What do you need to build an eCommerce website?
A lot of work, organization, and tons of information in the form of content, product data, product images, and others.
First, what the eCommerce website checklist isn’t
This is not a “How do I build and eCommerce business” guide. In this guide I assume you already have a business, or are in the process of creating one. You’ve already decided on the business name, business model (how you sell and make a profit), and have things like business permits, licenses, banking information, and sales tax certificates in order.
This is not a “15 Must-have Features for eCommerce Sites”. Your new website design and features are usually very specific to your site, and part of the scope of work of an eCommerce design and development engagement.
I hope you have identified your business and marketing goals for your new website. Business and marketing goals are going to guide many decisions for your site. From the amount of discounts you offer and how much to charge for shipping, to whether you’ll need a blog, and which additional and social media channel to integrate.
I also really hope you have established Branding and Identity for your business. Branding (the “voice” and “promise” your business offers to customers) will help you write the marketing content for the site, and your business Identity provide you with logo, color specs, and the guidelines for visual merchandising.
The eCommerce website checklist
Think of the eCommerce Website Checklist as a “bill of materials” that will help you gather all the information you’ll need to properly set up a new website. I’ve divided this in three larger groups: the Business Checklist, The Design Checklist, and the Content Checklist
The Business Checklist
The Business Checklist will help primarily with all matters related to your store settings and ancillary services that you will use.
|Confirm domain exists or buy one (aff.*)|
|Confirm login access to domain registrar, and DNS management (ability to edit dns zones)|
|SSL Certificate – Most major eCommerce SaaS companies include an SSl certificate for free. If you’re using WordPress + WooCommerce, some hosts like WP Engine (aff.*) include a free one as well. Otherwise, or is you have more advanced needs, you’ll need to pay for this certificate separately (check with your host)|
|Confirm payment method preference (i.e. Paypal, Stripe, Merchant account)|
|Supply 3rd-party payment gateway info (i.e. login to Authorize.net)|
|Confirm Sales Tax nexus and preferences|
|Provide additional Nexus info, if any|
|Terms of Service|
|Shipping and Returns Policy|
|Desired shipping methods – Real-time, calculated rates; flat fee; international, flat fee domestic, freight, etc.|
|Desired shipping carrier(s) – Open account as needed|
|Free ShIpping? – Determine if offering free shipping and under which conditions (i.e. ”Free with $50 purchase”)|
|Drop-shipping for others?|
|Multiple shipping destinations per order?|
|Multiple shipping locations or warehouses?|
|Info about any other 3rd party shipping provider|
|Bulk/Tiered discounts schema, if any (i.e. “$2off on two of more”)|
|Wholesale discounts schema, if any (i.e. wholesale or preferred customers)|
|Coupon Discount Codes schemas, if any (i.e. % discount, One time use per customer, expiration dates)|
|Cart Discounts schemas, if any (i.e. “Buy one get one free”, Scheduled sales)|
Gift Card Preferences
|Gift Cards settings or preferences, if any|
|Make sure your Facebook Business Page is verified|
|Make sure your Facebook Business Page has no store (may interfere with automatic sync from your online store)|
|Make sure your Instagram is Business Profile and linked to Facebook Page|
|You’ll need a 3rd party tools to email your clients (ie. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, many others). Create an account and provide login|
The Design Checklist
“Design has a job to do. It may be to attract an eye, to improve environments, better health, or simply to tell a story. Design is art with a purpose.” – unknown
Get started on the right path to great design by bringing together your design assets and design references that will inform the work of designing your eCommerce website
|Logo files in editable formats: eps, Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop|
|Branding guidelines, or examples of current use (online or offline)|
|Branding graphics and photos used for collateral|
|Good examples of competitor websites|
|Bad examples of competitor websites|
Design Reference Websites
|Websites that reflect what you’d like to project about your business|
|Websites that have features you’d like, like a team page, product page, etc.|
|Any other website you like for any other reason (and state the reason):
style, typography, colors, photography, functionality, etc.
The Content Checklist
Content is not just text. Unless you are creating the dullest, most technical site imaginable, your content should consist of more than just plain text. Here is a non-exhaustive list of common types of content to help you figure out what you need.
|Marketing Copy (Home Page, product and services descriptions)|
|Technical Copy, Product Lines, Categories and Descriptions|
|Your official business NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)|
|Business Credentials, Licenses, Affiliations|
|Staff bios and photos|
|Downloadable Documents (typically PDF)|
|Graphics, Illustrations (Logos, charts, branding)|
|Photos (Staff, Gallery, Products)|
|Inventory (Products, Membership) and all related information|
|Events for Calendar|
|Embeddable Content (Calendar, ticketing, video, podcast, scheduling, etc.)|
|Social Media Profile Links|
|Feeds from other sites, for example, photos from Instagram, Flickr, Smugsmug|
|Forms (and the fields required for contact, quote request, employment, etc.)|
This checklist should help you get ready to design and build your new site. Of course the eCommerce Website Checklist works for other types of websites. Simply cross out anything related to eCommerce.
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