5 Ecommerce Questions For All Businesses


Ecommerce offers tremendous opportunities for both new and established businesses. Whilst every business is different, and will face individual challenges, there are many common questions that our clients ask around ecommerce websites. Here we look at 5 common topics and offer some high-level thoughts around each.

1. Category Structure

Before you can list your products for sale you need to think about how you will structure the products. This is important for many different reasons but of course so that your customers can easily find what they are looking for. We often recommend that the website owner thinks about where they would expect to find several of their different products and then test that against the structure before deciding on the correct solution.

Our ecommerce package gives a choice between one, two or three levels for the categories and other systems will have different options. Most of the ecommerce websites we create use a single level so you would have categories and then after this in each category products, although it is common that we use also two levels. As an example, the difference would be:

Categories and products (using a bike shop as an example)

Two levels of categories and then products (using a fashion store as an example)

2. Product Listing Information & Photos

Perhaps the largest task for businesses looking to expand online is collating the product information. In its simplest this will be photos and a description of each product along with a name and price. Sounds easy but then multiply this out by the number of products you are looking to offer, and you can see that it is not a 5-minute job!

Many suppliers will be able to supply photos for you to use and often they can supply the descriptions. In an ideal world you would always create your own to make your website stand out from the crowd but as with all decisions you will need to look at the time and reward factors around this.

Price is critical. To high and you will dramatically reduce your margin but too low and there will be little point in offering the product given returns, marketing and so on.

3. Delivery Charges & Options

How you price your delivery is also important. A good rule here is that you need to be able to explain your delivery policy to someone in a few sentences of less as the more complex delivery is the lower your conversion will potentially be.

Delivery needs to be thought through in terms of what you are sending and where you are sending it. Some businesses only deliver to certain countries whilst other business dispatch high value items or heavy items.

Free delivery is worth considering but very little is free so of course you will need to evaluate this alongside your product price within the market.

4. Online Marketing

My favourite aspect of all websites is the online marketing and with ecommerce it is particularly important.

A good place to start is by looking at your margin and how you are trying to grow your business. Some will look at this based on single transactions and others will take a longer-term view possibly looking at the life value of attracting a new customer.

Some types of online marketing can easily be linked to individual sales, for example pay per click, whilst others are slightly harder, for example search engine optimisation.

You can read a recent insight about online marketing here - /insights/how-to-market-a-small-business-website-online/

5. Payment Gateway

A core aspect of any ecommerce website is the payment mechanism. When a visitor is completing their purchase, they will interact through your website with a payment gateway which processes the actual payment and then that payment will end up in your bank account.

There are numerous different payment gateways that you can use, with different levels or integration and business liability. In some cases, if you are handling the card details you will need to be PCI compliant which will incur a regular expense.

Another important consideration is the cost that you will pay for the gateway. There are typically three potential fees although with some solutions these can be greatly reduced:

We work with several different payment gateways and one of our team will be happy to make a recommendation based on an understanding of your business. It’s a complicated area but we are happy to guide you through it.

Interested In More Advice?

We hope that the ideas here help you think through what you are trying to achieve from ecommerce however if you are interested in discussing any aspect in more detail or if you have any other questions then please get in touch with us and we will be happy to help.