The Importance of Planning in E-Commerce Stores

by: Ben Friedle

Designing an e-commerce store takes much more planning and execution than launching a standard web site. Understanding this at the outset, just as with any large project, helps to ensure at the time of launch everyone in the organization is in sync (to the extent that this is ever possible).

Usability, functionality, and design should all be woven together at the planning stages. The goal is to give your customers an overall positive experience. While we (the web design firm) could create a very intuitive web design, we can’t help the product get shipped on time or know that the internal MRP system needs to have certain data fields complete without good planning and knowledge sharing.

According to a survey conducted by Internet Retailer 60.3% of web retailers have redesigned their e-commerce site with in the past year. This statistic showcases that Internet retailers are realizing how important the design of a site is to how successful an e-commerce store will be. Our advice is to embrace the web standards but trust in the competence of the user. In other words, if people can navigate virtual worlds they can get through a few wrong turns in the product shopping process.

There are different ways to approach the design of an e-commerce store. Some companies believe that rich media content deserves more emphasis, while others think that simplicity is the answer. A store can be successful using either approach, however there are some important things to focus on.

In the survey by Internet Retailer 68.9% of the companies redesigning their e-commerce store said that better product and page organization was the main focus of the redesign. Customers are not likely to spend much time searching on a site so organization is key. It is the company’s responsibility to make it easy for the customer to find their way around the store. ECmmerce101’s blog gives 4 good tips for organizing your website. They are:

  1. Make sure the information on each page is balanced. Not too much, not too little.
  2. Be sure the information you include on each page is relevant and in the correct order.
    • Tell the customers who you are
    • Tell them what kind of business you run
    • Tell them what you offer
    • Display the total cost
    • Explain the necessary steps to complete the purchase
  3. Have good categorization and trust your categorization. Trust your customers to understand your categorization.
  4. Don’t punish your customers for navigation mistakes. Make the store easy to move through, making sure the customers do not feel lost in the store.

Another good idea is to make the store easier to navigate is to include a search feature. This allows customers to search through the products offered based on size, color, functionality, product number, etc. This is also a great marketing tool as we mentioned in an earlier post.

Outlier Solutions At Outlier Solutions we know it’s important to implement good design in all of our projects, but understand that extra planning is needed when designing an e-commerce store. We believe that designing to meet web standards is important. According to the Web Standards Group, designing to web standards helps to deliver the greatest benefits to the greatest number of web users. Standards also help to ensure long-term visibility of any document you may publish on the web.


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