Francis Barbero

Ecommerce Website Solutions

Complete and affordable ecommerce website solutions. If you’re planning a venture into e-commerce, our web agency can give you much-needed advice and guidance. For the last ten years, we’ve been creating custom solutions for companies across the globe (as well as local ones too), from our humble offices in the Philippines.

What’s it like to build an e-commerce website

E-commerce projects take a lot of effort, project planning and problem solving along the way. There are a lot of areas that will need your attention such as SEO, digital marketing, content, branding, shipping, photography, methods of payment, product content. This is on top of the actual design and development of the website!

Unless you’re really prepared and have all the information at hand, projects can take 2 months or more. You’ll be faced with a lot of decisions along the way and you’ll need to gather a lot of information, all of which takes time.

There is no single right way to build an ecommerce website. They are very hard to plan out beforehand. You really need someone (Starfish) who’s done it before otherwise you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin and making basic errors.

Why you need a professional ecommerce solutions provider

You could do it on your own, there’s plenty of user-friendly software to choose from. We don’t suggest you do because:

You need help spotting common pitfalls

Companies who make website make the same mistakes. There are plenty of traps for the unassuming bright-eyed and busy tailed etailer.

There’s so much work anyway

There are so many things for you to do, even if you do work with a professioan web agency like ours. If you’re not busy, then something is seriously wrong.

A lot is at stake

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It’s not as easy as it looks

Ecommerce marketing companies love to make it look easy. Of course they do. No one in their right mind would go into business if they knew what was really involved.

Choosing the right software is complicated

Ecommerce marketing companies love to make it look easy. Of course they do. No one in their right mind would go into business if they knew what was really involved.

Ways to tackle payment in an ecommerce website

Ecommerce simply refers to the act of buying and selling of products or online services over the Internet.

In practice, there are many ways to achieve this. Your ecommerce website can be set up in lots of different ways. Here are a list of common setups:

Classic online payment solution

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Product showcase solutions

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Ecommerce ready / wishlist solution

If you are new to e-commerce then you may want to start by taking orders online and dealing with payment through some other means. We call this a “product showcase” website or “e-commerce ready” website since it can be easily converted to a e-commerce website at a later stage.

For some businesses, particularly in B2B industries, a full-blown ecommerce website is not possible or desired. But similarly, if you’re targeting consumers, taking credit card payment may be secondary to getting customers to know about product.

Even if you do intend to get on developing your own ecommerce website, there are plenty of good reasons to build a product-showcase enquiry cart website.

Credit Card and Shipping Hurdles

A big hurdle in the of making an ecommerce website is pricing, credit card payment and checkout process. It’s not only the development of the website, its dealing with banks and courier companies and working out how to ship parcels to Timbuctoo.

Phased development of ecommerce websites

We often recommend building an e-commerce in at least two phases. The first phase being an e-commerce ready website. In other words, a website that acts like an ecommerce website up until the point of checkout.

Clients add products they want to purchase to a shopping cart, but when they go to pay – all they need to do is give you their email address. The ecommerce system sends an email to you letting you know what the client is interested in and from there on in, the transaction is dealt with either via email or over the phone.

Development time advantages

Getting your website out so that you can start improving it is a great idea. An easy way to shorten the development time is to leave the fulfillment part until after launch. You may feel that you will lose sales since some clients will be disappointed that they cannot buy immediately but don’t be put off. If they are really interested in your product, they will make the enquiry.

The feedback you will gain from these early clients is priceless and more than makes up for the perceived reduction in sales.

Pricing advantages

You need not show prices on the website either. This may be because pricing is difficult to calculate, it fluctuates or its simply not known. Prices may be sensitive and you don’t want your competition finding out your pricing model.

Advantages for B2B sales

Particularly in the B2B world, if you’re used to getting know your customers before purchase (as we are) then jumping to an automated sales may feel daunting. You’ll be worried that you customers are going to buy the wrong product (if, for example, you sell complex electronic components). You may feel unable to respond to any questions that clients usually ask. You may be worried that they simply won’t buy.

Particularly with B2B sales, building a personal relationship with your clients is incredibly important and you may just want to stick to take your project no further than phase one – an enquiry-only product showcasing website.

Component based website

If you are new to e-commerce then you may want to start by taking orders online and dealing with payment through some other means. We call this a “product showcase” website or “e-commerce ready” website since it can be easily converted to a e-commerce website at a later stage.

Guide to building an ecommerce website

Essential content features of an ecommerce website

Technical features are less important than content features

Good, original written content and product descriptions

Good content is worth a lot because it’s what actually sells the product. Another reason it’s worth a lot is because is because it’s hard to create. Not only do you need to be good at writing, you really have to know your product and your clients well if you want to push that sale through content.

Promotional material

Discount incentives, banner ads, social media banners, price reductions, special offers are common strategies. They work because everyone is trying to save money and get the best value. Unless you’re a well-known brand with original luxury products, promotional selling is the ticket.

Stunning Photography and product shots.

Like written content, good photography is hard to create. We suggest you spend more time thinking about this aspect than features. Try a content-driven approach when making an e-commerce website.

Common pitfalls in building a startup e-commerce website

Building the site without thinking about how you’ll get people there

“Build it and they will come” is a nice thought, but also an untested supposition. They may come, but in what numbers? They may come, but they may not stay.

