Questions to Consider When Starting an eCommerce Site

I have done many eCommerce projects and am looking forward to doing more.

The most interesting eCommerce projects are the ones that are starting from scratch.  I was fortunate to be a part of several such projects including, and  Of these the project was by far the most interesting because I was simultaneously the director, lead engineer, and QA. 🙂

Whenever I start a project or am consulting for one I ask the following questions to help determine the scope and range of the project.

  1. What technology will be used?  J2EE?  ATG?  .Net?  PHP?  Ruby on Rails?
  2. What platform?  Windows?  Linux?  Solaris?  FreeBSD?
  3. How will it be hosted?  Locally?  Shared host?  Virtual host?  Exclusive host?
  4. What database do you use or plan to use?
  5. How many products, product categories and SKU’s do you have?
  6. How will catalog administration be done?  Should it be part of the web application?  Or will you use a separate third-party application?
  7. How will you manage price lists?
  8. How will you keep track of inventory?
  9. When an order is submitted, how will it be fulfilled?  Who does fulfillment?
  10. How will you handle payments?  Payflow Pro?  Cyber Cash?  CyberSource?  PayPal?
  11. How will you handle taxes?  TAXWARE?
  12. What kind of security do you want?  Will everything be handled securely via SSL?  Do you already have an SSL server certificate for the site?
  13. Will you require that to buy something you have to have an account?  If not will you want to still try to encourage buyers to get an account?  Will you be saving credit card numbers with the account?
  14. Can buyers track their order history, order status, etc.?
  15. What kind of emails do you want sent during the order/fulfillment process?
  16. Will you want to implement promotions and/or coupons?
  17. What kind of catalog navigation do you want?  Do you want a menu like navigation like
  18. Do you want the buyer to be able to search for items?
  19. Do you want product comparison?

One thought on “Questions to Consider When Starting an eCommerce Site

  1. “Search for items” should be taken as a must have feature for any decent sized eCommerce shop 🙂

    BTW Dont you ask them anything about SEO/Merchandising/Sitemaps etc?

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