eCommerce website implementation strategy

Organizations at times rush to launch their eCommerce website. This leads to potentially compromising the crucial strategy phase and catching up on key decisions during the later stages of implementation. This also leads to a quagmire of changes that reduces the time available for the project team in launching a high quality eCommerce platform.

5 points to consider before eCommerce website implementation

  1. End to End eCommerce Process flow:  A seamless, personalized, online shopping experience via any device of choice has become a basic expectation of today’s online consumer. An eCommerce website that meets this expectation enjoys a larger mind share of the consumer. But providing an exceptional consumer experience is achieved through a complex network of systems, applications, middleware and databases. It could also require integrating your back office applications with your web store so you can streamline order management, simplify payment processing, expedite shipping and enhance personalized service. A high level end to end process flow for your eCommerce website should be laid out. Indicate the systems that should be used to address the core and peripheral processes.
  2. Platform Selection:Brainstorm about the kind of PIM, eCommerce, OMS and Content management platform you will need for your eCommerce website implementation. List down the high level features and do a comparison with platform feature set. Choosing the right platform will determine the level of customization, ease of integration, total cost of ownership and scalability of your solution.
  3. Objective for the first release:  Any eCommerce website implementation shouldn’t be treated as a one-time project in which all the business requirements are to be achieved in the first launch. Customers would prefer to associate to a simple online store. This store should provide a core set of features which works absolutely perfect every time they visit. It wouldn’t help your business to rather have a site with a plethora of features which could be irrelevant or buggy. The online store is a platform that is going to live amidst your customers and would require constant updates, bug fixes and design refreshes through multiple releases and roll outs. The first release should only try to accomplish the core processes and features. Capture the high level objectives that needs to be achieved for the first release based on business drivers, implementation budget and technology environment.
  4. Third Party application readiness: More often, the delays in launching eCommerce website projects has been attributed to non-availability or readiness of third party systems or services. An eCommerce platform exists in an eco-system. It’s critical that your third party applications, service providers and other back office systems group are aligned with the objectives of the eCommerce website implementation. The inputs from these groups should be taken in to consideration for making key decisions. The third parties should be included in the strategy phase itself, so they can plan for the changes or updates that need to be built in time for supporting the core platform well in advance. If an existing back office system or third party system needs replacement to support the sophistication and scale, a decision needs to be taken up during the strategy phase.
  5. Content strategy: Content is critical to create a better shopping experience for the user and act as a differentiator from the competition. It is a challenge to produce compelling content across thousands of product pages, especially if the products are seasonal or have short lifespans. In most cases, content strategy is thought through after the design and requirements phases. But it makes more sense to drive your eCommerce website design based on your content strategy. The strategy phase should define how the site will employ various ways of presenting content to gain & retain customer’s interest.  You could have content driven by Q&A, using product reviews, explaining product features through short clips of videos, or through personalized content based on the type of user.

Once you have fairly covered these areas, the detailed planning phase can be initiated. This article is not to suggest that above mentioned are the only considerations for your strategy phase. There could be other key areas based on your need, but these are the areas that need to be tightened upfront for your ecommerce implementation project to produce successful results.

So go ahead – happy strategizing!!!