I have done around 70-80 shopping cart website “builds” in my life. Out of that number I have only done the shipping, tax and payment gateway setups for only a handful. I would estimate the number to be about 20%. The reason the number of setups is a fraction of the shopping carts built is that most of my clients are web & marketing agencies. In my opinion, setting up a shopping cart is NOT a development task. This should be an administrative task. This best done by the person who is handling the communication with the end client.
Agency Responsibility in the Setup Process
The person best qualified to manage the setup of a shopping cart will be the person directly in communication with the end client. There have been only a very few cases where I have been able to get the necessary instructions needed to complete a shopping cart setup in one go when not dealing directly with the end client. This information I am normally lacking includes shipping type, tax rates , payment gateway logins and pricing variations between products.
Setting the Right the Expectations Up Front
I quoted a shopping cart that included design and development last year. This ended up being problematic due to the unforeseen problems with the shipping setup.The agency project manager and / or client never tested the shopping cart. The website went live with improper shipping configurations. One line in my agreement would have saved me a lot of hassle. In every new shopping cart build / re-build. I add “shipping and payment gateway to be setup and tested by the client” to the project agreement / contract.
Getting the Necessary Information Upfront
Regardless of who is responsible for setting up the shopping cart, it is imperative to gather all the information prior to the start of the project. I have created a “Shopping Cart Survey” that I use with all my retail clients. I go over each item on this list with them. In many cases with a new cart, the client has not thought out all the requirements in full.
Product Data /Entry
I am working under the assumption that my responsibility is for developing the cart. The agency, end client or a third party is responsible for product entry. I have seen cases where the 80 hours shopping cart can require another 40 hours of data entry. It should be established upfront, who is responsible for product entry. . The person responsible for product entry will not need the more expensive skillsets as a developer.
Authentication issues can be one of the biggest hurdles. When the person being asked to set up the shopping cart is not is direct communication with the end client, this ends up being more problematic. I experienced a case this week trying to authenticate into a Shopify website. It took us four tries as the code would expire we needed. The more people involved in the setup process. Add to the security risk of the website.
Setting up the Payment Gateway
Setting up a payment gateway on a shopping cart can take a little as five minutes or days. The time is takes is contingent on the information that is provided. It is important to determine the shopping cart will support the desired payment gateway. Most shopping carts will have a link to they gateways they support. WooCommerce supports over 100 payment gateways.
I recently create a guide to understand many of the aspects of shopping cart payment processing I strongly recommend a new shopping cart or one that has not been monetized to go with an All-in-One Option. One of the more popular ones is provided by authorize.net.
Shopping Cart Shipping Configurations
I find the set up of the shipping to be the most difficult part of a shopping cart project. In many cases the end client is not aware of the full array of options. I recently wrote on article dealign with shopping cart shipping configurations. I find the understanding how the client wants the setup to be much easier then it’s implementation.
Shopping Cart Tax Configurations
Tax configurations on a shopping cart need to be well documented. Once the client tax configurations are defied , setting up within the cart is normally easy. Understanding tax law goes beyond the role of a web developer. The proper tax configurations will depend on a number of factors. These include shipping location , shipping customer base and product type. Depending on the location, tax rules may need to be set based at the municipality / city level.
The set up and configuration of a shopping cart can be the most cumbersome aspect. The time it takes should be accounted for. The level of difficulty will depend on payment gateway , shipping configuration , tax requirements and number of products.