Whether you’re attempting to build a new ecommerce website or merely looking to improve your existing site, the thought of undertaking this type of project is daunting. Not only do you have to find / build a team to create your site (or attempt it on your own -- often a disastrous and frustrating experience to say the least), but you also must organize the requirements of your own organization.

The requirements dictate what you need to accomplish with timelines of the ecommerce project and pieces to include in order to achieve a successful result. In other words: “what needs to be a part of this project in order for me to sell more?”.

At ten24, we’ve seen everything from spreadsheets to checklists to oversized post-it notes from project managers and small business owners trying to keep themselves sane at the beginning of the process. While some clients come to us prepared, many arrive without a working understanding of their own objectives, and time must be spent determining those before work can begin.

If you’re managing the project or the business, the process of defining requirements is the ideal time to sit down down with all the stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page and in agreement as to what the new eCommerce site should accomplish.

Unsure of how to steer the conversation? Here is a list of the seven most common “advanced” eCommerce requirements that the ten24 team has encountered to help you get started.

  1. Selling Multiple Types of Products and Services
    Whether it be merchandise, subscription, event management, or access to digital content, many businesses want to have full control over configuring these offerings. Define what you want to sell and how you want to sell it first and foremost.
  2. Defining Marketing Programs, Promotions, and Incentives
    Knowing what types of promotions you plan on running, even a rough idea, will help a web developer determine the best ecommerce solution for your needs. Surprisingly, promotions can be the key differentiator for organizations deciding on eCommerce platforms. Newegg, for example, utilizes their eCommerce platform to not only offer promotions on various product types, but sets different time limits on certain sales.

    An example of multiple promotions can be found with Newegg emails, that offer timed deals on multiple products, cross-selling, up-selling, and everything in between.
  3. Supporting Customer Service and Management
    Customer service is the cornerstone to the success of any business. With this in mind, what necessities must your organization have to successfully solve customer inquiries? Does your organization need to search a complete database of customers, orders, and products? Do your representatives need to be able to take phone orders, modify or fulfill orders on the fly, print invoices, or send transactional emails? These are all things to determine before approaching a web developer.
  4. Controlling Warehouses and Inventory
    Inventory is a thorn in the side of many online businesses and should be considered when establishing a requirements list. Organizations find it difficult to sync up multiple systems to show a warehouse’s current stock with the website. Ideally, your ecommerce solution should provide a comprehensive, real-time view of inventory where customers and website managers can view the current stock of items and place orders accordingly.

    Inventory management affects both in-store and online availability. It's important to have a solution that tracks stock, potentially integrating with another solution.
  5. Integrating with External/Legacy Systems
    A range of systems, including accounting, CRM, ERP, and payment/shipping/tax providers, need to integrate with your new eCommerce system. These systems must all work together to exchange relevant data, increase efficiency, eliminate manual tasks, and reduce errors. Depending on the system, significant time must be devoted to ensuring that the proper integration plan is in place, and Determine what you need to integrate and what information needs to be displayed, then see what solution fits those needs.
  6. Managing “Everything Else”
    Content Management Systems should empower your employees to add to and edit your website freely. You may have an existing CMS, but depending on how well it integrates with other programs like your eCommerce solution, this piece may have to be replaced. Well-built content management systems offer flexibility in both integration and administrator capabilities.

    In the obove example, the Mura content management system integrates with eCommerce solutions, and also provides administrators flexibility in editing product pages, content, and other items.

  7. Utilizing Where and How You Sell
    Retailers know that commerce is more than just a website. A good eCommerce platform supports multiple sales channels, from web orders to phone sales and point of sale to mail orders. In addition, support for future selling channels should be readily addressed by the developers. How retailers interact with their customer today is going to be different than how they interact tomorrow, and eCommerce platforms should have plans in place to adapt.

The challenge for a mid market company is finding a solution that is affordable and fits the business’ needs. Building a solution from the ground up to fit your business requirements can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fortunately, more often than not, the majority of your requirements are not unique. By determining specific, unique requirements, it becomes easier to uncover what needs to be custom built and what can be solved by previously existing functionality.

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