10 Questions to Consider Before Starting E-commerce Business

Simonas Jusas 6 months ago

If you asked me what type of business you should start, I would tell you to start e-commerce business. But don’t listen to me, I am working with PrestaShop e-commerce platform for two years now, so my advice is very biased.

If you wanted to start e-commerce business anyway, there are a few questions for you to consider. Consider it as a checklist that will give you strong grounds for your e-commerce success in the future.

1) How big is your business?

How many products are you planning to have in the shop? Is it ten? Is it ten thousand? How many sales do you think to have in a month? One? One hundred thousand? What is your budget for the project? How much you can invest? A few hundred? One million?
You don’t need to to tell all answers to me, but you have to be fair and clear with yourself. It’s easy to overspend. It’s easy to pick the wrong platform.

2) What platform to choose?

There are too many e-commerce platforms in the world. Each has its’ advantages in specific cases. In general, I would suggest to choose from: PrestaShop, WooCommerce, Magento, Shopify.

I like PrestaShop. It works out of the box for the small merchant. It can be easily customized. It can scale.

We tested PrestaShop with one million products just to see if we could crash it, but it ran smoothly. Let me be fair, in some cases PrestaShop falls flats on its’ face, but in general it works really good.

Let me give you just one advice. If you are thinking of selling only two products or you speculate that you will have only a few sales a month – choose Shopify. When you choose any other platform you have to think about hosting. If you have only a few products, only a few sales, hassle with the hosting is not worth your time.

3) What payment methods will you use?

Some payment methods like Paypal come with default PrestaShop installation. Other made by third party developers are paid. But if you have some strange payment from the local country, the platform you want to choose might not have a plugin for that. So, think about it in advance and check. In some cases you will need to sign contract with payment provider in advance.

4) How will you ship the products?

If you plan to sell virtual goods (e.g. apps, web templates), it’s easy life for you. But the rest of us have to think about delivery.

If you don’t have many sales, you can go to the post by yourself and mail the goods to the clients. That gets annoying pretty soon. If you have physical shop, you can allow pick up at your store.

Similarly like with payment methods PrestaShop has shipment modules for the most popular carriers around the world, but if you have some local carrier from your local country, you might have some difficulties.

5) What design do you want?

I am strongly advocating for picking a template. PrestaShop themes usually costs in the range of 59-129eur+VAT. Of course, you can find cheaper or more expensive ones. Choosing theme lets you start fast. If you have spare money and want an unique design you can always upgrade your design later, just start getting sales. Naturally, if you are a big brand like Something Cola, you might want to have unique design before starting e-commerce project. Most of us,however, are not at that size. Most of us needs sales and don’t have a month or two to waste making unique design.

6) What additional improvements do you want?

If you are small business, you do not need any modifications, trust me. Certainly, if you are selling customizable t-shirts or window frames, the buyer might need to enter additional information before buying your product. Don’t worry, there are plugins for such cases.
If you are medium or enterprise business you might want to integrate your accounting or logistics software. Most popular already will have standard plugins. In cases the plugin does not exist, start without it and hire team of developers to do integration in parallel.

7) How many different languages you will have?

I don’t know how other platforms handle translations, but PrestaShop is translated into many languages. Even such small country as Lithuania has fully translated PrestaShop. Sadly I can’t say the same for themes and third party plugins. All plugins and themes are in English. A lot of them have French, Spanish translations, but for other languages you might need to do translations by yourself which by the way is not hard in PrestaShop, just time consuming.

8) How many countries do you wanna serve?

We all say that internet has no borders. We all say that most people understand English. So, it is okay to have just one shop in one language, right? Not really. Imagine that there are two shop, they have the same products, the same prices, but one is in English another is in local language. Which one people would choose? Okay, it’s a trick question. People always choose the one with better reputation.
People like sites with local domains and local languages better. Lucky for you PrestaShop has feature called multishop. It means that you can have different domains and different designs for you front of the shop, but one management panel for all you shops. Cool, right?

9) How many currencies will you have?

You can have as many different currencies as you wish in PrestaShop. The only real issue is if your currency is fluctuating and you have change conversion rate many times a day.

10) How to pick good developers?

I don’t know how you do this in other platforms, but in PrestaShop there is official list of certified developers, you can filter them by country, you can pick them by the rating.
If you are buying plugin for you e-Shop, ask a few question before buying, see how fast they respond, see how friendly or rude they are. Of course, there always are some that are nice and helpful before the sale and ignore you completely after. But if they are rude before the sale, you can be sure that they will not behave better after the sale.

I hope all these questions will lead you to successful e-commerce launch. Some of the questions has to be answered by you, for other you will need to find and expert. Spend as much time as you think you need deciding which platform is the best for you. Changing the platform is painful and staying with the wrong choice is expensive.

Simonas Jusas

Simonas Jusas is an e-commerce project manager at Invertus. Invertus is acknowledged as PrestaShop Certified Partners in Scandinavia, UK and Lithuania also company is known as the only exclusive PrestaShop Premium Partner in Denmark.

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