Even though web design and web development come before digital marketing activities, having a detailed marketing plan before you start designing is helps you know what to build and how much budget to allocate to the website vs digital marketing vs SEO.

A rule of thumb is, spend twice as much on marketing and SEO in the first year, as you would on the website.

Building an empty ecommerce website

If you have plans on becoming big, don’t start big. Don’t make your website seem like a supermarket with empty shelves. Don’t make a website, if you haven’t got details on the product and you don’t know where to get that information from.

Building your dream website too soon

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs want to run before they can walk. This is a great trait but we’ve seen projects go off the rails because every last detail had to be perfect before the launch. Making an online business is the stuff of dreams.

There’s a lot of emotional as well as financial investment. When you’re thinking with your heart and not your head, you’ll envision a multi-lingual, multi-currency website that remembers everyone’s name and looks a bit like Amazon mixed in Crate and Barrel. The best advice is to aim low.

Not saving enough budget for after the launch

It’s funny how your website will look different to you after a few months “on air”. When your eyes have had enough time to become unaccustomed to your own design, you’ll start to spot simple ways of improving your website.

You may have started looking at your web analytics and decided that what your site needs is an animated introduction. Unfortunately, you’ve spent your budget on making the dream website and you’re reluctant to spend any more. Happens all the time…

Not learning about ecommerce during the build

Most people who start an e-commerce website have little idea of the technicalities of running a website. Whilst it’s great to learn as you go, it also pays to read up on it beforehand.

Starfish staff will guide you, if you ask. The point being, you have to want to learn and you cannot think that it’s somebody else’s business to know how your website works.

Leaving product content until later.

Branding is crucially important to a consumer targeted website. However, the start of a new business isn’t the right time to fritter on logos.

Choosing an ecommerce software platforms

When we first started making ecommerce websites, we used to use our own software but the market for ecommerce software has since gotten a lot more sophisticated. We certainly do no recommend that you go with a custom solution, unless you have deep pockets and you’re planning on you need to do something very special.

Most comparison reviews say “it depends”. They don’t want to slag off certain software providers. Let me say that it’s a cowards way out. There is a choice.

Anyway, we all agree you should use software and not build it from scratch.

Shopify Website solutions

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WordPress Ecommerce Website solutions

Fatback buffalo bresaola cow strip steak meatball pig salami. Alcatra ribeye filet mignon venison flank ham. Pork belly sirloin sausage short ribs. Andouille doner kielbasa, shank rump ham hock turkey beef ribs tri-tip spare ribs.

Magento Ecommerce Solutions

Fatback buffalo bresaola cow strip steak meatball pig salami. Alcatra ribeye filet mignon venison flank ham. Pork belly sirloin sausage short ribs. Andouille doner kielbasa, shank rump ham hock turkey beef ribs tri-tip spare ribs.

Drupal Ecommerce Solutions

Fatback buffalo bresaola cow strip steak meatball pig salami. Alcatra ribeye filet mignon venison flank ham. Pork belly sirloin sausage short ribs. Andouille doner kielbasa, shank rump ham hock turkey beef ribs tri-tip spare ribs.

Do I custom build or use a template?

When designing an Ecommerce websites – this is one of the times where it makes a lot of sense to use a template design. Even though we recommend a content-driven design approach to making all projects, we also recommend using a template for e-commerce websites.

Similar User Experience

A reason to not use a template is because you want to dig deep and make sure you’re taking into account the user experience. The thing about most e-commerce websites is that they are essentially the same user experience apart from the brand.

It’s like real shops, they all more or less have the same layout. Supermarkets have a certain layout too. They all have a similar user experience apart and what sets them apart is the branding. This is because there are only so many ways you can present products without confusing the shopper.

It’s all about written content and photography anyway

Ecommerce website are very similar but most people don’t notice this because the brand is what they are experiencing. The brand message can best be seen in the photos you use, the words you say. Logos, color schemes and fonts are also very important but these too are similar across websites.

How to prepare for your ecommerce project

Before engaging a web agency, it helps to be prepared. Not overly prepared but

Start collecting product information now

Branding, marketing plans, shipping are all important but the thing that will shape your website decisions the most are your products. Do you have 3 products or 300 products? Do you have SKU’s? Do you know the weight, size and height of each product. Can you describe each product in a way that’s original even if the product isn’t?

More questions: Are your products deliverable, are they complicated to describe? Would a person know which product to choose? Do they have many options and attachments?

Knowing all of these things will help the Starfish team decide what software you should use and how we should design and develop your e-commerce website.

Work out the shipping costs

Automatically calculating the cost of shipping can be tricky. Especially if you are delivering products all around the world using different couriers and delivering products of different weights and size. From a development point of view, it may need some thinking and you may find that you’ll want to simplify your shipping model.

This means that if you’re planning on launching a website on a certain date, start working out delivery logistics and shipping tables sooner rather than later.

Decide on the sales approach

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Read up on your software options

You don’t have to decide before you engage with your web agency, in fact we prefer that you hold off the decision until you done significant preparation. The choice of software isn’t something you take lightly, so it’s good to know your options.

Prepare a realistic timeline and budget

Of course, everyone wants to know how much. The reason we suggest working from a budget backwards is because ecommerce websites can be really cheap and seriously expensive. So if you start getting quotes and you say how much, you’re not going to learn much other than you can spend whatever you want.

Engage us sooner rather than later

It’s not funny, the number of times clients engage us once everything has already been

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