Great so you’ve chosen to go down the path of building an online eCommerce store. This article won’t focus on specifically WordPress because the same principles apply to any online solution, whether it’s Drupal, WordPress, or Magento.
Questions to ask yourself
- Integrations – Will you need to be integrating with any third party services such as google analytics, Facebook likes, other social platforms.
- Single Product vs Store – Will you be running a single product website or a full store where you might be dealing with 100s or 1000s of products.
- Batch Management – will you need tools to help you with batch product management such as importing 100s of products or moving them between categories.
- Physical vs Digital Goods – will you be selling physical or virtual goods, you will need to think about potentially license management or keeping track of inventory.
- Membership – will users need to log into the website to be able to re-download virtual goods or track shipments and view past invoices.
eCommerce Core Principles
- Security – no matter how big your store is security is the utmost of importance. If the visitor to your site doesn’t trust your store they will never buy from you. This means you should be running the latest version of all your software, that all your pages are behind a SSL certificate, and that steps have been taken to bulletproof your website against any potential attacks.You should never, let me repeat this NEVER store any critical billing information within your website. Credit card information should be stored by third party services such as Stripe so in the event that your site might get hacked your business isn’t facing a lawsuit from your customers.
- Scalability – you need to think about scalability, are you planning on selling a few products per month or 1000s. You want to make sure you’re choosing a WordPress eCommerce platform that can easily scale, through good quality code and caching. Last thing a business needs is getting featured on TV and your website crashing because it’s not optimized for high spikes in traffic. This depends on the software you choose but also on the hosting company you choose. Don’t expect that paying $10 per month for hosting will get you 99.999% uptime, if you’re going to run a business online choose a reputable company like WP Engine to host your site and it will pay off in spades.
- Stability / Code Quality – the quality of the software that you choose is vital. As much as features are important, it’s even more critical that the software get’s frequently updated, bugs and security vulnerabilities can literally put you out of business, typically there is only a couple top tier eCommerce providers so our recommendation is to stick with those.Typically when you choose a popular eCommerce platform it should have been vetted by the community and you won’t have to worry about bugs that prevent your site from making money.
- Traffic & SEO – last but definitely not least is overall setup of the store’s url structure. You want to make sure that each product within your store has it’s own url, this opens up a door for new potential traffic from users. E-Commerce is a numbers game, the more traffic you have the more traffic you can convert to sales and long term search engine optimization is a winner in this space.You’ll want to make sure that the platform allows you to create supporting content around your products. Google loves content and the more unique content you can produce that supports the stores products the much better success your online store will have. This is a long term strategy but it’s one that’s very under-utilized and if you’re in this for the long hall then I would strongly recommend you focus on content once your store is up and running.