ECommerce Web Design Questions

Phone showing ecommerce website

Today, someone asked me if it’s possible to add a shopping cart to an existing website.

It is possible, and I want to go over what that will look like if you have a WordPress website.

Initial Conversation

During our first conversation, we will discuss what it is that you’re looking to accomplish. What type of products that you are looking to sell, etc. we will also want to log into your WordPress website to see how it is currently configured.

Often, customers who manage their own website don’t keep WordPress and third-party plug-ins up to date, so will need to make sure everything is up to date.

Web Design Questions

There are a variety of web design details that we will also need to discuss, such as:


What types of products will you sell? Will the products be physical or digital?

Will the products that you sell have variables/attributes? For example, a color option, a size option, etc.

Will each of these attributes have an additional cost associated with them?


Will you ship your products directly to your customers or will they pick it up at your location?

If your product is digital, will your products be delivered via email?

If you are having customers pick up their orders at your location, we will need to make it clear throughout the ordering process, checkout, and the notifications that are sent to the customer.

If you are shipping to your customers, you will also want to make it clear what options they have. For instance, will you allow expedited orders? You will need to decide on what type of shipping you will want your customers to have access to. Sure, you can have overnight shipping as an option, but if you don’t have the ability on your end to have the package in the shipping carrier’s hands quickly, then overnight shipping will be misleading since it will be possible.

What service provider will you used to ship your products? FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc.

How will you charge for shipping? Will it be a flat fee, table based, and will you have shipping and handling charges?

The ideal situation is to have real time shipping quotes calculated for your customer during checkout. This is possible through all the major shipping carriers. This live quoting would happen on your website instantaneously for the customer. It allows your customers (and your business) to get an accurate quote so no one is paying too little or too much for shipping.

What types of boxes will you use to ship your products? You will want to know the dimensions of these boxes and their weight. Every major carrier has preset dimensions and weight for each standard box size, but it’s always a good idea to verify your boxes match the specs. Otherwise, your shipping quotes will not be accurate.

Will you ship your products to every country in the world? Are there certain areas to where you will not ship?

From what address will you ship your products?

Do you want to allow your customers to be able to ship from a different address than their billing address?


Will you charge tax on all your products, some products, or not at all?

Generally, you charge tax on products that you ship inside the state of which you operate. There are many variables and caveats to that sentence. We can provide options for how you charge tax, but ultimately it will be up to you to make the decision. Especially since we are not tax or legal professionals.


How do you want to allow customers to pay for their purchases? The standard is to allow customers to use their card when making a purchase. Either way customers need to be able to stay on your website while making their purchase. That’s something we always recommend. You do not want your customers going to another website to make a purchase as that will confuse and distract them. There are a variety of merchants that we can recommend throughout the process, but again, it will ultimately be up to you in deciding what merchant you would like to use.


Will you keep track of inventory on the website?


Will you offer coupons to your customers to save money on their orders? This can be accomplished in a variety of ways such as, fixed cart discounts, percentage discounts, per product or per number of products in the cart discounts, etc. You can also have promotional coupons with expiration dates.


If you have salesmen that need to keep track of what they sell we can help with that as well. We can do that with coupons, tagging products, etc. This would allow your staff to export reports showing this data.


When someone makes a purchase on your store, it’s always a good idea to over-communicate. It’s great that when checking out they received a notification that their order was received and is processing. But, you also need to keep them up to date throughout the processing, shipping, and completion of their order. This is generally accomplished via email notifications. We will need to gather the content needed for each of these email notifications. The last thing you want is your customers being confused that their order went into the ether.

What’s next?

The above list is not exhaustive, but it gives you a good overview of all that will be needed and discussed throughout the e-commerce project.

And don’t worry if the above also sounds complicated, we’re the ones that do the work. We ask you these questions, but we set up everything.

As you can tell, an e-commerce website is more complicated than a standard content website. There are a lot of moving pieces and variables and you need a professional to create this system and make sure everything is set up correctly. Often, it can be tempting to think something like a shopping cart can be easy. As you can tell, it takes a lot of experience and know-how to get it right.

If you’d like to discuss this further or even hire us to add a shopping cart to your website, give us a call (360) 450-3711.

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