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How to Define Requirements For Your Online Store Image
Diff Blog

How to Define Requirements For Your Online Store

There are many things to think about when planning a new e-commerce website. It can become overwhelming, and project scope can quickly become bloated.

For this reason, it's good to add a layer of structure from the start. Similar to the beloved KonMari method, let’s start by organizing requirements into critical categories:

  • Business Goals
  • Functional Requirements
  • Technical Requirements

    Getting Started.

    1. What are your business goals?

    • What are the goals of this project?
    • What does success look like?
    • What does failure look like?
    • What metrics will we use to measure success?
    • How will the business change when this project is successful?
      These are essential questions to answer, as they will influence every decision that will be made throughout the course of the project.

      2. What is your budget?

      Your company's annual revenue will help determine the size of the investment that should be made on the website. Defining the budget will also help measure the ROI of the project, as well as the website's performance as a sales channel.

      3. What is your timeline?

      Your timeline will help you evaluate whether a requirement is a high priority, low priority, or if you should deprioritize it altogether. Being realistic about timeline will play an important role when you hold each requirement in your hands, and ask yourself "Does this spark joy?".
      Having a handle on these three things will help ground the team in reality and provide a critical lens with which to evaluate all requirements you will come to define. We like to put each requirement in a box, and then unpack them one by one. Every e-commerce website requirement can fit neatly one of the following:
      • Business Requirements
      • Functional Requirements
      • Technical Requirements

          Business Requirements

          Business requirements should emulate, improve, or compliment business processes that are in place, or will be implemented once the website launches. Things to consider include, but are not limited to:

          What is your product strategy?

          • Will you support bundles?
          • Do your products require education/explanation?
          • How can your products be broken down into an easily digestible way?

          What is your pricing strategy?

          • Do you have a tiered pricing approach?
          • Do you offer volume-based discounts?
          • Do you sell products in multiple currencies?

          Where will your products be sold?

          • Do you sell in multiple countries?
          • Do you sell products exclusively online?
          • Do you have physical retail locations?
          • Do you sell in marketplaces?

          What is your promotional strategy?

          • Do you offer seasonal discounts, BOGO promos, or free shipping promotions?

          Other business requirements include shipping rules, order fulfillment workflows, payment processing, and more. Be thorough, as each business requirement will drive many functional and technical requirements later on.

          Functional Requirements

          Functional requirements can be broken down into customer-facing and administrative requirements. Customer-facing requirements determine how customers will interact with the website, while administrative requirements determine how staff will manage the information on the site. Some examples of functional requirements include:
          • Presenting the website in multiple currencies.
          • Product detail page enhancements such as product reviews, or video content.
          • Tooling for staff to merchandise products, and manage product information.
          The list of functional requirements can be endless, and the complexity of each may vary considerably. Having a team of e-commerce experts can help make sense of this process and assist in clearly defining the website's requirements.

          Technical Requirements

          Technical requirements refer to how the website will be built. Questions that drive technical requirements include:
          • What programming languages must be used?
          • How quickly must pages be loaded?
          • Are there requirements around data-residency?
          • What standards must be met (i.e. HIPAA compliance or ADA compliance)?
          Clearly stating these with the development team that will be implementing your website is critical, as considerations will be made from day one to account for each.


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