rebuilding your ecommerce website

As Q1 winds to a close, it’s time to start planning for Q2 and beyond. Maybe you’re thinking of new ways to increase sales online, and you’re fine-tuning your marketing and technology plan for the rest of the year. Perhaps you’ve even started the process of rebuilding your ecommerce website a few times, but each time you stopped because it seems like a daunting task. Now, your end of year sales weren’t as strong as they should have been and your team is spending more time on tedious website workarounds, fulfillment, and customer service work than marketing the site and driving sales.

If that sounds like you, it’s probably about time to follow through on that New Year’s resolution and get your ecommerce site rebuilt. If you’re not sure where to start, make sure you know the answers to the following questions, so that you are set up for success.


1. WHAT AM I TRYING TO ACHIEVE?

There can be a plethora of reasons to rebuild your site, but understanding the “whys” and prioritizing them is of the utmost importance. Your site may no longer be an accurate representation of your brand. Your current ecommerce platform is archaic and costs your team time and money. You need to improve your inventory and fulfillment operations. Whatever your reasons, it is important to know your primary and secondary goals to make sure you are doing all you can to increase sales and improve operations. Otherwise, you’re simply going to be throwing darts at the wall and hoping something sticks.

2. DO I HAVE MY BACK-OF-HOUSE IN ORDER?

There is more to an ecommerce website than the end user experience, or “front-of-house” development. You may know a lot of business rules and logistics from your current site, but it is important to take a look at them all and see where you can streamline and improve in order to increase margins by decreasing man hours. Make sure you have your ordering rules in place. How is shipping handled and what do you charge? Do you ship overseas? How do you handle returns? Will your CRM sync with your ecommerce site? (That’s more than the 6 questions I promised you, but you get the idea.) Knowing the answers to important back-of-house questions like this save you from headaches during the rebuilding process.

Looking for a more detailed list of items to consider?

⇓ Download our operations questionnaire

3. WHAT DOES THE DATA SAY?

Knowing your numbers is paramount. Chances are, you at least have Google Analytics on your current site. Before rebuilding, add heatmapping (such as Luckyorange or Clicktale) to your site to gain even more insights into how users interact. Data and search insights will tell you which pages on your site get love and which don’t. You should know what elements on pages users are clicking on and which ones they don’t even realize are there. It is also important to understand revenue by category and seasonality of sales. Finding out which pages are ranking in search engines and what keywords your site is competitive for is also vital—understanding SEO page rank will not only inform keywords, but will help with merchandising and organization decisions, filtering and interlinking.

4. WHAT DO MY CUSTOMERS WANT?

Go to the source! Now that you have and understand the quantitative data, you should spend time gaining qualitative insights. It is easy to assume, well, anything. But, it is also easy to reach out to customers and actually ask them what you can do to improve their experience on your website. Some common ways to do this are onsite surveys, email surveys, reaching out to repeat customers for interviews, or even using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to find user testing participants. Ask about certain products, what would help make the website more user-friendly, or what would encourage them to click “Add to Cart.” More importantly, ask them what they do not like about your website.

That being said, it is important not to design or rebuild the site based on the feedback from one user. Make sure to get a decent sample size and look for common themes. After you get started, it is important to check in with the end users throughout. Schedule follow-up interviews, provide staging site access (password protected, of course) to a small segment of users, use the Mechanical Turk to find people to respond to draft layouts or staging sites. Offer loyal customers incentives to encourage them to help you with user testing. Show them designs or prototypes and get real-time feedback before you go live.

5. HOW IS MY PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY?

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C business, for most products out there, photography is king. Nothing screams outdated or unreliable technology like low quality product shots. Photography of your product is an important way to communicate your company’s image and brand. Images are also a way for customers to see the details in your product. We like to think of product photography as the modern day dressing room: users are opting to zoom in and rotate photography to test drive products instead of visiting brick-and-mortar stores. Invest in a photoshoot, high quality stock photography, or renderings. Not only will you use them on the website, but you can and should use them for supporting marketing efforts.

6. WHAT PLATFORM SHOULD WE USE?

This can be a hard question to answer, and likely one you may not be able to make without a technical partner. Do you need an enterprise platform, or will open-source suffice? There are many ecommerce platforms today, and we often find our clients asking about Magento, Shopify, and Woocommerce. Finding the right platform helps to solve front-of-house and back-of house challenges. Arming yourself with specific knowledge of your website goals, peak traffic volume, sales volume, inventory, CRM, fulfillment process, and budget will all help in making this decision.

Starting the ecommerce process can be overwhelming. To avoid a false start when rebuilding your website, ask yourself these six questions. Knowing this information will help you deliver your site efficiently and effectively.

At envisionit, we can help you solve operational issues, define goals and design, and implement a shopping destination that speaks to the right audiences. Contact us to start a conversation about what a partnership with envisionit can do for you.

BOGO SALE! Here is an extra tip for reading all the way through.

One question that you should no longer need to ask yourself is whether or not your site should be responsive. Adding on to Brian’s discussion about the importance of responsive websites, 60% of website traffic occurs on mobile devices. In fact, about 50% of ecommerce traffic specifically now occurs on mobile devices, and that percentage is growing. The best way to increase sales is to make sure you are reaching your customers through the devices they use—make buying from their phone or tablet easy.