built overnight. Even if you are working with an eCommerce platform provider, you will have to help them understand your business requirements and scope of the project you are working on. This information is critical to later achieve your targeted outcomes with your platform provider and sustain the success of your platform. Here is all you need to know as you prepare to create your eCommerce platform.

Strategic and Target Based Requirements

You are going to have to have a specific strategy and targets for what you expect to come out of your partnership with your platform provider. What does this entail?

    Know what you will use to determine the success of your platform. This could be a yearly or monthly target for page views, associated sales or number of conversions. With these targets in mind, create a timeline for your project.

    Globalise your strategy. Are you going to require multiple currencies, multi-language platforms or country-targeted payment options? 

    Are you starting your project from scratch or has another company been handling the platform in the past? Know exactly what you need differently from this new platform. If you previously had a platform, what were the limitations and challenges you faced and how did they impact your business? For instance, your current platform might now have been able to handle multi-currency payments and was thus limiting your reach to global markets.  

    Know your direct and indirect competitors and why they represent competition for you.

General Requirements

Before you start building your platform you should know the answers to these following questions: 

  • What devices are you creating your platform for?

You might want your platform to be specifically tiered for the Web. But, in most cases, you are going to want to make your platform responsive to and customised for different devices including web, mobile web, single-page apps,  Progressive web apps (PWA), AMP, IOS App, Android App, iPad, and Android Tablet. 

  • How many different sites are you looking to create?

 For instance, you might want to create two different sites for two different countries with different languages. 

  • Are you building a B2C eCommerce platform, a B2B platform or both?

What are the associated custom requirements for each, such as multi-level distributorship workflow for B2B?

  • Are you facing any routine large problems your platform builder can help you tackle?

For instance, you might need your product metadata to be transformed and updated in order to import a large volume of products from the backlog. 

  • Are there any 3rd party integrations that you would like to have on your new platform? Have you selected and signed off with the vendor yet? 

Integration Requirements

Now, let’s get to what you need to know in terms of integration requirements. Here is a quick checklist:

  • Product/stock integration: What version (if SAAS)? E.g Logo, Sage50

  • Payment integrations: What payment method e.g SagePay, GarantiPay

  • Marketing integrations: E.g Mailchimp, Hubspot

  • Delivery integration: Is your process manual/automated?  E.g UPS/DHL

  • Marketplace integrations

  • Any other 3rd parties? E.g review method Feefo

It is important to know the unique features of your business and how this will manifest in your platform. For instance, designate custom design requirements. Do you have a specific design you would like to go for, or will your platform provider handle the design?  Are there any complex workflows that might be custom for your company such as different order processing systems for individual clients? Are there any unique integrations you would like to require for your platform such as a custom product wizard?

Design Requirements

To deep dive into what your design scope will entail, it is important to know the answers to the following questions: 

    What is your domain name?

    Who do you consider your competitors?

    Who will sign-off on the design proposals?

    Do you have an in-house designer? 

    Do you use a specific font family? If yes, what is it?

    Do you have an existing image library you can share with your platform provider?

    Do you have a defined categorical hierarchy for header menu?

    Are you considering changing your category structure?

    What filters do you provide on your product listing page (PLP)? How many?

    What do you like about your current website? What do you not like, do not want including in the future?

    Do you have any concerns/problem areas? Major pain points?

    Do you offer discounts/coupon codes? When is it out of scope?

It is important to be specific about your design needs and provide comprehensive information to your platform provider on design features including menu hierarchies, font families, TOV guidelines, customer analytics and so forth. 

Building an eCommerce platform is not easy. That is why working with platform providers are meant to ease the pain. However, you need to be specific about what you expect from this partnership and what end-results you would like to see on your new platform to get your money’s worth. Refer to these guidelines when you feel lost and don’t forget to keep open communication with your platform provider.