Five Questions to Ask before Rebuilding Your eCommerce Website

Five Questions to Ask before Rebuilding Your eCommerce Website



Questions to ask when building a website

Most of our eCommerce clients fall into this category: their existing site was built a few years ago, sales have stagnated, they are envious of competitor websites and they are feeling behind the times. They are eager to rebuild their website. Their first go at eCommerce may have felt like an experiment...the main question back then was “does selling our products online even make sense?” Manufacturers and other B2B companies weren’t as confident in this answer as their B2C counterparts, so developing the perfect eCommerce solution wasn’t the goal. The goal was to test the concept and see if it worked.

For many, it did. Now it’s time to drive more sales and a redesign can pay off. Verical.com, an overstock electronic component seller recently relaunched their website, doubled their traffic and increased conversion 30%. That’s a sizable return. So depending on your business’ circumstances, redesigning your website may be priority #1. Regardless, it’s important to get it right. The success of your next website is directly tied to the questions you ask, and the steps you take at the start. Otherwise, your new site will launch, and a year later you’ll realize you still missed the mark.

What’s on the rebuild wish list?

Often there is one need that really gets the ball rolling. There’s something your site can’t do, it’s critical, and your developer has given you the sad news that it ain’t a quick fix. While it would be far simpler to develop a website with your eye on one prize, it’s best to ensure it isn’t the only driver for what happens next. It’s important to consider every opportunity for improvement and to have a comprehensive understanding of needs.

Better branding

ECommerce is competitive. Whether you are selling to businesses or consumers, your list of competitors likely includes a rival, non-identical twin that you would love to obliterate, right along with behemoth Amazon, that you won’t be taking down anytime soon. Your brand is a critical component to standing out and earning new and repeat sales. Your brand is more than a logo. It’s your name. It’s the name of your products and services. It’s the colors you use, the tagline you have and the style of the language you use. Your website designer takes those parts and pieces to create your website, so if you are going through the effort of a rebuild, now is the time to ensure that your brand aligns with your business and vision.

Streamlining operations

Believe it or not, the sole motivation for a new website is not always to increase sales. We have many clients that initiate the a rebuild to simplify the process of maintaining and managing the website, or build efficiencies into back end fulfillment which ultimately impacts revenue by shaving down costs. As the era of the robot is now upon us, revolutionizing both warehouse fulfillment and shipping alike, every business should audit their back-end tools, and look for opportunities to better integrate and automate. 

Functional requirements

Then there are the things you want your site to do. We have had some clients that are looking to make a sizable increase to the number of SKUs they are selling, but their current site just can’t handle that load. Another increasingly common scenario is needing to better serve global customers with additional language and payment support. The challenge is not just appreciating the needs that your business has now, but having an understanding of your business in the years ahead - so that you have a website and digital systems in place that you won’t immediately outgrow.

What do my customers want on my website?

Most likely, your customers know something you don’t. There are some websites we shop from because the user experience is phenomenal, while there are others we shop from despite the arduous process of completing a sale. Before finalizing the scope and plan of your redesign, we suggest you talk to the folks that are actually using your website. Find out what aspects of the online purchasing process have room for improvement, and if there are ways you can help save them time once the sale is complete. Another way of getting into the mind of the user are services like User Testing and UserZoom that allow you to test and see how consumers are actually using your website.

What eCommerce platform best suits my business?

Selecting the right platform to host your site is a big decision. There are basically two routes you can take. The first is building a custom solution. The alternative is to use a hosted eCommerce service. We recently wrote about using Shopify for B2B eCommerce post that provides more specifics - but ultimately your decision will boil down to the amount of customization that you need, and the complexity of the sale. 

What do the numbers say?

There are two sets of numbers we’re interested in. The first is related to revenue. Your new website should be associated with business growth. Those projections for growth should give you a sense of the appropriate budget to spend on your redesign. If you don’t associate your new website with increase earnings, a rebuild will be hard to justify.

The second set of numbers that matter are your site analytics and sales reporting. What pages are generating the most traffic? Does that align with your best selling products, or are there opportunities to improve conversion? Give high-sales product lines additional attention to maximize return.

Developing a new website of any type isn’t as easy as hiring a developer and waiting for the final product. Your internal team will need to dedicate considerable resources to create an eCommerce hub that takes your business to the next level. With the right plan in place, your site can and should boost sales from existing clients, increase traffic to grow your customer base, be easier to manage, and make fulfilling orders far less of a headache. That’s digital utopia!

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