- Has your product already been marketed to a customer base? Realistically, an e-commerce solution should be utilized only if your product(s) is expected to sell on a reasonable basis. If you anticipate processing less than $1000 a month in credit card payments, an e-commerce solution that accepts credit cards online (a formal merchant account) may not be for you.
- What are your projected sales?
- How will you manage sales? Yourself, office assistant, outsourced, etc.
- How much inventory will you need to have on hand? Limited supply, infinite, etc.
- Can you handle a (possible) high volume of sales?
- Can you handle customer complaints and returns?
- Do you have staff to answer customer questions in real time? Poor customer service is one of the biggest gripes online consumers have with shopping online.
- To what extent to you expect repeat business? This will require that your shopping cart has an “account” feature for your customers.
- Do you have a merchant account already in mind? A merchant account is a specialized account established between a merchant (you) and a financial institution (a bank) in order to process credit card purchases.
- What kind of merchant account would best suit your business? Fixed monthly fee, fixed transaction fee, discounted rate, etc. There can also be other fees associated with your merchant account such as: bank statements, monthly minimums, length of contract and termination fees.
- Do you have a PayPal account?
- Will you accept mail-in payment?
- Does sale of your product require it be taxed? Or, are there any special tax issues with selling your product online?
- Does sale of your product involve a recurring billing cycle (renewal)? This means that the customer’s payment information would be stored and used again to automatically charge (or renew) your product/service based on a regular interval of time.
- Does your product(s) get shipped at all?
- Which shipping company will best suit your needs? USPS, FedEx, US Postal Service, etc.
- Do you need the shipping courier to pick up orders daily from your house or will you take them to a drop off site?
- Do you need to track shipments?
- Is it a high value product that requires insurance?
- Will your shopping cart software need to determine shipping cost “on the fly” based on the consumer’s purchase, or will you have a flat rate based shipping cost?
- Will you offer discounted shipping rates based on quantity ordered, total price, etc.?
- Do you need the ability to print shipping labels?
- Are your products available in standard form or do they have a lot of variations or options, such as size or color, that a customer has to specify?
- Are there any irregular pricing rules for your product? Does choosing certain attributes add cost? Do some products offer accessories or packaging options that would add cost to items?
- Will you need the ability to discount your product(s) based on coupon, quantity ordered, total price, etc.?
- Is your product tangible or a service? Products sold as services often involve special requirements/circumstances such as: customer communication, product receipt/download, specialized confirmation emails, etc.
- If you have an existing web site, decide how important to you the “look and feel” of new shopping cart will be. Some shopping cart software integrates easily with an existing site, and some others require that the cart itself be a separate entity.
- Do you already have product pictures, descriptions, SKU’s, etc.?
- How often will you change text, prices, and pictures for your products?
- Would you like to make changes to your products yourself, or have your web development company do it? This will make a lot of difference in choosing your shopping cart software, as it means the difference between normal shopping cart functionality and a content management system.
- What kind of management or administration functionality do you require for you orders and customers? Normal pre-packaged shopping carts offer the ability to export orders to file, sort orders by date/price, create batches, etc. A custom cart would be needed for integrating your orders into an existing database, specialized reporting needs, etc.
- Do you require specialized confirmation emails for yourself and the customer? Merchant and customer email requirements need to be thoroughly thought through.
- Will you require the collection of special/additional information from the customer at checkout? What do you plan to do with this information?
- Do you have a set of store policies and/or procedures?