When having an ecommerce website developed the chances are most of your budget will be spent on the initial design and development of the ecommerce solution. Creating a decent ecommerce solution is not a straight forward task, there needs to be a lot of planning in order to get the right platform and features up and running. There are also several tasks that will need to be carried out and extras that may need to be purchased. Unfortunately, a lot of potential clients are unaware of these things and as a result they find themselves not budgeting for these extra costs. Below are what we have found to be the top 6 ecommerce website hidden costs.
1. Domain Name & Hosting
In most cases we find that clients already have a domain name registered and if you already run an ecommerce website the chances are you will be paying to host it. So for most of us, this tends to be a known cost, however, we have come across plenty of people that didn’t know that these costs were necessary. Find out when speaking to your development agency what these costs are, are they included in their development fees or if you can simply register your domain name and hosting elsewhere? Expect to pay around £100 a year for a decent hosting platform and your domain name will probably set you back between £15 and £25 every 2 years.
2. Populating Your Ecommerce Website
Content is king and ensuring your ecommerce website has the right content is essential. When developing a new website, or redeveloping an existing website, find out what will be included in the development costs. If you have many products to add you will find that you may either be required to add these yourself or your chosen agency will charge you extra to add these for you. Find out during your consideration process and you won’t get a shock! Whilst normally straight forward, adding products into an ecommerce website is time consuming and laborious.
Imagery is extremely important in a website, more so in an ecommerce website. This is what is going to attract potential customers to purchase your products. Your product images are your showcase. Poor and unimaginative images will just turn visitors away and they will purchase elsewhere. If possible, personalise your images. In some cases, product images are available straight from the supplier. These will tend to be decent professional images but the downside is every other distributor will be using these. If your budget allows, get a photographer to take flattering, professional images, they will enhance your online store.
Banners and promotions are also things that help sell products on a website. Get these professionally designed!! A home-made banner looks like a home-made banner and you will “cheapen” the look of your ecommerce website.
Another thing you need to ensure you carry out is image optimisation. When uploading your images to your ecommerce solution make sure their file sizes are optimised and you include your alt tags. If you are carrying this out yourself, there will not be any physical hidden costs but you will need to spend time in ensuring it’s done correctly.
The security of your ecommerce site is very important and ultimately your responsibility. Your reputation and customer satisfaction relies on this, not to mention your legal obligation. You must take any steps necessary in order to ensure your site is secure, whether you outsource the security or manage it yourself.
The main security areas you should pay attention to are:
– Server Patching and OS updates
– Malware vulnerabilities on your ecommerce website
– Patch programming vulnerabilities on your ecommerce website
– SSL Certificate validation: keep on top of your certificate expiry dates
– Password security: ensure your administrator and user passwords are not weak and vulnerable to a brute force attack
5. Pre & Post Sales Support
The support you have available to your potential and current customers will help them decide if they will purchase from you. If they have made a purchase already it will influence whether they make future purchases, or help you promote your ecommerce website by recommending your site to their networks. Whilst offering this support does not necessarily mean you will have to spend extra cash, it will take up some of your resources. Consider offering a live chat on your ecommerce website so you can answer any queries quickly and efficiently. Use social media as a way for your followers to ask any questions they may have. Make sure your returns policy and terms are clearly defined and easy to find for your visitors.
You should never underestimate the cost and time it takes to promote a website online. If you are lucky enough to be in a niche market you may have an easier job, however most of us do not have that luxury. Once your ecommerce website is up and running online, this does not mean the floodgates are open and streams of customers will be making purchases left, right and centre. Attracting the right customers to your ecommerce website is an ongoing process. You will need to create valuable, informative content and also promote your ecommerce site across relevant social media channels. Regardless if you decide to promote your website through paid advertising, or organically, this will cost you either financially or in time. Costs for this type of activity if using an agency will vary depending on your market and target audience, however be wary of very cheap costs and companies that will just blast your site to thousands of link directories. Find out what the agency will do for you, how they will tackle things and what goals will they be working towards. Also remember, SEO is just one tactic in online marketing!
7. A/B Testing
A/B testing is known as split testing. Once you have your ecommerce website up and running, how can you improve sales, conversions, average spend? By constantly testing and comparing two versions of a webpage you will be able to determine which one performs better. Unlike the initial website design A/B testing will use your data and statistics to validate new design changes to improve your conversion rates. Now your budget will restrict how much you will be able to A/B test but don’t rule this out. A small change can be lucrative.
Now that you are aware of the main hidden costs you should not get any nasty shocks when your website is up and running. If you are considering a new ecommerce website or the redevelopment of an existing website, download our budget calculator. It is a useful excel spreadsheet with general ecommerce website development costs. This will give you a good indication of what you should be looking in order budget for your ecommerce development!