Comparing Quotes from Different eCommerce Vendors

There’s a lot that goes into an eCommerce project, and choosing a developer to work with is a big decision. But when you have multiple quotes to compare, it’s not always easy to tell what you will be getting. I’ve seen a lot of very different approaches to quotes for eCommerce projects. Some are based on number of pages, sometimes they factor in the quantity of products for sale, while others are fairly obscure. That causes a problem when you are trying to compare and understand what’s included and what’s not. How can you be sure you are comparing apples to apples, or lettuce to lettuce…

There’s a lot that goes into an eCommerce project, and choosing a developer to work with is a big decision. But when you have multiple quotes to compare, it’s not always easy to tell what you will be getting.  
I’ve seen a lot of very different approaches to quotes for eCommerce projects. Some are based on the number of pages, sometimes they factor in the quantity of products for sale, while others are fairly obscure.  That causes a problem when you are trying to compare and understand what’s included and what’s not.

How can you be sure you are comparing apples to apples, or lettuce to lettuce… 

Some quotes are like getting food from a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture organization. This last year was my second experience participating in a CSA.  We pay an aagreed-uponfee to a local farm, and in return we get a box of locally-grown vegetables, fruits and herbs for 18 weeks. Several times we ended up with vegetables that no one recognized. Sometimes we have to do web searches to confirm we know which vegetable is which.  Who knew there were so many vegetables we had not tried?

While I love the excitement and variety of getting vegetables from a CSA, I don’t think that kind of uncertainty is desirable when it comes to investing in your company’s eCommerce project.  

Other quotes are more like getting food delivered by Peapod, a service I have also used in the past. In this case, I get to pick out what I want, and I know what each thing costs. I love the convenience of getting food delivered to my door, and when it arrives, I get exactly what I expect. 

So, how do you ensure that when you are shopping for your eCommerce site, you get exactly what you want, and not a box of surprises?

By starting with a detailed quote!

Our quotes are extremely detailed, and we do that because we are focused on delivering our projects on-time and on-budget.  To do that, we follow specific processes and track all of our time against our plans. 

When we build quotes, we use knowledge of how long certain tasks take.  In addition, we want to clearly set your expectations and help you understand the various aspects of your project plan so you can see exactly what you are getting with us.

Here’s what we include in our quotes, and if you aren’t sure whether these items are included in quotes from other developers, be sure to ask!

  • Tech Analyst: We spend time at the beginning of a project to understand your requirements and architect the best solution for your needs. We also review and update the plan based on your feedback throughout the project.
  • Source control (version control systems): We use software to keep a revision history of all changes we make to the code.  This software enables our developers to work on the same project without fear of overwriting each others work.  It also enables us to collaborate with developers working for our customers.  This history provides a great benefit for our clients when it’s time for future upgrades to their site, as we can identify what changes have been made in the past and why.
  • Continuous Integration Server: We setup a continuous integration (CI) server – a place where customers can review our work as it is being done, but before it goes live.  
  • Software installation: We install software in each environment being used by our customer – development, staging, and production.  This includes setting things up on our customers’ servers so that you don’t have to mess with web server configurations.
  • Graphic Design: We list out the steps of our design process, including wireframing, graphic mockups, and converting the design into code.  We also list out which browsers we will test the design on.
  • Configurations: We configure payment gateways, shipping methods, and email notifications.  We will setup SSL certificates.  It is our goal to provide you with a no hassle end-to-end solution.
  • Product and Content Information: We list out exactly how many pages of content (or products) we are setting up.  To save on costs, we often setup some of the pages and customers do the rest (following our training). It is clear up front how much we are doing and how much the customer is expected to do.
  • Training time: We will build in 1-4 thirty minute training sessions with a project depending on the software being setup and a customer’s needs.  Our training is recorded via GoToMeeting and provided to our customer so they can use for training new team members or for their own review.
  • Customizations: We identify requests you share with us that are not standard functionality and provide our estimates for the work.  If you have special shipping or pricing needs, we would list those out here.  This can also include additional page layouts that are not in our standard quote.
  • Basic Technical SEO: We setup Google Analytics with revenue tracking using Google Tag Manager.  We setup a custom 404 page.  We setup files that help search engines crawl your site better (robots.txt and site map).  We submit your site to Google and Bing.
  • Site Launch: We perform a mock go live to ensure the launch goes smoothly. We perform the launch and provide support following the launch to help you at “go live.”
  • Project Management:  Our project manager will have a kick off call and then weekly meetings where she will share an update on the project (including an hours report) and get your feedback.  We feel this is a key part of our ability to deliver projects on-time and on-budget.
  • Testing:  Our team will test your site to ensure it meets your expectations. We will make changes and fix any issues based on your feedback during testing.
  • Integration work: If there is an integration with an ERP system or 3rd party platform, we will list out the various high level integration points to provide clarity on what data is being integrated and which direction it is flowing in (i.e. web to ERP, or ERP to web)
  • Hosting: We will offer hosting options, but we also work with customers who want to host their own sites.
  • Ongoing Support: Most customers choose to have us support them in an ongoing way to answer questions, assist them in keeping their site up-to-date, perform site maintenance, and/or work on incremental site improvements.
  • Other options: We typically have a base quote as well as several options that will help you to generate more revenue.   Options can include things like reductive navigation, enhanced search, reviews, quick order and much more.
Yes, there are many pieces to a complex development project. We find that when quotes are missing key details, projects tend to suffer in quality and go over budget and schedule.  As you compare the quotes in front of you – which ones have these aspects in them? 

Looking for a Quote?
If you are looking for an eCommerce vendor, we would love to talk with you about your upcoming project.  Contact us for a free initial consultation

Lori McDonald

President & CEO

About

Lori McDonald

Lori graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer-Electrical Engineering and leads Brilliance Business Solutions with over 20 years of computer engineering and software development experience.  She is an Episerver EMVP, a Microsoft Certified Professional and a regular contributor on Practical eCommerce. Her status as a recognized industry expert has resulted in regular speaking engagements at business conferences.

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