By Cory Lefevre, Bayshore Solutions Senior Project Manager
Launching an ecommerce website of any size can seem like a daunting task, especially if you expect to have a lot of traffic and orders. Although no one will feel bad for you if you’re complaining about too many sales, it definitely takes lots of planning to make sure your ecommerce website reaches its fullest potential.
Like any big job the key is having a plan, and the tools and systems in place to complete your plan.
1: Digital Set Up Of Your Store
The ecommerce platform you choose is the core on which your business runs. Careful research must be done to make sure your ecommerce platform can handle all of your business requirements, because if it can’t, you are left with very few options down the road.
After carefully evaluating a clients’ requirements, Bayshore Solutions often recommends nopCommerce because its core functionality handles a majority of ecommerce business requirements and it is also very customizable.
Things to consider when setting up your store:
Products – There is a lot to consider when setting up your products. Product Attributes can quickly increase the number of unique products in your store. For example, if you have a shirt that is available in 4 sizes, and two colors, you are actually managing 8 unique products, some of which may have unique images or prices. It’s also best practice to add product tags as well. For example if your business is a sports team store, this is the best way to allow a user to quickly see all products related to your recent championship.
Data Import – Your Product data can grow exponentially so creating a data import plan is key to getting your site set up and ready to sell. The import plan should account for Product SKUs, Prices, & Images. Also if you are upgrading from an existing site you also need to account for importing existing users, coupon codes, member discounts and gift cards.
No ecommerce website can run completely on its own. You will need to integrate payment processors, shipping calculators, tax calculators, and other purchase facilitation functionality. NopCommerce has many integration options available for partners like Authorize.net and PayPal for payment processing, as well as UPS and USPS for Shipping Options. Selecting the best integration partners to meet your needs, and fully testing each integration is crucial in make sure your site runs smoothly and has no bottlenecks that could severely limit your sales potential.
3: Order & Inventory Management
Managing inventory, especially in a high traffic environment is crucial to keeping your customer base happy. Nobody in your customer service department wants to call a customer and let them know their shiny new championship hat is out of stock. Depending on your product types and fulfilment options there are several ways to track your inventory, which should be configured at a product level.
Some products require very strict inventory management, if it’s a high demand item in your warehouse, you will need inventory tracking and reorder alerts to make sure your purchasing team knows when to order more. Some products that are reordered frequently can be set to allow back order, if you’re confident you will be getting the next shipment in a timely manner. Other products like digital downloads or drop shipped products, require no inventory tracking at all. It’s import to make sure your ecommerce platform can handle product level inventory tracking options if you have products in more than one of these categories.
Fulfillment and Returns
It’s important to fully test the fulfilment process your team will be using to fulfil and ship your orders. Streamlining this process by even a single click can save hours of work if your site is getting a high volume of orders.
Reporting is also a key requirement for all online businesses. Standard sales, accounting, inventory level and tax reports are available in NopCommerce. Often times custom reports are needed for certain business segments reporting on profit margin, returns, and other sales data. Make sure to have these reports defined in advanced and integrated into your ecommerce platform.
Return processing is also an important process to outline in advance. NopCommerce 3.8 allows for a user to submit a return request, which allows you to approve the request and account for the incoming shipment. Some users will however send an item back without notice. NopCommerce has several ways that this order can be edited in the system. This process will need to be tested with multiple scenarios based on if the product can be added back to the inventory, or if it is damaged.
Everyone knows the basics of any website needs to be tested before launch. The key to having smooth site launch and continued success is to test the bad things that could happen as well as the good.
- What if a user enters an incorrect address?
- What if you start getting suspicious orders from another country?
- What if two people try to buy the last item at the same time?
- Can a user use multiple discounts on the same order?
- What if your site gets TOO MUCH traffic?
All of these possible issues need to be considered before they happen, and tested so you can make sure you are getting the desired results.
5: Monitor – With A Plan
Monitoring your site is one thing, having a plan on what to do if / when the alarm is going off is another. If your site is a high traffic site with occasional very high traffic spikes (i.e.: a new product launch based on that team’s recent sports championship), you need to have a plan in place if your alarms go off. Adding additional memory can fix small spikes. Having a load balanced environment that allows you to spin up additional web nodes can handle much larger spikes. Database traffic and overall network throughput may also need to be increased based on your traffic and hosting environment.
Making sure you and your team fully understand the business and technical requirements for your high traffic ecommerce site is essential to meeting your site’s sales potential. Bayshore Solutions is a complete integration partner and a Gold nopCommerce Solutions Partner that will work with you through each step to make sure everything is planned: from choosing an ecommerce platform, setting up the store, integrating third party tools, managing fulfilment requirements, completing end-to-end testing, and ongoing support through the peak traffic times.