Why you should almost always expect an estimate instead of a fixed price on e-commerce sites
Everyone knows that selling online is great mostly because the profit margin is much higher than selling via retail for example. I see a lot of job postings with the following description “I need someone to create an e-shop for my xyz type of shop”.
When I try to grab these kinds of jobs I almost always give estimations about the price. There’s a very specific reason I do this. Based on the definition that customer gives I can tell that they have not had someone help them formally define there needs. Below I am going to add some questions I usually ask people to make my estimation. Each question may or may not imply extra cost assuming you need this kind of functionality. Here goes:
- Do you need your store and product content in multiple languages?
- How many languages?
- Are any of the languages right to left?
- What payment methods do you need to have?
- What product categories do you want to have?
- Which countries are you going to be selling to?
- Are there countries you don’t want to sell to for whatever reason?
- Are your products physical or digital?
- Do you need stock control?
- Do you have product variations?
- What product characteristics change? (e.g. color, size etc.)
- Do you need multiple currencies within your shop?
- Do you want exchange rates to be automatically changed daily?
- Do you want your final payment to your account (bank, PayPal) to end up being a specific currency?
- How many products do you want added in the initial store by the developer?
- Do you require training to add more products by yourself later? Or will you need a yearly plan to add content/products to your shop/site by the developer?
- Do you need a developer to integrate a country specific payment gateway for you e.g. JCC for Cyprus?
- Do you require a filtering mechanism for your products e.g. by color, price, size, brands etc.
This list is by no means exhaustive but depending on the answers a client gives the cost may vary. There are two ways that I can think of off the top of my head to create an e-shop a) use some Content Management System like WordPress with Woocommerce, Prestashop, Magento and Opencart just to name a few ecommerce solutions out there and b) Custom Solutions. Custom solutions will inherently take longer to implement and are more expensive, just as a side-note.
The most important thing to remember is that you as a client think long and hard about the functionality you want or need. Talk to your developer and make 100% sure you have the sales process down which is also known as your “sales funnel”. Adding functionality later or figuring out you forgot something in the requirements phase will cost you time and money in the long-run. A developers’ experience will help you minimize the possibility of missing something but if it’s something unique to your business or the processes you use it most probably won’t be something your developer may think to even ask since he/she cannot be expected to know your internal processes e.g. Your invoices may require a specific suffix for example INV#.
Since creating an e-shop depends on the actual functionally you as a business requires it is unlikely in my professional opinion that a fixed price can be given unless you as a client go through the motions as mentioned above. If the initial requirements phase seems to be a daunting and long process be thankful because in my experience you will save money long-term.
If you read this and have a specific question, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org