2017-12

How to budget for your eCommerce build?

by Ben Popplestone
 | 
11 December 2017
How to budget for your eCommerce website build
What should you consider when budgeting for an eCommerce build? We outline what you need to do to build and grow your website into a conversion machine.

Few strategies build more profitable relationships with your customers than investing in digital commerce and establishing a robust presence online. Consumers are increasingly looking to connect with their favourite brands online as well as having a seamless experience across multiple channels.. 

So, it is unsurprising that Australians spent an estimated $22.74bn on online retail in the 12 months to June 2017, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index. This is equivalent to 7.4% of the traditional bricks and mortar retail sector, which was valued at $306.9bn in the year to May 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In fact, in the financial year ending June 2017, online sales grew 7.6% and that’s before the launch of Amazon in Australia this month (December 2017). 
 
However, many businesses forget that investing in a new website involves more than just selecting a partner to help you, choosing a design, and building a few wireframes. Your website is like the engine of your business and, like any engine, needs to run effectively over the long term. You must, therefore, consider both the customer and business needs when building a new site, whether this be customer experience and design, through to the choice of CMS, and server hosting and security.

It follows then that both customer and business objectives must be clearly reflected in the website budget.


Ensure your budget is aligned with your strategy

One of the biggest misconceptions about an online channel is the temptation to view it as a standalone digital shopfront, rather than a crucial customer touch point that can generate customer loyalty and increase assisted as well as direct sales. That’s why no business should start its eCommerce build without carefully plotting a long-term strategy and establishing the role the website will play in the future.



For example, there is a vast difference between the online strategy of a fashion retailer looking to deliver an omnichannel experience, a florist looking to enhance their mobile conversion and delivery experience, and an electronics distributor hoping to expand globally.

Whether you need to invest in integration, roll-out a sophisticated online checkout that makes it easy for users to shop in a hurry, or manage multiple languages and currencies, thinking about the customer journeys you hope to facilitate should be stage one of budgeting for any eCommerce build.

Key takeaway: Outline all the possible requirements for your website upfront. Consider what functionality you need now and what you may need in the future. 
 

Allocate funds for testing, optimising, and promoting your site

Sure, investing in a website that delivers a smooth customer experience and business operation with a low total cost of ownership (TCO) should be a high priority. However, if you’re serious about tapping into the potential of your online channel, the website build is just the start.

It’s equally important to allocate funds for:

Design testing

  • Navigation/information architecture (IA) testing
  • First click testing
  • Prototype testing
  • A/B/Multivariate testing

Optimising for Search

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO)
  • Conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

Ongoing promotion

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Email marketing
  • SMS marketing 

There’s no point investing in your online channels if your customers struggle to find you, or if they have no desire to stay. Savvy eCommerce businesses know that customer data is key to understanding this and making decisions as a result. That’s why directing part of your budget towards measurement and analytics, and incorporating a test-and-learn approach to your eCommerce site, will set the stage for future success.

Key takeaway: Think beyond the build itself, what will you need to invest in to make sure people find and invest in your product.

Consider the following areas:

  • SEO: Optimise your website for keywords so people can find your new site.

  • SEM: Build campaigns to drive people to your website and convince them to convert.

  • CRO: Continually test and improve the functionality of your website.

Don’t let maintenance become an afterthought

Once your website is launched, that is only the beginning. It is integral to assign budget to the ongoing maintenance and improvement of the website. Again, these can be broken down into two components, customer and business objectives. 

For the customer, it is all about the experience so build in a schedule of regular testing to ensure you are continuously optimising the user experience and are in line with industry best practices. 

Meanwhile, be sure to consider the business’ security and risk factors. For example, is your business in line with the latest legislation around collecting and holding customer data? What about potential risks such as enabling the site to serve a high influx of traffic in peak periods? 

Assigning budget for ongoing maintenance and ad-hoc business requirements is imperative to maintaining the health of your eCommerce website and brand. Launch your minimum viable product (MVP), but be prepared to spend money on enhancing functionality, updating the architecture and resolving issues as your web presence grows.

Key takeaway: Consider what ongoing support you will require (internally and externally) and dedicate budget accordingly. 

Consider the following areas:

  • Design improvements (eg. UX improvements)

  • Security improvements (e.g. Security updates)

  • Risk mitigation (eg. server bandwidth during sales)

Budget for future growth

It’s common knowledge that a strong eCommerce website delivers a seamless customer experience. But this goes beyond fast loading times, real-time inventory, or a sleek, uncluttered interface that inspires people to click. Ensuring your website is personalised and that you’re listening to the voice of your customer – through social media or online surveys – and using this to improve your online offering should be high on your agenda.
 
The best-in-class eCommerce platforms incorporate different modules (download our Magento 2 eBook here) and are designed with scalability in mind, so be sure to account for this from the outset.
 
When it comes to budgeting for your website, it’s best to align your costs with your expectations. Remember that a phased approach gives you the ability to be agile and change along the way.
 
For more information on how to develop, optimise, and promote your eCommerce website, read our eBook on the full digital story. Or to learn more about Salmat’s eCommerce solutions, get in touch with us today.

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About the author
Ben Popplestone
Head of Netstarter

As Head of Salmat’s digital agency Netstarter, Ben brings 17 years’ worth of experience with eCommerce solutions providers internationally and across multiple business functions. This includes working with a leading platform/services vendor followed by eCommerce agencies specialising in Magento. He has an in-depth understanding of eCommerce / omni-channel operations and business processes.

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